Going into West Virginia's Fiesta Bowl
matchup with Oklahoma on Wednesday night, six teams had played in the
Bowl Subdivision postseason with interim coaches — and all six had lost.
The Mountaineers were guided by associate
head coach Bill Stewart against the Sooners.
There appeared to be a solid trend in
terms of the effectiveness of temporary leadership — one that may apply
to East Carolina's basketball coaching situation at the present time.
Following the summer resignation of
Ricky Stokes after a 14-44 record over two seasons, ECU athletic
director Terry Holland turned the reins of the Pirate program over to
former Stokes assistant Mack McCarthy. ECU was fortunate to have someone
with McCarthy's experience on staff to assume command as acting head
coach with circumstances unfavorable to a lengthy coaching search at
McCarthy had 16 years of head coaching
experience at Tennessee-Chattanooga and Virginia Commonwealth, producing
a 309-177 record with those programs. McCarthy's teams have made seven
trips to postseason play with his 1997 Chattanooga club stunning Georgia
and Illinois to reach the Sweet 16.
McCarthy already has become the first
Pirate coach to win against an ACC opponent with a
75-69 victory over N.C. State on
After disappointing losses to UNC-Wilmington
and Lee University, ECU appeared to have gotten back on the right track
an 89-64 win in Greenville over
Coastal Carolina on Wednesday night.
Inconsistency appeared to have been a
problem for the Pirates in their two steps back since the win over the
Wolfpack. Junior guard Sam Hinnant, who lit up the Wolfpack for 30
points, managed just five points in the 71-67 loss to the Seahawks.
Sophomore post player John Fields, who
helped take up Hinnant's slack against UNCW with 26 points, had just
four points as the Pirates lost a late lead against Lee.
Hinnant returned to form against
Coastal after the stunning loss to the NAIA program as he scored 23
N.C. Central (1-18), which visits on
Saturday, will be the last non-conference contest before the Pirates
travel to No. 2 Memphis for their Conference USA opener on Jan. 9.
McCarthy has taken the good and the bad in stride thus far in ECU's 5-7
"I've enjoyed all my years here at East
Carolina from the standpoint of dealing with people and my job
description," he said. "Anytime you're having some success, it's more
fun. To move over one seat was not a big deal and is not a big deal.
"Last year, I did all I could do as an
assistant and this year I'm doing all I can do as a head coach. I'm
putting just as much time in one place as the others. It has been fun to
watch the kids improve, both individually and as a group."
The 55-year old McCarthy will get the
most out of the material he has but the real problem the program faces
as he works on a one-year contract is in terms of recruiting. The
Pirates face an obstacle enlisting prospects because the future
leadership of the program is uncertain.
ECU athletic director Terry Holland has
indicated he will make a decision following the season on the hoops
The Pirates did sign 6-foot-2 guard
Raheem Smith from Louisburg in
November. Smith is a hometown product who averaged 21.2 points, 6.8
assists and 4.7 rebounds as a senior at Greenville Rose.
"We can sign three and we've already
signed one so we've got two (scholarships) left," McCarthy said. "We
didn't see exactly what we wanted in the fall to help this team move
forward so we decided to wait until the spring.
"We continue to recruit and probably,
honestly, have to have some resolution as to our status before we can
move any further forward. We were very fortunate to get a good guard in
Raheem Smith, who was from here in town, which gave us an advantage
"But we'll probably not be able to move
forward until we get some resolution. We're staying active. We're doing
things we need to do. We're developing those relationships but we're not
going to be getting any commitments until we find out what our status
is. That's just a fact of life."
McCarthy said ideally the Pirates would
probably try to sign another post player and a big wing player with
their remaining scholarships. Realistically, he would simply boost the
Pirates' talent pool.
"We probably would just take the best
available," McCarthy said. "We've got a lot of players back and we've
got a lot of people that we think can be starters on this team. We
probably would take the best available kind of guys. We can always use
players who are skilled and can score. I think scoring and being able to
be a good offensive player right now is a priority for us."
SI re-examines UVa-Chaminade
The 25th anniversary of Chaminade's
77-72 upset of No. 1 Virginia, which featured 7-foot-4 Ralph Sampson and
was coached by Terry Holland, didn't go unnoticed by Sports Illustrated.
The magazine did a feature retrospective on one of college basketball's
biggest upsets ever.
Sampson had battled flu since the
Cavaliers had beaten a Georgetown club that had its own premier big man,
Patrick Ewing. Superstation television owner Ted Turner had billed the
Cavs-Hoyas matchup as the "Game of the Decade."
The Cavs had flown to Japan prior to
their trip to Hawaii and were weary from their travel.
"We played hard against Chaminade,"
Holland said. "We just didn't play well."
"We won the game of the decade and lost
the upset of the century in the same month," said one former Virginia
Names back on the backs
East Carolina football coach Skip Holtz
had the players' names put on the jerseys for last season's 24-7 loss to
South Florida in the inaugural Papajohns.com Bowl in Birmingham. After
that defeat, Holtz said the Pirates wouldn't have their names on their
jerseys again until he felt like they were deserving.
Holtz must have had a premonition
before the Hawaii Bowl. ECU players had their names back on their
jerseys and judging from a 41-38 win over Boise State, they were