East Carolina meets Navy in a non-conference matchup. Navy does play football in the AAC, but their hoops program resides in the Patriot League. East Carolina is an AAC school in all sports. They defeated VMI, 80-68 at home to open their season on Tuesday. The Mids lost at George Mason in overtime on the same day, 68-55 in overtime.
These two teams meet from Annapolis in the Veterans Classic from Alumni Hall at the Naval Academy.
Good start for PiratesECU was 10-21 overall last season and a pathetic 3-15 in the American. Joe Dooley returns to the program after going 67-73 in four seasons. He coached in the late nineties and had some success. That's a word that's been foreign in Greenville since they joined the new AAC (23-67) in 2014. Jeff Lebo was the coach for their last winning campaign, which produced 23 wins.
The Pirates struggled in the first half against VMI, trailing 38-36, before pulling away with 44 points in the second half to win by 12. Forward Jaylen Gardner led the Pirates with 28 points and 11 rebounds with two blocks. The 6-7, 225-pound forward led ECU with 16.3 points and 8.5 rebounds last season. Tristan Newton (6-3, 185), a freshman guard, added 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting (3-5 3pt) in his college debut. The Pirates shot 53.4% from the field and outrebounded the Keydets by nine. They also shot just 14-of-24 from the line (58.3%).
“I thought we had jitters like we expected, especially early in the game," said Dooley after the game from 247sports. "I thought we were very sped up offensively, which a lot it is attributed to them with the switching man they played. We got a little discombobulated for a while offensively, turned it over and missed some layups. I thought our defense changed in the second half and I thought the freshmen guards did a great job in the second half keeping the ball in front of them and obviously Tristen made some really good plays. ..."
DeChellis needs a strong seasonNavy finished last season with a 12-19 record and was 8-10 in the Patriot League (T-6). They return just one starter from last season's squad, that lost in the semifinals of the conference tournament. At some point, former Penn State head coach Ed DeChellis is going to need to get the Mids back on track. He's 100-50 in Annapolis in eight seasons although Navy is not an easy place to win and the football program certainly takes center stage.
The Mids gave a strong effort in the opener at George Mason, but were outscored 16-3 in overtime to fall to 0-1. Evan Wieck and Cam Davis had 14 points apiece, while Greg Summers added 13 and eight boards to lead the Mids, who shot just 36.2% from the field (4-20 3pt).
“Great effort by our squad,” DeChellis said in The Baltimore Sun. “I like the way we were resilient and had a chance to win the game. We just didn't make the play we needed to make to win it.”
Wieck is a 6-8, 235-pound senior who averaged 8.8 points and 5.5 rebounds last season. The key player is Davis, a 6-1 junior guard who averaged 9.8 points and 2.4 rebounds as a combo guard, but will be relied more to handle the point this season. Sophomore guard John Carter Jr. (8.4ppg, 5.2rpg) struggled in the opener scoring just two points on 0-for-7 from the field but is certainly capable of producing.
Trends from Covers.com: ECU is:
- 1-4 ATS last 5 vs. Patriot League.
- 1-5 ATS last 6 overall.
- 4-12 ATS last 16 road games.
- 4-1 ATS last 5 home games.