NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Saturday, November 17, 2007
By Bethany Bradsher
McCarthy's influence taking
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Photos: ECU SID
Two years in a row, Darrell Jenkins and Taylor
Gagnon have been on the losing end of a near-win against the Richmond
Spiders. Both games went to overtime, and both times the East Carolina
basketball team fell short.
But the similarities between the two games end
there, both players said the day after ECU (1-1) fell to the Spiders 67-65
at Minges Coliseum. In the most important aspects of a team, the categories
that can’t be quantified on a stat sheet, the 2007 Pirates are far ahead of
the 2006 version, they said.
First of all, according to Gagnon, the team gave
more effort on Tuesday than it gave last year at Richmond.
“It was tough, but I think one thing we take out
of it is that we’re playing a lot harder this year than we were last year,"
he said. "The attitude around everybody is so much better this year. We know
we gave that game away.”
Second, in a measure of how effectively new head
coach Mack McCarthy has weaved unity and spirit into this group, Jenkins
describes the main difference as how affected his teammates were by losing.
“Last year didn’t hurt as much as last night,”
Jenkins said. “We had the game won a couple of times, but we made young
errors. And the feeling is bad. It’s a feeling that we don’t want to feel
With half of a slate of four season-opening home
games still before them (Liberty on Saturday and N.C. Wesleyan on Tuesday)
the Pirates have won one and lost one. But more important than the record at
this point, said McCarthy, is the team’s openness to learn the lessons that
come from each stop on the schedule.
The truth is, McCarthy often sees teams more
transformed by the painful losses than by the wins, he said, provided they
let the defeat stay with them enough to rub a season-long blister of
determination and teachability.
“The Limestone game served a purpose,” McCarthy
said on Wednesday. “But last night we certainly found out a whole lot more
about competing at the level we’re going to competing against for the rest
of the year.”
With McCarthy at the helm, Gagnon, a senior,
said that he has sweated through his toughest workouts yet as a Pirate. And
even though crucial shots didn’t fall in the homestretch against Richmond,
the team was physically fit enough to keep battling. Gagnon also sees a
different measure of confidence in his teammates as they take the floor
believing that they can win on any given night.
“I think we know we have the ability this year,
and we know we can play with these teams, and we know that we’re going to
play night in and night out for Coach Mac,” Gagnon said. “We believe in the
coaches, we believe in what they’re doing, and we know that if we keep
pushing along we’re going to get some opportunities.”
McCarthy knows that the athletes on his squad
have given him a vote of confidence with their intense effort. But now that
weeks of practice have given way to games, he is hopeful that the results on
the court will ignite that early flame of team unity and parlay it into more
intensity and smarter play.
“I think they’ve bought into what we’ve asked
them to do pretty well,” McCarthy said. Now, they’ve got to see some results
in that. At some point in time, they’ve got to understand that what we’re
doing is correct and efficient and worth all the work.”
The Pirates know exactly what they need to shake
off the blues from the Richmond loss and move forward with an appropriate
swagger, and it will be available Saturday night in the form of the Liberty
“We’re definitely excited about Saturday, to get
this game off our chest and to try to get a win,” Jenkins said.
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11/17/2007 01:47:32 AM