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'Painting 'em Purple'

From the Booth
Thursday, November 21, 2002
By Jeff Charles
Voice of the Pirates

Pirates dive into weekend Ernie Banks would love


Listen to FROM THE BOOTH with Jeff Charles live on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. on WCZI 98.3 FM, or play the audio archive the next day on Bonesville Internet Radio.





Ernie Banks used to say “let’s play three.”

East Carolina will give him more than he asked for this weekend.

Football season is in its live-or-die stage and ECU's basketball season officially gets underway on two fronts.

Coach Bill Herrion's eager squad will play two games in less than forty-eight hours, sandwiched around a home battle on the gridiron against Conference USA's top dog.

Concurrently, new East Carolina women's roundball coach Sharon Baldwin is making sure her first ECU team isn't perceived as a crop of shrinking violets. The proof? The Lady Pirates open their season on the road Friday against the No. 1 team in the nation — Duke.

For the men, the hoops season starts that same night in Murfreesboro, TN, against the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State. Airtime will be at 7:30 on the Pirate Sports Radio Network.

Herrion’s team is coming off a 12-18 season and the fourth-year ECU coach is looking for his first winning season in Greenville.

The Pirates were 1-1 in preseason competition with a win over the Marines and a loss to EA Sports.

The core of last year’s over-achievers are back, led by 6’7” junior Erroyl Bing, 6’8” junior Gabrial Mikulas and 6’0” senior point guard Travis Holcomb-Faye. Moussa Badiane, a 6’10” sophomore center, is poised to play a much bigger role this season.

Promising newcomers include 6’4” junior swingman Derek Wiley from Moberly Junior College, 6’4” junior guard Luke Mackay from Lon Morris Junior College and two impressive freshmen, 6’3” guard Belton Rivers and 6’8” forward Corey Rouse from Kinston.

Holcomb-Faye and Mackay missed time with injuries in the pre-season but both are expected to go Friday night.

The Pirates surprised many with five Conference USA wins last year. This season the element of surprise won’t be there. Every league team coming into Williams Arena Minges Coliseum will bring their “A” game. As a result, ECU won’t be able to sneak up on opponents this year because the Rick Pitino’s of the world now know how tough it is to play in Greenville.

Can this team be better than last year’s? One would say yes. These guys are a year older and wiser and the out of conference schedule is conducive to some wins entering conference play on December 30th against Marquette.

The question marks are outside shooting and frontcourt depth. Will Herrion play big with Badiane, Bing and Mikulas on the floor together or will he go with a smaller quicker lineup? He prefers going smaller.

The zone will be back, that’s for certain. It kills Herrion to play it, because he’s a man-to-man guy, but it was effective last year.

Whether the Pirates play man or zone, they will play good defense. That’s a Herrion trademark. They will play hard too, another Herrion trademark.

Basketball season is a marathon with a lot of ups and downs. The journey starts Friday night.

By the way...

Oh, yes, there’s a football game Saturday afternoon in Greenville. The first one in five weeks at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium's Bagwell Field.

The nation’s twenty-fourth ranked team, the Texas Christian Horned Frogs, invade for a 2:00 p.m. C-USA confrontation.

Gary Patterson’s team is riding high at 8-1 after reeling off eight straight wins following an opening game overtime loss to Cincinnati.

Patterson is Mr. Intensity and he’s brought a take no prisoners defensive mentality to the tradition-rich Texas school. The TCU coach was the defensive coordinator for Dennis Franchione before coach Fran moved on to Alabama.

TCU has only given up 17 points in its last two games and has a penchant for swarming the opposition. The Horned Frogs have some excellent weapons on offense, too, led by quarterback Sean Stilley, freshman running back Lonta Hobbs and wide receiver Latarence Dunbar.

The Pirates, with a win Saturday, can certainly rekindle the good feelings this program has worked so hard to build. Three games remain and if some how these guys can win all three, they will become bowl eligible.

I know it’s a stretch, but hey, you still have three more to play.

We hope you plan to make it a “double dip” in Greenville this weekend. Remember it’s the basketball home opener Sunday at 2:00 p.m. against ‘Ole Miss. The Pirates need that home court advantage against a talented Rebel team that will be a contender in the SEC.

Till next time, “keep painting’em purple.”

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02/23/2007 10:23:57 AM

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