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View from the East
Friday, January 6, 2012

By Al Myatt

UCF, Jordan the Younger get Pirates' attention

Jeff Lebo
(File photo by Al Myatt)


UCF, Jordan the Younger get Pirates' attention
Big-play athlete Crump plots path to ECU
Golden Eagles duck East Carolina upset bid
A little hype, good or bad, can go a long way
Pirates ride momentum into conference wars
C-USA Bowl Scoreboard
Pirates should contend in 2012
East Carolina overwhelms Highland Cavs
Audio: Jeff Lebo after the UVa-Wise game
ECU fends off Eagles
East Carolina Pushes for Bountiful Recruiting Haul
Pirates win third straight
Purple and gold gratitude fills Pirates' outbox
Pirates play like pros on semester break
ECU-CCU Photo Gallery
Audio: Jeff Lebo after the Coastal Carolina game
Shamarr Bowden & Miguel Paul Postgame Audio

C-USA Bowl Schedule

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

View the Bonesville Mobile Alpha version of this page.

East Carolina basketball coach Jeff Lebo said he didn't make any New Year's resolutions.

"I'm just trying to survive day to day," he said with a chuckle Thursday morning.

The focus has to be short term a lot of the time in athletics. Lebo arrived home around 1:45 a.m. Thursday after a charter flight got into the Greenville airport following a 78-76 loss at Southern Miss in ECU's Conference USA opener on Wednesday night.

The Pirates had a 3 p.m. practice Thursday to address some areas such as offensive rebounding following the loss to the Golden Eagles. The focus will shift today to preparation for a 5 p.m. league game Saturday at home with Central Florida.

The Golden Knights feature 6-foot-3 junior guard Marcus Jordan, a chip off his Airness, Michael Jordan. The younger Jordan leads an 11-3 team with a 17.5 scoring average. UCF started league play with a 60-53 home win Wednesday over Tulane.

The Knights won't have coach Donnie Jones directing the team against the Pirates. Jones is sitting out the first three C-USA games due to the university's self-imposed penalty following an NCAA investigation.

Assistant coach Shawn Finney is guiding UCF in Jones' absence.

Good effort at Southern Miss

One of the most encouraging aspects of the Pirate program since Lebo took charge last season has been improved performance away from home. ECU wiped out a double-digit deficit in the second half in Hattiesburg to have an opportunity to overtake the Golden Eagles (14-2) down the stretch. The Pirates didn't win but they made a game of it.

"We did a lot of nice things in the game," said the Pirates coach. "We shot the ball very well. ... We executed our offense. We made foul shots."

ECU dropped 27 of 51 field goal attempts at USM, 52.9 percent. The Pirates were 7 of 16 behind the arc for 43.8 percent. At the line ECU was 15 for 16, 93.8 percent. Senior power forward Darrius Morrow made 7 of 12 shots from the floor and all nine of his free throws for 23 points. Miguel Paul was 7 for 14 from the field and sank 2 of 3 free throws for 19 points. Maurice Kemp had 14 points and six rebounds for the Pirates.

" ... We had some turnovers that hurt us," Lebo said. "We had 17 turnovers in the game. They turn you over and I was worried coming into the game because of the way they play with their quickness and speed. Maybe besides the one spot (where ECU has jet-like Miguel Paul), they're faster than us in every other spot — and off the bench.

"Offensively, we did enough to have a chance to win. The big thing with them coming into the game was that we had to keep them off the foul line. They're excellent when they get to the foul line and they get there. They're an excellent offensive rebounding team. That was the area where they hurt everybody. The free throws and the offensive rebounding was where they hurt us also. That's where they won the game."

Southern Miss made 21 of 28 free throws and had 15 offensive rebounds to five for the Pirates.

ECU didn't play perfect down the stretch but the Pirates gave themselves a chance. The Golden Eagles had two key offensive rebounds off of missed free throws in the final 15 seconds.

"We were right where we needed to be, on the road against a good team," Lebo said. "We just weren't able to pull it out. You look back and there are so many plays that could make a difference from the beginning of the game until the end."

Sampson wearing thumb brace

Lebo said that sophomore forward Robert Sampson will probably have to wear a brace on his left hand for the remainder of the season.

"You can imagine what that's like on your shooting hand," said the ECU coach. "That affects his ability to shoot it, his ability to catch it and his ability to pass it. The brace keeps him from moving it. It's very difficult for him because of that. He can still play defense. His energy and rebounding are important for us."

Early '80s deja vu

Saturday's matchup could provide some early 1980s deja vu — the Virginia vs. North Carolina variety — with one of Ralph Sampson's sons matching up against one of Michael Jordan's offspring.

Marcus Jordan is just one challenge ECU will face Saturday.

"They've got a terrific player in Jordan," Lebo said. "He can flat-out score the ball in a variety of ways. They've got A.J. Rompza (5-9 senior guard) back now. He's been out. He's played in the last two games. He makes them a different team. They've got great size. They are big. They can play 6-8, 6-9 at the small forward position and go 6-9, 6-9 across the back. They've got some depth. They've got some athleticism.

"Rebounding the ball will be crucial for us and being able to defend Jordan on the perimeter. He is terrific. Off a ball screen, he gets to the foul line. He's the guy that you've got to do the job on."

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Al Myatt Archives

01/13/2012 01:03 AM


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