Pirates Try to Remain Focused
by Josh Spence

With ECU baseball beginning last week, and the men’s basketball team on a four game losing streak, it would be easy to just write-off the remainder of the ECU basketball schedule.  However, just like the players, fans shouldn’t give up just yet.

East Carolina currently ranks fourth in Conference USA in home attendance.  That’s pretty amazing considering the team is five games below .500, and hasn’t had a winning season since 1996-97.  That proves that there is nothing like a Pirate fan.  Few programs in the country boast a fan base comparable to that of ECU.  Through thick and thin, you can count on the Pirate faithful to come out and support the team.

That’s why it was so disappointing to see the crowd for the SMU game last Wednesday.  Announced attendance was around 4,600, but anyone in the building that night knows that figure must have included the janitors, the players, and the several hundred who happened to be swimming in the pool next door.  Sure the excuses were there not to come.  First of all it was only SMU, who was also winless at the time in C-USA play.  The Pirates had lost 3 of four, and still hadn’t notched their first conference win, and oh yeah, the game was televised. 

The energy that night was a fraction of what it was just one week before.  Just 7 days prior, ECU nearly pulled off the greatest upset in school history against 5th ranked Memphis.  It’s obvious to me that the crowd had a huge impact in that game, and therefore could have a dramatic impact on any game.  Don’t take anything away from the players.  The players are the ones executing on the floor, but ask any one of them, and they’ll tell you it wouldn’t have been the same without their fans behind them.  On the other hand, you can’t blame the fans for the loss to SMU, but with a crowd like we saw against Memphis, there is no way the Mustangs leave Greenville with a win.

An inexperienced team searching for an identity, ECU has ten more chances to get better before the Conference tournament.  Of the twelve conference teams, the Pirates are the only remaining team without a league win.  Four teams have only one win and four more are either 2-2 or 2-1.  A decent seed in the tournament is not out of reach.  Also consider the fact that the Pirates’ only real shot to play in the NCAA tournament is to win the C-USA tournament.  That being said, a major goal for this team is still attainable. 

You have your fair-weather fans that show up for the big games, or when the team is winning, but the true Pirate fans will be there win or lose.  So which group are you in?

Josh Spence