Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather

Notes, Quotes and Slants

Read Denny O'Brien's feature on Scott Cowen's confrontation with the Bowl Championship Series in Bonesville Magazine.

Pirate Notebook No. 231
Tuesday, March 1, 2005

By Denny O'Brien
Staff Writer and Columnist

Herrion improved hoops standing


Bill Herrion's imprint on East Carolina can't be judged by his overall record. That measurement is a misleading gauge of the contribution the Pirates coach made to the bigger picture of ECU basketball.

At a school short on memorable hoops moments, arguably the best occurred with Herrion at the helm.

Prior to his arrival, East Carolina had never beaten a top ten club, a feat that Herrion accomplished twice in Greenville. A significant home court advantage was a rare occurrence during the pre-Herrion days but became an overwhelming theme throughout his tenure.

"I'm proud of what we've done," Herrion said following the Pirates' 77-66 win over Southern Miss last Wednesday. "What we've done, we've had some great wins in this conference since we've been in it, and for most nights we've been very competitive.

"I've said this so many times before. There are some nights where that's as about as good as we can do, is just play our tails off and we come up short. That might be as good as we can do, given what we're in right here."

That's a fairly accurate analysis given the talent Herrion routinely put on the floor. Throughout the Pirates' existence in Conference USA, there have been very few occasions when the better foe was draped in purple and gold.

When the playing field was level, East Carolina typically held the advantage on the scoreboard. But the inability to significantly close the talent gap with conference foes consistently kept the Pirates among the bottom four in one of the nation's toughest leagues — and essentially cost Herrion his job.

"I'm sure what it is it's probably not enough wins," Herrion said. "I would guess that's what it is.

"I think we run the program in a first class manner. Our kids play hard. Our kids aren't on the front page of the paper every day. Most of our kids graduate. If you meet any of our kids outside of the gym, they're just good kids. They handle themselves the right way. That's the only way I would want it to be."

The fact is, though, it could have been much better had Herrion retained the players he recruited to East Carolina at a higher rate. The Pirates lost too much talent prematurely during his stint on the job, which no doubt is a big factor in the team's poor record this season.

Both Keith Foster and Charles Bronson, for example, would have been key contributors on a frontcourt that lacks depth and bulk. But academics prevented both from ever seeing the floor.

Belton Rivers and Frank Robinson could have provided the experienced backcourt depth the Pirates needed earlier this year. In their case, it was on-the-court issues that essentially led to transfers.

(It has been speculated that Herrion was sometimes unable to relate with players and was subject to the occasional locker room meltdown, and Rivers and Robinson were casualties as a result.)

Even so, any blemishes that occurred shouldn't offset the strides the program made during Herrion's reign.

If nothing else, Herrion generated a higher level of excitement surrounding the program and fueled the notion that ECU basketball can move beyond the days when it was viewed as a diversion demanding little investment and hardly any returns.

Herrion's enthusiasm and tough approach — along with C-USA inclusion — increased the importance of hoops in Greenville. The Pirates were more competitive against higher-level opponents than at any previous time in the program's history.

But that doesn't mean Pirates athletics director Terry Holland jumped the gun by dismissing Herrion. Though not a widely popular decision, the primary objective of an AD isn't to cater to public opinion.

If there is anyone on the planet qualified to make decisions regarding a basketball program, it has to be Holland. Very few possess the unique combination of experience playing and coaching the game at the Division I level, as well as a successful track record as an administrator of a major program.

If Holland thinks the basketball program needs new direction, it's a sound bet he's operating on more than just a hunch. Athletic directors are paid relatively handsome salaries to make difficult decisions and aren't afforded the wiggle room to make mistakes with revenue sports.

The task now for Holland is to find the right captain to navigate ECU basketball into smoother waters.

Someone in the mold of Cliff Ellis or Matt Doherty would seem to make the most sense. Both are sound strategists, solid recruiters, and bring instant name recognition to a school with little basketball identity.

Their strong ties to the ACC also would put East Carolina a step closer towards scheduling the well-respected regional opponents Holland has targeted. That goes without mentioning the message such a hire would send to the Big East and Atlantic 10.

Another possible route is a high-profile assistant or a successful head coach at a school in a smaller conference. Steve Robinson and Greg Marshall immediately come to mind.

Regardless, Holland's selection will inherit a program with a more established hardwood history than it had six years ago.

More than anything, that is the mark Herrion left on ECU hoops.

Send an e-mail message to Denny O'Brien.

Click here to dig into Denny O'Brien's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:59:37 AM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.