Jun 132013

By Tony Castleberry

Thursday, June 13, 2013

RALEIGH — They have been featured on ESPN’s Top Plays. A crowd of rowdy East Carolina fans waited until almost daybreak to greet them at the Pitt-Greenville Airport when they returned from Ogden, Utah, with the first postseason trophy in program history in tow a couple of months ago.

Now, the 2012-13 ECU men’s basketball team can add senatorial recognition to its list of kudos.

During Wednesday afternoon’s North Carolina Senate meeting, a resolution to honor the Pirates for winning the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament was unanimously passed and three players in attendance — Akeem Richmond, Paris Roberts-Campbell and Raleigh native Peyton Robbins — and director of basketball operations Kyle Robinson were recognized shortly after the resolution passed.

Republican Sen. Louis Pate and ECU director of strategic initiatives Michelle Brooks spearheaded Wednesday’s efforts and Pate lauded the team and its supporters.

“The Pirate Nation is proud of the accomplishments of athletics director Jeff Compher, athletics director emeritus Terry Holland, Chancellor Steve Ballard and the Board of Trustees,” Pate, who spent some time with ECU’s players before the session was called to order, said from the Senate floor. “It is fitting that the Senate celebrate the victory of the ECU Pirates men’s basketball team. They are truly champions.”

Nick Floyd, East Carolina’s executive associate athletics director, and a few members of the ECU Board of Trustees were on hand to congratulate the Pirates. The board members, Pate and some other lawmakers with ties to ECU were wearing either some form of purple and gold clothing or Pirate pins on their lapels.

Hearing cheers from Minges Coliseum crowds on the East Carolina campus is something the Pirates almost certainly appreciate, but getting a standing ovation from members of the Senate was something else altogether.

“It was a great experience, being recognized in front of all those people,” Roberts-Campbell, a rising junior guard, said. “I never expected that, until I got a call last week. … It still didn’t feel real until we actually got here.”

Richmond, a rising senior guard who hit the game-winning 3-pointer just before the final buzzer to beat Weber State 77-74 on April 2, added: “I’m proud to be a Pirate. I feel very privileged to be around people like this. It’s just a blessing. … I felt lost, looking all around, but like I said, it’s a blessing to be a part of something amazing like this, getting honored for the type of season we had. It’s just motivation heading into next year.”

Robinson soaked in every second of the experience and even hinted that he wanted to stick around for the entire session to see the details of how things work in the state capital’s Legislative Building. His only regret was that every member of last season’s history-making team could not make the trip.

However, he was quite sure that Richmond, Roberts-Campbell and Robbins would never forget it and that they would be eager to share the details with their teammates. Robinson also said Wednesday’s events were just another example of ECU basketball erasing the string of losing seasons that preceeded coach Jeff Lebo’s arrival in 2010.

“Now we’re getting recognition throughout the whole state and even throughout the country,” Robinson said. “It’s a great feeling.”

Contact Tony Castleberry at tcastleberry@reflector.com, 252-329-9591 or follow @tcastleberrygdr on Twitter.

via The Daily Reflector.


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