One of the challenges of being a
student-athlete is balancing academics and athletics. That's
especially true during the exam period in college basketball.
East Carolina basketball coach
Jeff Lebo has been practicing his team in preparation for
tonight's 7 p.m. game with UNC-Greensboro at the Greensboro
Coliseum. The squad has been working out at 9:30 a.m. this week
and, even at that hour, not all of the players have been able to
"We've got finals all over the
place," Lebo said Wednesday.
The Pirates coach said there
were still several players who had exams following Thursday's
"It's just hit or miss, here or
there," Lebo said of trying to maintain some consistent
developmental sessions with his team as the fall semester wraps
ECU hasn't played since
a 63-58 loss at home to
Massachusetts on Dec. 6. The Pirates fell behind by 22 points in
the first half against the Minutemen and rallied within a point
in the closing minutes. ECU forced 24 turnovers but made just 9
of 23 free throws, a dismal 39.1 percent at the line.
Poor shooting has been a
recurring problem in a 4-4 start for the Pirates.
"We've been trying to shore some
things up and shooting is one of the areas we've struggled with
the most," Lebo said. "Defensively, we've been trying to
continue doing what we've been doing, revisiting a lot of
This week, the focus shifted to
preparing for the 2-8 Spartans, who will be playing their first
game under interim head coach Wes Miller, a former North
Carolina player, like Lebo. Former UNCG coach Mike Dement
stepped down following a 75-60 loss at Florida State on Sunday.
The change was reported as a mutual agreement between Dement and
UNCG athletic director Kim Record.
Lebo wasn't sure how much
tweaking Miller might do in terms of Dement's systems.
"We can only prepare for what
we've seen them do," said the ECU coach.
Lebo noted that the Spartans
have faced a challenging schedule that has included losses to
the Seminoles, Tennessee and Georgetown.
"One of their best performances
came against Florida State," Lebo said. "They were close until
the 10-minute mark. They're like us — they've had a hard time
putting the ball in the basket."
UNCG was 22 of 62 from the floor
in Tallahassee for 35.5 percent. The Spartans went 5-for-23
behind the arc, 21.7 percent.
"Trevis Simpson (6-foot-4
sophomore) can flat-out score the ball," Lebo said.
Simpson has averaged 15.2 points
in 25.6 minutes per game.
"They've got some experienced
post guys," Lebo said in reference to Aaron Bracket (6-8, Sr.)
and Aloysius Henry (6-10, Sr.).
UNCG's point guard is Drew
Parker, a 6-1 sophomore.
"One thing they do is they
really rebound the ball offensively," Lebo said.
Derrell Armstrong (6-1, Jr.) and
David Williams (6-6, So.) have been the Spartans' leaders on the
offensive glass where tonight's hosts are averaging 16.4
rebounds per game.
"They've done a lot of different
things defensively," Lebo said.
Injury-wise for ECU, sophomore
forward Robert Sampson is still dealing with a thumb ailment.
Lebo played in the ACC
Tournament for the Tar Heels twice in the Greensboro Coliseum in
1986 and 1988. He said he also brought teams into the building
when he was coaching Chattanooga in the Southern Conference
earlier in his career.
The Spartans have averaged 3,167
in attendance in their two home games to date. UNCG is 1-1 in
those games. The Spartans also played N.C. A&T in the spacious
structure although the Aggies were the home team for an 87-65
win over UNCG on Nov. 28, the start of the Spartans' current
5-game losing streak.
Tonight's foes have a common
opponent in Appalachian State. UNCG lost 78-64 in Boone on
Dec.1. The Pirates
topped the Mountaineers 67-47
on Nov. 22 in the NBA Bobcats' arena in Charlotte.