East Carolina had to make like the movie ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ just to make it home from Philadelphia this past weekend.
With wintry weather all over, the Pirates’ flight from Philadelphia to Raleigh was cancelled Saturday. The next flight would be on Monday.
So this East Carolina team bussed home from Philly, losing a day of preparation in the process.
“We had a hard week,” said ECU coach Jeff Lebo. “We had seven days on the road. We had to get back from Temple a day late. Monday was a tough day at practice even though we weren’t in school. Hopefully today we’ll have a better day and get that bus ride out of our system.”
The Pirates are struggling shooting the basketball. It’s especially frustrating for Coach Lebo, because he likes the team’s shot selection for the most part.
The bottom line is that the guys Lebo was counting on just aren’t getting the job done from the field.
In four conference games in the American, Kentrell Barkley is 13-39 and B.J. Tyson is 17-48. Caleb White is 8-31 and just 1-15 from the three point line.
Those numbers just aren’t winning numbers in hoops.
“As a coach I’m really concerned about our shot selection,” explained Lebo. “But our shot selection has been good. We just haven’t been able to finish out possessions with a made basket. When you don’t, it looks ugly. No offense looks good when you get an open shot and you miss it.”
Lebo has even tried to go back in his life, back as a player with his own slump.
“You can shoot all that you want in practice, but until you make them in a game you can’t really be confident,” Lebo explained. “It happened to me. In the back of my mind I didn’t know if I could make it in a game situation. So they have to do that. We have told them to keep shooting if they are open. We have spent more time shooting this year, more than any time since I’ve been here. But you have to be able to step up in a game situation and make them.”
Therein may lie the problem. The best shooters in the game don’t think. The Pirates have become thinkers instead of shooters.
Now the Pirates host a pair of league heavyweights this week. First up it’s Houston tonight, and then 22nd-ranked Cincinnati.
Winning one or both of these games certainly won’t be easy. It would, however, give this team a tremendous boost.
“It would be big for our confidence more than anything,” Lebo said. “We are struggling with that right now. If we had another possession (against Central Florida) then we might be 2-2 and not even talking about it. We have just got to be able to get some perimeter play. We’re experienced on the perimeter, that’s what’s really disappointing for us.”
“Sometimes we have open shots but we don’t take them,” said guard B.J. Tyson. “We tend to pass it up when we are wide open. We’re still trying to find our identity. We’re trying to find who can shoot, who can score, who can rebound. . . . We had a rough time on the road but I feel like coming home we’ll have a chance.”
Two home games against two very good basketball teams await East Carolina this week.
Hopefully, the art of making a jump shot will return for this ECU basketball team.
If that form doesn’t return the losses will certainly continue in the difficult American Athletic Conference.