For East Carolina interim basketball coach Mike Perry, it’s an in-season audition to remove interim from the title.
Score it so far, so good!
Perry had perhaps his best win this season with last night’s come-from-behind, 69-66 win over visiting Campbell. The Pirates trailed by as much as 17 before rallying for Perry’s third straight win since taking over for Jeff Lebo.
“Three games in five days,” Perry said as he smiled. “Our team showed a lot of mental toughness, physical toughness, and they had to really dig down deep to win this one.”
Campbell was without standout Chris Clemons, but still the Camels were the better team for most of the night.
I believe the magnitude of the comeback meant more to the ECU players than the team that it came against. It’s difficult to come from 17-down against any team.
The Pirates were obviously excited with the win.
“It feels great, amazing,” said Isaac Flemming after the game. “Coming back from, what were we down? 15, 16, something like that? 17, yeah almost 20. To come back and fight, we just showed everybody that we are a team to compete.”
Fleming led the way with 19 points.
“I mean, in the second half we came together as a group,” said B.J. Tyson, who scored 16 points. “Like he (Fleming) said, when we were down by 15, we got in the huddle in the media timeout and we let each other know, we just got to believe in each other and that’s what we did and we came out with the win.”
Perry seems to just have a much different connection with the Pirate players. It’s evident in their play. He had success last season taking over for Jeff Lebo during Lebo’s hip surgery. Now, he’ll have a longer stint.
“I just want the guys to play loose,” Perry said. “I don’t want them looking over their shoulder to see if we thought it was a bad shot. Good shooters don’t think. We will shoot the ball much better if we’re loose.”
Perry’s resume is an impressive one. He’s survived 11 seasons at East Carolina as an assistant coach. He’s been a head coach at Georgia State. In fact, he started at Georgia State on the staff of the legendary “Lefty” Driesell. As a head coach with the Panthers, his team averaged 16 and a half wins per year and advanced to the postseason two times.
He took over the Georgia State program with little or no preparation time when Driesell decided to retire during the 2003 season.
Sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it?
I don’t know what kind of record it would take for Perry to receive serious consideration for the job. Obviously, if ECU could muster a winning record in league play he might be a shoe-in.
The American is a very good basketball conference. It may even go down to just how competitive the Pirates are, both home and away, during this basketball season.
That doesn’t mean moral victories should get Perry the job. It does mean that he should be looked at seriously if he can put the fight back in the Pirates on the hardwood.