View from the East
Friday, December 16, 2011
By Al Myatt
juggle exams, game preparations
All rights reserved.
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 attend.
"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 morning
"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 up.
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 things."
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
"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.
E-mail Al Myatt
01/03/12 02:39 AM.