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C-USA Women’s Basketball Championship
Moody Coliseum, Dallas, Texas
Thursday-Sunday, March 2-5

Game One – (8) East Carolina vs. (9) UAB - 1:00 p.m.
Game Two – (5) Marshall vs. (12) Memphis - 3:30 p.m.
Game Three – (7) Houston vs. (10) UTEP - 6:00 p.m.
Game Four – (6) Tulane vs. (11) UCF - 8:30 p.m.

Game One – ECU/UAB winner vs. (1) Tulsa - 1:00 p.m.
Game Two – MU/UM winner vs. (4) USM - 3:30 p.m.
Game Three – UH/UTEP winner vs. (2) Rice - 6:00 p.m.
Game Four – Tulane/UCF winner vs. (3) SMU - 8:30 p.m.

Game Nine – Semifinal No. 1 (CSTV) - 3:00 p.m.
Game 10 - Semifinal No. 2 (CSTV) - 5:30 p.m.

Game 11 – Championship (ESPN2) 3:00 p.m.



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Observations and Punditry

Woody's Ramblings
Monday, February 27, 2006

By Woody Peele

Overachieving Lady Pirates broaden their horizons


Way back in the fall, Conference USA’s women’s basketball coaches looked at East Carolina’s Lady Pirates and just shook their heads. It was for certain that ECU, lacking experience would be the doormat of the league.

Contrary to the predictions of preseason prognosticators, East Carolina women's hoops coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener has guided this year's team to a winning season and a No. 8 seed in the Conference USA Tournament. The Lady Pirates' youth holds out the prospect for even better seasons ahead. (Photo: ECU Media Relations)

Not only did the Pirates not have a proven scorer returning, they had lost five seniors off a team that was largely led by those now-absent players.

So, went the script, twelfth place would be their fate, for sure.

But when the regular season finally came to an end, the Pirates were the surprise team of the league.

With a 16-11 record overall and an 8-8 mark in Conference USA, ECU’s ladies finished in a tie for 6th place, but will be seeded eighth in this week’s C-USA tournament. ECU will face UAB in a 2 p.m. game on Tuesday, tipping off the tournament. Should the Pirates win, they would have to face regular season winner Tulsa in the second round on Friday.

Turned out the young Pirates were not all that bad. Head coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener and her staff put a team on the floor that, with a few breaks here and there, could have finished right up at the top of the league.

Six of those league losses, all by less than 10 points, came by an average of just over five points, two of them in overtime. If ECU had won just three of those six, the Pirates would have finished in at least a tie for second place in the conference.

Sure, the inexperience played a role as East Carolina, with only three seniors, basically played a senior, a junior and three freshmen in the starting lineup. All in all, seven players recorded as many as 10 minutes per game, five of them freshman and sophomores.

One of the biggest problems the Pirates faced this year was getting off to a good start. That cost them wins in a couple of games.

“I don’t know what it is,” said freshman Jasmine Young. “We just seem to come out dead, and it’s killing us.”

Young, who plays the point for the Pirates, has already made her way into the ECU record book, standing 9th in assists with 144, tied for 5th in steals with 75, and tied for 7th in 3-point goals with 46. She can add to those during the tournament.

Junior transfer Cherie Mills and Young have been the mainstays of the team. The 6-4 Mills, who played at Pitt County’s Ayden-Grifton High School before attending Louisburg Junior College, led the team in scoring with a 16.6 average despite falling off late in the season. She also led the team in rebounding with 7.7 per game.

Young, who came on strong with several games in the 20's down the stretch, finished with a 13.1 scoring average.
Other freshmen who have contributed well to the team have been Jessica Slack (7.8 ppg), LaCoya Terry (7.1) and Impress Manning (5.6). Slack, by the way, can more into the top 10 in 3-point goals with one during the tournament.

Sophomore Nicole Days (3.4) has also added to the youth brigade.

“We’re a young team, but we’re a lot better than last year,” Young said. “And as we grown and learn how each other plays, our chemistry is going to improve. We can be better and better every year.”

Getting better and better every year has been the goal of Baldwin-Tener, and so far, she’s done just that, finishing above her pre-season predicted finish.

“At the start of the season, if someone had told me we’d be 16-11 and 8-8 in the conference, I’d have said I’ll take it,” Baldwin-Tener said.

But at the end of the year, she was a little disappointed, knowing that it could have been better.

“I think we have been inconsistent at times,” the coach said, “but with us playing the freshmen and sophomores so many minutes, we’ve still been able to stay focused and win some big games and some close games.

“I hope this experience will help us at the conference tournament and also in the future.”

The very fact that the Pirates were involved in so many close losses says a lot about the young team, Baldwin-Tener believes.

“When the clock’s running down, we want to win,” she said. “We’ve forced (three) overtimes and this will give us a lot more experience and confidence going into the tournament.”

East Carolina loses three seniors off this year’s squad, only one of whom saw much playing time, leaper LaToya Horton. The other graduating seniors are Catherine Coley and Ebony Downy.

Baldwin-Tener and her staff have recruited three players who could step right in and see a lot of action next year, led by 6-5 Lauren Cochran of Dunn, NC. Cochran was a 2005 McDonald’s All-America selection and a Wendy’s Naismith-Heisman Award nominee. She is listed as one of the top players in the Southeast and among the top 150 in the country.

Joining her will be 6-2 Erica Crumlin of Irmo, SC, who runs the floor well and is an outstanding rebounder, and Shana Franks, a 5-9 guard from Wilmington, NC. Franks was the 2005 MVP on her team and the player of the year in the Mideastern Conference.

“I hope to get toward the top of the conference next season,” Baldwin-Tener said. “We want to have a goal of finishing in the top three and making it to the postseason.”

“I think we’ll do well next year,” Young said. “We won’t be making as many freshman mistakes. We’ll be as good if not better.”

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02/23/2007 02:44:22 PM

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