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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, December 6, 2005
By Brian Bailey

Lady Pirates sprint out of the gates


Replay Monday night's Brian Bailey Show, featuring guest Sharon Baldwin-Tener.

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East Carolina’s women opened with a tough loss to Duquesne. Since then, Sharon Baldwin-Tener and crew have reeled off five straight wins, including Sunday’s victory over Drexel to win the Ativola/CPW’s Lady Pirate Invitational.

It’s the best start for the women in 18 years.

“I thought we played very well, especially defensively, until the final four minutes,” said Baldwin-Tener.

Former Ayden-Grifton prep star Cherie Mills was named the tournament’s MVP. Mills provides a dominating presence inside. She came to East Carolina after earning All-America honors at Louisburg.

“Cherie has worked real hard,” said Baldwin-Tener. “She is really good around the basket and is playing well.”

Mills scored a career-high 35 points in East Carolina’s 74-71 win over North Carolina A&T.

Mills had 21 points and 14 rebounds in ECU's tournament opener, a tough 59-55 win over Southern. She came back and scored 13 points in the championship win over Drexel.

Drexel did on defense what many others are sure to do this season against East Carolina.

“They did a really good job of sagging in on her and we were having a little bit harder time trying to get her the ball," said Baldwin-Tener. "That is something that we have to get better at and we have got to get her more touches against a zone.”

Mills inside play and the team’s talented reserves have combined to play major roles in the good start.

“We have a lot of balance and depth and I knew that we were going to have to play a lot of people today,” said Coach Baldwin-Tener. “We had a tough game yesterday, which was different from last year because we had three guard and didn’t have many subs. But now, we have different players that will step up and are capable of making plays. It is good when you can have people playing 10-12 minutes, be able to help and be productive on the floor.”

The Lady Pirates host Virginia Commonwealth on Wednesday night before breaking for exams. They open Conference USA play on December 16th at Marshall.

Football on solid footing for 2006

Pirate coach Skip Holtz hosted the media to close out the 2005 football season this past Friday.

I can’t remember any other ECU football coach closing out the season in such a fashion. Holtz, though, really wants to continue to get the word out about his program.

"When you look back on the season, it was a memorable and frustrating year in a lot of ways,” Holtz said. “It was a year of `what ifs' because early in the season, if we could have gotten over the hump, we might have found a way to win one or two of those close games."

One more win would have put East Carolina in a bowl game. Still, looking back, East Carolina AD Terry Holland got just what he wanted in Skip Holtz.

The Pirates are respected again. This team was competitive in every game and the future is bright.

"With where we are right now, the big thing for us is where we finished and where we are going from here,” Holtz said. “We are extremely excited to be where we are and to make the progress that we have made, but we are certainly not satisfied with where are as a football program. We still have a long way to go but we did take a step to where we can be competitive in Conference USA.

"When we first came in and met with Terry Holland and Chancellor (Steve) Ballard, the expectations of where we want to go with the schedule that we are playing, the insinuation was that we are going to have to step it up. We are a long way away from where we need to be, because it will only get harder as we go.”

The future is bright, but the competition will be stiff. Next year the Pirates play eight bowl teams. Watch the bowls this season with great interest, because the Pirates will be playing a great schedule next season.

According to the Web site, ECU's season will begin with a Labor Day match-up versus Navy in Annapolis. After watching the Army-Navy game, the Pirates might want to work on stopping the fullback early in summer camp.

Football season goes by much too quickly. Here’s looking forward to a quick offseason, and a football season to remember in 2006.

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02/23/2007 01:32:20 AM

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