Dance Fever

by Chris Stansbury

East Carolina's Lady Pirate basketball team is going to the Big Dance! That is HUGE!

I consider myself to be a pretty strong member of the Pirate Nation.  I have been bleeding Purple and Gold since 1989.  But, I would venture to say that I, like many others in the Pirate Nation, get really stoked for football season.  Then it's baseball season followed by basketball season in terms of my excitement level.  And to be honest, it's usually men's basketball.   

Now that doesn't make me a sexist.  No, not at all.  As a matter of fact, I am a big fan of Tracey Kee's softball team and Rick Kobe's Lady Pirate swimmers.    

I am a realist.  Even though Ricky Stokes had a regular season he would rather forget, more fans poured in to Minges Coliseum on any given Wednesday or Saturday than did for Sharon Baldwin-Tener's Lady Pirate Basketball team.  And they won 18 regular season games and were seeded third in the Conference USA standings.   

I had a front row seat in Richmond when Lester Lyons and Ike Copeland cut the nets down winning the CAA Tournament and made it to the big dance.  And that was a moment as a Pirate fan that I won't ever forget.  Like the Peach Bowl.  Or the Liberty Bowl.  Or Keith LeClair's run on the diamonds. 

So, you better believe I tuned to ESPN2 Sunday night to watch the Lady Pirates battle for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.  I couldn't believe I was flipping back and forth between the ECU game and the Duke/Carolina game.  Other than when Tyler Hansborough took a shot in the grill with 15 seconds to play, I truly spent more time on ESPN2.

I cheered.  I gave high fives to my wife.  Then I watched Rice take a commanding 12-point lead with 12:51 to play in the game and thought it was over.  But the pride of Ayden, Cherie Mills (11 pts.) stepped up.  Followed by Impris Manning (14 pts and 13 rebs.). Then it was Jasmine Young (23 pts.).  And Lacoya Terry (12 pts and named Tournament MVP).  

Baldwin-Tener's troops never quit and completed a 21-point turnaround to win 79-70.  Even she said after the game, she wasn't sure if her team had enough to overcome the double-digit deficit.  BUT THEY DID. Good news, the Lady Pirates are going to be around for a while. Freshmen and sophomores make up 75% of the ECU roster.  And this young crop of players will forever be known as the 2007 CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONS! That comeback win is now filed as another unforgettable moment for me as a Pirate fan. Congratulations East Carolina's Lady Pirates.  We wish you the best of luck as you ride the wave of success to the Big Dance. 
Chris Stansbury