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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, April 2, 2013

By Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey

History on the line for Pirates


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Brian BaileyReplay Monday night's BRIAN BAILEY SHOW. Brian's guests were ACC basketball official Raymie Styons and ECU creative media specialist Brian Meador. Eastern North Carolina's longest running sports radio call-in show airs each Monday night from 6:30-7:30 on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930.
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History on the line for Pirates
WBVL Audio: Jeff Lebo Press Conference
WBVL Audio: Maurice Kemp Press Conference
WBVL Audio: Miguel Paul Press Conference
Spied from the Crow's Nest
Web Headlines Roundup
ECU hoops on cusp of changing course
Time to get the show on the road
Post-game audio: ECU coach Jeff Lebo
Post-game audio: Maurice Kemp & Robert Sampson
Mabry helps Pirates win 3rd straight
Hoffman masters N.C. Central
15 Questions for Lincoln Riley
Williams to the rescue as Bucs break skid
Updated CIT Scoreboard & Schedule
ECU zone slows Greyhounds
P.R. Machine running fast break
Post-game audio: ECU coach Jeff Lebo
Post-game audio: Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos
Post-game audio: Maurice Kemp & Robert Sampson
ECU Hoops Schedule
ECU Baseball Schedule
ECU Football Schedule
ECU Recruiting

By Brian Bailey
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Jeff Lebo, Maurice Kemp, Miguel Paul and this East Carolina basketball program have treated us all to a little taste of “March Madness” in Greenville.

A program sorely lacking in hoops history has a chance to make some tonight in the finals of the Postseason Tournament.

No, it’s not the NCAA Tournament. It’s not even the NIT.

It is, however, a definite step in the right direction. The Pirates have played and beaten some very solid programs over the last couple of weeks. They are playing as well as any ECU team I have covered over the last 29 seasons.

They are also playing above the rim, something we’ve never really seen before. Sure, Blue Edwards was a sky-walker in his day. But these Pirates are throwing up alley-oop slams left and right during this run in CIT.

Evansville never had a chance in their semifinal loss to the Pirates in Greenville. The Purple Aces may have beaten Final Four member Wichita State twice, but they didn’t have a chance against East Carolina on Saturday evening.

“We played great,” said a smiling coach Jeff Lebo. “That’s the best we’ve played all year. It was a great time to do it. There was a lot of energy in the place. I thought our kids were terrific both offensively and defensively. We defended for 40 minutes against a tough team to defend. I thought we were really good in transition as well.”

In his three seasons to date Lebo has had his Pirates playing good basketball when it counts in March. ECU got a bad draw in meeting the Golden Hurricane in Tulsa to open the Conference USA tournament.

The Pirates then fell behind by 15 points to Savannah State in the first round of the CIT. Somehow, ECU slipped by the Tigers in that opener, taking their first lead with 46.2 seconds to play. The Pirates' largest lead in that game was by the single point they won by.

That set up a most improbable series of wins that leads us into tonight’s finale.

“Sometimes that happens,” said Lebo. “Sometimes you scrape through a game and then you start to play better. We got that win and then we seem to have gotten better each time out.”

Maurice Kemp has blossomed into a star right in front of our eyes. He’s made SportsCenter’s Top Plays twice in the last two weeks. He’s got one more goal before he hangs up that purple jersey.

“Coach Lebo told us to look up at the banners in Minges and there aren’t any,” Kemp explained. “I know how much it would mean to everyone to bring one home.”

Kemp took one last chance to thank the Pirate fans for a spring he’ll never forget.

“Pirate Nation has been amazing,” he said with a huge smile on his face. “It has been an amazing run. I definitely enjoyed my last game in Minges.”

Next up is tonight's road challenge in Ogden, Utah, where the Pirates will lay it all on the line for the CIT championship against a host Weber State team that has 30 wins on the season.

“Thirty wins is a lot of wins,” said Lebo. “We will have our work cut out for us against a really good basketball team. They are one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country. They shoot over 50 percent as a team and they shoot 41 percent from the three. They have really good size. They have the best post offensive player that we have seen.

"They have terrific shooters on the perimeter. Their offensive balance is something we haven’t seen before.”

The Pirates are playing basketball like we’ve never seen before. Who would have ever thought that East Carolina would be playing a basketball game in April?

The NCAA tournament is down to Syracuse, Michigan, Louisville and Wichita State. The NIT features Maryland, Iowa, Baylor and Brigham Young. The CBI is down to its championship with George Mason and Santa Clara.

Then there is East Carolina versus Weber State.

There are some 350 Division I basketball programs in the country. Only 12 of those schools are still playing basketball.

East Carolina is one of those 12.

Virginia Commonwealth won the CBI tournament in 2010 and then went to the Final Four one season later.

Simply put, winning is contagious. This CIT run has been nothing but a huge positive for the program.

Best of luck to Coach Lebo and the Pirates in this CIT finale. You’ve given us truly a March to remember!

It will be tough on the road, but this East Carolina basketball team has put on a great show in this tournament.

Now it’s time to take that show on the road!


E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

04/02/2013 03:43 AM


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