Pirates to host C-USA’s leading scorer tonight

Published 2:21 am Saturday, February 7, 2009

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
East Carolina played what coach Mack McCarthy said might have been one of its best games all season in its 82-79 win over Southern Miss on Wednesday. ECU will need another effort like that tonight when the Pirates host Jermaine Taylor and the UCF Knights.
Taylor, who made All-Conference USA second team last season, is on his way to being a first-teamer this year as his 24 points per game is tops in the conference and seventh in the nation.
The 6-4 senior guard is a dynamic scorer with tremendous range and is the Knights all-time leader in three-point shots made with 221, and is 70 points away from being the school’s all-time leading scorer.
The All-American candidate takes a lot of shots from downtown and rarely misses as his 41 percent three-point field goal percentage is 28th in all of Div. I.
The Pirates of course, are no strangers to the three-point shot themselves, so expect tonight’s game to be a shootout.
As team, UCF ranks second in three-point field goal percentage at .369, right above ECU which is converting on .363 percent of its shots.
The Knights have rode the back of Taylor to a 13-7 (5-3) record which is good enough for fifth place in C-USA, once again right above East Carolina whose 11-10 (3-5) record has it sitting in sixth.
While the Pirates don’t posses a scoring machine like Taylor, they do have momentum from Wednesday’s win.
The balanced attack that spearheaded ECU’s 8-1 start made a return as Brock Young (17), Sam Hinnant (14), James Legan (14), Jamar Abrams (12) and Darrius Morrow (10) all scored in double figures against the Golden Eagles.
The Pirates must get another offensive performance like that if they want to be victorious against the Knights.
Another key factor in Wednesday’s win was turnovers, or lack there of. ECU only gave up the ball six times, and if it can stay around that number tonight its chances of success will soar.
Another real bright spot was the play of Morrow, who recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds against the Eagles.
Morrow is starting to look a little bit more comfortable in the high post, and was able to make a few plays from that position during the first half.
Earlier in the season that wouldn’t have happen, as the freshman used to look to get rid of the ball right away anytime he caught it outside of the blocks.
Sophomore center Chad Wynn is still an enigma. One game after scoring a career-high 21 points in the Pirates’ loss to Rice, Wynn followed up by collecting as many fouls (3) as points (2) and rebounds (1) combined.
The 6-10 Wynn has potential, but when he does not get involved in the offense early he tends to disappear. He needs to find a way to impact the game when he is not getting the ball on the block.
That being said, East Carolina has to do a better job of feeding its big men the ball down low. Several times throughout the course of the season the Pirates’ perimeter players have ignored Wynn and Morrow when they are open on the block.
Post players work hard all game to get position, and when they finally get it, and nobody gives them the ball it can be discouraging.
The best way to keep the big guys involved in the game is to let them get some touches now and then. By doing that, you are also forcing the defense to respect the inside game more, which should create better shots for the Pirates’ sharpshooters.
Post play could be a big factor tonight against UCF, as it starts a small, three guard lineup of Taylor (6-4), freshman A.J. Rompza (5-9), sophomore Taylor Young (6-1) junior forward Tony Davis (6-7) and center/forward Kenrick Zondervan (6-9)
Rompza has had a solid freshman year as his 5.05 assists per game is fourth in the conference, while Davis leads the Knights with 6.3 rebounds a night.