ECU hoop team shows promise in opener

Published 10:28 am Sunday, November 16, 2008

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — East Carolina did some good things in its 2008 debut Friday night, and most importantly came away with convincing 71-56 win over Div. II Coker College.
It’s not enough for the Pirates (1-0) to just win those type of games, they must win in decisive fashion, and they were able to do that.
Senior small forward/shooting guard Sam Hinnant, who led all scorers with 21 points, showed that he is committed to trying to become more than just a shooter. Hinnant, who played with a brace over his right wrist, made a conscious effort to put the ball on the floor and was rewarded with 10 free throws. He made all 10.
Pirates’ coach Mack McCarthy said he emphasized the importance to Hinnant of getting to the rim, and he was happy with the way he responded.
Hinnant’s ability to drive the ball will be a big factor in the success of the Pirates’ offense. He was able to do it against Coker, but the big question is can he do it against some of the more athletic players in Conference USA.
Another positive for the Pirates was the play of Chad Wynn. The 6-10 center dominated when he got the ball in the paint, and when he was scoring the offense flowed much better.
Wynn was also being guarded by a 6-6 Div. II player, so like with Hinnant, the question is can he duplicate that kind of success against an equally talented opponent.
Two areas of improvement Wynn will need to address immediately is foul trouble and rebounding. Wynn caught two quick fouls against the Cobras and was forced to miss major minutes in the first half, and also finished the game with only three rebounds; two less than 5-10 point guard Brock Young.
While Young grabbed a few boards and dished out nine assists, he had six turnovers himself, and at times looked a step behind on defense.
Coker didn’t have that much speed on the court, but ran an intricate offense that utilized screens away from the ball. Several times Young got lost in the screens, and had a little trouble with his on-ball defense.
More importantly, McCarthy said his sophomore point guard must do a better job managing the game.
Young and the Pirates will get to work out their kinks today when they host another Div. II opponent in St. Andrews at 1:30 p.m.
The Knights are led by first-year coach Ritchie Schuler, who took over after long time head coach Billy Lee retired.
St. Andrews, which finished 7-20 (6-14 last year) is led by sophomore point guard Colby Poe (10 ppg.) And senior forward Marcus Hoke (8 ppg).