ODU handed the Pirates an 81-70 loss to kick off their six-game losing streak at the beginning of their conference schedule. A win would not only help ECU heading into the conference tournament, but it would lock up its first back-to-back winning seasons since having four in a row between 1993-1997.
"I think our goals was to have a winning season," said head coach Jeff Lebo. "I didn't know, with all the losses we had… I thought at the end of the year, I don't tell the kids this, that we'd have a six or eight win season. I thought that with all the things that happened, that we couldn't recover… But the kids have found a way to be competitive almost every night and win some games. So, 16 wins, if you look back, that may be the third or fourth most they've had in the last 20 years."
There's a lot on the radar heading into the season closer. The most notable is senior Akeem Richmond being on the doorstep of becoming the 13th player ever in NCAA Division I history to make 400 career three pointers. That single trey will also move him into the top 10 on the NCAA single-season chart in the same category. He's also 15 shy of Stephen Curry's 2008 record setting 162 three pointers.
On the other end of the spectrum, Caleb White is just getting his career at ECU started. As a freshman, he averages the second most points with 12.8 a night. The only higher scoring Pirate is Richmond, who scores 18.3 each time out. He's 16 points from becoming the third freshman in ECU history to score 400 points in a season.
Paris Roberts-Campbell rounds out ECU's scoring corps as the team's third player averaging double figures (11.8). That's not the only area where he contributes, though. On offense, he's also one of the squad's best at dishing out assists. Seven more helpers will make Roberts-Campbell the first player in school history to have two 100-assit seasons. He's also one of the best defensive-minded Pirates on the court.
However, Roberts-Campbell has been working through an injury. Not only will ECU need his help on offense, but he'll be necessary to slowing down ODU's Keenan Palmore and Aaron Bacote, who were instrumental to the Monarchs' penetration that earned them 56 points in the pain last time ECU and ODU met.
"He's probably 80 percent, 85 percent right now," said Lebo, "and that may be as high as he gets for the rest of the season, but we've got to get something out of him. He's our smartest defensive guy, whether it's man or zone. He knows where he's supposed to be. He's quick and he can react back there. He hasn't been able to do that the past couple of games."
Bacote and Palmore, along with Dimitri Batten make up ODU's scoring threat. All three average double digits a night, with Bacote leading the offensive efforts with 16.4 points per game. He also leads the team with three helpers a game.
This time around the Monarchs face a different Pirate defense. Last time they met, Lebo's squad combated the Monarchs' scorers with man-to-man defense. With a depleted, small team, they've since switched over to primarily zone. The Pirates will be hoping that will help keep ODU from getting its scorers to the rim.
Tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va. The hoops action can be followed on the C-USA Digital Network, Pirates IMG Network and on Twitter @InsideECUSports.