GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — East Carolina women’s basketball coach Kim McNeill incidentally did some early scouting on her team’s first-round NCAA tournament opponent on Sunday night.
McNeill passed some time before the Pirates’ Selection Sunday watch party by viewing the Big 12 Tournament championship game between Texas and Iowa State. A short time later, the 13-seeded Pirates discovered they’ll be heading to Austin this weekend to take on the fourth-seeded Longhorns.
“They’re huge,” McNeill of the Longhorns during an episode of “Inside Pirate Athletics” on Monday night. “Their inside play, they’re really big and they bring some big kids off the bench. They’ve got about three kids that can shoot the three.
“The thing that concerns me the most is their offensive rebounding,” McNeill added. “They led the Big 12 in offensive rebounding. So that was a huge theme of (Monday’s) practice. Everybody’s got to get involved in rebounding. It’s not just on Amiya (Joyner), it’s on the guards. Everybody’s got to get involved. It’s not necessarily the first shot I’m concerned about, it’s the second shot.”
Texas led the Big 12 with 519 total offensive rebounds this season, almost 100 more than Oklahoma, which had the second-most (424). Taylor Jones is averaging a team-high 5.7 rebounds per game, followed closely by DeYona Gaston (5.6).
Joyner, a Farmville Central High School graduate who is putting together a stellar freshman season for the Pirates, is the third-tallest player on ECU’s roster at 6-foot-2. Forward Tiara Chambers is 6-foot-3, and center Brittany Franklin is two inches taller than Chambers. Texas has two players who stand 6-foot-2, three players who are 6-foot-4 and one who is 6-foot-5.
“We can’t change anything — can’t get any bigger, can’t go draft any more height,” McNeill said. “So if they’re bigger, we’re quicker. We’ve got to use our quickness. We can’t play behind in the post. We’ve got to box out. We’ve got to put a lot of pressure on the guards so they can’t see inside. It’s got to be team rebounding.”
The Pirates have shown some tenacity on the boards this season. Most recently, Joyner recorded an AAC Tournament-record 19 rebounds in the Pirates’ 69-58 win over Tulane a week ago. A couple of days later, Joyner came close to tying her own record and helped the Pirates clinch an automatic NCAA bid by grabbing 15 boards in ECU’s 46-44 tournament championship victory over Houston.
Joyner is averaging a team-high 9.7 rebounds per game. Four players — Synia Johnson, Morgan Moseley, Micah Dennis and Danae McNeal — are averaging just over three rebounds per game.
Saturday’s game will tip off at 10 p.m. at Moody Center. It will be broadcast on ESPN.