East Carolinas mens basketball team is hoping it can transfer some Minges Coliseum magic from Greenville, to Ogden, Utah.
After winning four straight CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament games the last three in dominant fashion in the friendly confines of Minges, the Pirates (22-12) will play at Weber State (30-6) at 8 p.m. Tuesday night for the CIT championship. A win will give ECU its first-ever postseason trophy and will tie the school record for single-season victories.
We obviously want to have a chance to do that, Pirates coach Jeff Lebo said Sunday night. Weve had four here at home and weve done some neat stuff. Now were going into a really tough environment against a really good basketball team a long way from home.
As good as ECU has been at home (17-4), the Wildcats have been even better. Weber is 18-1 in the Dee Events Center this season and, if not for an upset loss to Montana in the Big Sky tournament, the Wildcats would have played in the NCAA tournament.
Led by seventh-year coach Randy Rahe, Weber enters the contest having won 17 of its last 18 games. The Wildcats edged Northern Iowa 59-56 on Saturday in Cedar Falls, Iowa, to punch their ticket to the title game.
The Pirates hammered Evansville 81-58 to clinch their berth in the final.
Junior Davion Berry, a 6-foot-4 guard, leads Weber with a 15.2 points per game average while Scott Bamforth, a 6-foot-2 senior guard, averages 13.8 points per. Center Kyle Tresnak, a 6-foot-10 junior, averages 11.9 points per and four other Wildcats average at least 6.4.
Theyre one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country, Lebo said. The last four or five years theyve been the class of the Big Sky. They can score inside; the best post offensive players we will have seen maybe to date and theyve got terrific shooters on the perimeter.
For East Carolina, seniors Maurice Kemp and Miguel Paul are two major reasons the Pirates are in the CIT final. Kemp, a 6-foot-8 forward, has scored at least 20 points in his last eight games and leads East Carolina, averaging 18.8 points per game to go along with 8.1 rebounds.
Paul, a 6-foot-1 point guard, is coming off one of his best games of the season, going for 19 points and 11 assists in the Evansville rout. Paul averages 13 points and a team-high 7.2 assists per outing while junior guard Akeem Richmond is averaging 11.1 , but has not shot the ball well the last three games.
Robert Sampson, a 6-foot-8 junior, leads the Pirates in rebounding (9.2 per) while scoring at a 9 points per game clip. Ty Armstrong, another 6-foot-8 junior, averages 9.3 points.
Well have our work cut out, but there are a lot teams that arent playing (this time of year), Lebo said. Were looking forward to the challenge of going to play (Weber State). Our kids, I think, are playing their best basketball right now.