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Improving Pirates head to New Orleans


East Carolina guard B.J. Tyson, left, looks to drive against Tulane during a game in Minges Coliseum on Jan. 31, 2018.


The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

No one sees a team the way its head coach does, and as Michael Perry watched some of his players during Tuesday afternoon’s shootaround, he said he saw a team that has grown tremendously since going through an early-season coaching change.

The team’s interim head coach, who replaced Jeff Lebo back in December, also said there is a good chance the Pirates (9-14, 3-5 American Athletic Conference) can take a more noticeable step — one that might translate into more consistent winning — before the season ends.

ECU treks to New Orleans tonight for a rematch with Tulane, which finished off the Pirates in overtime in Greenville on Jan. 31.

“We’re scoring the basketball better now clearly. However, we need our defense to get on the same page with our offense,” Perry said of the Pirates, who have only played two game so far in February, a resounding OT win against Memphis at home followed by a 90-73 slugging at the hands of Temple in Philadelphia. “We’ve been a little inconsistent there. We had two pretty good defensive outings at home and we need to be able to duplicate that on the road as well.”

One key to that effort in Perry’s mind is the continued enhancement of defensive looks, including playing a good deal more zone.

While not an easy thing to adapt midseason, Perry said he has been pleased with his team’s zone defense so far and expects it to continue to grow.

“It’s been a difference-maker for us defensively, but again, the more teams see it, the more they’re going to be prepared for it,” Perry said. “That’s going to be the step, getting the defense on the same page as our offense.”

Senior B.J. Tyson is charging toward becoming the leading scorer in American Athletic Conference history. He needs just 14 points against the Green Wave to take over the top spot. The left-hander leads the Pirates in scoring this season at 14.2 points per game.

Behind him are juniors Kentrell Barkley (12.5, team-high 7.5 rebounds per game), junior Isaac Fleming (12.3 ppg.) and freshman Shawn Williams (10.8).

Since beating the Pirates, the Wave (13-11, 4-8) has lost three straight to Temple, Tulsa and Houston, part of a stretch of five losses in six games. Tulane is led in scoring by Melvin Frazier (16.3 ppg.), Cameron Williams (15.6), Samir Sehic (10.5), Jordan Cornish (10.0) and Ray Ona Embo (10.0).

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