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College Basketball in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Monday, January 28, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Hamrick's Message: Run a Clean Ship or Else

©2001 Bonesville.net

East Carolina’s interim women’s basketball coach, Gene Hill, walked toward mid-court where a cluster of media awaited after a 61-60 loss to Houston in Greenville on Friday night.

He tried to break the tension.

“I don’t know if there will be this many people at my funeral,” Hill said.

Actually there were fewer reporters gathered on the court of Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum than typically shows up for a Monday news conference during football season. But as far as the attention the women’s program customarily attracts, it probably did resemble a horde to Hill.

It’s unfortunate that something bad had to happen for the women’s program to create a mini-media frenzy.

No one knows for sure the circumstances of Dee Stokes’ midseason resignation as coach, but our best information is that she offered players $20 for each charging foul they drew. There was purportedly a lump sum offered if the team won a game.

That’s plainly a violation of article 10.1 (c) of the NCAA by-laws regarding the illegality of financial inducements for players.

If that’s the case, ECU athletics director Mike Hamrick, who isn’t commenting on the situation, had little choice but to direct Stokes’ exit. If an NCAA member institution doesn’t properly deal with the individual responsible for such infractions then the university may be subject to major sanctions from the NCAA.

Correspondence between ECU and the NCAA requested by The News & Observer indicated a violation of 10.1 was involved, although Stokes’ attorney, J. Burns Earle of Harrisonburg, Va., has denied that his client violated any NCAA rules. Conditions of Stokes’ resignation stipulate that neither she nor ECU officials can comment.

Stokes entered the season with a 47-39 record at ECU and a $100,000 annual salary. She had a courtesy car and other perks. But her composure must have wavered as the team went 3-12 with her on the sideline this season.

She pursued game officials to their dressing room after a loss at Campbell and she apparently locked the Pirates players out of their dressing room at Minges at one point.

Efforts to reach a cell phone number for Stokes on Friday got this response: “This is no longer the voice mail of Dee Stokes. Please do not leave a message.”

Perhaps it was a momentary lapse in judgment if she did offer players financial incentives. Maybe at $100,000 a year, she had a little too much discretionary cash.

Whatever the cause, it resulted in the detour of a coaching career that looked promising as she compiled winning records during her first three years at ECU.

The reasons for Stokes’ departure may never be known. No one’s talking who can say for sure. Judging by crowds of less than 300 for ECU’s last two women’s home games, it’s sort of sad to say that not too many people apparently care.

What can be learned from the episode is that Hamrick is a hardliner when it comes to dealing with NCAA violations. If ECU’s record had been 13-3 this season instead of 3-13 when Stokes’ resignation was negotiated, it probably wouldn’t have mattered.

That should be a lesson for ECU coaches and staff about the consequences of running afoul of the NCAA. Hamrick will cut you loose to keep the Pirates ship afloat.

It’s a regrettable situation, but as Hill said, “We must move on.”

In our case, it’s back to the men’s game and this week's State Line Hoops Report©:

State Line Hoops Report© — 01/28/02

THE TOP TEN

1. Duke ... It was close for awhile as the Blue Devils hosted Virginia on Sunday night. But, as has been their method of operation in recent games, the Blue Devils had a second-half run that proved decisive. From a tie at 42 at the half, the Blue Devils pulled away to a 94-81 win as Jason Williams scored 27 points and Carlos Boozer added 25. Boozer and Mike Dunleavy each had nine rebounds. Chris Duhon had seven assists and Williams dished out six. Foul trouble stifled the Cavaliers. The Blue Devils (18-1, 6-1 ACC) visit rival North Carolina at 9 p.m. on Thursday night.

2. N.C. State ... The Wolfpack has won four straight to move into second in the State Line Hoops Report. Senior Anthony Grundy has led State in scoring in each game of its current streak and scored 20 points on Saturday as the Pack dusted Temple 80-61 at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. Freshman Julius Hodge contributed seven assists. NCSU is 16-4 overall and 5-2 in the ACC going into a 7:30 p.m. home game with Wake Forest on Wednesday. Grundy is doing a little bit of everything. He leads the team with a 16.0 scoring average. He’s tied for the team lead in rebounding with sophomore Marcus Melvin at 5.4 per game although Grundy is only 6-foot-3. Grundy also leads the Pack in assists (3.7) and steals (2.5).

3. Wake Forest ... After getting battered in a gauntlet of Top 10 teams that included Virginia, Duke and Maryland, the Deacons had an easier time in an 87-74 home win Saturday over Georgia Tech, which has yet to win an ACC game this season. Josh Howard scored 20 points in the win and had seven steals while Darius Songaila had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Craig Dawson hit four of his six three-point attempts as he added 14 points. “We have to develop confidence and play to win,” said first-year Wake coach Skip Prosser of his club’s mindset. Wake (14-6, 4-3 ACC) is No. 19 in this week’s USA Today/ESPN coaches poll.

4. Charlotte ... The 49ers looked like Popeye after a can of spinach at the outset of the second half in an 87-52 win over visiting East Carolina on Saturday as sharp-shooting Jobey Thomas led the way with 22 points. Charlotte improved to 12-6 overall and 6-1 in Conference USA with its fifth straight win since a 71-58 loss at Cincinnati on Jan. 8. Guard Demon Brown had eight assists against the Pirates, who were swept away as the 49ers pushed a 29-25 lead at the half to 64-34 with 9:41 left. Charlotte is on the road this week, visiting DePaul on Tuesday and Houston on Saturday.

5. South Carolina ... The Gamecocks went from feast to famine in the span of four days, winning 94-60 at Tennessee on Wednesday night as freshman Carlos Powell provided a spark with 19 points. Powell managed just two points as USC was thumped 71-53 at Ole Miss on Saturday as the Gamecocks were plagued by 19 turnovers and 35.1 percent field goal shooting. Aaron Bradley, who is leading USC with a 14.2 scoring average and hitting 44.1 percent of his threes, will try to step up as No. 17 Georgia comes to Columbia on Wednesday night. Coach Dave Odom’s first-year club is 0-5 against teams in the Top 25, 12-7 overall and 2-4 in the Southeastern Conference. The Bulldogs are coming off an 86-84 upset loss at Vanderbilt.

6. College of Charleston ... Just when it appeared the Cougars might be taking control in the Southern Conference’s South Division with a 77-65 win over The Citadel last Monday (Jan. 21), Georgia Southern came in to the John Kresse Arena on Saturday and dealt C of C a 60-57 loss. Kresse’s charges fell to 15-4 overall and into a three-way tie with The Citadel and Georgia Southern for first in the South as each has a 5-3 division record. Charleston missed its first 17 field goal attempts on Saturday and fell behind 18-2. Still, Jeff Bolton, who leads the Cougars with a 17.9 scoring average, had a chance to tie with a three at the buzzer that missed. Charleston visits UNC Greensboro tonight.

7. UNC Wilmington ... Virginia Commonwealth stopped a three-game Colonial Athletic Association winning streak for the Seahawks on Saturday despite a 20-point effort by Craig Callahan as the Rams prevailed 74-68 in Richmond. Coach Jerry Wainwright’s club dropped to 12-7 overall and 7-2 in the CAA but tries to bounce back with a 7:30 p.m. league game at new league member Towson tonight. UNCW led VCU 49-38. Junior guard Brett Blizzard continues to top UNCW with an 18.3 scoring average although he was an uncharacteristic 2 of 6 at the free throw line in a 16-point effort at VCU.

8. Clemson ... Last season the Tigers sent North Carolina into a tailspin with a 75-65 defeat at Littlejohn Coliseum, ending an 18-game winning streak for the Tar Heels and knocking UNC from its No. 1 ranking. UNC got some payback on Sunday evening with an 87-69 win at Clemson. The Tigers’ defense was riddled as the Heels hit 31 of 56 field goal attempts for 55.4 percent. Jamar McKnight led the Tigers (11-10 overall, 2-6 ACC) with 21 points but no one else reached double digits and Clemson couldn’t avoid its fifth straight loss. It doesn’t get any easier for the Tigers, who host No. 1 Duke at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Edward Scott of the Tigers is fourth in the nation in assists at 7.1 per game.

9. UNC Greensboro ... The Spartans recovered from back-to-back losses to Western Carolina and Davidson to prevail 81-76 at Wofford on Saturday as David Schuck scored 24 points and claimed eight rebounds. Courtney Eldridge had eight assists. James Maye leads UNC Greensboro (12-7, 5-3 Southern) with a 14.5 scoring average. Luke Boythe of the Spartans is third nationally in field goal shooting accuracy at 69.7 percent. The loss to Davidson dropped UNCG out of first in the Southern Conference’s North Division.

10. Davidson ... The Wildcats followed up on a 58-57 win at UNC Greensboro with a 70-67 overtime loss at home to Western Carolina on Saturday. That stopped a six-game winning streak for Davidson (13-6, 6-2), which hosts Wofford on Wednesday and travels to Appalachian State on Saturday. The Wildcats had won 12 straight at home and their last eight overtime games. Catamounts coach Steve Shurina, formerly an assistant to Davidson coach Bob McKillop for seven years, had lost four straight to his former boss. Davidson was outrebounded 45-30 and hoisted a school-record 33 three-pointers. The Wildcats played without two seniors due to injuries, leading scorer Emeka Erege, who averages 13.6 points, and 7-2 Martin Ides.


THE NOT-SO-SWEET 17

11. The Citadel

12. Gardner-Webb

13. North Carolina

14. Furman

15. Western Carolina

16. Wofford

17. East Carolina ...

The 87-77 win over Louisville on Jan. 16 hasn’t been a catalyst of success for East Carolina. Since then the Pirates have lost 85-72 at Saint Louis, 80-58 at home to DePaul and, thanks to a dismal 10 minutes at the outset of the second half on Saturday — 87-52 at Charlotte. ECU looked to be in good shape as it headed to the locker room on Saturday, down just 29-25 at the half. But the 49ers expanded their lead to 64-34 in the first 10 minutes of the second half by hitting 15 of 19 field goal attempts while committing just one turnover. The Pirates went 2 of 13 in that span and had five turnovers. The Pirates were flying from Charlotte to Cincinnati for a game on Tuesday night against the Bearcats, No. 4 in the coaches poll this week. Erroyl Bing is leading ECU in scoring (14.8) and rebounding (8.7) while Gabriel Mikulas is averaging 13.5 points and 5.8 on the boards. Kenyatta Brown is averaging 10.7 points. The increased travel and tougher competition appear to be wearing the Pirates down in their first year in C-USA. But there’s still a possibility that ECU (7-12, 1-6 C-USA) could make the league tournament. Berths go to the top 12 of the league’s 14 teams based on their league records. Most notably, the Pirates need to improve on their 39.5 percent field goal shooting. The Pirates are home to face Saint Louis on Saturday before hitting the road again to face Marquette on Feb. 6 and DePaul on Feb. 9.

18. Winthrop

19. Appalachian State

20. South Carolina State

21. UNC Asheville

22. Elon

23. Campbell

24. Charleston Southern

25. High Point

26. Coastal Carolina

27. N.C. A&T

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02/23/2007 12:58:26 AM
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