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Pirates relying on two-pronged point attack

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East Carolina's Shawn Williams (#55) dodges Central Connecticut player during a game Friday, Nov. 17, 2017.

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Almost everything about this East Carolina basketball team is new or different than it was a year ago, and some things are even different than they were when the season began a month ago.

One change is in the backcourt where, despite known commodities like senior B.J. Tyson, a big question mark emerged when sophomore point guards Jeremy Sheppard and Raquan Wilkins were suspended indefinitely just before the season began. It forced the emergence of junior transfer Issac Fleming and freshman Shawn Williams, but now the two are even spending some time together on the court.

“They complement each other tremendously,” interim head coach Michael Perry said of Fleming and Williams. “Fleming is a tremendous driver of the ball and he can get into the paint against any team and is very creative. Shawn spaces the floor and it gives him more space ... and he has a feel when Isaac is in there of how to spot him and create shot opportunities for himself.”

Fleming is second on the team in scoring with an average outing of 14.3 points and leads the team with 40 assists. Williams averages 9.0 points and is second on the team with 14 3-pointers made.

Perry said during Friday’s practice that nothing had changed in terms of the status of the suspended Sheppard and Wilkins, meaning the guard pairing will continue to be critical.

According to Fleming, sticking to the plan is the most important thing as the 5-4 Pirates ride a three-game winning streak out of exam break and into Monday’s home clash with a reeling Charlotte club.

“The main focus is keeping the same strategy, the same game plan and the same mindset, and just coming out and attacking it,” Fleming said. “I feel like I’m getting better day by day.” 

Perry and the Pirates are well-rested to say the least, having not played a game since a 69-66 comeback triumph against Campbell on Dec. 4.

“I was a player at one time so I know what they’re going through. You can’t wait to get back on the floor, and this has been an extended exam break that they’ve had and so many days without any type of competition at all, so they’re biting at the bit to get back out there and play,” Perry said of the Pirates’ Monday return.

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 and follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.

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