Pirates ready to hit the hardwood once again

Published 3:44 pm Saturday, December 13, 2008

By Staff
By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
After a week-long layoff East Carolina is ready to hit the hardwood again as it hosts the Southern Conference’s UNC-Greensboro Spartans (1-5, 0-2) tonight at 7 p.m.
The extra time in between games may come in handy for the Pirates, who played a shaky first half of basketball the last time out in their 69-43 win over Div. II Limestone.
ECU head coach Mack McCarthy said he was unhappy with his team’s performance after the win over the Saints, but with a week to get ready for UNC-Greensboro expect the Pirates to play a solid 40-minute game.
The Spartans have been struggling this season, and tonight’s game should be a good tuneup before Conference USA leading East Carolina (7-1) hits the road to play N.C. State on Dec. 13.
So far this season UNCG has been out-scored by its opponents by an average of 73-62, and are coming off a 77-59 road loss to Charlotte. The Spartans also took on N.C. State earlier in the season and fell 79-52.
UNCG is led by 6-4 junior guard Mikko Koisvisto who is scoring a team-high 14 points per game and dishing out 2.8 assists a night.
Sophomore guard Landon Clement’s nine points a night is second on the team, while 6-5 junior forward Ben Stywall is posting eight points a night and a team-high eight rebounds per contest.
Senior guard Sam Hinnant’s 17 points per game leads the Pirates as they look to win their fifth straight game. Hinnant is currently eighth in Conference USA in scoring, while teammate and fellow senior James Legan’s 15.8 points a night as him at 12th.
UTEP’s Stefon Jackson leads the conference in scoring with 21 points per game.
East Carolina has been shooting lights out so far this season, shooting a C-USA best 47 percent from the field.
Another good trend for ECU has been its increase in rebounding. Last year the Pirates finished virtually dead last in every rebounding category, but currently rank in the middle of the conference with a plus 1.4 rebounding margin.
The increase in board work is due in large part to freshman Darrius Morrow, who in his first career start against Limestone recorded his third double-double of the year when he netted 12 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Morrow’s 8.4 boards a night has him ranked fourth in the conference.