Ready for tip-off

Published 8:22 pm Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Members of the ABA’s East Carolina Trojans pose for a picture. The Trojans are set to play their first ever-game home game this Sunday when they take on the Fayetteville Flight Sunday at 5 p.m. at Washington High School. (Contributed Photo)

With the NBA on lockout, basketball junkies who need a fix can check out the ABA’s East Carolina Trojans, who will make their home debut this Sunday when they take on the Fayettville Flight at 5 p.m. at Washington High School. The Trojans are in their first year of existence and are owned by Washington Pam Pack alum Tyrone Wilson, who is hoping to provide the area with an entertaining brand of basketball that the ABA has become famous for. For Wilson, who is part of the class of ’88, the idea of bringing a pro basketball franchise to the area is very dear to his heart. “It means a lot to me,” Wilson said. “To be someone who grew up watching players like (former WHS star and NBA Hall of Famer) Dominique (Wilkins) and to see that atmosphere … It’s that type of atmosphere that I’m trying to bring back. Wilson, who owns Wilson Cleaning in Washington, said that when he was attending class at WHS, owning an NBA team was far beyond his imagination. “I never envisioned this,” Wilson said. “But to sit down and try to think like an NBA owner and to have a pro team on your resume is something I never thought bout; but it feels good.” The Trojans are coached by Gerald Smith, who said he is excited the team’s Washington debut. “It’s a special thing,” Smith said. “Our plan is to just come in and do what we do: play aggressive on offense and stay true to our sets.” The ABA is an offensive league that is not afraid to try innovative rule changes and stray away from tradition basketball customs. One of the most noticeable differences is the 3-D light, which when lit, adds an extra point to made baskets. “When the 3-D light is on if you shoot a two it counts as a three and a three counts for four. If you are fouled when shooting a 3, if you don’t make it, you get four free throws instead of three,” Smith said. The 3-D light is activated after a team reaches a certain amount of fouls and commits a turnover. “When there is some type of turnover, the other team gets the ball and the 3-D light comes on,” Smith said. “It’s not for every turnover, it happens after a certain amount of fouls.” Keeping with ABA tradition, Smith said he wants to run a fast-paced, showtime-style offense and a high-pressure defense. “We want to run an aggressive offense,” Smith said. “We tell our players to stay true to our sets because there is a variety of shots that can be had in our sets.” On defense, Smith wants his team to smother opposing offenses with a suffocating man defense that tends to defy the ball-you-man principle. “Our defense is man-to-man,” Smith said. “My philosophy is that I don’t worry about where the ball is, I should have confidence enough in my teammate can handle the guy with the ball. My job is to make sure I deny my man from getting the pass.” The team is comprised of former college and high school stand outs, with one of the most notable being former Williamston star Elton Coffield, AKA EC, who starred overseas for a while. “We have a young man named EC who is able to do a lot of things for us,” Smith said. “He’s a pure shooter once he gets his feet set.” Also starring on the Trojans is Washington graduate Mario Satterthwaite, who at 6-10 brings a big body to the paint. The Trojans are also working to get former Pam Pack great Calvin Daniels on their roster. Smith said in order for his team be successful it must develop a hard-nosed identity. “We want to be a team that’s aggressive on both ends of the court, a team that’s not going to back down from any other team,” Smith said. “We want to play aggressive but clean ball.” Tickets for Sunday’s game are $5 for children, $10 for adults with a ticket and $12 for adults without a ticket. Tickets can be bought at Wilson Cleaning, the Washington Chamber of Commerce and Lee Chevrolet. For more information call 495-0852. 2011-12 East Carolina Trojans roster Elton ‘’EC’’ Coffield 6’’4 195 SG/SF MOC/GERMANY Terril Holley 6’’4 175 SG/SF U of CAMPBELLSVILLE Jimmy Thompson 6’’8 250 PF/C BERTIE HS Josh Phillips 6’’6 200 SF/PF U of CUMBERLAND Doug White 6’’2 190 SG NC WESLEYAN Mario Satterthwaite 6’’10 275 C/PF LIVINGSTONE COLLEGE Christopher Ryan 6”4 210 SG/SF PITT COMMUNITY COLLEGE Raheem Smith 6”2 175 PG SHAW UNIVERSITY Brent Jones 6’’6 200 PF LENIOR COLLEGE Antonio Linzy 6’’2 190 SG HERTFORD CC Justin Moore 6”1 180 SG ROBERSONVILL HS Termain Totten 6”0 185 S/G U/ELIZABETH CITY Trumain Boston 6”4 SG/SF SHAW UNIVERSITY Latay Dardan 6”7 PF/C PARIS JR COLLEGE Calvin Daniels Jr. 6”4 G/SG U/ELIZABETH CITY