East Carolina will give him more than he asked for this
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I know it’s a stretch, but hey, you still have three more to
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.