Overcoming Adversity Has Become Theme to the Season
by Dan Eberhard

East Carolina head baseball coach Randy Mazey is one of the few people who can empathize with Roy Williams right now.  Williams is in the midst of watching North Carolina get a total face-lift due to early departures while Mazey is dealing with the same issue and much more.

It may be a steep comparison to draw because of the nature of the two different sports but this legendary basketball coach and the Pirates skipper have a lot in common.

Coach Mazey is facing many of the issues that could haunt the Tar Heel basketball team next year.  The top seven scorers are gone for UNC, three players graduated and four are leaving early for the NBA Draft.  The situation is very similar to what Mazey and the Pirates went through after the 2004 season.

ECU lost seven players to the Major League Baseball Draft, six of whom still had at least a year of eligibility remaining.  Factor in the injuries to the pitching staff and the left side of the infield and it's hard to believe the Pirates are even playing .500 baseball in 2005.

East Carolina took 8 healthy pitchers to Louisville two weeks ago.  The team was also missing third baseman Mark Minicozzi (knee) and shortstop Billy Richardson (hand).  Still, the squad was able to come away with a sweep and help continue a climb in the Conference USA standings.  ECU is currently in 8th place, but has won 7 of its last 9 conference games and is just 2 games out of third place.

The 2005 Pirates aren't even a shell of last year's team.  The heart of the batting order doesn't produce the record numbers the 2004 squad did, and the pitching staff isn't nearly as deep.  Despite all this, East Carolina still has a legitimate shot to make the NCAA Tournament for the seventh year in a row. 

It's impossible for coaches to compete with lucrative professional contract offers this day in age.  And few teams are able to consistently compete year after year.  Duke basketball, Oklahoma football, Miami football. There aren't many teams that can lose multiple quality players and rebuild for the following year. Credit the ECU coaching staff for their efforts this year. 

Be patient with Pirates this season because good things will come.  The squad is riding high on the momentum of Ricky Brooks' ("second") no-hitter and has an opportunity to continue the program's postseason tradition.

Dan Eberhard