Insights and Observations
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
By Henry Hinton
Lid on hoops search about to
|Replay the audio
archive of Monday's Talk of the Town with Henry
Terry Holland finally
appears ready to speak to the media about everything basketball at East
Carolina but don’t expect a new coach to be announced in the next few days.
Holland promised to
discuss his reason for his termination of Bill Herrion and his thinking
about where to go to find a new coach when the season ended. That time is
When ECU was in the
market for a new football coach a few short months ago, Holland explained in
detail the different types of coaches that would be considered before he
pulled the trigger and hired Skip Holtz.
Holtz was well inside the
profile Holland had identified for the gridiron job. He had said from the
outset that ECU would hire someone with head coaching experience,
preferably, but not necessarily, from the Division I level.
He also outlined all
classifications that he would consider, including current Division I
coaches, coaches with a track record of success but who have been out of the
game for a while, and those coaching in leagues a level below Conference
USA, such as the Mid-American.
Since Holland is now
ready to go through the same process for the basketball hire it seems he is
at a point where he is willing to announce the different profiles that will
be considered from the world of college basketball.
If Holland is on the same
track he was during the football search, here is the translation of where
things stand today: He has a short list but no one has yet been hired in
spite of the barrage of rumors.
For the basketball search
a new category seems to be emerging. There is no doubt that Holland has
interest in several coaches who are still involved in coaching their teams.
Some of the top candidates appear to be assistant coaches at highly
respected programs, a departure from the football search.
top three names that fit that bill
continue to be Maryland assistant David Dickerson, LSU assistant Butch
Pierre and Florida assistant Anthony Grant. All three would seem to fit into
the ‘up and coming’ category.
Steve Robinson, formerly
the head coach at Florida State, Tulsa and currently on Roy Williams’ staff
in Chapel Hill is another possibility, although sources say Robinson is
content to stay on with the Tar Heels until the right job comes along. He
does not look like a candidate for ECU.
Then there is the list of
coaches who have been successful at the D-1 level but have been out of the
game awhile. Heading that list is the much talked about Matt Doherty along
with names like former Clemson coach Cliff Ellis and Bobby Cremmins,
formerly of Georgia Tech.
The sense we get, in
spite of the barrage of rumors, is that Doherty is not considered a match
for ECU. Adding fuel to the speculation that Doherty would soon appear at
the microphones in the Murphy Center was the former North Carolina coach’s
decision to remove his name from the job at Tulsa. In a bizarre twist, Tulsa
then hired Doug Wojcik, Doherty’s top assistant in Chapel Hill two years
One line of thinking is
that Doherty may be in line for the job at UNC-Charlotte if Bobby Lutz bolts
for one of the many jobs that have opened in the last few days.
Doherty currently lives
Cremmins has had other
opportunities to get back in the game and turned them down. One has to
wonder why the ECU job would intrigue him. As for Ellis, other than a
professed love for beach music, it also doesn’t seem to make sense for him
to try and re-energize his career in Greenville (arguably the center of the
The other strong
possibility is that Holland will turn to a head coach from one of the less
prestigious conferences. A word of caution though — he has referred to
coaches who have had only recent success as ‘coach du jours.’
One guy from a lesser
conference is Winthrop’s Gregg Marshall. A little investigation shows that
Marshall is anything but a coach du jour, however. True, he has only been a
head coach for five years, including this season, all at the Rock Hill, SC,
school. A closer look at him shows that he has taken the Eagles to the NCAA
post-season tournament all five years.
Marshall also has three
20-win seasons at Winthrop and five consecutive Big South titles. His 27-5
record this season includes wins over Providence and East Carolina and a
close loss to South Carolina. His team will face Gonzaga on Thursday night
in Tuscon in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Marshall seems poised for
a new opportunity. Would ECU be sexy enough?
Holland seems to be
zeroing in on the type of coach he wants. Now the job is to identify the
best profile for ECU and try to get the best available in that category.
With some of these
candidates still involved with their current team at the most important time
of year, it appears the search will still take at least another week.
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