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ECU set for tourney; Williams wins award

East Carolina Houston Basketball-3
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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

July 18, 2018

CARY — Duke football coach David Cutcliffe was asked Monday during the Bill Dooley Pigskin Preview about nightmares he has in his profession.

He joked that one involves facing a North Carolina offense and N.C. State defense during the same game. He was sitting next to East Carolina third-year…

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July 16, 2018

CARY — The 16th annual Bill Dooley Pigskin Preview followed tradition Monday and turned into part comedy act by the five coaches involved and part serious football talk.

East Carolina third-year coach Scottie Montgomery and N.C. Central interim coach Granville Eastman were joined by Atlantic…

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July 16, 2018

Speaking engagements and vacation time for college football coaches will turn into full preseason practices in less than a month, but for now there is still some balancing of obligations.

First-year East Carolina defensive coordinator David Blackwell has worked on specific details with his players…

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July 15, 2018

David Blackwell has coached college football at Pittsburgh and South Florida, which is located in Tampa.

He said it was easy to recognize that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL are kings in those cities.

He also is a former East Carolina football player and student…

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July 14, 2018

The Cuba team put together an abundance on runs Saturday for a 15-4 victory over the visiting USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, but USA still finished its summer with a 12-3 record and won all three of its international series.

The Americans featured East Carolina head coach Cliff Godwin as…

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July 12, 2018

The success of a profitable NCAA baseball regional held at Clark-LeClair Stadium in June and positive vibes from fans at recent Pirate Club armada events had officials optimistic at Thursday’s Athletics and Advancement Committee portion of the East Carolina Board of Trustees meeting, but the…

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July 12, 2018

East Carolina standout and Greenville native Bryant Packard went 2-for-4 as the leadoff hitter in Game 1 for the USA Collegiate National Team in the USA vs. Cuba series in Havana, Cuba, on Tuesday night.

Game 2 on Wednesday night saw ECU pitcher Jake Agnos throw four innings with three…

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July 12, 2018

July is a big month for college football fans to soak up preseason hype in the form of magazines, predictions and projections of all kinds.

These things have not been kind already to East Carolina, which has posted consecutive 3-9 seasons under coach Scottie Montgomery.

The Phil Steele Preview…

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July 11, 2018

A major “wow moment” happened for Blake Taylor before he even teed off last Thursday at The Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., for his PGA Tour debut.

It came Tuesday during a practice round for the East Carolina rising junior while playing with PGA veteran Jim Furyk.…

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July 10, 2018

East Carolina men’s golf coach Andrew Sapp is the president of the Golf Coaches Association of America, and serving in that role put him in Avion, France, last week.

He was there for the Arnold Palmer Classic, which is a Ryder Cup-style event for college golfers, while current Pirate…

Greenbrier Golf
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