BYH, when there is a solar energy spill, it's just called a NICE DAY. (this one has better wording than the other one I...

Brick by brick: McNeill building defense-first script

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East Carolina's head coach Kim McNeill directs players during practice on Oct. 15, 2019.


The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

As coaches and players are still in stages of the feeling-out process, every East Carolina women's basketball practice still is a little different.

First-year Pirate coach Kim McNeill views all of her players as freshmen in her system, not putting too much stock into what they did in the past, and she strives to win with a defense-first style that worked for her at Hartford the last three seasons.

Raven Johnson, one of two seniors on the Pirates' active roster, said it goes beyond just strength to produce quality defense and rebounding and a new winning formula for ECU moving forward.

"You have to build that endurance up," said Johnson, who was the leading rebounder on an ECU team a year ago that was led by three different coaches and finished 16-15. "It's endurance and strength about equally. You have to be able to get up and down the floor, because we play now at a very fast pace. We need to be strong and in shape to keep up."

Not being fully effective in all regards as desired could be why McNeill described the preseason so far as a roller-coaster ride featuring various moments and emotions.

"We have grown in some ways and in some ways we are kind of stagnant, and obviously the season is right around the corner," she said. "We talk about building that foundation and we have to start layering some bricks. I'm at the point where I am looking at small victories, because our system does take time to get used to and, really, at Hartford, it took us three years.

"My last year at Hartford is when we were able to implement the whole system."

That system is led by defense.

"It's not just one defense, but we play several different defenses," said McNeill, whose first game with the Pirates is Nov. 6 against Middle Tennessee. "That's why I've really been stressing communication to each other, because we will switch defenses out of timeouts and switch after free throws, so everybody has to be on the same page. You can't have two people in one defense, one person in one and two in another."

Hartford was second in the country last year in steals per game, turnovers forced and turnover margin. It marked the third straight year the Hawks were top 10 in the country in both steals and turnover margin.

Those statistics excited Pirate point guard Lashonda Monk, a junior and Greensboro native who last year grabbed an American Athletic Conference single-season record 116 steals. She also scored in double figures in 22 games.

"A lot of the defensive plays that she has put in so far sets up getting a lot of steals and deflections, so I'm really excited about that," Monk said. "I know that defensively I can get after it, and that will create a lot of scoring off fast breaks and stuff like that."

Tuesday's practice came one day after AAC media day when East Carolina was picked 11th out of 12 teams in the league preseason poll. The Pirates tied for the seventh in the standings last season despite their multiple coaching transitions.

Johnson, Monk and McNeill represented ECU at media day in Philadelphia.

"Me and Raven being two of the upperclassmen on the team, it was important to bond with our new coach and let her get to know us more and us getting to know her more," Monk said. "She is kind of like one of us and is goofy. She laughs just like us."

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


November 12, 2019

East Carolina basketball's road-heavy start to the season continues tonight against Appalachian State.

It is the first in-state opponent for ECU, which beat Virginia Military Institute a week ago and then lost Friday night at Navy, 62-57. App. State also is 1-1.

East Carolina at Appalachian State,…


November 12, 2019

Ninety-four points, zero wins.

East Carolina’s football team was dealt that harsh reality in its first two games of November, scoring 43 in a three-point loss to Cincinnati at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and then on Saturday producing even more points — 51 — but also allowing more in a…

E Carolina SMU Football

November 11, 2019

SMU quarterback Shane Buechele had options on the final offensive play Saturday to finish off a 59-51 win against East Carolina.

It was fourth-and-3 with 55 seconds remaining at the Pirate 39-yard line. ECU had already taken its final timeout, and SMU then called a timeout after shifting to a pooch…

E Carolina SMU Football

November 11, 2019

Let's expand this exercise, for one week, to include South Carolina. The Battle for The Carolinas.

Clemson, obviously, would be No. 1. South Carolina would be fourth thanks to its win over Georgia.

No. 2? Appalachian State, which would own road victories over No. 3 North Carolina and fourth-ranked…

Louisiana-Monroe No. 24 Appalachian State Football

November 11, 2019


Tucked in a super clean and sometimes sleepy nook in Dallas is the campus at SMU, a private school that has stirred to life this fall behind a nationally ranked football team that provides excitement for its tidy, polite fan base with a fun-to-watch, prolific offense and an outside-the-box…

E Carolina SMU Football

November 09, 2019

DALLAS — East Carolina competed for four quarters against a ranked team for the second straight week, yet a similar feeling and still winless this season in the American Athletic Conference after a 59-51 defeat to No. 23 SMU.

Here are three answers from the game:

1. How many passing…

E Carolina SMU Football

November 09, 2019

DALLAS — Tyler Snead, all 5-foot-7 and 167 pounds of him, chased and nearly grabbed NCAA history Saturday afternoon at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in East Carolina football's 59-51 loss at SMU.

Snead’s 19 receptions were four shy of tying the single-game national record and three away from…

E Carolina SMU Football

November 09, 2019

DALLAS — SMU continued its banner football season, giving some of its longtime fans more memories of the 1980s with an offense that produced droves of points and yards again at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

East Carolina was great on offense Saturday as well, gaining more yards than its nationally-…

E Carolina SMU Football

November 09, 2019

Seth LeDay's jumper with 14 seconds to play in the second half on Friday night pulled the East Carolina basketball team within a point of Navy, but when the Pirates fouled in the final minute, the Midshipmen made their free throws to preserve a 62-57 win in the Veteran's Classic in Annapolis.



November 09, 2019

Q: What is your favorite from of social media?

A: Probably Instagram, because I just like looking at the pictures.

Q: Could you kick with your left foot?

A: I could, but it would probably hurt. I don’t think I could very well, maybe like 12 yards. If my other leg fell off or something and I…

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