Looking For Answers

ECU is trying move on from a home loss to Old Dominion. But first, IES dissects what went wrong for the Pirates at Minges Coliseum Saturday.

Old Dominion didn't throw anything at East Carolina that it didn't already expect in Saturday's 81-70 loss at Minges Coliseum. In fact, the Pirates knew exactly what was coming and had over a week to get ready for it, but they still couldn't stop the Monarchs.

ODU ran its ball screens and spaced out the floor, which allowed its dynamic duo of guards to penetrate whenever they wanted to and score 50 points as a team in the paint.

"We spent eight days working on (defense). I don't think we worked on offense, hardly," said ECU coach Jeff Lebo. "That's what is frustrating to me as a coach. We spent all of that time on it and it looks like when you go out there and it's time to show it that we didn't even practice it for eight straight days."

Lebo and his Pirates (11-5) are now searching for answers as they begin a two-game road trip Thursday at Florida International. Fortunately for ECU, a large part of the problem and the solution can be attached to one player – senior shooting guard Akeem Richmond.

Prior to Saturday's game, Richmond tied his career-high of 37 points on 10's 3-pointers in a 79-71 victory in ECU's non-conference finale at Campbell. His performance further proved that when he is on, he's nearly impossible to stop. But when he's not, the Pirates are in store for problems and Saturday was the perfect example.

Richmond did his part offensively despite being held scoreless in the first half; finishing second on the team in scoring with 14 points. However, his responsibility on the other side of the floor was freshman Keenan Palmore, who scored a game-high 23 points on 11-of-13 shooting. Seven of his baskets were on lay-ups.

As a result of his defensive struggles, Lebo quickly pulled Richmond from the game for extended stretches Saturday.

"You can't let your offense define you as a player," said Lebo. "This game is just more than shooting the ball. There's rebounding, there's defense, there's leadership and there's a lot of other things that define a good basketball player.

"Typically, a young player has a problem with that. Not a senior. And he's got to learn that."

This is not to suggest Richmond was the direct cause for ECU's loss. But as the face of the program, the lone senior to play significant minutes and a gunslinger nonetheless, he will always be looked upon to do more.

So maybe he was simply rusty, stemming from the long lay-off. Maybe not. Regardless, Richmond and his teammates are trying to put this game in their rear-view mirror as soon as possible and move forward.

"We definitely have to have amnesia. We can't get down on ourselves, we can't panic or anything like that. For us, as the seniors, we got to really stay positive and uplift everyone and stay working," Richmond said.

While he sat out, fellow senior guard Petar Torlak stepped up. And after sitting out the last five games, Torlak responded well – draining four 3's for a career-high 12 points in 20 minutes – and may have earned some more playing time later this week.

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