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View from the 'ville
Thursday, January 15, 2009

By Al Myatt

Young the nation's best in assists

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

East Carolina has an NCAA Division I leader in basketball. Sophomore point guard Brock Young tops the nation in assists with 7.8 per game.

Effective ball distribution has characterized Mack McCarthy's first two seasons as head coach of the Pirates. Darrell Jenkins led Conference USA in assists last season as an ECU senior with 6.03 per game.

That figure topped Memphis freshman Derrick Rose, the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls. Rose averaged 4.73 assists for the NCAA Tournament runner-up Tigers.

Jenkins' total of 181 assists last season was a new school record, eclipsing the mark he established as a junior when he had 166. Jenkins was 18th in assists in the final NCAA statistics in 2007-08.

Young has 117 assists this season through 15 games. The nephew of former Wake Forest guard and NBA performer Danny Young had 81 assists as a freshman when he averaged just 14.5 minutes per game.

Brock Young's offensive leadership has helped the Pirates to a 9-6 start as ECU prepares to host Texas-El Paso on Saturday night. The Miners virtually buried the Pirates 91-62 on Feb. 23 last season in El Paso as Young's 6-for-6 shooting at the free throw line was one of ECU's few bright spots.

The Pirates are coming off of a 72-64 loss at Marshall which dropped ECU to 1-1 in C-USA. Young had seven assists against the Thundering Herd.

The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Young, who starred a Broughton High, had his best offensive game on Dec. 17 in his hometown when he netted 25 points in an 87-76 loss at N.C. State.

Young's play has helped the Pirates successfully adjust to the loss of four starters from last year's club, which went 11-19 overall and 5-11 in the league.

Young started 2009 with 11 points and 10 assists at Clemson in a 79-66 ECU loss on the road on Jan. 3.

Young bided his time behind Jenkins in McCarthy's first season as head coach with the expectation that he would be ready to step into an expanded role this season.

"Brock was a highly-recruited player," McCarthy said. "We went through this process with him of saying, 'OK, you're going to be the back-up to a senior, Darrell Jenkins, your first year and then it's going to be your team.' He has embraced that role and come in and taken over this team as far as the leadership goes.

"Even though he's only a sophomore, he's been extremely mature. Obviously, he has good genes. ... He came in here expecting to have success, not hoping to have success. I think that's translated into him being a very solid and consistently good player."

McCarthy: C-USA stronger

A perusal of the C-USA standings shows nine teams with winning overall records. C-USA is currently ninth among 32 Division I leagues in the Sagarin ratings.

"I think there probably is more parity," McCarthy said of the league's balance of power. "I'm not sure where the top is in relation to where it was last year when you have a national runner-up in Memphis. They look like they're completely capable of making that kind of run again with the talent that they have."

The Pirate coach said C-USA's level of talent has been improving.

"Everybody in the league is getting better players," he said. "I know without a doubt that the league is better than when I got here to East Carolina four years ago. There are more good players on every team. Every team is well-coached and you've got to be prepared every single night."

McCarthy said the league teams have better records against non-conference competition although he believes the C-USA teams have faced better competition prior to the start of league play.

The Pirates have faced two Top 10 teams in Wake Forest and Clemson. McCarthy, who directed ECU's first ever win over an ACC team last season when the Pirates topped N.C. State 75-69 in Greenville, said the talent disparity has narrowed between his program and the nation's elite.

"We've closed that gap some," McCarthy said. "Each year, there seems to be more and more parity, just looking nationally. We've improved our talent level, for sure. We've got some bigger, stronger players. We've got more skilled players."

McCarthy hopes to have DaQuan Joyner returning from the injured list to bolster the frontcourt rotation when the Pirates are back in action at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

"We're certainly more capable of competing against the top level than we've been in the past," McCarthy said.

Hockey results cool

With temperatures expected to drop into the teens tonight, it seems appropriate to give a shout out to the East Carolina hockey team which has won 16 straight home matches going into a game with Loyola at 9:30 p.m. on Friday night at Bladez on Ice in Greenville. ECU's club team is ranked No. 6 in the region.

There will be warmer days ahead, hopefully, and the Pirates are anticipating good things this spring as the baseball team is ranked No. 27 in the preseason poll compiled by the college baseball writers association.

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01/15/2009 02:21:58 AM


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