Pirates Tip-Off Season Friday
Nov. 11, 2010
GREENVILLE, N.C. --- The Jeff Lebo Era will officially begin Friday night as the Pirates host Division II Erskine at 7:30 p.m. inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum in the first meeting between the schools since 1963.
The Pirates have won their season opener each of the last 10 years and their home debut the past eight seasons. This will be the fourth consecutive season in which ECU has opened the season against a Division II team.
"I've harped with my team about looking at some of the scores that have happened here in exhibition games," Lebo said. "We've got to be ready to play. This game of basketball is a funny game. On any given night the ball is going in for the other team and not for you, so anything can happen."
East Carolina defeated Montreat last Friday by 27, 85-58, in its lone exhibition game of the season. The Pirates shot 58 percent from the floor and held their opponent to just 28 percent shooting, limiting second shots.
ECU crashed the boards for 39 defensive rebounds against just 40 total rebounds by Montreat. The Pirates also forced 21 turnovers, but conversely committed 25 themselves.
While they had an outstanding shooting performance from the floor, the Pirates struggled at the free throw line, making just 18-of-40 attempts.
"We turned the ball over a little bit too much against a team that didn't press us very much and our free throw shooting was poor," Lebo said. "We are a much better free throw shooting team than that.
"We did a good job of getting the ball inside and getting to the free throw line. I thought we did a good job defensively. That's an area we've harped on and an area we've got to improve with this year's team."
As the season officially begins, the Pirates have 10 returning lettermen on their roster including all five starters. However, senior Brock Young's minutes are once again likely to be limited. The Pirates' all-time assists leader has missed significant practice time as he continues to rehab a preseason injury.
Young played just 16 minutes in the exhibition games against Montreat.
Sophomore Corvonn Gaines will continue to run the point until Young is fully recovered. Gaines had nine points, seven assists and five rebounds in the exhibition against Montreat.
"Corvonn has done a really nice job for us in Brock's absence," Lebo said. "He's a different type of point guard than Brock. He's got size at 6-4, he's got speed with the basketball, he doesn't turn the ball over very much and he's an excellent decision maker."
The Pirates will have a significant size advantage over its opponent Friday night. ECU has four players listed at 6-8 or taller, while Erskine only has one player over 6-8, freshman Filip Chockolok at 6-10.
The Flying Fleet feature seven freshmen on their 14-man roster. Six-foot-7 sophomore Chris Gore is the team's top returning scorer (5.4 ppg) and rebounder (5.1 rpg).
"Erskine is a small team that will spread the floor," Lebo explained. "Typically in these games your bigger guys have a harder time because they are playing against guys who are perimeter players.
"It'll be interesting as we turn on the lights to see who can perform out there. We got a little taste of that during the exhibition game. We've put some new things in and added some things. The kids are really excited to get out here Friday and play for real."