Times are tough for
the East Carolina basketball team. There’s no way around it. The
last time ECU finished with a winning record was 96-97, when Joe Dooley
was still roaming the sidelines. Yet, as much as we all hated to
admit it, it was time for a change. However, with change comes
consequence. The Pirates lost their top scorer Mike Cook, after
he learned of the change in coaches. Add that to the loss of
senior center and second leading scorer Moussa Badiane, and it equals a
big question mark coming into this year.
After losing its last three games, ECU now sits at 3-4 for the
year. A disappointing start to the Ricky Stokes era, especially
considering that two of the three wins have come against Wofford.
The bad news is the upcoming schedule for ECU. The Pirates have
time off for exams before beginning possibly the toughest stretch of
the season on December 18, when the team travels to take on Winthrop
(4-1), a 2004 NCAA participant. Three days later East Carolina
plays at Toledo (4-2). The only possible reprieve comes when the
Pirates play the first of two at home against Limestone College (3-4)
on the 28th. The Pirates then host UNCW, which has played very
well so far this year winning 7 of its 8 games, en route to receiving
votes to be ranked in the top 25. Of course all of these games
pale in comparison to the Pirates road game on December 3rd at Wake
So if the bad news is the schedule, what’s the good news? Jeremy
Ingram. The Pirates welcome in their newest member when he
becomes eligible December 18 to start the aforementioned tough
stretch. The former Kinston star and Wake Forest transfer is
expected to make an immediate impact with the Pirates. Ingram is
known as a leaper, with great athleticism with the potential to become
one of the best players in ECU history. Potentially great scorer,
but revered for his exceptional skill on defense, Ingram should give
this team a much needed shot in the arm. The only question is how
much of the time off will hurt him. Ingram missed all of last
year and the first 7 games of this year in accordance with NCAA policy
for a transfer.
Perhaps the biggest area for improvement is shooting. The Pirate
coaching staff spent a lot of time and effort in the off-season
recruiting players that could not only score but shoot it well from the
outside. Over the last several years the Pirates have been known
for good defense, holding opponents to low scores, and low shooting
percentages. This year the Pirates’ shooting percentage is below
their opponent’s: 44 to 43 percent. However, a bigger
discrepancy lies in three-point, and free throw numbers.
Opponents are out-shooting the Pirates from long range 38%-31%, and
from the charity stripe 76%-63%.
Despite the lack of depth down low, ECU has managed to rebound the ball
effectively for the most part. ECU has won the rebounding battle
in five of its seven games this year. Bottom line, the Pirate
offense has to score better. East Carolina is averaging 66 points
per game after putting up a season low 48 points at home versus Western
Carolina last week. This team isn’t that far off. ECU has
really only been badly beaten once, a 26 point setback at ODU.
Besides that the Pirates' other three losses have come by a combined 21
points. Also remember, the real season hasn’t started for this
team. Although each game counts to your win loss record, the only
realistic shot the Pirates have at making the NCAA tournament is with a
win in the CUSA tournament. That puts extra emphasis on the 14
game conference schedule the Pirates begin on January 11.