Pirates get ready for Rams|East Carolina hits the road to face VCU

Published 12:58 pm Tuesday, December 29, 2009

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — There were plenty of signs of progression the last time East Carolina took the floor, despite losing 84-80 to George Washington in overtime.
The Pirates (7-5) seem to be cutting back their turnovers, only losing the ball 16 times despite the extra-session against a good defensive squad. ECU also saw solid performances from junior point guard Brock Young, who scored a team-high 20 points and dished out 10 assists, while junior center Chad Wynn tallied 17 points and seven boards.
East Carolina has shown it can be competitive, but the young squad must now show it can close out games. That will be a tough task tonight as it hits the road to face a very good Virginia Commonwealth University (7-2, Colonial Athletic Association) team that has already beaten No. 17 Oklahoma and up-and-coming UNLV.
 The Pirates are definitely glad to see the departure of Rams’ long time star guard Eric Maynor, who is now playing for the Oklahoma Thunder. Last season Maynor helped VCU get to the tournament and his team fell one point shy notching an upset over UCLA in its 65-64 loss in the first round. Two years before that, the Rams stunned Duke in the tourney opener.
While this year’s team may not have Maynor, it does have Larry Sanders. The 6-11, 235-pound junior is averaging 13.9 points per game and 8.4 rebounds a night and will no doubt be a tough matchup for the ECU bigs.
Joining Sanders in the starting lineup will be 6-5 sophomore Bradford Burgess, whose 10.9 points per game is second on the Rams only to Sanders. Also expected to start is 6-4 senior T.J. Gywnn (9.3 ppg), 5-10 sophomore Joey Rodriguez (8.4 ppg) and 6-2 sophomore Jay Gavin (7.6 ppg).
East Carolina is expected to counter with the same starting lineup it has used throughout the first 12 games of the season which consists of Young, Wynn, Jamar Abrams, Jontae Sherrod and Darrius Morrow.
Young leads the team in points per game with 15.5, and assists per game with 6.4 a night. Young is 28 assists away from breaking East Carolina’s all-time record of 413.
Sherrod is second on the Pirates in scoring tallying 13 points per game, while power forward Darrius Morrow is second with a 12-point per game average. Morrow is also averaging a team-high 6.8 rebounds a night.
Abrams and Wynn are a good night away from a double-digit scoring average as they are both netting nine points a night and five rebounds.