This week has been an emotional roller coaster for Pirate basketball fans. On Saturday, ECU lost pretty handedly to UNC-Charlotte, 76-64, then turned around and dominated St. Andrews 111-59 on Tuesday. They enter this weekend with a 6-1 record with their sights set on No.20 UNC (6-2).
Live and die by the three-pointer
The major difference in this week’s games, aside from a win and a loss, was the Pirates ability to shoot the three-pointer. In the loss against UNCC, ECU made just six of 23 three-point attempts (26 percent - their lowest percentage of the season). Their inability to make perimeter shots was one of the main reasons why ECU lost its first game of the season.
They followed up that dismal shooting performance with a stellar one. The Pirates set a team record by making 18 three-pointers against St. Andrews on 36 attempts (50 percent) – their highest percentage of the season). That was a big reason why the Pirates held a 30-point lead for almost the entirety of the second half.
It may be a bit of a no-brainer, but if the Pirates want to leave Chapel Hill with a victory, they are going to need to make the most of their three-point opportunities.
Rebounding a problem in tough times
Throughout this 6-1 start, the Pirates have really only had two tough games. In a come-from-behind win over UNCG and in the loss to UNCC, ECU was troubled by poor rebounding play. These were the only two games thus far that the Pirates have been out-rebounded (31-to-34 and 21-to-45 respectively).
In both of these contests, ECU was also on the losing end of the offensive rebound category (7-to-10 and 2-to-14 respectively), which could be proof that the Pirates are at their best when they are getting it done in the paint. Outside of these two games, the Pirates have led in both total and offensive rebounds in every appearance (totaling 226 rebounds to the opponents’ 169 in five games).
The biggest test is yet to come…
The Pirates are 10 days away from their biggest game of the year. The Dec. 15 game against UNC has been circled on the calendar since the schedules were released. This is ECU’s time to prove its worth on the court, against its toughest opponent. In order to win, the Pirates will need to stand their ground inside, and not be afraid to shoot the three-ball.
UNC has shown this season that they have weaknesses that can be exploited. Add a few significant injuries to that (a less-than-100-percent Marcus Paige and Dexter Strickland for example), and it’s possible for the Pirates to steal an in-state victory. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a wild one in Chapel Hill.