EAST CAROLINA HOOPS PREVIEW
CUSA-fans.com has a new staff of team correspondents this fall to help bring you, the fan, more detailed Conference USA sports coverage. Today, our ECU Correspondent Thomas "Bubba" Rosenbaum previews the basketball game between East Carolina and Morgan State.
Pirates look to snap three-game skid with a second win over Bears
East Carolina defeated Morgan State, 86-67, in the season opener on Nov. 11
After eight days off, Ricky Stokes takes his team to Baltimore, Maryland for a rematch with Todd Bozeman’s Morgan State Bears. The time off could not have come at a better time, as the Pirates have struggled to put the ball in the basket as of late and could certainly use the extra time to refine their shots.
The Pirates shot reasonably well in their 4-1 start, but they have been about as cold as a team can be in their current three-game losing streak. During that stretch, ECU has shot a dismal 18.9 percent (14-of-75) from three and 44.8 percent (26-of-58) from the free throw line. It is only averaging 50.7 points during this skid, which is obviously unlikely to win any game.
To make matters worse, East Carolina has been outrebounded by at least seven boards in each of those losses. The Pirates were hammered on the boards, 51-28, in their 65-52 loss to Big East foe South Florida on December 9 th.
East Carolina won the first meeting, which was played in Greenville, 86-67; however, the 19-point margin is not indicative of how competitive that game was. The contest featured eight ties and five lead changes. Morgan State held a one-point advantage with 14 minutes remaining, but was unable to stay with the Pirates while being plagued by poor shooting and turnovers down the stretch.
Offensively, ECU featured a balanced attack, placing five players in double figures. Darrell Jenkins paced the Pirates with a game-high 22 points while also dishing out 12 assists. He is the team’s leading scoring at 13.5 points per game, while also averaging over 6.5 assists each time out. Freshmen Gabe Blair and John Fields, who have each played nearly 30 minutes a contest thus far, had solid games in their Pirate debuts. Blair finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, and Fields posted 12 points while also blocking three shots. The 6-9 freshman has tremendous wingspan and is rejecting 3.6 shots per game. Blair is the team’s top rebounder, as he is pulling down just over eight a game.
Courtney Captain is one of the Pirates’ top three-point threats and is putting up 12.6 per contest.
Ricky Stokes and staff will hope to get some production from junior guard Jeremy Ingram in Baltimore after he was unable to go against USF. Ingram finished with 13 points and four rebounds the last time these two met.
Following their loss in Greenville, Todd Bozeman and the Bears dropped five more games before finally collecting their first win of the season. They defeated Coppin State, 86-82, in their MEAC opener to break through with their first victory of the Bozeman era.
Despite their 1-6 start, Morgan State has shown improvement. They have competed with most of their opponents, much like they did East Carolina, but have been unable to finish games prior to Coppin State.
Reggie Holmes, who tallied 17 points against the Pirates in Greenville, is one of the top three-point shooters in the MEAC and recently was selected as the player of the week in the league. The 6-4 freshman guard is averaging 14 points per game.
6-9 junior Boubacar Coly presented the most problems for the Pirates in the first meeting. He posted a double double, finishing with 20 points and 14 boards.
Ronald Timus, a 6-6 senior forward, is also a force to be reckoned with. Timus scored 22 points in the Bears’ 83-63 home loss to Seton Hall. He had 12 points against ECU the first time around.
Morgan State also has a pair of 6-2 guards, Jamar Smith and Joseph McLean, who are solid players.
FOR EAST CAROLINA TO WIN, IT MUST:
Note: This does not include the obvious, which is the Pirates must shoot the ball better than they have in the last three games.