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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Thursday, March 17, 2005
By Brian Bailey

Holland slips an ace out of his sleeve


If I see Terry Holland at the poker table, I’ll simply move on.

Holland has the perfect poker face. On Tuesday at noon, he didn’t have a leading candidate for his vacant head coaching position.

Just hours later, he had a deal and was planning a news conference.

Lashawn Merritt may go down as the only Pirate faster then Terry Holland.

Ironically, the name Ricky Stokes was one of the first to surface when the position first came open. Sometimes the pieces of the puzzle just fit.

I asked Holland on Wednesday if his Tuesday news conference was just a “white lie.”

Holland explained it this way:

“After the news conference we went back to work on our list. Ricky was on that list and had shown a great deal of interest in the job.

"When he mentioned Mack McCarthy as part of a potential staff, we got to thinking. Mack was also on our list. We thought that if we could get them both, then this might be the way to go.”

McCarthy, of course, is the highly-regarded former head coach at Chattanooga and Virginia Commonwealth.

Ricky Stokes (ECU)


View Ricky Stokes Quick Facts and Timeline


Mack McCarthy (ECU)

Stokes was obviously elated with a second chance at a head coaching position. He was just 45-70 in four seasons at Virginia Tech.

Like Bill Herrion at East Carolina, Stokes faced long odds in moving the Hokies from the Atlantic 10 to the Big East. Herrion had the unenviable task of moving ECU from the Colonial Athletic Association to Conference USA.

“It was tough,” Stokes said. “I thought we were making progress at Virginia Tech, but it apparently wasn’t enough. I learned a great deal as a head coach and can’t wait to get started again.”

Even though he didn’t win at Tech, Stokes evidently recruited. It was basically Stokes’ recruits that Seth Greenberg used in running out to a fourth place finish in the ACC this past year. Greenberg was also the ACC’s Coach of the Year for 2005.

“Building a program is a process and there’s no doubt that the foundation Ricky laid has enabled us to enjoy the success we have now,” said Greenberg. “Ricky Stokes is a great person and a great evaluator of talent. Successful players in our program today, like Carlos Dixon and Coleman Collins, are here because of his recruiting efforts.”

Take away the four years at Tech, and Stokes’ resume is most impressive.

He played an active role on coaching staffs which made nine NCAA Tournament appearances since 1991. Those years include two Sweet Sixteen and one Elite Eight appearance.

Replay Ricky Stokes' introductory press conference: Select audio clip

Overall, Stokes is a 13-time NCAA Tournament veteran, including two appearances in the Final Four while a player under Holland at Virginia.

While Stokes may have still gotten the job eventually, it appears that his ability to get McCarthy on board may have been the clincher.

McCarthy spent this past year with the Georgia Tech women, but before that he had tremendous success at both Chattanooga and VCU. He is a tremendous asset to the Pirate program.

While the student body was at spring break this week, three Pirate players still made their way to the news conference for the announcement.

Corey Rouse, Taylor Gagnon and Jeremy Ingram were all on hand for Stokes’ introduction.

“I think he is a great coach,” said Ingram. “He recruited me out of high school, so I’ve known Coach Stokes for a while. I’m looking forward to playing for him.”

The entire Pirate nation wasn’t thrilled with the choice. Many looked at Stokes’ losing record at Virginia Tech as his main blemish.

Holland, though, sees something in Stokes and in the coaching duo of Stokes and McCarthy.

Just don’t challenge Terry Holland at a game of Texas Hold’em!

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Click here to dig into Brian Bailey's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:31:36 AM

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