View from the East
Thursday, March 10, 2016

By Al Myatt

Al Myatt

Pirates seek consistency in Orlando

American Athletic Conference Tournament

Amway Center | Orlando

View full bracket on (PDF)


Next: ECU vs. USF

Thursday, 3:30 pm | TV: ESPNU



Pirates seek consistency in Orlando

Al MyattEvery team has a dream as the American Athletic Conference starts its basketball tournament at the Amway Center in Orlando this afternoon. East Carolina (12-19, 4-14) opens play as the No. 8 seed and will face No. 9 South Florida (7-24, 4-14) at 3:30 p.m. ... More from Al Myatt...

Next: AAC Tournament | Amway Center | Orlando

ECU vs. USF | Thursday, 3:30 pm | TV: ESPNU

View full bracket on (PDF)



Pirates sweep Patriots

GREENVILLE —  Three East Carolina pitchers combined for a shutout and the bottom of the Pirates lineup had a productive day as ECU completed a two-game sweep of George Mason with a 6-0 win on Wednesday. ... More...

Next: ECU at Rice

Friday, 7 pm | Saturday, 3 pm | Sunday, 1:30 pm



Mississippi gem could shine at ECU

East Carolina's new defensive line coach Deke Adams went back to his roots in order to secure a true “sleeper'' in the Pirates recruiting Class of 2016. ... More from Sammy Batten...

East Carteret star picks Pirates

East Carolina's push to begin assembling its recruiting class of 2017 got off to a promising start this week when three-star wide receiver Dashaun Johnson committed to pursue his college football career with the Pirates. ... Thumbnail sketches...

Thumbnail sketches: Class of 2016 | Class of 2017



Pirates got a lift from No. 23

East Carolina’s 4-3 win over Maryland on Sunday clinched the title for the Pirates in the 13th annual Keith LeClair Classic. The Pirates and Maryland both finished 2-1 in the event, but the Pirates claimed the crown by virtue of their head-to-head defeat of the Terrapins. ... More from Brian Bailey...

Audio: The Brian Bailey Show

The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. Brian's guest this week was ECU basketball color commentator Si Seymour (right): Replay show...



Memphis ruins Pirates' Senior Day

GREENVILLE — This has been a subpar season for Memphis by the program's traditional standards, but the decline was not evident in an 83-53 win on Senior Day at East Carolina on Sunday.

The Tigers improved to 17-14 and 8-10 in the American Athletic Conference by hitting 34 of 63 shots from the field for 54 percent. ... Story & pictures...

Pictured: Former manager Drew Bost got a start for the Pirates on Senior Day. (Photo by Al Myatt.)

Post-game audio:Lebo, Zangari, Williams...

Next: AAC Tournament | Orlando, FL | March 10-13
— No. 8 ECU vs. No. 9 USF | Thursday, 3:30 pm —



ECU tops Terps for Classic title

GREENVILLE —  East Carolina claimed its fourth straight Keith LeClair Classic championship with a 4-3 win over Maryland on Sunday. The Pirates and Terps each finished 2-1 in the 13th annual event with ECU claiming the title by virtue of Sunday's head-to-head result. ... More...


Vols take advantage of ECU miscues

GREENVILLE —  Two East Carolina errors in the top of the first inning helped Tennessee to a 3-0 lead and the Volunteers went on to take a 5-2 win in the Keith LeClair Classic on Saturday. Three of Tennessee's runs were unearned as the Pirates committed four errors. ... More...


Pirates prevail after 9th-inning drama

GREENVILLE —  Turner Brown's two-run single with one out in the bottom of the ninth lifted East Carolina to a 2-1 win over Southeastern Louisiana on the first day of the 13th annual Keith LeClair Classic on Friday. ... More...


Pirates pay homage to legend

Al MyattEven before former East Carolina baseball coach Keith LeClair succumbed to Lou Gehrig's disease in 2006, a means of honoring the memory of the man who envisioned the Pirates playing in the College World Series was sought. ... More from Al Myatt...


By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.


Every team has a dream as the American Athletic Conference starts its basketball tournament at the Amway Center in Orlando this afternoon.

East Carolina (12-19, 4-14 AAC) opens play as the No. 8 seed and will face No. 9 South Florida (7-24, 4-14) at 3:30 p.m.

Among the positive factors to contemplate in terms of ECU making a run are:

— the absence of 2015 league tournament champion Southern Methodist from the event due to a ban for academic violations.

— the Pirates have a win over the Bulls, 52-39, eight days ago in Tampa.

— ECU dealt Temple, the top-seeded team this week, one of its four league losses.

So, if the Pirates are at their best, a league tournament title doesn't appear to be beyond the realm of possibility.

On the other hand, if the Pirates are at the other end of their performance spectrum, and one doesn't need to look any farther back than the last game at home against Memphis to see the potential in that direction, then ECU won't last much longer than an ice cream cone at nearby Disney World.

In entertainment complex terms, the Pirates have been on a roller coaster — good enough to top Colonial Athletic Association champion and NCAA-bound UNC-Wilmington on the same floor where a Senior Day disaster produced an 83-53 loss to the Tigers on Sunday. ECU committed 22 turnovers that led to 32 points for Memphis and the Pirates made just four of 25 of their 3-point attempts for 16 percent.

"If we play like that, we won't be there long," ECU coach Jeff Lebo said following the Memphis debacle, which dropped his career record in six seasons with the Pirates to 99-99.

He will either get his 100th win or absorb his 100th loss at ECU today.

It might be easy to lose sight of the seniors' contributions in light of the resounding defeat on their designated day.

Marshall Guilmette, Prince Williams and Mike Zangari were youngsters on a 23-12 team that won the Tournament in 2013. The group helped make the transition from Conference USA. They were among the first to utilize the spiffy Smith-Williams practice facility.

"We've had a lot of change, a lot of transition," Lebo said. "Those guys have been here for four years and we really appreciate what they've meant to our basketball program and university. You add in there, a two-year senior, Kanu Aja, who we're very proud of. All of those guys are on time to graduate here in May. They've been great guys to coach and really good ambassadors for our program, so we're really proud of them."

Consistency is the factor that has eluded the Pirates this year.

The fervent atmosphere in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum that boosted wins over Memphis and Cincinnati last year was solved by AAC foes as ECU went 1-8 in the league on its home floor.

The Pirates balanced that aspect of the ledger to a degree by getting three league wins on the road.

Those included an 84-83 squeaker at Memphis on Jan. 24, an outcome that no doubt motivated the Tigers for their recent appearance in Greenville. Memphis scored the same number of points in both meetings. The Pirates just couldn't keep pace the second time around.

Coincidentally, ECU has scored the same number of points in two games with USF — 52. That led to a 69-52 loss at home to the Bulls on Feb. 16 and the 13-point victory last week.

The key for the Pirates starts with players who have cut their college teeth during ECU's two seasons in the AAC, sophomore guard B.J. Tyson and freshman swing man Kentrell Barkley. If they shoot for a high percentage — driving and on their looks from outside — that is a strong foundation for ECU playing competitively. Both have been AAC All-Rookie team selections.

"Our best players have to play great for us to be successful," Lebo said.

The Pirates are 7-2 this season when Tyson scores 20 or more points.

Add in potential contributions from junior forward Caleb White and senior point guard Prince Williams and ECU can be formidable. The Pirates need for Zangari and Aja to come as close as possible to neutralizing their post counterparts in terms of scoring and rebounding.

If junior forward Michel Nzege and sophomore point guard Lance Tejada step up with big games, they can be difference makers, too. Junior forward Clarence Williams missed the Memphis game but has the potential to offer some interior defense as well as board work. When all of the pieces mesh within a team framework, a game plan is executed and elements such as hustle and desire are stirred in, results are produced such as was the case on the last venture south.

ECU figured out how to quieten USF's tandem of Jahmal McMurray and Nehemias Morillo, who combined for 39 points in the first game. The duo managed just five points between them on March 2. Morillo was scoreless.

The turnaround left USF coach Orlando Antigua scratching his head.

"Certainly, I thought our last outing against East Carolina at home with the emotions of Senior Night, a late start (9 p.m.) and us not particularly playing offensively the way we wanted to or had been capable of playing, affected, obviously, that kind of game," said the Bulls coach. "We've got to give East Carolina a lot of credit. They did a lot of things to cause us to not to have the same kind of output we had against them so I anticipate us having a great matchup, a great battle to start off the conference tournament."

ECU will have to be prepared for USF's payback mindset in the rubber match.

The Pirates customized their zone for McMurray and Morillo in the second game. USF shot 47.4 from the field in the first game and 40 percent from beyond the arc. That compared to 27.4 percent from the field in the second game and 6.7 percent on 3-pointers.

"Certainly, we have to shoot the ball a lot better than we did that second game," said Antigua, whose campus is 81 miles from the Amway Center.

Lebo expects USF to make adjustments. No doubt, the Pirate brain trust has been working on some responses to potential tweaks by the Bulls.

"They'll know us," Lebo said. "We'll know them. We've got to play them in the state of Florida. A lot of adjustments will be made. The first game here, we did not play very well. They played outstanding.

"Then we kind of flipped it when we went down there and played. They struggled shooting the basketball and we played pretty well defensively. It will be who's going to be able to make some shots."

Jaleel Cousins, a 6-feet, 11-inch senior, led USF last time with 13 points although he made just three of 10 free throws. Angel Nunez, a 6-8 senior, had eight points and nine rebounds.

"It will be a game where it's their size against our quickness," Lebo said.

ECU's first AAC Tournament game last year was an 81-80 overtime win over Central Florida in Hartford, CT, before a crowd of 5,431 as Guilmette scored 18 points.

League officials are waiting to see how well the event will be supported this week in the Sunshine State.

The Pirates fell 74-68 to eventual champion SMU in the quarterfinals last year as Terry Whisnant was 4-for-8 on 3-pointers and ECU dropped 15 shots from beyond the arc.

A year ago, the Pirates thought Guilmette and Whisnant would be on hand for the program's second season in the AAC.

Obviously, that hasn't happened but ECU, despite its personnel adversities, has been good at times. Remarkably, the win over USF was without Barkley, who was sick.

The Pirates went to a bowling alley as a team before a 79-73 win over Tulane on Feb. 24 in New Orleans.

Maybe there will be some opportunities for some similar activities this week as the tournament is staged during ECU's spring break.

The key to making a run and an extended stay in Orlando would appear to be a consistently high level of play from the Pirates' top players.

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03/10/2016 04:57 AM