Look out below, Lefty er al. Here comes another challenger for Atlantic Coast area basketball supremacy: East Carolina.

So declares Larry Gillman, named head coach at ECU yesterday. His initial pronouncement to the trustee was, "I want to rise and rise fast."

Credentials: Gillman is Bill Gaillard's assistant at U., of San Francisco, credited with recruiting Bill Cartwright, Winford Boynes, James Hardy, etc., etc. who led the Dons to No. 1 almost all the way through this season. Just before that, he corrinated recuiting for U. of Minnesota, merely 25-3 this year with some of his finds of 1975. Gillman, 28, is a Mount Vernon, N.Y., native and knows his way about the New York City area schoolboy hotbeds, having coached earlier at Westchester Community College. He'll take over the Pirates, 10-18 under Dave Patton who resigned last month, as soon as USF is out of the NCAA tournament.

Bob Watson 34, assistant at Oral Roberts U., is the new basketball chief at Evansville. Before serving as an assistant at Wake Forest, Vavier and ORU, this VMI grad coached Ferum J.C. in Virginia to a 61-8 record and the final of the 1972 national junior-college tourney. Watson, must have a tough hide after serving in Vietnam to the tune of five Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and an Army Commendation Medal, succeeds Jerry Sloan in succeeding Arad McCutchan, Evansville's 500-plus victory man who's retiring. Sloan, the injured Chicago Bull, took the job last month then thought better of it. . . .

Oh-oh, now that Bowie Kuhn has green-lighted his purchase of Paul Lindblad from Charlie O, is Brad Corbett really looking to give Finley $2 million for his Oakland A's ace, Vida Blue? Texas Rangers owner Corbett acknowledged the rumor and that the commissioner called him Thursday to say "he hoped the reports I was trying to buy Blue were untrue. I assured him they were strictly rumors. He said they had better be."

But. But the Rangers are hinting making the deal legit in Kuhn's eyes by throwing in players. They're also nibbling at Finley about outfidler Clandell Washington. Save us a couple of players, Charlie, in case the A's wind up in RFK. . .

Stocking up on lefthand pitching, the Rangers have nixed the New York Yankees' offer of outfielder Oscar (High Hat) Gamble for Darold Knowles, the 35-year-old former Nat, who Texas recently acquired from the Chicago Cubs. . .

The Montreal Canadiens can't have it all their way. The NHL superteam's Yvan Cournoyer, 25 G and 28 A this season, has a slipped disc and will be operated on March 24; he'll play no more before fall . . . In Toronto, Maple Leaf forward Dave (Tiger) Williams yesterday was ordered to face trial for his actions in an October on the ice brawl with Pittsburgh's Brian Owchar. Assault causing bodily harm and possessing a dangerous weapon (hocky stick) are the charges; trial date to be set next week . . . In Quebec, former Calgary Cowboy winger Rick Jodzio has been ordered to trial May 9 on a charge of assault with intent to injure Marc Tardif of the Nordinques in April's WHA playoffs. In Erie, Pa., the same Jodzio (now of the Erie Blades in the North American League) has filed aggravated assault charges against two Binghamton Broomedusters players. After some mean game action, a dozen athletes in street clothes got into a brawl in the lobby of the Erie County Fieldhouse in late February.

No wonder the Rangers wouldn't give rookie second baseman Bump Wills more than the $19,000 minimum - which his dad, Dodger coach Maury Wills, labels a raw deal. Maury straightens out reports he talked Bump into accepting Texas' offer by saying he stayed out of the negotiations and urged him, "to go home, but he just wants to get out there and play" . . . We erred in Transitions this week in listing a Minnesota Twin signing of "former U. of Virginia" infielder Sam Perlozzo. Why, it's none other than Sam Perlozzo of George Washington U.C. 1971, who has worked his Elliptical way up to the big-league roster. Go, Sam, go! . . . Edsel Martz told us several times that infielder Mark Harris of the Martz year-around youth baseball team was a real prosp ct to make the majors like his dad, Gail Harris, former Tiger and Giant first baseman who settled in Manassas. And, sure enough, Harris, a freshman switch hitter, is on his way: has won the starting shortstop job for the Maryland Terrapins. . .