Tracking the College Basketball Stars of the Future
Tuesday, March 8, 2004
By Thad Mumau
Gee-whiz factor should drive
formula” is needed to cook up a winning basketball program at East Carolina?
Notice I use
the word “program” and not simply “team,” because the former is the goal of
most fans and, certainly, any athletic director. Of course, fans —
particularly ECU faithful talking about roundball — will settle for a
winning team now and then.
There are so
many factors in regard to the Pirates and what their ultimate hoops success
might be. Mentioning the Final Four could get your sanity questioned. An
appearance in a national top 25 poll? More of a possibility, to be sure.
has many built-in reasons/excuses for not producing basketball teams that
can consistently play with the big boys. Most of them begin with three
Dial up just
about any top-200 underclassman in the country, ask him which colleges he is
considering, and the ACC and/or one or more of its schools will get
mentioned by at least two-thirds of them. For many, the ACC isn’t a likely
landing strip, but it is a dream because it’s generally considered the best
hoops league in the nation, and everybody wants to play for and against the
East Carolina in the same state with three of the schools currently ranked
in the top 10 in the country, plus another one with a very strong basketball
tradition. How many of the prize prospects in North Carolina do you think
would pick the Pirates if Duke, Carolina, State or Wake came calling?
USA was an attraction … but the watered-down version is not. Louisville,
Memphis, DePaul and Marquette have national name recognition. Those were
also the schools in the conference most likely to sign top-flight high
school kids. But at least East Carolina could scoop up some pretty good
leftovers who liked the idea of playing against those teams.
Not any more.
Conference USA is a blast from the past.
So, what can
East Carolina do to build a basketball program? More specifically, what can
Terry Holland do?
To me, the
answer is obvious, but not easy to make a reality. He must hire a “name”
coach. Someone everyone knows, someone with connections — specifically, with
in coaches who have succeeded in the past. They all want to play in the NBA,
so if a guy can sit in a living room and tell prospects and parents that he
knows this pro coach and that GM, he can sign himself some talented players.
can show the kids a roadmap that leads to the NBA can get autographs on
letters of intent.
See, it’s not
just about coaching. In fact, that isn’t even the No. 1 ingredient in the
recipe for the Bucs.
That’s what I
Bill Herrion can’t draw smart x’s and o’s? You think he doesn’t have good
plans for a game’s closing seconds? He can coach. There is no doubt about
And he can
recruit, to a point. To take it farther, if he was coaching an ACC team, he
would get a lot of the same players who politely say no to being a Pirate.
So, it isn’t a question of his ability to recruit as much as it is his
recruiting limitations in Greenville.
I have talked
to numerous high school coaches in recent years, while covering the
basketball recruiting beat for Bonesville. Most of them rave about Herrion
and Greg Herenda. The prep coaches really like those two fellows, talking
about how straight-up they are and how hard they work. They say their kids
like those guys, too.
But when I
check to see where the kids went if they turned down ECU, it would always be
a school with a glossier basketball bio. Or a place that had a coach with
Luring a well
known coach might seem like a quick fix because then you wonder what happens
when he leaves. But laying a foundation would be a huge step. Grabbing a
national ranking or getting an invitation to the March party would be nice
things for coaches to mention during in-home visits.
back to Terry and the Pirates. And The Question.
I don’t think
he can bring in a guy who has won 25 games at No Name U or an assistant who
has helped Coach Big Time reel in whoppers. I think we need a name here.
Holland find one?
Matt Doherty? Has enough time elapsed since he was declared a raging bull in
another UNC-CH alum, Phil Ford? He can coach and he can recruit. Sure, he
has had a problem, but he’s a wonderful human being who has worked hard to
overcome it. He’s sitting beside Larry Brown in Detroit right now, but he
would love to be a head coach.
I don’t know
if he would want a challenge like East Carolina for his first stop, however.
It is going
to be interesting to see what happens here. Just who will Terry Holland find
to make the Pirates brand of basketball a program?
I’ve got it …
what about Terry Holland?
Do you think
he would take the job?
Send an e-mail message to
Click here to dig into
Thad Mumau's Bonesville
02/23/2007 02:42:28 PM