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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, November 18, 2008

By Brian Bailey

Limping Pirates playing for East title

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

I really thought East Carolina football coach Skip Holtz might appear
at his weekly news conference in a hospital gown. Holtz joked that he almost wore a shirt with a big red cross on it.

Sometimes you have to laugh so you don’t cry.

Holtz was obviously disappointed that his team dropped that 21-3 loss to Southern Miss on Saturday. He’s totally baffled by the MASH outfit that his squad has turned into.

"We've tried to look at all of our injuries, the number of people who are out right now and what it's attributed to,” said Holtz. “There are just so many variances and differences. Some people talk about if it's overtraining or not being in shape. I just don't think there's a lot you can do about broken bones and surgeries.

"Those are, unfortunately, the injuries in football and this just happens to be a year where we have fallen on an awful lot of injuries. I've said this before, but I'm not making an excuse. I'm stating the facts and what we have to do in order to get this football team ready.”

I haven’t seen anything like it either. Sure, there have been devastating, season-ending injuries before, but never anything really like this.

Still, with all of the injuries and adversity, this Pirate football team maintains control of its own destiny in Conference USA heading into Saturday's game at UAB. The Pirates could win the East Division by default.

According to Conference USA’s “simple evaluation” of the race, the Pirates certainly continue in the driver’s seat.
Marshall would have to win out and have the Pirates lose out to take the title.

Memphis would have to win out, have ECU lose twice, and Marshall lose once in order to take the East.

Southern Miss would have to win out and have ECU, Marshall and Memphis all lose out the rest of the way.

The Pirates have had their problems in the state of Alabama, but that’s really ancient history for this team. Most of these younger players who have been thrust into action have no idea about any of East Carolina’s luck in ‘Bama.

Maybe this is the group that can help erase some of those memories. A Pirate win over UAB clinches the East Division for Skip Holtz and Company.

Holtz gets a win this week, and then tries to figure out which players will be able to go the day after Thanksgiving against UTEP, the following week in the league championship game and, finally, in the bowl game.

So much football still to play, but so few healthy bodies to play with. It’s some kind of dilemma for the Pirates.

One win, though, clinches the East Division for the first time ever.

Hoops squad winning so far

East Carolina’s basketball team got off to a 2-0 start with a couple of wins this past weekend.

The Pirates opened with a 71-56 win over Coker. The very next night Coker traveled south and put a whipping on Coastal Carolina. ECU followed that first win with a 94-58 pasting of St. Andrews.

“We made some progress between Friday night and tonight (Sunday),” said second year coach Mack McCarthy after the blowout win over St. Andrews. “Mostly in just how we approached the game mentally. I was really pleased with how receptive they were and how team-oriented they were.

"We’ve got a lot of things that we’ve got to do better, but we’re clearly sharing the basketball, we’re clearly trying hard and we’ve got clearly more offensive weapons then we’ve had in the past.”

I’d say things are crystal clear through two games. The schedule stiffens from here, with Campbell due in town Wednesday, George Mason coming to town on Saturday and then Virginia Commonwealth visiting next week.

Big Darrius Morrow came off the bench to record a double-double on Sunday afternoon against St. Andrews. Morrow first committed to South Carolina, but came to ECU after the coaching change with the Gamecocks. He may become the inside presence this program has needed for some time.

The three-point line may have been moved back a bit, but that doesn’t seem to bother James Legan and Sam Hinnant. The two were 6-11 from the 3-point line in the win over St. Andrews.

The two wins were nice, but Coach Mac and company know that these next three games will certainly give us a better feel for what we’ll see this basketball season.


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11/18/2008 01:17:37 AM


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