Time To Demand More?

East Carolina's football team's GMAC Bowl loss is now two weeks behind us and amazingly enough, Internet message boards are still abuzz with passionate discussion on what went wrong in that game, the season and what must be done to prevent such travesties in the future … including firing coaches.

All this only a couple of days from East Carolina's historic entrance into Conference- USA basketball play with a home game against nationally ranked Cincinnati. It only serves to illustrate the obvious; though positioned geographically in the heart of Tobacco Road, the Pirates' hoops program has little tradition and even less of a passionate fan following.

Sure, a few thousand folks regularly find their way to the seats in Minges Coliseum, but high expectations of success don't accompany that trek. In fact, if the truth be told, most ECU football fans adopt other schools to cheer for during basketball season.

The current benefactor of Pirate fans' low expectations for success in basketball is head coach Bill Herrion. When Herrion's team lost to Appalachian State, UNC-Greensboro and Old Dominion earlier this season was there any significant outcry? Most Pirate fans simply shrugged their shoulders and went on with their football discussions.

The much-heralded Herrion arrived in Greenville three years ago assuring a more competitive product would be delivered. Bill knows the score. In an interview with Denny O'Brien published on Bonesville.net he stated, "What we haven't stood for so far at East Carolina in basketball is a winning tradition. We [ECU] just haven't won consistently enough." He went on to say, "When I took this job two years ago, I said to myself, if they can win in football, they can win in basketball. Everybody has always told me that North Carolina is a great state for basketball, so why can't we win in basketball. I think there are enough good players to go around in this state." I agree, so why is it that ECU is still losing to the likes of Appalachian and ODU?

Don't misunderstand my message; a healthy dose of realism should accompany expectations. In other words, don't abandon hope should the Pirates receive the expected beating at the hands of the Bearcats this coming Saturday. However, success against programs with less or comparable resources is not asking too much. Double overtime wins over the likes of Radford may have been acceptable in years past, but its now time that ECU supporters hold those running the basketball program accountable to a higher standard.

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