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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

By Brian Bailey

And a Tar Heel shall lead them...

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.


Replay Monday night's Brian Bailey Show with guest MIKE STEELE. Eastern North Carolina's longest running sports radio call-in show airs each Monday night at 7 p.m. on Pirate Radio 1250-AM and 930-AM.

Replay Show
Pirate Radio Home Page


O'Brien: Lebo handed the reigns
Bailey: And a Tar Heel shall lead them...
Audio: Ruffin McNeill Press Conference
BVL: ECU hangs on in NCBWA poll
O'Brien: Hoops hire subject to 2nd guessing
BVL Box: East Carolina 16, Monmouth 2
BVL Box: East Carolina 11, Monmouth 4
BVL: Rally for the ages
O'Brien: Lebo emerges in ECU search
BVL Box: Monmouth 11, East Carolina 9
Myatt: ECU's defense placed in trusted hands
BVL: C-USA Postseason Scores & Schedules
BVL Box: High Point 13, East Carolina 12
Bradsher:Women primed for date with WNIT
O'Brien: Name game perking along
BVL Box: East Carolina 8, Gardner-Webb 5
Bailey: ECU in search of momentum
BVL: Pirates tumble in baseball polls
O'Brien: Hoops issues go deeper than coaching
BVL: Seven teams live another day
BVL: C-USA Tourney Scoreboard
BVL Box: East Carolina 3, Pepperdine 2
Peele: A history with little glory

That headline certainly has a different ring to it. East Carolina’s success-starved basketball program will present the latest to try and turn things around with the introduction this afternoon of Jeff Lebo.

Lebo was fired at Auburn on March 12th. Less then two weeks later he gets set to embark on one of college basketball's most daunting challenges.

Some Pirate fans have been lukewarm at best about the hire. Many can’t understand ECU athletic director Terry Holland’s attraction to a “Carolina” guy.

We’ll find out more at the press conference, but I would say that Lebo’s track record, in building programs at Tennessee-Chattanooga and Tennessee Tech, and his over .500 mark at Auburn, were the overwhelming factors in his favor. Lebo's team’s averaged over 19 wins per season before he arrived at Auburn.

Holland summed up his perspective in a release from East Carolina.

“Jeff Lebo has established a well-deserved reputation as a 'program turner,’” Holland stated. “He has a proven track record as a player, as an assistant coach and as a head coach.

"When you combine those attributes with his desire for his family to be located in eastern North Carolina, it gives me great comfort that we have the opportunity to establish something very special for our basketball program over the next few decades under Jeff's leadership.”

Lebo is linked to nine conference championships as a player, assistant coach and head coach. He had two in six years as a head coach, four as an assistant coach and three as a player.

He has been a part of two Southeastern Conference championships at different schools, three Atlantic Coast Conference championships, two Ohio Valley Conference championships and two Southern Conference titles.

It’s also a chance to come home for Jeff Lebo, as his wife Melissa is from nearby Williamston.

Lebo will certainly have his work cut out for him. East Carolina hasn’t had a winning season since 1997 under Joe Dooley. Dooley was apparently the Pirate’s first choice, but negotiations broke down and now Dooley is considered a candidate at several other openings around the nation.

Spring football underway

ECU football coach Ruffin McNeill emphasized the fundamentals in his spring football news conference Monday morning.

Then Monday afternoon, McNeill took to the practice field for his 25th spring football season. This time, though, McNeill was man in charge.

“I thought about it riding into work today,” said McNeill. “This is my 25th season, but this one is special.”

McNeill and his staff ran a very spirited practice. My first impression was that the coaches demanded perfection. Guys ran and sprinted from station to station and should be in good shape come September.

McNeill looked lost at times, though, because this is the first time in his career that he hasn’t been a position coach. He said in his press conference that he thought he would miss that and it seemed evident as he paced the practice field.

“I thought for the first day, I liked the way we came out," McNeill said. "We were very enthusiastic and I thought the team moved around very quickly from drill to drill. I was very pleased with the effort. I believe everything moves in sequential order.

"This was day one and we have 14 more to work, but we had a good starting point.”

McNeill continues to make like the kid in the candy store. You can tell that he’s extremely proud of returning to his alma mater as the head football coach.

You better believe McNeill, who played for the Pirates in the 'seventies under Pat Dye, will have a product that other alums will be proud of as well.


E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

03/23/2010 03:49 AM


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