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Observations and Punditry

Woody's Ramblings
Monday, March 6, 2006

By Woody Peele

Decades of rocky road dull the senses of some


Let’s do away with men’s basketball at East Carolina University. It’s a losing program and hasn’t done much over the past 40 years to improve the situation.

That was the theme of a letter to the editor published recently in The Daily Reflector in Greenville. The writer suggested that the money might be better spent on the track and field and cross country programs.

Sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?


You have to wonder what some people will come up with these days.

Doing away with the program would affect just about everything from conference membership to NCAA membership.

Granted, the Pirates of the hardwood haven't exactly cultivated the image of swashbuckling glamour boys over the years. Since 1964, when I first sat down at the press table to cover East Carolina, there have been few winning seasons — just 12 over the past 42 years, along with a couple of break-evens.

For many of those years, the Pirates were not contenders for their league’s championship. One Southern Conference and one Colonial Athletic Association trophy stand in the ECU trophy case. In both instances, they came in years when the Pirates concluded the season with a losing record overall and in conference play. They just got hot in the tournament.

And, of course, those two titles represent the only times ECU has made it to The Dance.

Only one coach during the last 42 years left the Pirates with a winning record — Joe Dooley — who went 57-52 in four years. One must go all the way back to the early 60's to find the next coach with a winning mark, Earl Smith (69-49 in five seasons). To sharpen the perspective, Coach Smith is far better known as a baseball coach.

The longest string of winning seasons came in the 90's when Eddie Payne and Dooley strung together four in a row. It’s now been nine straight years of losing records since Dooley’s 1996-97 team went 17-10.

So where do we go from here? Certainly ECU won’t and shouldn’t drop the sport. It’s just a question of whether Ricky Stokes can turn things around. Payne and Dooley have shown it can be done.

Don’t just look at this year’s results as a tell-all. The first year any coach comes into a program is usually a wash-out for recruiting, especially with early signing, when most of the elite players are gathered up.

East Carolina has great facilities and is an outstanding school. It is just going to take an outstanding job of bringing in the quality of players needed to get things going in the right direction.

Dancing around a name

If you've been to any of the men's or women's basketball games at East Carolina as the season wound down, you may have noticed something different.

The reference to the Pirate Dance Team no longer includes "Pure Gold Dancers" in the introductions.

Seems that there is a chain of "gentlemen's clubs" called Pure Gold and their strip..., er, dancers, go by the name Pure Gold Dancers.

ECU officials decided they did not want their ladies associated with that name and dropped all references to it.

Send an e-mail message to Woody Peele.

Dig into Woody Peele's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 02:44:24 PM

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