Pirates look to get back on course against USM|ECU still searching for first conference win

Published 6:31 pm Saturday, January 23, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE – The Pirates, losers of four of their last five contests, will try once again to pick up their first Conference USA win of the 2009-10 season as they hit the road to take on Southern Miss tonight.
East Carolina, whose 6-12 (0-4) record has it sitting in second to last place in the conference, will look to remove the zero from the C-USA win column against an Eagles (10-8, 0-4) team that is looking to do the same.
In order for that to happen ECU has some concerns that it must address immediately. The Pirates must play with more intensity and a better sense of urgency. With only one senior on the team, they can not afford to take plays off or lose focus during stretches of the game.
East Carolina coach Mack McCarthy has criticized his team in the past for mentally checking out from time to time. Fixing that can be hard for a coach, but a team with a winless conference record should not need any added motivation.
East Carolina needs players to step up and provide leadership on the court. McCarthy said he has players trying to do that, but it’s not always effective.
Distractions such as the arrest of Darrius Morrow for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and the car accident Chris Turner was involved in seem to be taking a toll on the team.
When asked if he felt like he was losing his grip on the team after the Pirates 74-55 loss to Houston, McCarthy said, “I don’t know. If you judged everything by tonight you could say that, but tonight hasn’t been how we have been playing.
Making shots has been a big concern for this team, especially from beyond the three-point line. So far this season ECU is shooting a C-USA worst 31 percent from downtown, while allowing opponents to shoot a conference-best 37 percent.
Against the Cougars, point guard Brock Young shot 2-15 from the floor, while shooting guard Jontae Sherrod hit 2-13, giving ECU a combined 4-28 shooting night from its starting backcourt.
Young, who leads C-USA with six assists per game, must have better shot selection. Too many times against Houston he fired off shots with a high degree of difficulty which gave the Pirates a poor possession.
The Pirates offense will have a tough time against a Golden Eagles defense that allows a C-USA third-best 62.4 points per game.
Offensively, Southern Miss is led by junior Garry Flowers, who is posting 17 points per game and eight rebounds a night.