Basketball Report: Backcourt

As East Carolina continues preparing for basketball season, the squad's backcourt is beginning to take shape.

East Carolina's basketball team has been practicing for a few weeks now, so some of the questions marks surrounding the team have become clearer.

Among those is how the backcourt is going to look this season. With Akeem Richmond returning for his senior season and junior college transfer Antonio Robinson joining the lineup, things are shaping up.

"We got a lot of competition there," said head coach Jeff Lebo. "You got Akeem Richmond and Paris Roberts who are experienced guys there in the backcourt who have played a lot of minutes for us. Prince Williams is a guy who played backup point guard for us. Those guys are experienced guys."

The Pirates lost quite a few important players during the offseason. Because all eyes will be watching for Richmond to lead the team from the backcourt, he's spending his time now preparing himself for that role.

"I know that I have to step up this year and put the team on my back," said Richmond. "I'm just going hard each and every single day. I'm in the gym. Other than practice, getting up a lot of shots and working on my floater and midrange. I know I'll have to do it all this year."

Experience is hard to come by with this year's squad. Richmond is the only senior in the backcourt and one of a handful of returning starters. That said, many newer faces are expected to step up.

"Antonio Robinson and Caleb White, I've been impressed with both of those guys," said Lebo. "Caleb is able to play two and three and Antonio at the one. Greg Alexander is a kid, I think, who is getting better and better as a freshman."

Even though this will be his first season with ECU, Robinson expects to be able to bring some leadership to the table, too. He has two years of junior college experience and is looking to use it to guide some of his younger teammates.

"From Louisburg, I used to always be the leader," said Robinson. "But now, I've got to be more of a leader and vocal on the court."

Robinson has always been a pass-first guard, but Lebo is expecting him to evolve into more of a shooter, too. In addition to that, he's preparing for the season by working on the defensive side of his game.

"At the point, I think I see myself pass first," said Robinson. "I like see my team first. I let my teammates get a shot. We got Akeem Richmond coming back. He's a great three-point shooter. You got Paris Roberts on the other wing."

If the Pirates are to avoid having their season plagued with problems relating to inexperience, newer players are going to have to be ready and able to step up early on.

"Experience is big," said Lebo. "We'll see. I think a couple of guys are going to have to ready to play here early. They're going to have to be good. There's a little more added pressure on them, especially at the point guard position."

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