The East Carolina men's basketball team will entertain Toledo inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum for the first-time Wednesday night at 7 o'clock. The Pirates will look to record back-to-back wins for the second time this season, after opening the season with a victory in each of its first two games. The game can be heard throughout North Carolina and Virginia on the 19-station Pirate Sports Radio Network or over the internet at www.ecupirates.com.
The two teams have met twice previously in Toledo, Ohio with each club posting one victory. East Carolina won the last meeting between the two teams during the 1992-93 season, scoring a 72-61 overtime win. The only other meeting in the series was contested on February 17, 1968 (Toledo 72, East Carolina 55).
East Carolina is coming off a 27-point victory over Division II Belmont-Abbey on Sunday, while the Rockets are searching for their first victory of the year.
The Pirates will continue to look toward senior Moussa Badiane and sophomore Mike Cook to lead the way. Both players are averaging better than 16 points per game and rank among the top 12 in Conference USA in scoring. Each player is coming off a carer-high performance with Badiane tossing in 26 points against the Crusaders of Belmont-Abbey and Cook handing out 12 assists.
Junior Corey Rouse continues to show improvement with each game. He has recorded double figures scoring and rebounding in each of the past two games and leads the team in rebounding (7.6) and ranks third in scoring (10.8).
Statistically, East Carolina has put up better numbers than Toledo. The Pirates are averaging more points per game, shooting a higher percentage from the field and are grabbing more rebounds per game. Neither team has played at home much. The Rockets are opening the season with three straight road games, while ECU is playing just its second home game in six games this season.
Florentin Valencia is the Rockets' top scorer with a 17.5 points per game clip. He is the only player to average double figures for Toledo, and has yet to be inserted into the starting lineup this season. Mid-American Conference Player of the Year candidate Keith Triplett has struggled through the first two games, but his coaches feel its just a matter of time before he regains his all-conference form of a year ago.
Magic In Minges
Since Bill Herrion took over the reigns of the East Carolina basketball program in 1999-2000, the Pirates have created a unique homecourt advantage. ECU is 46-25 (.647) inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum since the dawning of the new millennium and have posted 10 victories on its homecourt in three of the past four seasons. More impressive than that is the Pirates' non-conference inside the coliseum. ECU is 24-5 against non-conference opponents, winning percentage of 82.7 percent.
When the Pirates host Toledo Wednesday night, ECU will look to extend its non-conference homecourt winning streak to 10 games.
East Carolina will also be gunning for its fifth consecutive overall home victory dating back to last season.
Rare Date With Mid-American Conference Foe
East Carolina's game Wednesday against Toledo will be just the Pirates' 12th game against a Mid-American Conference member and its first since the 1993-94 season. The last time East Carolina faced a MAC team was when it defeated Eastern Michigan in the opening round of the Great Northern Classic in Green Bay, Wis. on Dec. 30, 1993. The Pirates have compiled an all-time record of 8-3 against current MAC institutions. The most games East Carolina has played against any current MAC member is four versus Marshall, a future Conference USA opponent. Wednesday's game against Toledo will also be Coach Bill Herrion's first game against a MAC opponent in his 13-plus years as a head coach. Toledo will be just the third MAC school to visit Greenville. Marshall (1/18/69) and Ohio University (11/28/81) have each made one trip to Greenville.
Things To Look For
Fiddling With The Starting Lineup
With such a young and inexperienced basketball team, Pirate head coach Bill Herrion has used four different starting lineups this season. Eight of the 11 players that have seen game action this season have made at least one start. Junior Corey Rouse and sophomore Mike Cook are the only two players to start all five games. Sophomore Japhet McNeil and freshman Marvin Kilgore have made four starts each, while senior co-captain Moussa Badiane has started three of the four games he's competed in. Junior college transfer Mike Castro has made two starts and freshmen Tom Hammonds and Josh King have appeared in the starting lineup once each.