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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
By Brian Bailey

That’s why they play the game

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.


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It simply looked like East Carolina and Marshall swapped roles on Saturday.

The team that had everything to play for played like it was just 1-8 on the season.

The team that was 1-8 on the year played like it was in line to host the conference title game.

That’s Conference USA for you. While the heavily favored Pirates were getting their head handed to them in Huntington, C-USA West leader Houston was self-destructing to the tune of a 56-7 loss to Tulsa.

We’ve said all along that the Pirates needed a bye week. Unfortunately, the team took a day off a week early.

“There is a lot of pain in that locker room, a lot of hurt,” Coach Skip Holtz told the media after the game. “I give Marshall an awful lot of credit. I think the opening drive probably is an example of a lot of what happened in this game.”

That opening drive set the pace for Marshall to control the football. On a day when the Pirates could do very little on offense, those three points were big.

East Carolina would trail 10-0 at halftime and didn’t really show any signs of life until just after Marshall quarterback Bernard Morris’s 75-yard touchdown scamper.

Trailing 16-0, the Pirates got a drive going and cut the lead back to nine when Chris Johnson scored a touchdown.

That’s as close as the Pirates would get in this one.

For the second straight year, this ECU team controlled its own destiny as far as the Conference USA championship was concerned.

For the second straight year, the Pirates stubbed their toe with a road loss.

Still, there’s hope. Memphis upset Southern Miss on Saturday. Now the Pirates need a Central Florida loss to either Southern Methodist in Dallas this Saturday, or a loss to Texas-El Paso in Orlando on the 24th.

Plus, of course, the Pirates still have to beat Tulane to end the season.

Good news from the hoops front

On a more positive note, both the ECU men and women’s basketball teams opened the season with wins.

On Saturday, the Mack McCarthy era officially began with a 78-60 win over Division II Limestone.

As bad as basketball has been at ECU for quite a while, it's hard to believe that this program has now won eight straight season openers. I understand that there hasn’t been a powerhouse in that opening slot, but 8-8 for any ECU basketball team is pretty impressive.

Coach Mack had a chance to clear his bench on Saturday. This is a team that could have won this game by 50, but the experience every player picked up in the game is much more important then a winning margin.

A key part of the preseason and the early season is learning just what combinations work best together.

“We’ve got to look at different combinations,” McCarthy said afterwards. “We’ve got a couple of bad combinations out there. We’ve been putting five in at a time in scrimmages and it worked pretty effectively but it wasn’t as good in a live game situation.”

Darrell Jenkins led East Carolina with 17 points and seven assists. John Fields collected 14 points in the win.

The Lady Pirates completed the basketball weekend sweep with their 97-52 win over Presbyterian.

Allison Spivey and Lauren Cochran each scored 14 points in the win for Coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener.

Baldwin-Tener says she wants her team to take it to the next level this season.

“We’ve put it on their shirts, so they can see it everyday,” said Baldwin-Tener. “We want to return to the NCAA tournament, and we want to win some games there.”

Both the men and women are back in action tonight in a doubleheader at Williams Arena. The women host Old Dominion at 6 p.m., followed by the men taking on Richmond at 8 p.m.

The Spiders, of the Atlantic 10 Conference, pushed C-USA kingpin and nationally third-ranked Memphis to late in the second half last week.

I know that both basketball programs would surely appreciate a big crowd for the double dip.

Make a point to be there tonight. At the very least, it’ll get your mind off of football for a while!


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04/21/2008 07:03:07 PM


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