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Stokes gets the call to reverse Pirates' fortunes

AP Sports Writer

East Carolina has turned to South Carolina assistant Ricky Stokes to try to turn around a basketball program with a long history of mediocrity.

Stokes, the former head coach at Virginia Tech, played under East Carolina athletic director Terry Holland at Virginia in the early 1980s.

He takes over a program that didn't have a winning season in six years under Bill Herrion.

Herrion announced his resignation last month, but coached through the end of the season.

Holland said his 5-foot-10 former player is the right choice for East Carolina, which has only two NCAA tournament appearances in school history.

``Ricky has spent his whole life proving that it does not matter what your size may be or what other people think, as long as you believe in yourself and do things the right way,'' Holland said at a news conference announcing the hiring.

Replay Ricky Stokes' introductory press conference: Select audio clip


Stokes wasted no time assembling a staff, announcing immediately that former Chattanooga and Virginia Commonwealth head coach Mack McCarthy will be his associate head coach.

McCarthy coached the Mocs to the round of 16 in the 1997 NCAA tournament.

The announcement came during a break in the NIT schedule for South Carolina, which beat Miami 69-67 on Tuesday night. The Gamecocks next face the winner of the Arizona State-UNLV matchup.

It was not immediately clear whether Stokes would remain on the staff at South Carolina through the end of the team's NIT run.

Stokes was an assistant to South Carolina coach Dave Odom at Wake Forest from 1989-97, before spending four seasons coaching the Hokies. He led Virginia Tech to a 46-69 record from 1999-03 before being replaced by Seth Greenberg.

Greenberg credited Stokes for helping the Hokies transition from the Atlantic 10 to the Big East Conference. Virginia Tech moved to the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, and finished 8-8 in the league with several players recruited by Stokes.

``There's no doubt that the foundation Ricky laid has enabled us to enjoy the success we have now,'' said Greenberg, who this week was named ACC coach of the year.

As a player at Virginia, Stokes was part of Cavalier teams that played in four NCAA tournaments and two Final Fours.

He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant during the 1984-85 season, joining Odom on Holland's staff.

Herrion's last team finished 9-19, giving him a 70-98 record at the school.

Page updated: 02/23/07 10:56 AM

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