Pirates aim for bounce back in first game under Perry

Published 3:52 pm Saturday, January 21, 2017

GREENVILLE — Interim head coach Michael Perry and his East Carolina men’s basketball team had a week to prepare for his first game at the helm before the Pirates travel to Connecticut to face the Huskies on Sunday.

UConn (7-11, 2-4 American Athletic Conference) has struggled with injury problems. The Huskies are coming off back-to-back road losses against Georgetown and Southern Methodist, where they lost by 20 to the Mustangs.

Connecticut is running on a short bench right now, as just seven players appeared in its last game. In the beat down by SMU, UConn’s leaders fell to the side as Rodney Purvis, Jalen Adams and Amida Brimah combined for just seven points.

“They have so many different weapons, let’s be honest,” Perry said. “They bring in top-25, top-50, top-100 players and eventually the cream rises to the top. They are young but they’re very talented and it’s just a matter of time.”

Sophomores Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier pair as the leading scorers for UConn with 14.9 and 13.5 points per game, respectively. The 7-foot center, Brimah, averages 6.8 points per contest with 53 blocks on the season, good for first in the conference.

Perry said he is confident in his big men’s ability to cover Brimah and he hopes to neutralize his defensive game.

“Brimah poses other problems than just (his height), he has great wingspan probably,” Perry said. “He’s the most athletic post we have in our league, particularly a big post. He can cover a lot of ground and he’s the premier shot blocker in our league.”

Senior Caleb White has been in a deep shooting slump as he has scored just five points over the last three games. White, who scored his 1,000th point last year, is still averaging more than 10 points per game.

He said this cold streak is new for him and he has been working during the off week to shoot out of his streak.

“It’s tough, but you’ve just got to keep working, that’s what I’ve been doing,” White said. “I’ll just keep working and know that eventually they’re going to fall. (I got away from the gym) maybe one day. I got a chance to finish up my community service so that was a bit off of my back. You just try to keep pumping confidence into yourself.”

White said this is the biggest drought of his career but with the work he has put in over the past three and a half years at ECU, he believes it will end soon.

UConn has been committed to a defensive mindset this season, and the scoring has dropped off in response to that effort. The Huskies are averaging just 64.8 points per game, where ECU averages 61.8.

ECU and UConn will tip off Sunday at 6 p.m. in Hartford, Connecticut where the Pirates will be looking for their second conference win of the season.