TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
Tuesday, March 12,
Pirates go treasure
hunting in Tulsa
All rights reserved.
Mobile Alpha version of this page.
East Carolina hopes to
rock the city of Tulsa, host to the Conference USA Basketball
Tournaments, on two fronts this week.
It’s the first time I
can recall that both the ECU men's and women's teams received first
round byes in their respective tourneys.
The Pirate women are
the number two seed. Heather Macy and company have a first round bye and
will play the winner between Memphis and Southern Miss on Thursday
The ladies have had a
stellar season, winning 21 games. Now the awards are rolling in.
ECU head coach Heather
Macy was tabbed Conference USA Coach of the Year and senior Celeste
Stewart was honored as a first-team All-Conference USA selection.
Junior forward forward
Kristine Mial earned the league’s Sixth Player of the Year award and
senior center Britny Edwards was named to the All-Defensive Team.
Now the women hope to
make some big noise in the tournament.
The fourth-seeded men
also play on Thursday night. East Carolina will take on the number five
seed and host team, Tulsa, in the late game that day.
“It’s a tough draw,
getting Tulsa in Tulsa,” said Pirate coach Jeff Lebo as his team got set
to leave for the event on Monday. “Our kids have overcome a lot already
this year and I think they’ll be ready to play.”
Forward Maurice Kemp
and point guard Miguel Paul led the way all season, and they were stars
on senior night in the Pirates’
season finale win over Marshall.
Lebo was very
impressed with the play of his seniors.
“They have been
tough,” said Lebo. “They’ve battled. They took a heavy risk when they
came to East Carolina. It wasn’t fashionable to come to ECU and play
Kemp is a great story.
The junior college transfer changed positions and blossomed into a
Conference USA all-star.
Lebo knows how hard
Kemp has worked.
“I have ridden him
harder than any senior in my career," said Lebo. “Typically I’m easier
on the seniors, but not this time. I would come to practice and tell him
that I was going to ride him and he would just smile and say, ‘That’s
what I want coach.’ I am very proud of him.”
Kemp was emotional as
he recapped his career after his winning effort on senior night.
“These guys are my
brothers,” Kemp said. “We do everything as a family. I love every one of
these guys. I love my coaches. It’s been a pleasure.”
The Pirates need three
wins to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Jeff Lebo has had success in the
postseason with this program. He knows this squad has a shot in Tulsa.
“We have achieved a
lot of things,” said Lebo. “I told them you have an opportunity to do a
lot more. You put yourself in a position to have it. While we’re here we
might as well seize the moment. You have worked hard for six months to
put yourself in this situation to grab a pot of gold.”
Win or lose, the
Pirates are likely bound for the postseason in some fashion. While the
NIT appears to be a long shot, the CIT (CollegeInsider.com Tournament)
or the CBI (College Basketball Invitational) appear to be very much
“I’m 95 percent sure
that we’ll get a chance to play somewhere,” said Lebo. “Hopefully we can
get a home game so we can play in front of our fans again.”
The program already
got some news in which it can take pride. On Monday, Kemp was named
first-team All-Conference USA and, for the second year in a row, Paul
was named second-team All-Conference USA.
Kemp's selection was
the first time in school history the Pirates have placed one of their
own on the top unit.
The pot of gold,
though, is that ticket to the big dance.
Coach Lebo calls it a
pot of gold. What better time to get that gold than on St. Patrick’s Day
Best of luck to the
ladies and the men in their quest for gold in Tulsa.
E-mail Brian Bailey.
Brian Bailey Archives
03/12/2013 03:16 AM