Branches of the Terry Holland
coaching tree have certainly been productive in recent months.
The East Carolina athletic director got dramatic results during
the 2010-11 season with his hire of Jeff Lebo as basketball
coach. The Pirates went 18-16 during a milestone maiden season
under the former Auburn mentor. ECU achieved its first winning
record since 1996-97 and its best ever Conference USA record
(8-8). The Pirates got their first C-USA Tournament wins and
earned their first berth in a postseason tournament since 1993.
Holland, who guided Virginia to
two Final Fours, was ably assisted during his tenure as
Cavaliers coach by Jim Larranaga. Larranaga, who made it to the
Final Four himself with Cinderella George Mason, raised his
profile by accepting the head job at Atlantic Coast Conference
outpost Miami following Frank Haith's departure.
Holland had more than casual
interest in the recent NBA finals as former Cavalier Rick
Carlisle directed the Dallas Mavericks to the title against the
favored Miami Heat.
figured significantly in Carlisle's arrival in Charlottesville.
"Coach Larranaga spotted Rick
playing in the Empire State Summer Games in New York," Holland
recalled. "Rick had just finished his second year at the
University of Maine and had announced that he had secured a
release from Maine to transfer. Rick was pretty well set to
transfer to Syracuse at the time but agreed to take a visit to
Carlisle's ensuing perception
was that he had a future in Charlottesville.
"He liked what he saw in terms
of playing opportunities on a team that had Final Four
potential," Holland said. "Jeff Jones (who went on to coach
against the Pirates at American) would be a senior during the
year Rick would have to sit out as a transfer, so that opened up
a starting spot that Rick should be able to step into."
Holland said Jones and Carlisle
"Jeff Jones and Rick shared a
lot of characteristics including that they were both smart, big
point guards who loved the game," said the ECU AD. "Rick was the
classic gym rat — if the lights were on, he was there and
sometimes he was there even when the lights weren’t on. He
developed great individual workouts for skill development and
shared them with teammates in the offseason, literally becoming
a coach on the floor."
Carlisle, who bears a strong
resemblance to actor/comedian Jim Carrey, also contributed
positively to team chemistry.
"He also understood team
dynamics and worked hard at helping the coaches keep the team
focused," Holland said. "Rick led UVA teams to the Elite Eight
(1983) and the Final Four (1984 without Ralph Sampson) in his
two years as a starting guard."
Holland has a snapshot of
Carlisle in his mental scrapbook.
"My best memory of Rick is as
the buzzer sounded in our 1984 Eastern Regional Championship win
over Indiana," Holland said. "He dove to the floor at the free
throw line and the whole team piled on to celebrate. Rick’s dad
was taking pictures from the baseline where he was overcome with
the sheer joy of the moment.
"Rick spotted him and waved to
him to join the 'dog pile.' Mr. Carlisle jumped right in with
all those sweaty bodies."
Aversion to tuxedos
Holland has maintained contact
with his former coach on the floor, who was on an NBA
championship team as a player with the Boston Celtics in 1986.
"We have (been) staying in
touch, mainly by phone, e-mail and text messages except for
reunions at Virginia," Holland said.
Holland and wife, Ann, were
there when Carlisle spoke his marriage vows.
"Ann and I did get a chance to
attend Rick and Donna’s wedding down in Charleston," Holland
said. "There was a star-studded group of groomsmen that included
Larry Bird, our own Marc Iavaroni, (former Detroit Pistons
coach) Chuck Daly and so forth."
Holland found out that he was
overdressed for the occasion and endured the consequences.
"Even though it was an evening
wedding, the NBA guys had insisted on casual dress for the
groomsmen," Holland said. "Other than the waiters, I was the
only other person in a tuxedo (at my wife’s insistence) so they
delighted in asking me to bring them drinks. I have done my best
to avoid wearing a tux since."
Practice facility funds
ECU's breakout season on the
hardwood coincided with fundraising efforts for a new basketball
practice facility on the northeast corner of Wlliams Arena at
The success during 2010-11
certainly didn't hurt the Pirate Nation's willingness to lend
their financial support.
"I think we're coming down the
stretch now," Lebo said. "The last I heard we were at $10 or $11
million of the $15 (million). Things are going well there. As we
try to build this program, this is something that I just think
is vital for the growth of the program for the next 30 years.
"If we want to compete at the
highest level, we want to be able to beat the Memphises of the
world, the UTEPs of the world, the Tulsas of the world, the
teams that are in the top part consistently in our league, the
UABs of the world. We need to have things in place to make that
happen. This, to me, is vital for the growth of our basketball
program here. It gives our kids a chance to work on their game,
to improve their game.
"You've seen what the
facilities have done for the other sports here at East Carolina.
I certainly believe that this facility can do the same for
basketball. We just can't get it here fast enough."