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ECU starts hoops season Friday night

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

When East Carolina basketball coach Jeff Lebo looks out on the court of Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on Friday night in the season opener against Milligan, he won't see Jontae Sherrod, Brock Young, Jamar Abrams or Chad Wynn.

Last year's four seniors were instrumental in helping the Pirates to their first winning season since 1996-97.

ECU has scrimmaged N.C. State and High Point in matchups where no score was kept.

"Ready or not, we're going to do it," Lebo said. "We haven't had any exhibitions. You're always a little unnerved to see how your team will respond when the lights go on and there are people in the stands.

"We're ready, everybody's healthy and we're ready to go."

Milligan is from Tennessee and Lebo doesn't know a lot about them.

"They have a small guard who is pretty quick," said the ECU coach. "Typically, they may be quicker at some of the big spots although we should have a size advantage. Our transition defense will have to be good. We won't have a feel for their personnel like in a lot of games. We'll try to get it inside because of that size advantage."

Lebo notes that several of the players ECU will be counting on have spent some time away from competition. Among those is point guard Miguel Paul, who sat out last season after he transferred from Missouri.

"At times, he's looked good," Lebo said. "At times, he's looked like a work in progress. Some things he has to learn. I worry about him trying to do too much."

That's a general theme with many of the newcomers.

"We've talked with them about playing like they practice," Lebo said. "It's not about how many points they score. It's about how they execute on offense and defense."

Practice generally has gone well.

"The guys have competed hard," Lebo said. "They've had good energy. I've really been pleased with practice. We'll be better as the season goes on and people understand their roles."

What will Lebo look for on Friday night?

"We'll be looking for those who can go out and do what we ask them to do," he said. "We need them to be where they're supposed to be on defense and understand what they're supposed to do. We need them to understand their time without the ball is just as important as their time with the ball."

Forward Darius Morrow leads the returning players, compiling a 13.0 scoring average and a 6.3 rebounding rate as a junior. He'll be counted on for his leadership on and off the court.

"We're going to be missing some experienced guys out there scoring the ball," Lebo said. "I've been a little concerned about perimeter shooting in the preseason."

PAGE UPDATED 11/14/11 12:58 AM.

©2011 All rights rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. staff reports and a press release from East Carolina University Athletic Media Relations contributed to this article.


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