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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, January 3, 2012

By Brian Bailey

Pirates ride momentum into conference wars


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
Pirates turn up the heat, take road win over UNCG
ECU Football Recruiting Thumbnails Updated

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

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East Carolina's basketball team closed out 2011 with a string of five straight wins. More important than the victories themselves is the improvement Jeff Lebo’s squad has shown in December.

The Pirates opened the year really struggling from the field and from the free throw line. Lebo vowed not to panic, and his patience showed dividends in the five-game winning streak.

Lebo says his team is progressing, but that there is still a long way to go.

“We are playing better,” said Lebo after Saturday afternoon’s win over NAIA member Virginia-Wise. “We are playing better on the offensive end. We still have deficiencies.”

East Carolina dominated the Highland Cavaliers in the New Year’s Eve tilt from the opening tip, winning the game 91-56.

“I was pleased with the way we came out and responded in this game,” said Lebo. “We had a chance to play a lot of players. We did a lot of nice things, especially inside.”

One of the bright spots of late for the Pirates has been the play of junior college transfer Maurice Kemp. Kemp scored a career high 25 points and collected 14 rebounds in the win over UVa-Wise. It was his third straight double-double.

“I just wanted to come out and play hard,” said Kemp. “I just wanted to do anything I could to help the team win.”

Kemp says he’s seen a shift in the atmosphere around this East Carolina squad as the winning streak continued.

“It’s big,” Kemp continued. “It’s good to get it rolling going into conference. We just hope to keep it going. When you get a couple of wins under your belt, everyone feels great about it. The atmosphere in the locker room is great right now so we just have to keep it going.”

The Pirates will look to keep it going when they open Conference USA play in Hattiesburg on Wednesday night against Southern Miss.

The Golden Eagles, at 13-2, are off to their best start since the 1997-98 season. They bring a nine-game winning streak into the matchup with East Carolina.

“We have a tough one to start with in Southern Miss,” said Coach Lebo. “They got a nice Christmas present with Darnell Dodson getting eligible, who is a transfer from Kentucky. They were winning without him. Now you add him in and he’s been there leading scorer and rebounder since he has come back.”

Lebo said there is a reason why the matchup is such a difficult one for his club.

“What’s hard for us in that game is to simulate what they do,” he explained. “They play a lot of man to man, but they do it differently than we do. So it’s hard to change and simulate what we are going to see in two days of preparation to play them.”

The Pirates will return from Hattiesburg to play back to back Saturday home games. ECU hosts Central Florida on January 7th and then Tulsa comes to town on January 14th.


E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

01/03/2012 02:39 AM


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