ECU rolls over Virginia-Lynchburg

Published 10:41 pm Thursday, November 20, 2014

ECU Hoops likely scheduled Thursday night’s non-Division l opponent Virginia-Lynchburg with the purpose of guaranteeing a win and a confidence boost; everything went to plan as the Pirates (2-1) cruised to a 92-51 throttling of the Dragons.

“It was nice to get everyone in the game,” said head coach Jeff Lebo. “A lot of guys that hadn’t played got a chance. I thought we did some nice things — finally out-rebounded somebody which is nice to see.”

The Pirates had a field day on the boards, winning that matchup, 59-30. Sophomore Michel Nzege led the way with 13 rebounds and his 12 points came with ease over the undersized Dragons. ECU also welcomed back last year’s leading rebounder Michael Zangari from injury. The junior went for five points and eight boards in just 11 minutes, his first action of the season.

“I’m glad to get [Zangari] back,” said Lebo. “He’s had three practices, so we wanted to give a little taste tonight.”

On a less positive note, Lebo and the Pirates lost probably their top offensive big man, Marshall Guilmette to a hip injury. Guilmette should be a junior in eligibility, but he was given a medical redshirt last season while dealing with a variety of injuries. According to Lebo, the current injury sustained in practice is probably a reaggravation of a muscle.

“A lot of what we’ve done here to date offensively revolves around [Guilmette] being in there,” noted Lebo. “With him out, we have to change, with our post guys, a lot of what we’re trying to do. That’s not easy to do when we’ve spent all of summer and preseason working [with him in].”

Reminiscent of the ECU’s season opener against an also weak N.C. Wesleyan, five Pirates (Caleb White, Michel Nzege, Terry Whisnant, Lance Tejada and B.J. Tyson) scored in double figures, while Whisnant led the way with 16.

It can be difficult for coaches to evaluate performance against a severely outmatched opponent. Lebo watches effort closely, and liked what he saw heading into a tough matchup with a Wisconsin Green Bay that narrowly missed an NCAA tournament bid a season ago.

“[My assessments] are effort based and execution based,” said Lebo. “[I watch] defensive positioning and rebounding. It’s tough [to evaluate] because we got whatever we wanted early on offensive. We’ll find out a lot about my team when we go up against Green Bay. They’re a terrific basketball team that one 24 games last season.”

The Pirates take on Green Bay Monday at 12 p.m. in Estero, Florida in their opener of the Gulf Coast Showcase.