Pirates look to avoid another streakPublished 8:06pm Friday, February 10, 2012
GREENVILLE — It’s been a season of streaks for East Carolina as the team won five straight, then dropped six in a row before piecing together a three-game winning streak that was snapped when the Pirates fell 70-59 to Memphis on Wednesday.
If that trend continues then that spells bad news for ECU (12-11, 3-7) who will begin a three-game road trip that starts with Marshall (14-10, 5-5) and is followed by appearances at UCF and Memphis.
With six games left in the regular season the Pirates need to win at least three of their remaing games to finish the regular season above .500 and would have to tack on a Conference USA tournament victory to ensure their first back-to-back winning seasons since they strung four together from the 1993-1996 as members of the CAA.
All year long East Carolina coach Jeff Lebo has maintained a one game at a time approach and his team will need to be focused at the task at hand as it will try to contain the Thundering Herd’s trio of Deandre Kane, Damier Pitts and Dennis Tinnon.
Kane, a 6-4 sophomore guard, is the conference’s fifth-leading scorer with 15.9 points per game and is sixth in steals with 1.5 thefts a night.
Pitts, a speedy 5-10 senior point guard, is racking up 13.6 points a night and is second in C-USA in assists per game with 4.6. ECU’s junior point guard Miguel Paul is tops in the league with 5.6 helpers a game.
Tinnon leads Marshall in the paint and uses his sturdy 6-8, 225-pound frame to grab 10 boards a night, which is the second-most in the conference.
Marshall, which comes into tonight’s game riding a two-game losing streak after it fell 67-60 to UCF its last time out, has played quality games against some good teams. The Herd took Cincinnati to overtime before falling 73-69 and battled Syracuse hard before getting topped 62-56.
In order for the Pirates to negate their streaky ways they must be competitive on the glass with a Marshall team that is tops in C-USA in rebounding margin with a + 8.4 differential.
For that to happen Pirates’ center Darrius Morrow (13.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg) needs to stay out of foul trouble and get help from forwards Maurice Kemp (10.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Robert Sampson (4.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg).
In the backcourt, the matchup of Pitts versus Paul should be an extremely good one. Paul has been tremendous for the Pirates all season and is third in the league in scoring with a 15.8 points per game average and is a big reason why ECU leads C-USA in steals per game (8.4) and has the third-highest assists average (14.4).