Jeff Lebo Practice Comments

Inside ECU Sports stopped by basketball practice on Wednesday to talk to head coach Jeff Lebo. Here are his comments regarding senior night and UNC-Charlotte.

What can be expected of Charlotte?

"A physical game and a physical team that's beaten Michigan and beaten Kansas State. They won at UTEP and beat Tulsa. So, obviously, a very talented team and a team that has size inside and physical guards. That's been an issue for us the last two times we played Charlotte is their physicality and rebounding."

There are a lot of teams that have found success against them. You mentioned the Michigan win, but Charlotte has lost five straight.

"They've lost a lot of close games. They could have easily won a lot of those games they lost. It came down to a couple of plays here and there. They're struggling at times, I think, finding their way offensively. I love their guard [Pierriá] Henry. He can steal the ball. He's physical and can change the game for them. He's given us problems in the past, so I've got a lot of respect for his game."

Are you excited about senior night and sending Akeem Richmond out on a high note?

"It would be great. We've got three seniors…to send them out with a ‘w' on senior night is big. The last time they put on a Pirate jersey here at home is a special night for them."

Are you used to the rotation now with so few players?

"It's bee pretty set since the beginning of the year. We don't know what Paris [Robert-Campbell's] status is going to be, so that could change it a little bit. We know the seven that are going to play well. We'll start our seniors, so Petar [Torlak] will start this game at the point guard position, so that's a special night for him."

When will you know about Paris?

"He'll be a game-time decision probably… He's made improvement, but he hasn't practiced, so we'll see how he does. He hasn't run or anything yet, so we'll see how he feels."

Can you talk about your contract extension? That doesn't happen a whole lot during the season, so that shows some commitment from ECU.

"It's been in talks since the season was over, so it's not something that just came or was just announced really recently. I love it here. It fits for me. My family's here. This place has been good to me at a time when I was down. I appreciate that. I love it here. I love coming to work every day. I'm glad I'm going to be able to stay a couple more years."

You look at a guy like Torlak. He's made great progress here.

"He's a great kid. He's about the right stuff. He's a competitive kid. He could easily have left. He could have gotten frustrated because he wasn't playing as much, but he's come to work every day. All three of my seniors graduating here are in one class to finish up their degrees, so that really makes me proud as a coach. Petar's a special kid, even though he doesn't play as much. He shows a lot of toughness—not wanting to go back home, not wanting to transfer. He wants to stick it out here and finish out the right way."

What do you remember from these past two years against Charlotte? A lot of players were here for those past two years.

"They just physically manhandled us last year, in particular, with their play. They have a lot of post guys—four that just whipped us in there. We're not much bigger, so that's going to be an area of concern for us. They've got not only size, but they've got two oak trees in there: [Willie] Clayton and [Mike] Thorne."

Every year you've been here, you play some of your best basketball at the end of the year.

"We've been playing better. There's no doubt about it. We had a big confidence win against Louisiana Tech and we came out on fire against Rice. It would be nice to finish out senior night, the last night at home, with a ‘w.' That would make three in a row at home."

What's it like to play an in-state conference opponent? You don't get to say that often.

"We can say it for one year! One game. I was really excited when we we're in Conference-USA. We have Charlotte and Old Dominion coming in and they're bus rides for us. Little did I know we were going to change leagues and go somewhere else. Charlotte has a tradition in basketball. It's a team that's in-state and has had that tradition. We've always had a good game with them."


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