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College Sports in the Carolinas


View from the East
Thursday, May 22, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Herrion tracks personal favorite in NBA action


SEC example proves money no cure-all
Opposition to ACC scheme gaining steam
ACC foray for 'crown jewel' advances
Big East's jilted 5 gang up for future
Herrion keeps eye on Miami's next move

'Sopranos' more benign than ACC syndicate
Meetings leave big questions hanging
Tranghese sounds like "beaten man"
Moral compass spins out of control
Big East boss lashes out
ECU well-situated for upheavals
The Empire Strikes Back?
Notre Dame ponders Big East role
TV markets based on bogus science
Brave new world for ECU?
Muse can't take wait-and-see approach
Execs move to spawn ACC juggernaut
Muse eyes saga from 'crow's nest'
Is ECU prepared to navigate storm?
Time for C-USA to revisit expansion issue

East Carolina basketball coach Bill Herrion is a San Antonio Spurs fan because of Malik Rose, who played for Herrion at Drexel. Rose was a hometown product of Philadelphia’s Overbrook High, the same institution that produced Wilt Chamberlain.

Rose isn’t nearly as big as Chamberlain but that didn’t stop the Spurs from matching him up defensively on mammoth Shaquille O’Neal in the Western Conference semifinals.

“Yeah, I’ve gotten interested in the Spurs because of Malik,” Herrion said “He’s the ultimate role player, a great team guy.”

Herrion said former Dragons assistant Walt Fuller, who is now on Pete Gillen’s staff at Virginia, recruited Rose to Drexel.

“Walt found him and he was not a great player in high school, ”Herrion said. “But he was a tremendously hard worker with a big heart. He made himself a player. He wasn’t heavily recruited. He only visited three schools — us, Lafayette, which is in Pennsylvania. They’re in the Patriot League. They don’t even give scholarships. They give financial aid. And Rider College, which is in Trenton, New Jersey, about 45 minutes from Philadelphia.

“He was a 6-5 center in high school and people thought he was too small, too slow and not athletic enough. But he’s a flat-out competitor. That’s the great thing about him. You put him in any situation and he’s not going to complain. He’s a tough, tough kid. He’s listed at 6-7 but he’s 6-5. We listed him at 6-7 and the Spurs list him at 6-7 but he’s really 6-5.”

Rose was stunned by an inadvertent blow to the back in the first game of the Western Conference final with Dallas and had to leave the floor. He said he knew he would play in the second game in the best of seven series when he got up Wednesday morning. He had 25 points and six rebounds as the Spurs evened the series.

Tough, tough kid.

Home hoops

ECU’s home games in basketball in Conference USA for next season have been announced. Dates and the remainder of the schedule will be announced later. C-USA has eliminated division play for next season, meaning the Pirates are no longer faced with playing in the tougher American Division, which also included Louisville, Cincinnati, DePaul, Saint Louis, Charlotte and Marquette.

ECU will now play all league teams once with the exception of UAB, Charlotte and South Florida. The Pirates will play those three teams home and home.

ECU will play Louisville, DePaul, Memphis, Charlotte, UAB, Texas Christian, Tulane and South Florida in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. The Pirates will visit South Florida, Cincinnati, Houston, Marquette, Saint Louis, Southern Miss, Charlotte and UAB.

“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” Herrion said. “But at East Carolina, we needed to go to one division. It’s going to give us a fair chance to compete and win games in this league. The flip side is that our fans have been drawn the last two years by Cincinnati, Louisville and Marquette. We get the biggest crowds for those people.

“I like the schedule. We bring in Louisville next year. (Coach Rick) Pitino is doing a great job. They’re an NCAA Tournament team, a perennial power — a Top 10, 15, 20 team every year. Memphis has probably never come to Greenville. It’s a good split. We get Louisville, Memphis and DePaul this year and we’ll get teams like Cincinnati and Marquette when it flip-flops next year.”

Next year? Will C-USA still have the same membership? More on that in a moment.

Herrion thinks the series with Charlotte is only going to grow in intensity.

“As the years go on, that’s gradually going to become a larger rivalry for us,” Herrion said.

As the years go by and if the 49ers don’t migrate to a basketball conference and if the Pirates don’t become part of some sort of Big East/C-USA hybrid league.

Prospect of expansion

Herrion went to the finals of the Big East men’s basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden during a recruiting trip to the Northeast. He insists now that it wasn’t some sort of a prophetic scouting trip.

“I can honestly say I had no idea about a lot of this going down now,” Herrion said.

The ACC’s effort to attract Miami, Syracuse and Boston College had not presented itself at that time in mid-March and the possibility of the Pirates filling a resultant slot in the Big East had not arisen.

“They don’t want us commenting but obviously there’s a lot of apprehension and anxiety with a lot of programs and a lot of conferences across the country,” Herrion said. “Everyone’s waiting to see what Miami does. Obviously, if they move then the dominos start falling and you have the trickle-down effect.

“There would be major ramifications for a lot of teams and a lot of leagues.”

Herrion has read a report in The Charlotte Observer that non-Division I-A football schools Charlotte, DePaul, Marquette and Saint Louis had agreed to stay together regardless of what happened to other schools in C-USA. Herrion attended the C-USA meetings in Destin, Fla., last week.

“Supposedly they agreed informally but I didn’t hear any of that,” Herrion said. “That was news to me.”

ECU’s future conference affiliation could depend on Miami’s future course.

“I don’t think anybody knows what’s going to happen,” Herrion said. “Once Miami decides, the ball will start rolling. I think you keep your program in position to benefit and I think that’s what we will do.”

One scholarship left

ECU has one scholarship in men’s basketball that it could award before next season. Polish seven-footer Lukasz Obrzut visited ECU but signed with Kentucky after a subsequent recruiting trip.

“We rolled the dice with the big kid from Poland,” Herrion said. “We knew it was a long shot. Greg Herenda (ECU assistant) and I are good friends with his prep school coach in Maine and I think that’s why we got the first visit. We weren’t sure Kentucky really wanted him, but obviously they did.”

Herrion said ideally he would like to enroll a frontcourt transfer with the remaining grant.

“We lose (Erroyl) Bing and (Gabriel) Mikulas (after next season) so it would be nice to get someone to come in and sit out,” said the Pirates hoops coach. “They could practice and learn the system and we’d have them in the program.”

It looks doubtful that 6-9 Jason Herring, who hurt his knee in a car accident last year after enrolling at ECU, will be physically able to play again.

Two incoming signees, swing players Mike Cook and Frank Robinson, started summer school at ECU on Tuesday. Point guard Japhet McNeil and forward Keith Foster are expected to be in for the second summer school session. Foster is still borderline as far as his academic eligibility for next season.

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02/23/2007 12:41:10 AM

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