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The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, November 7, 2012

By Bethany Bradsher

Bethany Bradsher

The returns are in – let the games begin

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

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Finally, it’s over. After seemingly endless months of lead-up and anticipation, the new leaders are ready to move forward and make a difference armed with confidence and energy.

I’m talking, of course, about the 2012-13 East Carolina basketball season. With the Lady Pirates tipping off Friday in Williamsburg and the men’s team opening at home on Saturday, it’s time to stop the speculation about the chances of hardwood glory this year and pass, shoot and rebound.

There’s something tantalizing about that clean slate, a little bit like the primary season when anyone seems to have a chance to make the ballot. In early November, anyone’s team can run the table and dominate the postseason. Half of the Pirate Nation might be dissatisfied with last night’s results, but the promise of basketball to come under Jeff Lebo and Heather Macy is something on which every buccaneer can agree.

In honor of post-Election Day and this warm fuzzy unanimity we can enjoy with the first fast breaks just days in our future, let’s honor a few of the top office holders of the two Pirates hoops squads. These are the leaders of today and tomorrow, the men and women who might hold future rafter banners in their agile hands:

  • Court Executive: Miguel Paul, who could be considered the incumbent after a year of prolific play for the Pirates. Paul, who transferred to East Carolina last year after two seasons at Missouri, led Conference USA in assists and comes in as the second-leading returning C-USA scorer. Expectations are high for Paul, a preseason first-team All-C-USA selection, and Saturday is day when he grabs the opportunity to step it up his senior year.

  • Governor of the Lane: Britny Edwards, the 6-1 center whose presence in the post will be a major factor for the Lady Pirates this season. Like her father Blue Edwards before her, Britny will make her presence known in her final season for ECU. Last season, in her first campaign after transferring from Virginia, she led the Pirates in rebounding (7.0 per game) and blocks (45 for the season) and played in all 31 contests.

  • Outstanding Incumbent: Senior guard Corvonn Gaines has been a model of consistency in his years as a Pirate, and Lebo will look to him and his four fellow seniors to push the Pirates to new heights. Gaines is a model of hustle for his younger teammates, already claiming a spot as one of nine Pirates in history to record more than 100 steals in his career. He has scored in double digits 11 times at ECU, and this season should open up more possibilities for him to create turnovers and score points as one of the team’s steadiest leaders.

  • Commissioner of the Basket: Shala Hodges is expected to be a spark for Macy’s squad as the top returning scorer for the Lady Pirates. A 5-8 guard, she contributed 10.4 points per game last season and led the team in three-point percentage, making 34 percent behind the arc. Hodges once scored 50 points in a game as a star for Raleigh’s Enloe High School, and her maturity and athleticism should go a long way toward fulfilling her proposed slogan for this season: “Expect the Unexpected.”

Whether you’re rejoicing or mourning the direction of our nation’s government today, there is plenty of cause for universal celebration in Minges Coliseum as the weekend matchups approach.

I can’t think of any better news than this — with two solid seasons under each of their belts, Jeff Lebo and Heather Macy are each returning for their third campaign with strong seniors, promising newcomers and a healthy comfort level between players and staff as to their system and their expectations.

Lebo and Macy are coaches with the vision and strength to find that mythical next level that ECU basketball has been reaching toward for years. And unlike our nation’s leaders, they serve an open-ended term and have their sights set firmly on the next big milestone of this important season: March.

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11/06/2012 08:00 PM

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