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College Sports in the Carolinas

View from the East
Monday, July 7, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Can we change the subject, please? It's ESPPY time!


Realignment not the focus of ECU football
East Carolina fits ACC profile
Can we change the subject, please?
How-to guide: Realigning with class
Friendly merger of leagues adds up
Survival in question for hybrid conferences
Miami Makes the Leap — Now What?
Hurricanes rage over nervous landscape
ACC, Big East on edge about Miami
Leagues caught in eye of the Hurricanes
Media rises to task in ACC-Big East feud

VPI in; Miami ponders; ECU sees opening
ECU chancellor keen on developments
Miami calls timeout to huddle with Big East
BE plans "up front" and "proper" expansion
ACC door cracked open for ECU...?
Mountain West preparing to pounce
Chalk one up for the non-BCS schools
Big East-ACC peace plan in the works?
ECU poised to ride out ACC-Big East storm
ACC deliberations at crossroads
Big Top needed for this circus
Where are you, Governor Easley..?

Tired of expansion speculation? Let’s take a break and look at the East Carolina ESPPYs (Extra Special Pirate Performances of the Year) and consider the greatest games, plays, athletes and teams of 2002-03.

And if you still need to contemplate conference realignment, we’ll deal with that as well.

Best game of the year

The nominees:

Football: East Carolina 31, No. 22 Texas Christian 28 — The Pirates connected with their football past for once during the 2002 season and lived up to their name by generating seven turnovers in an upset of the Horned Frogs at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Nov. 23.

Basketball: East Carolina 73, No. 9 Marquette 70 — Before a record crowd of 8,081 in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum, the Pirates knocked off the Golden Eagles as Gabriel Mikulas scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. C-USA player of the year and NBA lottery pick Dwyane Wade of Marquette missed a tying 3-point attempt from the left corner at the buzzer.

Baseball: East Carolina 10, No. 3 national seed Georgia Tech 3 — The Yellow Jackets were coming off the ACC Tournament championship in Salem, Va. and were playing at home in Atlanta in an elimination game of an NCAA Tournament regional. ECU’s pitching and offense showed up simultaneously and the Pirates rolled on May 11.

Best play of the year

The nominees:

Football: With TCU driving late in the game at ECU, Pirates safety Travis Heath stripped TCU running back Ricky Madison of the ball and took it 81 yards to the West end zone for the deciding points with 2:46 left.

Basketball: Derrick Wiley’s two free throws with 32 seconds left broke a tie in the upset of Marquette.

Baseball: Darryl Lawhorn’s seventh inning grand slam in the NCAA regional win over Georgia Tech.

Athlete of the year

The nominees:

Football: Offensive tackle Brian Rimpf was All Conference USA for the second straight year as the Pirates produced a 1,000-plus yard rusher for the second straight year.

Basketball: Derrick Wiley averaged a team-high 14.0 points and routinely provided highlight footage.

Baseball: Darryl Lawhorn changed positions but kept producing at the plate for the Pirates.

Team of the year

The nominees:

Football: They were in the Conference USA title picture until losing the 11th game of the season at Southern Miss on Nov. 30.

Basketball: The Pirates rolled out to a 7-0 start and their 10-2 record included that stunner against Marquette.

Baseball: A fifth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament wasn’t assured but the Pirates had an emotionally-charged reaction when their names popped on the screen during the bracket announcement show on ESPN.

Best scenario for the future

ACC: That 12th spot is an intriguing possibility. A lot of teams would have to say “No” starting with Notre Dame before the Pirates might be considered but who knows? ECU would be a great fit in terms of its proximity to the heart of the league and a number of existing rivalries would make a neat transition into the conference context. What it would do for the perception of the region and its economy makes it something for which to hope.

Big East: Wouldn’t you love to know what Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky and Big East boss Mike Tranghese have been talking about? Some sort of direct postseason access to the highest level of Division I-A football is ECU’s objective and a merger of the two leagues might provide it.

Conference USA: The Pirates could be happy right where they are if there was automatic Bowl Championship Series inclusion for the C-USA champion or a guaranteed berth for C-USA if a more extensive playoff system develops.

The winners

The envelope, please.

Best game: Basketball — Football and baseball have each had bigger moments but beating a Final Four team ranks very high in ECU’s basketball history.

Best play: Football — Have to say it was Heath’s strip and return to humble the Horned Frogs.

Best athlete: Baseball — After a great freshman season, Darryl Lawhorn didn’t see a lot of good pitches in an ECU lineup that was too often offensively-challenged — but he still hit .332 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI, all team highs.

Best team: Baseball — Well, they had the only winning record. Hope there’s more to pick from next year.

Best scenario: C-USA — Stay at home, save the exit/entrance fees and make the overall system more equitable.

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02/23/2007 12:40:30 AM

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