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Don't miss Al Myatt's profile of ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004 Bonesville Magazine.

View from the East
Friday, November 12, 2004

By Al Myatt

Two solid halves the mission for USF game

Bonesville Magazine

• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again


• STEVE BALLARD: New Leader Takes Charge

• SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door

• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams

• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate



What happens at halftime can often be the difference between success or failure at game's end.

The second half made a big difference in the last outing for the East Carolina football team.

The football team played a solid first half at Houston last Saturday and led 17-14 before the Cougars got their offense rolling in the second half and topped the Pirates 34-24.

"There was a lot of positive energy in that locker room at halftime," said ECU football coach John Thompson.

But on the first possession of the second half, Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb, whose running ability will not be confused with Michael Vick's, scrambled for a first down on a third-and-12. That set the tone for the second half at Robertson Stadium.

"That was a big play," Thompson said after the game.

"That was a big play," said ECU athletic director Terry Holland as time wound down in the fourth quarter.

Houston didn't score on its initial series of the second half but Kolb's scramble helped swing field position in favor of the hosts.

Another defensive breakdown by the Pirates led to Houston's go-ahead score. East Carolina had apparently forced a field goal attempt by the Cougars deep in Pirate territory, but ECU had too many players on the field and had to burn a timeout.

"That was a mistake that just shouldn't happen," Thompson said.

During the timeout, the Houston players pleaded with Cougars coach Art Briles to go for it on fourth-and-two.

"The players decided and I have confidence in my players," Briles said.

Houston picked up the first down, then scored a go-ahead touchdown on the following play and the Cougars didn't look back.

"Our team was ready to play, played well in the first half, controlled the first half, dictated in the first half, handled their business and did so many good things," Thompson said. "We had a couple of interceptions (in the first half). We kept them off balance.

"We kept Kevin Kolb from running the show on their offense and then in the second half the exact opposite happened to us."

Young teams are often characterized by inconsistency and ECU is no exception. Houston got its ground game going in the second half as the Cougars appeared to wear down the ECU defense.

ECU's problems on offense ranged from bad breaks on three of James Pinkney's four interceptions to an offensive line decimated by injuries. Pinkney was hit while throwing once, another pick was tipped by a defender and another went through the hands of a receiver into the clutches of a Cougar.

Still, a game at South Florida at 7 p.m. on Saturday offers an opportunity for the Pirates to show more progress as well as pick up momentum for remaining games with Memphis and N.C. State.

2nd half no problem for hoops team

ECU couldn't pull away from Division II Barton until the second half in a hoops exhibition in Greenville on Thursday night. The Bulldogs trailed 35-27 at the half in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum and that prompted some oratory from Coach Bill Herrion at the half.

The margin at the break was a surprise considering the Pirates rolled to a 90-45 exhibition win over Newberry a week earlier.

"We needed a game like this," Herrion said. "It's so tough to simulate time and score. I think what got to us at the beginning with these kids is that we're so young. We 're so young and we won by 45 points last week that I think these kids thought it was supposed to be like that every game.

"I think you have to give Barton some credit. They really competed. We told our kids at halftime that we weren't really competing hard enough or tough enough around the basket. The kids responded positively."

ECU began the second half with a 26-6 run and prevailed 78-53.

"We got some breathing room, but it was a good test," Herrion said.

Barton outrebounded ECU 47-43. The Pirates were led on the boards by junior college transfer Mike Castro, who grabbed nine rebounds.

"We're concerned about rebounding," Herrion said. "We've held both teams we've played to around 30 percent shooting and we're making steals."

ECU had 15 thefts against Barton.

But if ECU struggles on the boards against the Bulldogs, what will happen to the Pirates against the powers in Conference USA? Herrion didn't attribute ECU's subpar rebounding night to the absence of 6-10 freshman post player Charles Bronson or the fact that Moussa Badiane is less than 100 percent due to recent thumb surgery.

"I'm concerned right now about team rebounding," Herrion said. "We got beat to a lot of what I would call 50-50 balls. It's not what one guy isn't there; it's got to be really a collective team effort."

Mike Cook led ECU with 27 points and Japeht McNeil added 11. Cook was eight of 15 from the field.

"Japhet has really concentrated on getting stronger and that's really helping him right now," Herrion said. "With Moussa out, we've really concentrated our emphasis on perimeter play. We don't have a back to the basket guy like Gabe Mikulas, who you could lob into and he'd get a shot up or get fouled. We're not lobbing it inside nearly as much.

"The thing with Japhet McNeil has been physical strength and playing physical. He's worked on improving his strength and it's flowing back into his game."

ECU will abandon Division II opposition for the time being and will meet Pepperdine at the RBC Center in Raleigh at noon next Wednesday in the first round of the BCA Invitational. The Waves are coached by former NBA player and Phoenix Suns coach Paul Westphal.

"Because of our youth, they probably don't know that to expect from us," Herrion said. "They're more of a veteran team than we are. If we can get them going up and down, that will be a goal for us. We have some quickness. I feel like we're better if we can get them running and going up and down the floor. I feel like we're stronger in transition."


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02/23/2007 12:46:50 AM

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