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Observations and Punditry
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Woody's Ramblings
Saturday, April 17, 2010

By Woody Peele

Ladies lose a good one in Baldwin-Tener

By Woody Peele
©2010 Bonesville.net
All rights reserved.

Iím not one to deny that I am a devoted fan of the East Carolina womenís basketball program.

During my years as sports editor and senior writer for The Daily Reflector in Greenville, I covered the womenís program ó at times the only media member to recognize that phase of the Pirate athletic program.

I began coverage in 1978-79 when Cathy Andruzzi was named as the second head coach in the program's history, replacing Catherine Bolton, who led the Pirates for the first nine years.

For most of those early years, the womenís basketball program was hidden under a bushel. In fact, the sport was played for several years before most of the media even knew it was there.

Surprisingly, thatís the way it was preferred.

But when Andruzzi took over, everything changed. Cathy promoted the sport like no one else before her or after her. She visited campus groups, fraternities, sororities, Greenville civic clubs and just about anyone who would listen, urging them to give the sport a chance by coming to the games. She even promoted herself into the first womenís basketball television show in the country.

Andruzzi also led the Pirates to one AIAW Regional and one NCAA regional. That certainly paid off when ďoldĒ Minges hosted Southern California before 4,500 fans during a mild blizzard.

The Druz (105-66) left after six years and Emily Manwaring succeeded her, posting a 60-28 mark during a three-year term.

Pat Pierson went 74-68 in five seasons before the program began to spiral. Over the next 10 years, the Lady Pirates posted only four winning seasons and went 112-166. Dee Stokes had three of those seasons and Rosie Thompson ó ECUís leading all-time scorer ó had the other.

Then, in the 2002-03 season, Sharon Baldwin (later Baldwin-Tener after her marriage to Matt Tener) took over as head coach. Her first year, the Pirates went 12-16, following that up with a 14-14 record. Another struggle followed (10-18), but four winning seasons came over the next five years with two of those campaigns netting an NCAA bid and a WNIT invitation.

After retiring from The Reflector, I became a true fan of the womenís program. My wife, Linda, and I became friends of the coach and her family. We, along with a number of other fans, hoped that she would stay forever. Thatís the kind of faith we had in her program.

Talking with another fan a few weeks ago, we were both thinking that with the team she had coming back and the recruits she had signed, the Lady Pirates were pretty safe for another year.

But he cautioned me that, should a job open in Baldwin-Tenerís home state of Georgia, she might be tempted to leave. Both Matt and Sharon are from that area and both sets of parents live there, too. The coach graduated from Georgia, coached there and would love to take over eventually for the Lady Bulldogs.

Still, there was a lot of disappointment among her ECU fans when it was announced that she would take the job at Georgia State.

Athletics director Terry Holland now has another job ahead of him. Already this spring, heís had to hire a new football coach and a new menís basketball coach. Now itís time for Holland to come up with another womenís basketball coach who will continue the work that Baldwin-Tener has so ably begun.

I wish Sharon and her family well in their new home, but dad-gum-it, I really hate to see her go.

E-mail Woody Peele.

Woody Peele Archives

01/12/2011 04:17 AM
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