TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
January 11, 2010
Home at last,
but no time to relax
All rights reserved.
No Rest for the Weary
After a road
began Dec. 7th, ECU faces
three stiff Conference USA
challenges at home. Game
dates, opponents and
opponents' records (through
Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011):
• Jan. 12:
• Jan. 15:
• Jan. 19:
No. 22 UCF (14-1)
ECU coach Jeff Lebo
(ECU SID image)
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Finally, it’s home sweet
home for the East Carolina basketball team. After a month-long road
trip, the Pirates return home for a pair of crucial Conference USA games
ECU hosts UAB on Wednesday
night, and then welcomes Tulane to town on Saturday afternoon.
The Pirates haven’t been
falling to Old Dominion on Dec.
That five-game road trip
featured just one victory,
last week’s 58-50 win over North Carolina
Central. The Pirates dropped three of the other four
games by three points or less.
fell to Coastal Carolina by a
lost at George Washington by two
came up short by three in its
league opener at Memphis.
"The kids have played
their hearts out in some hostile environments,” said first-year coach
Jeff Lebo to reporters after the loss to Memphis. “We've been on the
road for a month and as coach you expect a game in which the kids come
out and lay an egg on the road and we haven't done that. I'm really
proud of how we handled this stretch. You get hardened and tougher on
the road and find out about yourself.
"From a confidence
standpoint, we are getting a little better and start understanding a
little bit more. We have to continue to build upon that."
That building continues
this week with the UAB game. Cameron Moore led the Blazers to a
triple-overtime win over Texas-El Paso on Saturday, the same day the
Pirates took Memphis to the limit before losing at the end.
Moore and the Blazers head
to Greenville with an 11-3 record. One of those three losses came a week
ago at top-ranked Duke.
Tulane takes a 12-3 record
into its home matchup with UTEP on Wednesday before hitting the road for
its weekend date in Greenville. The Green Wave opened conference play by
defeating Southern Methodist on Saturday.
So, ECU opens its C-USA
campaign at perennial power Memphis, and then pivots quickly to face two
of the better programs in the league in its first home conference games.
And the task doesn't get
any easier next week when 22nd-ranked Central Florida (14-1) pays a
visit to Williams Arena.
It’s a tough assignment
Lebo said he knew what he
was up against in building this Pirate program. His patience will be
tested this week. His charges have battled, and could have won games at
Coastal, at George Washington and at Memphis.
"I'm very proud of our
group, we just fell a little short,” said Lebo after the loss at
Memphis. “We did really well in the second half. We wanted to be in
every four-minute segment and we did. We outscored them 37-28 in the
second half, but we had a tough stretch in the first half and you're
going to have those on the road.
"We had some good looks
and got the ball where we want and that's all you can ask for as a
Lebo has the Pirates
playing hard. He also understands that all of the hard work needs to be
rewarded with a victory.
"We can do some things,”
Lebo said. “We can execute plays offensively and defensively, but then
when it gets to the very end and the most important percentage of the
plays and we get it right where we want it, we just can't finish the
play. That's something we have to work on and get better at."
The big difference in this
East Carolina team and others in the recent past is on defense. Lebo has
his team playing well without the ball.
“We really made an effort
defensively and we've played good defense against some good teams,”
added Lebo. “The kids have bought in and I think we've made improvements
there. We're right there. If we can just stay together, continue to work
and get better, good things are going to happen for this basketball
The Pirates really need
good crowds at Williams Arena this week. That sixth man could go a long
way in getting that ECU victory.
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01/11/2011 04:36 AM