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SURVEYING THE LANDSCAPE
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Pirate Notebook No. 315
Tuesday, August 7, 2007

By Denny O'Brien

National search mandatory for ECU

By Denny O'Brien
©2007 Bonesville.net
All Rights Reserved.

With the announcement that Ricky Stokes wonít return as East Carolinaís basketball coach, Mack McCarthy was appointed as the acting one.

Acting should be the operative word.

Though McCarthy has a solid won-loss record and several postseason appearances as a Division I coach, he likely isnít the long term answer to ECUís abysmal hoops history. At 52 and several years removed from his last head gig, itís tough to imagine him keeping pace with many of the gameís younger, more relentless recruiters.

At this stage, Holland canít afford not to conduct a comprehensive national search. If he doesnít, he will face the constant questioning and second-guessing he has since the day Stokes was hired.

To a lesser degree, the same occurred when he removed the interim tag from baseball coach Billy Godwinís title.

But thatís what happens when interims or assistants are promoted from within. If done so without exhausting all other options, a segment of the constituency is likely to be reluctant to jump on board with the new hire.

While ECU isnít exactly a basketball Mecca, there should be no shortage of interest. It likely will attract its share of ambitious up-and-comers, and perhaps even a few veterans intrigued by the challenge.

Whichever route Holland goes, this could be his final opportunity to make a positive impact on Pirate hoops. A bad hire will make for a difficult recovery, one that perhaps will take longer than Holland intends to run ECUís athletics department.

Many Ė including me Ė have said Holland would be the ultimate answer to the Pirates basketball problems.

Holland's experience as one of the nationís best hoops coaches and his impeccable reputation within basketball circles qualify him as the ultimate professional to direct such a search.

Nowís his chance to confirm that assumption. Here are a few names that could do it:

Brad Brownell, Wright State: He should be Hollandís first call. Brownell built UNC-Wilmington into an NCAA Tournament regular and turned Wright State around in one year. His teams have a reputation for solid fundamentals, and he has a knack for building a system to suit his talent.

Though some might think Brownell is poised for a step up, sources close to him say he is interested in one day returning to North Carolina. He had no desire to leave Wilmington but essentially was forced to do so by an uncooperative AD.

Brownell doesnít make much, and ECU should easily be able to top his salary. His knowledge of the terrain and experience recruiting the region make him a slam dunk.

Joe Dooley, Kansas (assistant): Ole Dooles is still a favorite among the ECU faithful and for good reason. His tenure produced the most stable period in recent memory, with the Pirates consistently finishing in the top half of the CAA standings.

Dooleyís firing by former ECU AD Mike Hamrick was an enormous mistake that ultimately sent the program into a downward spiral. Recruiting and overall fundamentals took a nosedive when Dooley left, and neither has recovered. His experience recruiting and teaching at a major program like Kansas would make for a significant upgrade.

Chances are Dooley would answer if called. That he pursued the Wilmington opening last year is confirmation of that.

Chris Collins, Duke (assistant): Not many assistants hail from two lines of coaching royalty. As a member of Mike Krzyzewskiís staff, Collins coached under one of the best mentors in college basketball history. As the son of Doug Collins, a former NBA coach and current television analyst, he brings solid pro heritage.

Collins is ready for a head job, but he isnít first in line for Duke. He will have to take a smaller job at a school with a less reputable tradition.

Though all Krzyzewski disciples havenít panned out, thereís no reason to believe that Collins wonít. Heís an outstanding recruiter and competent teacher, and his energy and passion for the game are matched by few.

Kevin Willard, Louisville (assistant): A member of perhaps the nationís most successful coaching tree, this Rick Pitino protťgť is next in line to take over a program. A noted recruiter and solid X's and O's guy, he reminds Pitino of a younger Billy Donovan.

Willard has been with Pitino since his Celtics days, and he no doubt will take that pressing, up-tempo style wherever he lands. That system should ignite interest in any fan base, and attract its share of versatile athletes.

Send an e-mail message to Denny O'Brien.

Dig into Denny O'Brien's Bonesville archives.

08/07/2007 03:21:27 AM

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