TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
January 3, 2012
Pirates ride momentum into conference wars
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East Carolina's basketball
team closed out 2011 with a string of five straight wins. More important
than the victories themselves is the improvement Jeff Lebo’s squad has
shown in December.
The Pirates opened the
year really struggling from the field and from the free throw line. Lebo
vowed not to panic, and his patience showed dividends in the five-game
Lebo says his team is
progressing, but that there is still a long way to go.
“We are playing better,”
said Lebo after Saturday afternoon’s
win over NAIA member Virginia-Wise.
“We are playing better on the offensive end. We still have
East Carolina dominated
the Highland Cavaliers in the New Year’s Eve tilt from the opening tip,
winning the game 91-56.
“I was pleased with the
way we came out and responded in this game,” said Lebo. “We had a chance
to play a lot of players. We did a lot of nice things, especially
One of the bright spots of
late for the Pirates has been the play of junior college transfer
Maurice Kemp. Kemp scored a career high 25 points and collected 14
rebounds in the win over UVa-Wise. It was his third straight
“I just wanted to come out
and play hard,” said Kemp. “I just wanted to do anything I could to help
the team win.”
Kemp says he’s seen a
shift in the atmosphere around this East Carolina squad as the winning
“It’s big,” Kemp
continued. “It’s good to get it rolling going into conference. We just
hope to keep it going. When you get a couple of wins under your belt,
everyone feels great about it. The atmosphere in the locker room is
great right now so we just have to keep it going.”
The Pirates will look to
keep it going when they open Conference USA play in Hattiesburg on
Wednesday night against Southern Miss.
The Golden Eagles, at
13-2, are off to their best start since the 1997-98 season. They bring a
nine-game winning streak into the matchup with East Carolina.
“We have a tough one to
start with in Southern Miss,” said Coach Lebo. “They got a nice
Christmas present with Darnell Dodson getting eligible, who is a
transfer from Kentucky. They were winning without him. Now you add him
in and he’s been there leading scorer and rebounder since he has come
Lebo said there is a
reason why the matchup is such a difficult one for his club.
“What’s hard for us in
that game is to simulate what they do,” he explained. “They play a lot
of man to man, but they do it differently than we do. So it’s hard to
change and simulate what we are going to see in two days of preparation
to play them.”
The Pirates will return
from Hattiesburg to play back to back Saturday home games. ECU hosts
Central Florida on January 7th and then Tulsa comes to town on January
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