From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
By Brian Bailey
WNCT-TV 9 Sports Director

Magic in short supply for ECU hoops

Audio: 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 state champion Farmville Central basketball coach Larry Williford (right): Replay show...

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Star receiver kickstarts class of 2017

Caleb King helped coach three state 3-A championship teams in seven seasons as an assistant at Havelock High School. During that tenure, King also participated in the development of major-college prospects ... More from Sammy Batten...

Thumbnail sketches: Class of 2017 | Class of 2016



Rice rallies to take series

HOUSTON —  Rice erased a 1-0 deficit with four runs in the eighth inning to top East Carolina 4-1 on Sunday in the deciding contest of a three-game series. The Pirates had taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth ... More...

Next: North Carolina at ECU | Tuesday, 6:30 pm



Rice evens series with East Carolina

HOUSTON —  Rice scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning after East Carolina had come back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the score and the host Owls took a 7-2 win in the second game of a nonconference series Saturday afternoon. Rice bounced back from a 10-1 loss to the No. 16 Pirates in the series opener on Friday night. ... More...



Big inning seals ECU win at Rice

HOUSTON —  Eric Tyler led off the eighth inning with a solo homer to left and East Carolina added five more runs in the frame to win 10-1 at Rice on Friday night. ECU's Evan Krucyznski (2-0) scattered seven hits in seven innings. Game two of a three-game set is scheduled for 3 p.m. (ET) today. ... More...



Pirates fall to South Florida

ORLANDO — South Florida ended East Carolina's season with a 71-66 setback in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament at the Amway Center on Thursday afternoon. The Pirates were without junior forward Caleb White due to illness. White was the second leading scorer on the team, averaging 12.5 points. ... More...

View Tournament Central on



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...



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...



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


By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.


For East Carolina it was a case of one and done in the American Athletic Conference Tournament.

In the city that houses the Magic Kingdom and in the arena that is the home of the Orlando Magic there would be nothing magical about the Pirates.

Sure, there was some magic in the tournament, but most of that magic went to Connecticut.

It was the Huskies' Jalen Adams that forced a fourth overtime in the quarterfinal against Cincinnati with an 80-foot shot at the buzzer. That basket tied the game at 88. The Huskies went on to win the game 104-97 in four overtimes.

Connecticut would go on to win the American Athletic Conference tournament, beating Memphis in the final.

That was magical. Pirate basketball is anything but magical these days.

East Carolina wrapped up a 12-20 season with a second loss in three games to a South Florida team that didn't break the 10-win mark this season. The Bulls were just 8-25 with two of their wins against the Pirates.

Apathy has set in for Pirate basketball. Fans simply aren't coming to games.

This same program that showed true signs of life after the CIT title in 2013 has followed that up with seasons of 17-16, 14-19, and 12-20.

With March Madness tipping off this week it's worth noting that East Carolina has made the NCAA tournament only twice in history. ECU went dancing in 1972 and 1993, losing in the first round both times.

Pirate head coach Jeff Lebo currently has five years remaining on his contract, that runs through the 2020-21 season.

I asked Coach Lebo if he was concerned about his job despite his lengthy pact with ECU.

"I don't worry about those things," said Lebo. "I just go about doing my business every single day. I love coaching here. I love my kids. I love my team. We haven't won as much, you never do as much as you want. I just stay focused, keep my nose to the grindstone and keep working."

Lebo acknowledged that his own frustration is mounting.

"Frustrating because we haven't had the group we thought we were going to have," he continued. "We have had so many guys out hurt... to not have the continuity has been hard. We were a play or two away from winning six or seven league games. We knew it was going to be difficult because I think the league is better."

The American was better this year, getting four teams into this year's NCAA Tournament.

The American is getting better, but the Pirates are not. Just like the transition from the Colonial Athletic Association to Conference USA was difficult, so too has been the move to the American Athletic Conference.

Lebo is right. The Pirates were close in several games. ECU upset regular season champion Temple. There just weren't enough bright spots.

Time will tell what changes, if any, come about this offseason.

Interesting matchup in First Four

Check out the "First Four" matchup Tuesday night.

Former East Carolina head coach Joe Dooley has his Florida Gulf Coast team taking on former ECU assistant Greg Herenda and his Fairleigh Dickinson Knights. The winner gets top seed North Carolina on Thursday in Raleigh.

Dooley was 57-52 in his four years at East Carolina from 1995-1999. Herenda was Bill Herrion's top assistant from 1999-2005.

So one of the two head coaches with ECU ties will be making a trip back the Tar Heel state as a big underdog.

A 16 seed has never beaten a number 1 seed in the tournament. It won't happen this year either, but if it did wouldn't it be nice to have an ECU tie?



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03/15/2016 01:51 AM