Jeff Lebo Practice Comments

Inside ECU Sports stopped by basketball practice on Wednesday. Here are some comments from head coach Jeff Lebo about Thursday's game versus Tulane and more!

Do you sense if the players make a couple more free throws and a few more shots, it will take the fatigue off them and help them stay in it?

"We're looking at, last game, having six guys that are able to play. We lost all our bigs. You thought you had six and you're down to one, so you're playing them out of position. What you're looking at now is Prince Williams, who is a one, is our backup five. I've never had that happen before. He's also my backup three and can play a little four if we need him to play over there.

I've kind of been through that before at Auburn. My first year at Auburn, I took the job and I knew probation was going to hit and a lot of guys left. This is probably the second time in my career I've felt sorry for the kids. Paris [Roberts-Campbell] was my starting two guard and now he's playing four. Prince was playing the one and now he's playing five. They've taken it in stride and they know it is what it is. I told them it's like you got a three and a two in a poker game. We're not going to throw it in, though. We're going to play the three and the two the best that we can play the three and the two. That's what we're going to do. Those are the cards we're dealt and that's what we're going to play."

Do you feel like this can make them tighter as a group?

"I think it does. It's unique. Just the challenge, as a coach, to try to get them to believe they can do it and try to find a style that is outside what you're used to playing. We know we have no degree for error. That's just where we are. I tell them the truth, but I also know we could have easily won those two games in Florida being as shorthanded as we were. We're right there. We can win some games. It's going to take some pulling together and it's going to take some guys kind of playing a lot better and get some confidence in what they're doing and getting used to playing in different positions. What all we did during the preseason and the summer, it's gone to the garbage can. That's been a hard thing. At this time in the season, it's difficult to make those changes.

Michael Zangari is one of those bigs. You've said the focus is he needs to hit the glass better and he's done better.

"He's really improved and you can see that in his game. He's worked hard at it and he's probably played more in the last game than he played all of last year combined. He's going to have to play a lot of minutes in this game. That's the frustrating thing. It's just hard to get him out of the game. We've got foul troubles then we'll push him out of the game at times. Fatigue will be part of it. But we've got to find a style. Maybe not one I'd like to play by any stretch of the imagination, but we've got to find a little bit of a unique way to play with this group."

Tulane's a team that's lost some players, too. Looking at yourself, being at home, what have you seen from this Tulane team?

"Well, they've got three of the top-13 scorers in Conference-USA. They're three guards are really playing great. They have a unique style and they have a freshman playing with a terrific start. One of their top scorers, [Louis] Dabney, a guy that we had on the scouting report last year that scored like 20 on us last year. Those three guys they've really relied on. Again, you've got three of the top-13 scorers in the conference on one team. That says a lot about what Ed [Conroy] has done with his group with the losses he's had. They've been able to recover nicely with those three guys scoring."

How do you plan to go about this offensively and defensively?

"I think we like to play fast. It's going to be situation where I don't think we can play nearly as fast as we'd like. We're going to have to cut back on our possessions and slow it down in particular on made shots, rebounds that aren't long, or turnovers we can run. But, if not, we're going to have to slow it down to maybe have to defend a little bit less. You just have to find a unique way to guard. Again, this team reminds me of Auburn. We had a 6'4" center. We had to play a unique way to try and keep in the game. We could play really well and still get beat. But that's what we have to find. It's not a unique situation for me. I've been in it before. I wouldn't recommend it. A 6'4" center in the SEC wasn't ideal situation for anybody to play in."


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