Jeff Lebo: Practice Comments

IES caught up with ECU basketball coach Jeff Lebo before the Pirates take off for a two-game road trip at Tulsa and North Texas. Here are his transcribed comments.

Has the weather affected the way you have prepared for the road trip?

"No, it hasn't. We're business as usual. Athletics, during the season, doesn't stop for the elements, typically. So we've prepared the same way and we're on time with everything and we'll head on out there. And we're happy to get out of this and get to Oklahoma, where its 50 (degrees), and Dallas, where its 65."

Having won two of the last three games, are you and your team feeling pretty good right now?

"Yeah, we're feeling better. I think the kids are feeling better. It may have taken some pressure off after winning a couple games. It doesn't get any easier going on the road now. Practice has been good and they have been good all year. Their effort and enthusiasm has been good. It's just interesting, when I see a other teams lose one player and what it does to them, I said ‘try losing four.' That's what we're dealing with, but the kids have been resilient all year and they'll finish strong, I know."

What is it about Tulsa that concerns you most?

"I think their depth. They got great depth and they play nine or 10 guys. Their backcourt is very quick and really very athletic. And they can score from a variety of spots. They're good at home. Their record doesn't indicate how good they are. They've played Wichita State in non-conference. They've played Creighton in non-conference. So they've may have had the toughest non-conference schedule in our league and they've done very well when they've gotten into conference."

Describe your relationship with Tulsa coach Danny Manning.

"Danny and I played on the 1987 Pan-American team, representing the United States. So I got to get to know Danny and, obviously … was, to me, one of the greatest players during that time. He made other guys on the floor better and, obviously, has roots here in North Carolina. He played for Larry Brown at Kansas. I played for Coach Brown in the NBA. So he's just done a great job at Kansas as a big man and as a coach, he's really put a stamp on the Tulsa program."

It seems like the zone has been something you've been forced to embrace, hasn't it?

"Well, it is and that's the way we have to play. We've played more zone possessions probably this year than I would have played in my whole career, combined, as a coach. So that's our way to try to be effective and help in some areas that we're weak. Some of that is us doing a good job on shooters and some of it is luck of guys missing shots, but it's been an effective way for us to try to counteract our lack of size and depth."

Since you didn't run much zone prior to this season, did you reach out to anybody for advice of how to run an effective zone?

"We've got on our staff now, Mike Netti, who was at Syracuse for two years. And when you talk about the zone, he was on that scout team and there for two years. I've played it in the past. My dad was a big zone guy that played for a terrific coach, Gene Evans, who was a fantastic zone coach. So we've kind of evolved into it and our kids really kind of believe in it more and it's kind of been our staple. And for some reason they like to play it, but I said ‘I'll stick with it as long as you're playing well' and it has been effective for us the last few games."

What do you know about your opponent on Saturday: North Texas?

"I know they are athletic because I watched them play against Tulsa. There are interchangeable parts at a lot of different spots and they are very free flowing. They really push it in transition, they take quick shots, but they've got some athleticism and quickness at every spot."

Who will win Wednesday night's matchup between North Carolina and Duke?

"I'll say UNC by five."

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