Wednesday, January 22, 2003

East Carolina could be trap for UC

Small gym, big noise make it tough on visitors

By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina coach Bill Herrion is perceptive enough to know there were coaches in Conference USA who didn't think his program belonged in the league last season.

He also was smart enough to use that attitude as motivation for his players.

The Cincinnati Bearcats (11-3, 4-0 C-USA) play at East Carolina (10-5, 1-3) at 7 p.m. today at Minges Coliseum.

Before gaining access to the major-program status offered by C-USA, a status conferred largely because the league coveted the school's more successful football program, the Pirates were a mid-major program struggling in the Colonial Athletic Association.

"I know there were coaches and administrators that were upset when we came into the league for basketball," Herrion said. "We told our kids a lot of schools in this league don't think we belong. A lot of people wondered if we could even compete well enough to win a game in Conference USA."

The Pirates won five games in their inaugural C-USA season, all at home, including upsets of Louisville and Marquette. In the process, they established a homecourt advantage considered one of the league's best.

UC was the first C-USA school to discover how uncomfortable the Pirates could make things for their opponents. The Bearcats trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half last season before rallying for a 10-point victory.

Senior Leonard Stokes rates 8,000-seat Minges Coliseum with Charlotte, Marquette and Memphis as the toughest places to play in C-USA.

"It's a smaller gym and it's real loud in there," Stokes said. "Everywhere we go it's loud, but places like East Carolina, Charlotte and Marquette, those places are especially loud. It's like a 20-point difference for them between being home and away."

No.20 Marquette again fell victim to the East Carolina homecourt on Dec.30, dropping a 73-70 decision there.

"It's just a different arena," said Marquette coach Tom Crean. "It's a smaller venue. When we've been there, it's been filled to capacity. They have a very good team and their crowd gives them great energy. The fans surround you."

Said Herrion: "We're the only show in town. We've improved as a team and as a program. Last year, a lot of our fans really came out to see Cincinnati and Bob Huggins when they were nationally ranked, to see Louisville and Rick Pitino or Marquette. What's happening now is that our fans are coming out to see us."

The Bearcats, winners of six straight, are expecting a difficult time, but they say they've learned to expect fired-up crowds wherever they go.

"It's that way every game for us," said UC coach Bob Huggins. "It doesn't matter where we go, it ends up being that way. If you got into an environment like they have at East Carolina and that's the only time you have it all year, it makes it that much more difficult. But we do it all the time. I think our guys are a little better prepared for it."

The Pirates got off to a quick start this season, winning their first seven games. But they have lost three in a row and five of their last eight, including an 87-70 loss at home to No.9 Louisville last week.

"What we're finding is that even though we're an improved team, we have to play a certain way in this league to give our kids a chance," Herrion said. "We cannot play up and down like we did against Louisville. We have to slow things down."

The Pirates limit their opponents to 39.8 percent shooting. Center Moussa Badiane (6feet10) leads the league in block shots with 2.8 per game. Offensively, junior guard Derrick Wiley leads East Carolina with 14.5 points a game.

Leonard StokesSr.6-616.8
Jason MaxiellSo.6-712.3
Derek HollmanJr.6-81.1
Field WilliamsJr.6-312.7
Taron BarkerSr.6-17.0
Coach: Bob Huggins (343-103, 14th season; 511-175 overall).

Erroyl BingJr.6-68.9
Gabriel MakulasJr.6-812.8
Moussa BadianeSr.6-108.3
Derrick WileyJr.6-414.5
T. Holcomb-FayeSr.6-19.6
Coach: Bill Herrion (46-55, fourth season; 213-126.)

East Carolina could be trap for UC

Xavier 93, Duquesne 58
Xavier Notebook: Chalmers will take it easy at first
Xavier's Waugh chats on

No. 14 Indiana 69, Ohio St. 51
Top 25: Alabama fading fast
Mission of UK's Daniels: Contain Auburn's Daniels
Pitino worried about inside play against DePaul

Report: Rose to admit betting on baseball
Foster named to Reds Hall of Fame
List of Reds Hall of Famers

Lewis fills all but one coaching slot
Meet the new Bengals assistant coaches
Lewis tries to soothe Spikes
NFL says Bengals deserve more time to be competitive

DAUGHERTY: Sapp is no one's fool, Cuz
Gruden sidesteps controversy over Raiders' breakup
Mystique vs. misery: Raiders have big edge in image
At 40, Rice still looking ahead
Talk makes headlines at Super Bowl
Teen part of Super Bowl broadcast

Cancer claims ex-Brown Eddie Johnson at 43
NFL Notebook: Ex-Bengal Schonert to coach Giants QB's

Serena, Clijsters to meet in semis
Agassi to meet Ferreira in semis
Australian Open Results

Webber makes case for MVP
NBA Games: Yao needs a breather

Jasontek eyes 2004 Games
Olympic Committee leaders revolts against president
Four advance in Silver Gloves

Kings moves into 1st in FAVC Cardinal
Ohio Boys Games: St. X rallies past Alter
Ohio Girls Games: No. 1 MND trounces No.4 St. Ursula
Simon Kenton holds off CovCath
Ky. Boys Games: Scott hangs on for 6th win
Ky. Girls Games: No. 2 Boone overwhelms No.7 Ryle
Ohio Basketball Notebook
Today's Basketball Schedule
Tuesday's High School Results
Boys Swimming Honor Roll
Girls Swimming Honor Roll
Gymnastics Honor Roll

Today on TV-Radio

Mail This Story (Click here) Send this story to a friend.

vs. South Florida (3-4)
• 1:00 p.m. Sat. Nov. 20
• Nippert Stadium
• Radio: WLW-AM 700


Paterno Won't Coach Penn St.-Temple Game

Paterno Won't Go to Penn St.-Temple Game

Spurrier Shadow Looms Large in Florida

No. 15 Rutgers Bracing for Historic Game

Hurricanes Stunned by Teammate's Murder

Big East logo
UC joins Big East
• A special section of complete coverage, as the UC Bearcats join one of the nation's elite sports conferences.


Terps Sign Gary Williams Through 2010-11

Bob Knight Approaches Winning Milestone

Buckeyes' Oden Content to Wait for NBA

Larranaga Enjoy Spoils of Final Four Run

Hansbrough Leads AP's All-America Team

AP's Preseason All-America Team

Gators Runaway Preseason No. 1 in Poll

Gators Return Starters to Defend Title

Texas Tech's Jackson Returns to Practice

Sutton Released From Hospital in Okla.


Paris Headlines AP's All-America Team

ACC New Powerhouse in Women's Basketball

Maryland Tops AP Women's Basketball Poll