Pirates look to cage Cougars

Published 11:09 pm Wednesday, January 21, 2009

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
The Pirates will look to snap a two game losing streak tonight when they travel to Houston to take on the Cougars (11-4,2-1), who sit in second place in Conference USA.
Houston is a bit of a surprise team this season. Most expected the Cougars to take a dip this year after graduating All-Conference scoring machine Robert McKiver.
However, Houston hasn’t missed a beat thanks to the stellar play of junior guards Kelvin Lewis and transfer Aubrey Coleman.
Both stand at 6-4, and both are capable of producing points in a hurry. Lewis ranks third in C-USA with 20 points per night, while Coleman is pouring in 18 points per game which ranks him sixth.
Together, the two have helped Houston become the No. 1 scoring team in the Conference, edging out UTEP with 78.7 points a night.
The Cougars also hit the boards hard, and have two players in Marcus Cousins and Coleman who are both grabbing eight rebounds a night, and rank third and fourth in the conference respectively.
Defensively, Houston ranks in the middle of the pack, but play a very aggressive style that has earned them eight steals a game (second in the conference).
Coleman, the do-it-all guard, is also amongst the C-USA leaders in steals, as his 2.6 a thefts a game is second only to Memphis’ Tyreek Evans.
The Cougars’ feisty defensive will create problems for East Carolina, which is coming off of an 88-67 loss to UTEP in which it turned the ball over 19 times, or once every other minute.
If the Pirates want to topple Houston it will need to be more careful with the ball, and somehow keep Coleman in check.
East Carolina will also have to put some points on the board, which it has had trouble doing of late.
Senior guard Sam Hinnant must find a way to be a factor when he is not hitting three pointer, or getting good looks.
Hinnant needs to put the ball on the floor once and a while and take it to the rack, to at the very least, keep his defender honest.
James Legan, the Pirates other senior, has been streaky, and must be more consistent.
When those two players aren’t going, the offense stalls and falls into the hands of sophomore Brock Young, who tries to do it all by himself.
East Carolina also needs production in the paint, which has been a problem all year. Freshman forward Darrius Morrow has done a nice job on the boards, and can score if he gets the ball in the right position on the court. ECU should look to him for more than just put-back points.
Sophomore center Chad Wynn has been a non-factor for a while now. If he can step up and establish himself as a threat down low, it would help out all the other shooters on the team.