Gut-check time for ECU hoops

Published 7:38 pm Saturday, January 3, 2009

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — It’s officially gut-check time for the Pirates.
A three-game losing streak is not a devastating situation for East Carolina hoops, but what is of some concern is how they have been losing.
Two of those three defeats came against the ACC’s Wolfpack and Demon Deacons, and nobody expected ECU to go 2-0 during that stretch. Splitting those two games would have been a major achievement for the upstart club.
However, both games were lost in the second half, and both times the Pirates’ relied way to much on senior guard Sam Hinnant to carry the offense.
Opposing teams are aware of Hinnant and his capabilities, and it’s time for the others to step up and make opponents pay for loading up on the sharpshooter.
There is never an acceptable loss, but getting defeated by N.C. State and No. 6 Wake Forest is certainly understandable.(13-0) What is not understandable is coming out flat against Coastal Carolina on Sunday.
East Carolina had been averaging 83 points per game, but tallied only 55 in its loss to the Chants.
ECU coach Mack McCarthy said that his team was getting good shots and just not making them, but what killed them was the lack of intensity.
A cold night shooting the ball is comprehendible, lack of hustle after getting blown out by Wake Forest is not.
The Pirates will face another ACC powerhouse in No. 16 Clemson on the road tonight, before they open up their Conference USA schedule at home against Tulane on Jan. 7.
While they don’t have to get a win tonight, and more than likely won’t, what they do need to do is bring back the desire and enthusiasm, that helped them be competitive against George Mason earlier in the season.
McCarthy said that the team returned to Greenville ready to right the wrongs of the Coastal Carolina game, but also said the atmosphere is a little hard to get a read on right now.
Time to start checking those guts.
Clemson features a very balanced attack which is spearheaded by junior swingman K.C. Rivers and phenomenal junior power forward Trevor Booker.
Both Rivers and Booker are putting up a team-high 14 points per game, while 6-7, 240-pound Booker also leads Clemson with 9.6 rebounds per night and 30 steals.
ECU fans should be very familiar with Oglesby and Booker. Last season Clemson came to town and topped the Pirates 82-67 behind 17 rebounds from Booker and six three pointers from Oglesby.
The 6-2 Oglesby put on a shooting clinic, as he bombed three pointers from way beyond the arc to bury East Carolina.
Oglesby, who is averaging 13 points per game, is a large reason why the Tigers are shooting a mind-boggling 50 percent from the floor this year.
McCarthy said if his team wants to pull of an upset, the shooters have to heat up and the post players have to stay in the game.