Jeff Lebo Practice Comments

Inside ECU Sports stopped by East Carolina's basketball practice to catch up with head coach Jeff Lebo. Here are some things he had to say.

On returning home.

"We've got a tough test. Obviously, Louisiana Tech is maybe best, most talented teams in our league. Watching them play—having come from an SEC program—they're probably mid-level SEC talent. They'll turn you over and they've got quickness. It's nice to be home and hopefully we can not turn it over and put the ball in the basket a little bit more than we have in the past."

What can you do to slow them down from a defensive standpoint?

"It's hard. They play a tempo, they press, they turn people over. They're top-10 in the country in steals. They're averaging close to 11 steals a game. Their tempo is fast. They play fast and they make you play fast. We've got to be smart. I think that's the one thing. We want to take open ones, if they're the right people, early in possessions. We don't want to let them get into a comfortable, up-and-down game that really favors them."

If you win three of the final five, you can salvage a .500 season. Considering everything that's happened, would that be a big plus for you guys?

"We're battling. That's one of our goals is to get over .500. It's not something that's happened here a whole heck of a lot. We're sitting at it right now with the loss of four guys—three of those guys starters. It would be unbelievable. Looking at the beginning of the season, I thought we could drop a six or a seven-win season with all the losses we have, but the kids have been resilient. We won some close games early."

"They battled hard. We've been in every one, just about. We've played, in conference play, probably one bad half. Probably at Middle [Tennessee]. Other than that, we've been in games until late in the game, we just haven't had enough firepower to pull it off."

What do you make of the close loss to North Texas?

"I really liked their resiliency in that game. We got down and they made some shots. I think, defensively, we were held to three points. We had a shot to win it. Caleb White, a freshman, when we're down, scored eight consecutive points to put us back into the game. So, on the road, you have a chance to win, you feel good about that. We just weren't able to finish it off on that last possession with a basket."

What positives, as a coach, can you take out of this experience for future years?

"I've been through this before at a couple of other places. It's nothing, as an experienced coach and being in this position before, you kind of learn what you have to do and how you have to change and try to find a way to be competitive. My first year at Auburn was very similar to this. My first year at Tennessee Tech was very similar to what we're going through. I think that you have to be patient as a coach. You have to understand your team and you have to be willing to tinker and make some changes to find a way to be competitive. This team has really bought in to playing the zone. It's kept us in games defensively, kept us out of foul trouble and kept them off the foul line."

Paris Roberts-Campbell has been on and off. What do you tell a guy that's been inconsistent?

"It's going to be hard for us to do anything if he gets under double figures. He's been struggling in conference play being consistent with his outside shot. We just tell him ‘keep shooting the ball, don't think about it, we believe in you.' We've shown him those makes from early in the season. We've worked with him here. I've seen the ball go through the basket, but he really has to get going for us to have a chance."

How important is it to gather some momentum in the final stretch of the season?

"I think any time you win a game late in the season, and for us in particular, it helps your confidence. Late in February, we've been practicing a long time and it just gives them some pep in their step—especially with a young group. It rewards them. We've got a couple more opportunities before the conference tournament and our kids have been resilient. They've been great in practice. We haven't had any negative things creep into our kids' heads or our practices or our attitude. I expect that to continue for the rest of the season.

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