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ECU men’s and women’s basketball teams given little respect in preseason AAC polls, women expect to make a large improvement

AAC commissioner discusses additions, Conference USA letter
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:26 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The American Athletic Conference preseason polls are out.

The ECU men picked to finish last. The ECU women picked 7th.

7 might be the lucky number for the Pirates with 7 new players on the team this year.

“We’re bigger, we’re more athletic, we are getting up and down the floor but I’m just excited about this team,” says ECU head women’s basketball coach Kim McNeill, “The chemistry is really good, we’ve got some really good leader ship. Not only do we have size inside we have size on the wings. Athleticism helps our defense. The more havoc we can create.”

Coach McNeill made sure with all the new faces, they knew coming in defense first.

“We are older. We have a lot of grads and seniors. I feel like we are going to be led by older class,” says Tylar Bennett a graduate transfer from Clemson, “Strong defensive team that is what we focus on a lot the defense and transition. Up and down, we do the nitty-gritty, on the floor, down on the floor everything. Everything that’s not on the stat sheet that’s what we do.”

“We are defensive, we are ugly and we do everything that people don’t want to do,” says junior Danae McNeal who also transferred from Clemson, “We get rebounds, we’re on the floor, sprinting.”

The jersey’s read “mentality” on the back and the Pirates hope to be as much of a pain in the neck for every team they face as they can be.

“We make practice way harder than games. I think the players will tell you that our practices are really really hard. I feel like you have to practice it every day. You have to train your body and mind to play a certain way,” says McNeill, “Our mentality every single day when we step on the floor. When people leave are games for them to say wow they play really really hard so that’s our mentality. To outwork any opponent that we step on the floor against.”

Reports came out yesterday about Conference USA offering to regionally merge with the American Athletic Conference.

The Commissioner addressed the reports, and gave an update on new school’s coming in, with three schools leaving for the Big 12 in the near future.

“I don’t wanna say much about it because I have not responded to the letter that I did receive late yesterday,” says American Athletic Conference Commissioner Michael Aresco, “A few weeks to a month, we really don’t want this to be a prolonged process. We’ve had a lot of time to study it. Schools have approached us. Sometimes you have discussions with schools and for whatever reason things don’t work out.”

The Pirates get their turn on media day Thursday. As for you ACC hoops fans they had their tip off today.

ECU opens both of its basketball seasons on November 9th. The men host South Carolina State. The women are at Middle Tennessee.

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