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ECU set for tourney; Williams wins award

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East Carolina guard Shawn Williams, left, drives to the basket as Houston forward Nura Zanna defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Interim East Carolina basketball coach Michael Perry admitted Monday that his team has been a squad in transition since he took over for former veteran coach Jeff Lebo in late November.

The Pirates (10-19) have transitioned into postseason mode, and they are viewed as a major underdog for the American Athletic Conference tournament. 

Cincinnati, Wichita State and Houston finished top three in the league and separated themselves, while teams like ECU and others are looking for an upset run this week in Orlando, Fla. The 11th-seeded Pirates play No. 6 Central Florida (18-12) in the opening round on Thursday night in a game that probably won’t tip off until after 9 p.m.

“We’re all on an even playing field at this point, but with some teams there is a lot more pressure on them than others,” Perry said Monday during the league’s coaches teleconference. “We’ve put pressure on ourselves, because we want to be able to walk out of here at the end of the day with a good taste in our mouths. We want to go out and play our best basketball of the year.”

ECU did get a boost Wednesday when Shawn Williams was named the AAC rookie of the year.

The 6-foot Little Rock, Ark., native has been a major bright spot for ECU as a redshirt freshman and the team’s third-leading scorer at 12.2 points per game. Senior guard B.J. Tyson remains as the team leader with a 15.0 scoring mark to end the regular season.

Williams finished first among AAC freshmen in scoring, 3-point percentage (.366) and 3-pointers made per game (2.4), and he is the league leader in free throw percentage (87.0 percent) with a 60-of-69 mark.

“We have some really good pieces, and I think it just shows a bright future for East Carolina basketball and for Shawn Williams,” Perry said.

Williams is the first Pirate to win a rookie of the year award since Gabriel Mikulas won it in the Colonial Athletic Association for the  2000-01 season.

ECU and UCF have both been shorthanded lately. For the Pirates, the main concern is being without veteran forward Kentrell Barkley because of an indefinite suspension, and 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall is a big injury for UCF.

The absence of Fall provides the main difference between now and when the Knights overwhelmed ECU, 59-39, in Greenville on Dec. 31. Fall had six points, five rebounds and three blocks, and 6-9 A.J. Davis posted a big game with 17 points and 10 boards.

“We’ll review the game ... but I don’t think it has much merit because both teams are so uniquely different from then to now,” said UCF coach Johnny Dawkins, who is in his second season leading the Knights. “I think it’s more important to find out how both teams are looking now.”

UCF stopped a three-game losing streak Sunday with a 60-51 win against Tulane. Junior guard B.J. Taylor is the team’s scoring leader at 15.5 ppg.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

ECU

June 20, 2018

The anticipated arrival of most of the freshman class for the East Carolina basketball team coincides this week with the start of the university’s second summer session of classes.

Five of the six recruits, excluding 7-foot-2 Bosnia native Milan Stakic, are slated to begin classes and…

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June 19, 2018

A pair of East Carolina women’s basketball recruits, who will join the team this week along with two others, were recently named to All-Star teams in their respective states.

Tiara Chambers earned a spot on the West squad for the second annual Virginian-Pilot Joy Fund All-Star Classic, while…

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June 19, 2018

The time just after former East Carolina pole vaulter Brie Berkowitz completed her master’s degree at ECU was defined by a series of internships.

She did broadcasting for football camps, coordinated travel for various teams with the Miami Hurricanes and worked in sales and marketing for the…

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June 18, 2018

The consistency shown by East Carolina football coaches was key during the recruitment of Farmville Central rising senior defensive lineman Keziah Everett and that led to Everett verbally committing to the Pirates on Monday.

He chose ECU over North Carolina and Virginia. The Pirates were the first…

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June 17, 2018

The United States team completed a dominant run at the FIBA Americas U18 basketball tournament in Ontario, Canada, on Saturday night with a 113-74 victory against the host Canadian squad to take the gold medal.

East Carolina first-year coach Joe Dooley helped pick the team, which was led…

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June 16, 2018

East Carolina sophomore outfielder Bryant Packard earned his school-record seventh All-America honor after being named a first-teamer by the American Baseball Coaches Association on Saturday.

Packard led ECU in seven offensive categories, including batting average (.406) to rank seventh nationally.…

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June 15, 2018

East Carolina first-year coach Joe Dooley played in part in assembling the roster for the USA Basketball U18 National Team that could be on a collision course to face host team Canada this weekend in the championship game of the FIBA Americas tournament.

Dooley was a court coach during…

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June 14, 2018

To many in the world of women’s basketball, Anne Donovan was a giant. And not just because she stood 6-foot-8.

She won a national championship at Old Dominion, two Olympic gold medals as a player and another as a coach in her storied career. She died Wednesday and people in Greenville…

Obit Donovan

June 13, 2018

Anne Donovan, the Basketball Hall of Famer and former East Carolina women’s head coach who won a national championship at Old Dominion, two Olympic gold medals in the 1980s and coached the U.S. to gold in 2008, died Wednesday of heart failure. She was 56.

On her rise to prominence, Donovan…

June 12, 2018

Reality set in for East Carolina shot put standout Galissia Cause during her hotel check-in last week in Eugene, Ore., for the track and field NCAA Outdoor Championships.

She competed at the NCAA East Regional meet in all four of her seasons, but only this year did the senior make it past…

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