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View from the 'ville
Monday, June 27, 2011

By Al Myatt

Holland coaching tree branches out

Terry Holland
(ECU SID image)


Holland coaching tree branches out
Connors makes way for movie
Q&A with Brian Mitchell
Baseball Polls: Pirates ranked 29th by NCBWA
Q&A with Lincoln Riley
Season will hinge on Davis's supporting cast
ECU foursome set for debut on the big stage
One-on-One with...
(ECU Media Relations Photos)

Bonesville features writer Ron Cherubini conducted Q&A exchanges with East Carolina offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley (left) and Pirate defensive boss Brian Mitchell (right). The net result: candid glimpses into the thinking inside the program heading into next season. Links to the interviews:

Lincoln Riley Q&A
Brian Mitchell Q&A

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

Branches of the Terry Holland coaching tree have certainly been productive in recent months. The East Carolina athletic director got dramatic results during the 2010-11 season with his hire of Jeff Lebo as basketball coach. The Pirates went 18-16 during a milestone maiden season under the former Auburn mentor. ECU achieved its first winning record since 1996-97 and its best ever Conference USA record (8-8). The Pirates got their first C-USA Tournament wins and earned their first berth in a postseason tournament since 1993.

Holland, who guided Virginia to two Final Fours, was ably assisted during his tenure as Cavaliers coach by Jim Larranaga. Larranaga, who made it to the Final Four himself with Cinderella George Mason, raised his profile by accepting the head job at Atlantic Coast Conference outpost Miami following Frank Haith's departure.

Holland had more than casual interest in the recent NBA finals as former Cavalier Rick Carlisle directed the Dallas Mavericks to the title against the favored Miami Heat.

Coincidentally, Larranaga figured significantly in Carlisle's arrival in Charlottesville.

"Coach Larranaga spotted Rick playing in the Empire State Summer Games in New York," Holland recalled. "Rick had just finished his second year at the University of Maine and had announced that he had secured a release from Maine to transfer. Rick was pretty well set to transfer to Syracuse at the time but agreed to take a visit to Virginia."

Carlisle's ensuing perception was that he had a future in Charlottesville.

"He liked what he saw in terms of playing opportunities on a team that had Final Four potential," Holland said. "Jeff Jones (who went on to coach against the Pirates at American) would be a senior during the year Rick would have to sit out as a transfer, so that opened up a starting spot that Rick should be able to step into."

Holland said Jones and Carlisle were similar.

"Jeff Jones and Rick shared a lot of characteristics including that they were both smart, big point guards who loved the game," said the ECU AD. "Rick was the classic gym rat — if the lights were on, he was there and sometimes he was there even when the lights weren’t on. He developed great individual workouts for skill development and shared them with teammates in the offseason, literally becoming a coach on the floor."

Carlisle, who bears a strong resemblance to actor/comedian Jim Carrey, also contributed positively to team chemistry.

"He also understood team dynamics and worked hard at helping the coaches keep the team focused," Holland said. "Rick led UVA teams to the Elite Eight (1983) and the Final Four (1984 without Ralph Sampson) in his two years as a starting guard."

Holland has a snapshot of Carlisle in his mental scrapbook.

"My best memory of Rick is as the buzzer sounded in our 1984 Eastern Regional Championship win over Indiana," Holland said. "He dove to the floor at the free throw line and the whole team piled on to celebrate. Rick’s dad was taking pictures from the baseline where he was overcome with the sheer joy of the moment.

"Rick spotted him and waved to him to join the 'dog pile.' Mr. Carlisle jumped right in with all those sweaty bodies."

Aversion to tuxedos

Holland has maintained contact with his former coach on the floor, who was on an NBA championship team as a player with the Boston Celtics in 1986.

"We have (been) staying in touch, mainly by phone, e-mail and text messages except for reunions at Virginia," Holland said.

Holland and wife, Ann, were there when Carlisle spoke his marriage vows.

"Ann and I did get a chance to attend Rick and Donna’s wedding down in Charleston," Holland said. "There was a star-studded group of groomsmen that included Larry Bird, our own Marc Iavaroni, (former Detroit Pistons coach) Chuck Daly and so forth."

Holland found out that he was overdressed for the occasion and endured the consequences.

"Even though it was an evening wedding, the NBA guys had insisted on casual dress for the groomsmen," Holland said. "Other than the waiters, I was the only other person in a tuxedo (at my wife’s insistence) so they delighted in asking me to bring them drinks. I have done my best to avoid wearing a tux since."

Practice facility funds mount

ECU's breakout season on the hardwood coincided with fundraising efforts for a new basketball practice facility on the northeast corner of Wlliams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

The success during 2010-11 certainly didn't hurt the Pirate Nation's willingness to lend their financial support.

"I think we're coming down the stretch now," Lebo said. "The last I heard we were at $10 or $11 million of the $15 (million). Things are going well there. As we try to build this program, this is something that I just think is vital for the growth of the program for the next 30 years.

"If we want to compete at the highest level, we want to be able to beat the Memphises of the world, the UTEPs of the world, the Tulsas of the world, the teams that are in the top part consistently in our league, the UABs of the world. We need to have things in place to make that happen. This, to me, is vital for the growth of our basketball program here. It gives our kids a chance to work on their game, to improve their game.

"You've seen what the facilities have done for the other sports here at East Carolina. I certainly believe that this facility can do the same for basketball. We just can't get it here fast enough."

E-mail Al Myatt

Al Myatt Archives

06/27/2011 02:43 AM


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