Jeff Lebo: Practice Comments

IES caught up with ECU men's basketball coach Jeff Lebo as it prepares for North Carolina A&T on Saturday. Here are his comments.

Do you feel better now that exams are behind you and your team can solely focus on basketball?

Lebo: "We just finished them up a few hours ago so typically today's not the best day, but tomorrow will get a little bit better. That's just off of 25 years of history.

Now that you have watched the tape, what are some of the things you took away from Sunday's narrow win against Mount Olive?

Lebo: "Shooting the basketball, I thought we did some things well at the end when the pressure started to build and we had to some key plays made by Antonio (Robinson) with the drawn charge. We had a blocked shot late. We had a winning play late in the game where we hit a three. Those kind of things, if we don't make those plays we lose that game.

"I thought we withstood a performance by another player that was terrific. I think that was a good thing for us, but we didn't score it inside like we like, obviously didn't shoot it particularly well. When you look at the history so far this year when we have Paris (Roberts-Campbell) and Akeem (Richmond) shooting it (well) on the same night, (UNC-) Wilmington and this one, we've struggled."

With the exception of that Wilmington game, your team has prevailed in each of its close games. What does that say about your team?

Lebo: "That's good. I think they are learning how to win a little bit. We've been down, we've been in close games so that maybe has helped us in having other close games. We didn't want that last one to be quite as close.

"I thought offensively we were a little shaky at times, but we'll have to play a lot better at home. I don't think we've played particularly well at home. We've seemed to have played better on the road to date. So we've got to play a little bit better in this next one."

Are you concerned with Michael Zangari's game? Ever since playing well against Duke he has struggled.

Lebo: "Playing against smaller, quicker guys is hard for a big guy. So hopefully he will get a chance to play against bigger guys here coming down the stretch. He's much improved. He's still trying to figure out from a confidence standpoint where exactly he fits, but he's going to play no matter what.

"That's what I try to tell him ‘it doesn't matter how you play really so you shouldn't worry about it. You're going to have to play for us. So get confident when you get out there and get the job done.'"

Reserve Francis Edosomwan got into Sunday's game early on. Is he a player we could see more due to your lack of depth in the post?

Lebo: "He gave us some energy and defensive presence there. He's my hardest worker every day in practice so I threw him in there to give him a minute or two. We'll have to use him. With foul problems, he's the next man up."

How important is it for versatile players like Brandan Stith and Caleb White to stay in games?

Lebo: "Really, we're only playing seven (players) right now. So for all of them it's really important. Brandon, from an athletic standpoint, brings shot-blocking and some athleticism there and rebounding. Caleb can score and gives us some length out there.

"Those two guys as freshmen are going to be counted on to be on the floor. We can't have foul trouble. That's why you have been seeing us play a little bit differently than we did last year with a lot more zone."

Are you surprised how far along Stith and White are considering they are freshmen?

Lebo: "Yeah, a little bit. We were hoping they were going to get a chance to play some as freshmen and now they are forced to jump in there and play. The dividends for that will be next year and the year after that – they will have a much better comfort level with what it is going to be like.

"They haven't been through what freshmen typically go through, where you start out pretty well and then they got the lull of a hard season and then they finish up pretty well. We will need them to be pretty strong for us."

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