Jeff Lebo: Practice Comments

We caught up with ECU basketball coach Jeff Lebo to discuss last week's narrow loss at Duke and the Pirates' upcoming consolation games of the NIT Season Tip-off.

After watching the tape from last Tuesday's narrow loss at Duke, how do you assess your team's performance?

Lebo: "We did some good things. Obviously, we executed well off-the-dribble. We rebounded the ball, second chance points were a positive and from a confidence standpoint we left with some confidence. But we've got to guard against it. I can't tell you how many people have come up to me and congratulated me and we lost by nine points on the road. I explained that to the kids. I want them to feel good, I want them to be confident, but also it was one team in one setting. We got a whole lot more basketball to play, we got to get better and we got to guard against being complacent."

You played two emotional games on back-to-back nights. Is it good to have a couple extra days to relax?

Lebo: "It has been. We've got to turn around quickly now and have to travel, we were hoping to play at home on Monday and Tuesday, but we get the road games to Rhode Island, which is tough on our kids because we're going to miss some more class over Thanksgiving. But it was nice to kind of take a deep breath and we can get in here and practice a little bit and shore up some areas and try to get a little bit healthier. You get a little banged up after you play two nights in a row."

What are your thoughts on Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's gracious comments about you and your program?

Lebo: "I didn't really listen to him that much. I was too busy doing the next thing, but I've got a lot of respect for Coach K. He recruited me, he was in my home and obviously what he's done for the consistency of excellence in that program."

Akeem Richmond played at Rhode Island, where you will be playing on Monday and Tuesday, and says he knows those baskets like the back of his hand. How do you expect him to play in a familiar environment?

Lebo: "That's exciting for him to go back into that stage. There's no chance to play Rhode Island, but he probably thought he'd never go back there again, but here we go. That's the funny thing about basketball."

How big was it for your team to have success off-the-dribble and not just from three-point range?

Lebo: "I think it was big. A lot of that was (because of) how Duke played and what their game-plan was, which was to make us go off the bounce. That's what they did the night before and we were able to get in there because they were hugged up (on Richmond). A lot of the stuff we got was because of Akeem and the way they played him in particular. I was proud of the fact that we got in there and we finished. We've had a hard time finishing consistently. We still missed a lot of shots, but we did finish with our size."

Talk about the break-out games by point guards Prince Williams and Antonio Robinson.

Lebo: "Prince and Antonio, as good as they were against Duke, were just as bad the night before, so we've seen both sides of that. That's what we're going to have with this year's team. At times we'll look really good and at times we won't. You look at the Norfolk State game the night before from the 10 minute mark of the first half to the 10 minute mark of the second half, they outscored us by about 30 points. That was the bad and we can see the good in the beginning parts of those games. We got to get some consistency. I think that's the big thing. Being able to make adjustments quickly with a young team is difficult." What are your thoughts on your former coach at North Carolina, Dean Smith, being honored with the Congressional Medal of Freedom?

Lebo: "What an honor for coach. It's one of the many he's gotten and to me, maybe this is the most prestigious of all of them. It's certainly well-deserving of what he's meant in the game, but what he's meant even more outside of the game and what he believes in, what he's meant and how he has changed the lives of so many people and so many of his players."

If you could, talk about your three signees for the new recruiting class: Grant Bryant, Lance Tejada and Kanu Aja?

Lebo: "I think we've got a little bit of everything. We've got a big (Aja), we've got a guy in the middle who can play multiple positions in Grant Bryant, we've got a point guard in Tejada that's strong, quick and can score, can play in the open floor. I think we've helped ourselves in some areas and we've got some guys coming back. We're excited about those three guys. I think they will add to what we're trying to build here. I think they will be ready to play quickly in a new league that the talent level will jump substantially. We're excited about how they will fit in, I think they are good kids, they are about the right stuff and they will fit in with out group really well."

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