Unfortunately, the Pirate team has had to play without the services of its top returning player from last year, 6-8 forward Gabriel Mikulas. The NCAA determined that the sophomore swingman played in five non-sanctioned games in his native Argentina during the summer of 2001. He is eligible to return to the court against UAB on January 8. Bright spots for the Pirates have come in the play of 6-foot-10 freshman center Moussa Badiane and sophomore point guard Travis Holcomb-Faye. Badiane currently leads the nation in blocked shots with 5.4 per game average. He blocked seven shots in the Lees McRae game to bring his season total to 34. The East Carolina single season record for blocked shots is 46. Holcomb-Faye ranks 12th in the country in assists with a 3.6 per game average.
Erroyl Bing leads ECU in scoring and rebounding with 16.3 and 8.8 a game, respectively. Following his team's win over Lees McRae and his fifth double-double of the season with a 17-point, 13-rebound effort, Bing turned his thoughts to the Bearcats, "That's all we are thinking about right now," said Bing. "I probably won't even be able to sleep the night before the game, because I am so excited about this opportunity. Getting to play in games like we are going to have Saturday is the reason I came to East Carolina." It will indeed be interesting to see how the Pirates' young guns perform against the highest level of collegiate competition in the form of Cincinnati.
The 12-1 Cincinnati Bearcats enter Saturday's contest lead ironically enough, by Steve Logan - the basketball player. The senior guard is averaging over 22 points per contest and over 29 points per game in the recent Las Vegas Classic Tournament. Despite UC's early success Logan says, "Our offense has got to get much better, "I can't come out and do what I did for this tournament every game." Logan need not fear, the Bearcats should have more than enough offensive weapons to take care of an out-manned Pirate squad.
A little disconcerting to Pirate fans' hopes of a major upset on Saturday may be Cincinnati's 77-46 romp over the Pirates' former CAA foe Richmond 77-46 a couple of weeks ago. The Pirates' lost both of its games with the Spiders last season including a 75-54 setback. It's true, that was last year, but ECU basketball is still … ECU basketball. Come out to Minges Saturday and witness the beginning of a new era in Pirate hoops, but you may want to check your expectations at the door.