Pirates seek more consistancy|ECU hits the road to face Tulsa

Published 2:01 am Wednesday, February 16, 2011

By By BRIAN HAINES, Brian@wdnweb.com, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE – The last time out on the court East Carolina got crushed on the boards by Marshall who held a 44-22 advantage on the glass en route to a 78-65 win on Saturday.
Tonight, the Pirates (13-11, 5-5) will look to rebound on the road against a Tulsa (13-11, 6-4) team that has the second best rebounding margin in Conference USA (+ 5.5).
Frontcourt play was a huge factor in East Carolina’s loss to the Thundering Herd over the weekend. Not only did Marshall grab 14 rebounds before ECU got one, but the team also clamped down on Pirates’ forward/center Darrius Morrow with an effective double team that took him out of the ECU game plan and limited him to seven points and two boards.
“They crushed us on the glass very early,” ECU coach Jeff Lebo said. “When we got the ball in to Morrow he missed four layups in the first half, and six overall.”
In order to make teams play honest against Morrow, who leads ECU in rebound per game (5.3 rpg) and is second in scoring (12.3 ppg), the Pirates will need other players to score consistently besides senior shooting guard Jontae Sherrod, who leads the team with 15 points per game.
“Corvonn (Gaines) and Erin Straughn are two guys that, they don’t have to give us 12 or 16 points a game, but with the minutes that they are playing, give us six to eight points consistently,” Lebo said. “Erin has had three or four games that he doesn’t give us any, but then all of sudden gives us 10.
“We have to have those two guys consistently be able to make an offensive play. People the last game did not defend them and guard them, so we are playing five-on-three. … They are daring the other guys to make plays, so they have to step up and make plays.”
Lebo also stated the Jamar Abrams has to be more consistent as well. Abrams, a 6-6 senior forward, is fourth on the team in scoring with 9.7 points per game, but against Marshall he got into foul trouble and score three points in 15 minutes.
“Jamar has to be in the mix. … He has struggled here the last four or five games,” Lebo said. “He is such a big factor in what we do on the offensive end. They give space to everybody because of his ability to shoot the basketball, so when we don’t have him we are a much different team.”
Someone who has had no problem consistently scoring is Tulsa’s senior guard Justin Hurtt, who is currently the conference’s leading scorer with a 20.3 points per game average.
Hurtt, along with sophomore guard Scottie Haralson (12.1 ppg), account for much of the Hurricane’s offense, while 6-11 junior center Steve Idlet is pulling down 6.9 boards a night and provides a big presence in the paint.
“(Tulsa) is big, they out-rebound their opponents and they have an inside player in Idlet who can score and get guys in foul trouble. He is very physical,” Lebo said. “They have two perimeter scorers. Hurtt, I think has a chance to play in the NBA. He is athletic, he can score, he can shoot it and put it on the floor. At this time of year you need a guy who can create by himself and they have that.”
Tulsa enters that matchup having won three of its last four games, all of them coming down to the wire as those four games were decided by a total of 10 points.
The Hurricane lost its last time out, falling to UCF 58-57, but leading up to that game the team has topped UTEP (69-68), Memphis (68-65) and Houston (76-71 in OT).