ECU faces first test of the year

Published 10:56 am Wednesday, November 19, 2008

By BY BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
After what basically amounts to playing two exhibition games, East Carolina basketball will get its first crack at a Div. I opponent tonight when it hosts the Campbell Camels at 7 p.m.
The Pirates (2-0) did some nice things in their first two games, but tonight fans will get a chance to see if they can continue to do those things against a higher caliber opponent than ECU has seen so far.
Up to now, East Carolina has done a good job of getting everybody involved in the offense. The Pirates have moved the ball around well and haven’t had to rely on the three-ball to win games.
Seniors Sam Hinnant and James Legan lead the team in scoring as they average 17 and 14 points per game respectively.
The roster also features two players who are putting up nine points per game in post players Chad Wynn and Darrius Morrow, and another two that are averaging eight a night in Daquan Joyner and Brock Young.
While Campbell hoops will never be confused with Memphis, it will be a good test game for the Pirates.
Hailing from the Atlantic Sun Conference, Campbell started out its season with a 79-64 win over Div. II Chowan on Saturday, and might be looking to see how they stack up against more talented competition.
The Camels have some firepower as they are led by two-time All-Atlantic Conference player Jonathan Rodriguez.
The junior guard was named a Mid-Major All-American last year as he was one of only six players in Div. I to average over 20 points per game and 10 rebounds.
Rodriguez scored 30 in the Camels season opener.
Campbell coach Robbie Lang, who is in his sixth year, also returns junior center Kyle Vejraska who netted 10 points per game last season, as well as promising sophomore point guard Junard Hartley.
Hartley led all A-Sun freshman last year with 4.4 assists per game.
The two most important things to watch for tonight will be the team defense and rebounding of the Pirates.
So far defensively, they have been good statistically as they have held their opponents to 57 points per game. However, they have had a couple of breakdowns on defense that their Div. II foes could not capitalize on.
On the glass, ECU has out-boarded its opponent by a slim 38-35 per game margin. That’s slightly alarming considering it hasn’t faced a player above 6-8 yet this season.
If the Pirates can win tonight it will be the first time they have started off a season 3-0 since the 2003-04 season.