VIEWS FROM THE REALM OF
Monday, February 18, 2008
By Danny Whitford
Publisher & Editor
Extreme makeover for hoops?
All rights reserved.
When it comes to the
countless variations of despair, hand-wringing and second-guessing
associated with East Carolina basketball, there’s nothing new under the sun.
Or is there?
This time a sliver of
hope could be a part of the mix.
Let's look at the
Another agonizing campaign
is almost in the books. Another dose of the inevitable is setting in.
Another conscious mental shift from the frustration of
the hardwood to the promise of more fruitful pursuits on the diamond and
gridiron is underway.
East Carolina hoops fans
know the drill well. Embrace the glimmers of hope in preseason, cling to the
thrills of any measure of success in December. Then hunker down for the
cold, hard reality of January and February.
They have learned to
endure the worst winter has to offer because they know that relief is almost
within reach. When you’re a Pirate partisan, you know that spring mitigates
As the hoops program
trudges towards the end of another melancholy season, the fan base,
conditioned by decades of experience, turns to the old and trusted antidotes
for gloom: baseball and spring football.
This time, however, the
underlying dynamics are different. You can be certain that basketball has
not begun receding into the background of Terry Holland’s hierarchy of
priorities. In fact, Holland may be the only AD in school history with the
combination of credibility, job security and presence to address the
basketball program’s shortcomings head-on.
In the bigger picture,
Holland’s hiring of Ricky Stokes was merely a false start, not a fundamental
blunder. With that in mind, whether Holland elects to remove the “acting”
qualifier from Coach Mack McCarthy’s title or opts to hire a new hoops
boss, one gets the sense that corrective action on a scale that transcends
the coaching question is about to commence.
have paid but lip service to the substantial financial commitment required
to build and maintain a quality program. Based on his proven ability to
rally support from donors and his demonstrated success at delivering returns
on the investment – i.e., football – the assumption here is that Holland’s
approach to solving the basketball enigma will be blunt and far-reaching.
Holland owns a portfolio
of accomplishments that spans the gamut of success in college sports. He is
accustomed to achievement. From playing to coaching to administrating. From
fundraising to hiring. At no step along his decades-long career journey has
he been identified with failure. Not in Clinton, not in Davidson, not in
Our guess is that when he
retires from East Carolina, he won’t be identified with failure in
After all, first and
foremost, Holland is a basketball man. If a remedy is available for what ails
ECU basketball, our guess is that Holland now knows what it is.
Holland has every
justification if he decides the cure is to solicit a major and sustained infusion of new funds
into the program, for significant facilities investments, a big upgrade in
budget, seriously competitive staff salaries and – if he concludes that
McCarthy is not the answer – for attracting and keeping a head coach capable of
leading the program into contention for annual postseason berths without
sacrificing academic principles.
Success in major college
sports doesn’t come cheaply. ECU fans have anted up in football and baseball
and they can see and appreciate the payback.
It’s a safe bet, in
our opinion, that they will be willing to dig deep and pony up again if Holland
articulates a bold vision for Pirate basketball and reaches out to the
faithful to underwrite that vision.
It may take a few years
for such an undertaking to bear the sought-after fruit, but the first sign that the
program is finally on the way will be that day in the future when fans keep
their attention focused on basketball until the season is over.
Send an e-mail message to Danny Whitford.
Click here to dig into Danny Whitford's Bonesville archives.
02/28/2008 12:52:12 AM