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News Nuggets, 03.31.05
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

Preparations in place for closed ECU scrimmage


03.30.05: Night-time football on the menu for Pirate fans ... Gamecocks top Terps to reach NIT title game ... Hawks halt Memphis in NIT semifinal battle ... More...
03.29.05: East Carolina southpaw takes Conference USA honor ... Beale Street helps Memphis star cure the blues ... More...
03.28.05: McCants helps Heels seal the deal over Badgers ... Scintillating finishes supercharge TV ratings ... More...
03.27.05: Cards, Illini mount monumental rallies to reach Final Four ... Terrapins dump TCU to win Garden date with South Carolina ... Sunday preview: North Carolina vs. Wisconsin ... More...
03.26.05: Duke, State bite the dust; Heels survive ... Louisville, WVU rumble for spot in Final Four ... Fires plague Morgantown after tourney win ... Players nabbed for passing fake currency ... More...
03.25.05: Holland named to powerful USA Basketball panel ... ECU fans to have rooting interest in NIT semis ... Triangle's Sweet 16 teams converge at RDU ... Another DUI charge embarrasses Cincinnati ... More...
03.24.05: NIT: Memphis whips Vandy to advance to Garden ... NIT: Maryland overcomes big Davidson lead ... Big East hops on replay bandwagon ... More...
03.23.05: NIT win over UNLV extends Stokes' ties to USC ... Davidson-Maryland NIT matchup set for TV ... Activists file suit over 'Chief Illiniwek' ... More...
03.22.05: Break over for East Carolina football team ... Frogs in NIT quarterfinals after overtime win ... CBS reaping ratings bonanza from tourney ... Baseball America & Collegiate Baseball Polls ... More...
03.21.05: Spurrier straps on visor, gets down to business ... NCAA Tourney Sweet 16 pairings & schedule ... Tournament's TV ratings up over 2004 ... More...
03.20.05: Kentucky proves it still has Bearcats' number ... Memphis zaps Hokies, starts thinking NIT title ... Davidson tames Bears, turns focus to Terps ... Preview: (4) Louisville vs. (5) Georgia Tech ... More...
03.19.05: Hodge leads Wolfpack to comeback win over 49ers ... Louisville escapes upset bid by Ragin' Cajuns ... Preview: (7) Cincinnati vs. (2) Kentucky ... Preview: (11) UAB vs. (3) Arizona ... More...

East Carolina's football team passed the halfway point of its spring practice agenda on Wednesday, setting the stage for the first of three scrimmages that will be conducted before the conclusion of spring drills.

Wednesday's practice was the eighth of 15 scheduled sessions in Skip Holtz' first spring at the helm of the Pirates and — according to the coach's comments in an ECU release — was marked by improvement over the previous day's workout.

"I thought today's practice was a crisp one and the kids were sharp mentally," Holtz said. "I believe we've come a long way in the last eight practices. There has been a lot of individual work done and now we're starting to put the team aspect together."

Those team aspects will be tested under more game-like conditions in Friday afternoon's initial spring scrimmage, which will consist of a series of 10-play possessions for each unit.

The scrimmage will be closed to the public.

According to the release, Holtz noted his satisfaction with the development of the offensive line and indicated that all levels of the Pirates' current depth chart would experience action in Friday's scrimmage for the purpose of subsequent game-tape evaluation.

Among the seven remaining sessions in the spring period, two more scrimmages are planned, including the annual Purple-Gold Spring Game on April 16.

Compiled from an ECU Athletics report.

Texas legislature maneuvers to reign in BCS

AUSTIN, TX — A Texas senator wants to ban the state's college football teams from playing in any post-season championship games that are not part of a playoff system.

The bill by Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, is similar to a bill filed in the House last month by Rep. Rep. Corbin Van Arsdale, R-Tomball.

Both bills would expire Dec. 2, just before Bowl Championship Series bids go out, if a similar law is not enacted in at least four other states.

In the end, both may turn out to be mostly symbolic measures born out of frustration with the BCS system, in which a poll of college football coaches and computer rankings help determine which teams will play in the major bowl games.

The Associated Press has instructed the BCS to stop using the AP Top 25 rankings by sportswriters and broadcasters as part of the selection formula.

The University of Texas received its first BCS bid this past season when it was invited to the Rose Bowl. The Longhorns beat Michigan 38-37.

Wentworth's bill would prohibit Texas' NCAA teams from playing in ``an intercollegiate post-regular-session competition that is part of a series that includes a national championship game unless that competition is part of a national playoff system.''

That system would have to consist of ``at least 16 teams competing in successive elimination games resulting in a final game for the national championship of that entire division or level of intercollegiate competition.''

If at least four other states mentioned in the bill enact a similar law before Dec. 1, the law would stay in effect for Texas schools, according to the bill.

The other states are Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Washington.

NIT master Odom leads USC into title game

NEW YORK — Carlos Powell thought about picking up the shiny, silver National Invitation Tournament championship trophy, then shook his head no.

It was close enough to touch, even if he wasn't 6-foot-7, but the South Carolina forward looked at the photographer who asked him to lift it and politely declined.

``I'll just wait until tomorrow,'' Powell said Wednesday, less than 12 hours after South Carolina advanced to the NIT title game with a 75-67 victory over Maryland.

There'll be plenty of time to hold it if the Gamecocks (19-13) knock off Saint Joseph's (24-11) on Thursday night.

Powell had a chance to win the NIT at the end of his freshman season with the Gamecocks. They got all the way to the final but lost to Memphis. Outside of Little League Baseball, he's never been on a championship team.

He has two days and one game left in his college career to change that.

Powell started slowly against Maryland but finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, his sixth double-double of the season and 10th of his career. He moved up to sixth on the school's scoring list Tuesday and has played the most games in Gamecocks history (131).

``It's something I don't want to end, but I would like for it to end with a championship,'' he said.

And he is going in with the right coach.

Dave Odom has made himself quite comfortable in the NIT. He has a championship, a runner-up finish and a 15-3 record in five trips.

Odom went three times with Wake Forest and won it all in 2000. He's trying to duplicate the feat with the Gamecocks after falling one victory short in 2002.

``I certainly take pride in it,'' Odom said of his NIT success. ``There is not a coach in the country who aspires to have his legacy be 'He was a great NIT coach.' But I will tell you that I'm not ashamed of that.''

Odom and the Gamecocks won't be the fans' top choice against Saint Joe's and quick-witted coach Phil Martelli. Saint Joseph's campus in Philadelphia is about a 2 1/2 -car ride to New York — without traffic.

``Thursday on our campus is a very big study night,'' Martelli said with tongue firmly in cheek. ``I think if we can get them to the library a little early tomorrow we might have in the neighborhood of 6,000 people here.''

Odom said he wouldn't have picked to play the Hawks, but now that both teams are there he is ready to embrace the scene. That includes the circus, which is holding its annual New York run.

``Madison Square Garden turns me on,'' said Odom, who served a stint as East Carolina's coach from 1979-82 and has never coached at a university north of Virginia. ``I like smelling the animals. We're always here when the circus is here. I kind of walk around, and there are elephants around. Go in the arena and you can smell some animals, too.

``It's the way the game should be played.''

But he wants to make sure Saint Joseph's plays the game his team dictates. Odom will press and trap, but not for 40 minutes. He wants to control the tempo, and speed it up.

The tough part will come when the Gamecocks have the ball.

The Hawks' Pat Carroll has being firing in 3s at a sensational pace but it's defense that makes this team win. In the NIT, the Hawks have allowed 52.6 points per game. Only Holy Cross reached 60.

``Their defense is the most underrated and untalked about element of their game,'' Odom said. ``I think it is every bit as good as their offense. Not complicated, just effective.''

The Hawks have played five games in this tournament to four for South Carolina. They also played their quarterfinal at Texas A&M while the Gamecocks stayed home.

Saint Joseph's turned around a 3-6 start and is 21-5 since Jan. 1.

``It's been dramatic,'' Martelli said. ``I hope that the players will be able to call on this for the rest of their lives. It's never as dark as you think it was or as dark as you think it is. Something like that.''

Saint Joe's felt the urging of the crowd in the 70-58 semifinal victory over Memphis, and wants to ride that to the title.

Carroll and fellow senior John Bryant can relate to Powell's quest. They also are seeking their first college championship and want to leave their mark on the school that went to the NCAA regional finals last year on the backs of Jameer Nelson and Delonte West.

Carroll, the Atlantic 10 co-player of the year, is averaging 20.6 points per game in the NIT and has buried 18 of the Hawks' 32 3-pointers in the tournament.

``To make it a good program, you have to be successful many years in a row,'' Carroll said. ``I think we're getting toward that right now.''

News Nuggets are compiled periodically based on material supplied by staff members; data published by ECU, Conference USA and its member schools; and reports from Associated Press and other sources. Copyright 2005 and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Page Updated: 02/23/2007 12:22 PM


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