NEWS, NOTES &
Friday, November 17, 2006
By Bethany Bradsher
Can ECU hoops construct a
Just as new stars have made
an impact for East Carolina on the gridiron, Pirates of the hardwood looking
for fresh talents to step up and meet the challenge
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It’s that fleeting time of year for college
sports fans, when the gridiron converges with the hardwood and fans of
revenue sports can take in a Hail Mary pass by afternoon and a fast break in
And so, this Saturday, the football Pirates will
play in Houston just before the basketball version tips off in Greensboro.
Andy Jones of the ISP Sports Network will fill in on the play-by-play for
the basketball contest, since even Voice of the Pirates Jeff Charles isn’t
smooth enough to get from Texas to North Carolina in 30 minutes.
In the spirit of this two-headed sports
spectacle, I have found some heretofore-undiscovered parallels between East
Carolina’s football standouts and some of the players who are breaking in
the 2006-’07 basketball season.
Since the football team is enjoying a wave of
success unfamiliar to fans in in recent years, perhaps the basketball
players can parlay the accomplishments of their football counterparts into a
campaign marked by similarly pleasant surprises.
My selections for the players best suited to
build a bridge between Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and Minges Coliseum are:
Campbell and basketball’s Gabe Blair. Their obvious common thread is
their birthday, March 4. But for these two big men, the likenesses could
extend even further if Blair has the kind of breakout season being
enjoyed by Campbell.
A redshirt freshman from Maxton, Campbell made his 10th consecutive
start Saturday against Marshall. The 6-foot-5, 332-pound Campbell had a
standout performance against Southern Miss, recording three knockdowns
and making the key block on James Pinkney’s 2-yard touchdown run that
sent the game into overtime.
Blair, a true freshman from Charlotte, is 6-foot-8 and 205 pounds, and
he is expected to contend for a starting forward job this season. He
averaged 21 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks as a senior at Hope
Christian in Gastonia, and in the Pirates’ overtime loss to Richmond
this week he scored 10 points and pulled down 15 rebounds, the most
boards recorded by an ECU freshman in six years.
Fractious and basketball’s Darrell Jenkins. These two share a
cross-country trek from their junior college to East Carolina, and each
journey has proved worthwhile for their respective Pirates teams.
A senior running back who transferred to ECU from Chaffey College in
Rancho Cucamonga, CA, Fractious has been the backbone of the Pirate
rushing attack lately, averaging 50 yards a game on the ground. His best
effort came against Central Florida, when he rushed for 128 yards and
The College of Southern Idaho was the early-college proving ground for
Jenkins, a junior guard originally from Marietta, GA. Jenkins burst onto
the scene at the purple-gold game in October, scoring a team-high 19
points — including 15 from the three-point line — for the gold team. In
the season opener against Morgan State, Jenkins led all scorers with 22
points and 12 rebounds.
Hewett and basketball’s James Dillard. Former teammates on the ECU track
team, both are using their explosive speed to serve their teams as role
Hewett started his Pirate career as a running back but moved to the
defensive backfield during the offseason. His greatest impact has been
on special teams, where he ranks second on the team with kickoff return
yards with 113. As a track athlete, Hewett was part of ECU’s 4X100 relay
team that advanced to the NCAA Track and Field Championships.
Dillard, who is also a sprinter and came to ECU last year on a track
scholarship, averaged 16.4 points a game during his senior year at Apex
High School, and he is expected to lend size and depth to the guard
position for the Pirates, head coach Ricky Stokes told the media in
“He's about 6-foot-5 and gives us a size that we didn't have,” Stokes
said. “We have guys that are 6-3 and below and have guys probably 6-7,
6-8 and bigger, but we don't have really that guy in the in-between
size. I think he'll be able to provide that, along with some athleticism
that should help us within Conference USA.”
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02/23/2007 01:13:26 AM