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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports
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From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, April 6, 2005
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By Brian Bailey

Going around in circles can be a good thing

©2005 Bonesville.net

Replay Tuesday's Brian Bailey Show, featuring guest Ricky Stokes:
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Ricky Stokes hasn’t won a game as the East Carolina basketball coach. He has, however, won several new fans and friends in his first couple of weeks in Greenville.

Ricky spent an hour as a guest on my show last night on Talk 1070 radio and Cable 7 TV. (Replay Archive)

It was a nice conversation, a chance for me to not only ask questions about the future of Pirate basketball, but to also reminisce about watching basketball in my college student days as a fan of the University of Virginia.

I often joke that I missed out on attending Virginia by about 300 points on my SAT. Ironically, Ricky and I would have been classmates if I had faired a little better on my college boards.

Life is one big cycle. Dave Odom was the head coach at East Carolina when I was in high school. Odom then moved on to Charlottesville to work for Terry Holland.

Holland and Odom recruited Ricky Stokes out of Richmond. Ricky’s brother, Bobby, was a freshman in 1976 when Virginia won its only ACC Tournament championship. The tourney was played that year in Landover, MD.

It was only natural for Ricky to follow his brother’s lead and play for Coach Holland.

Stokes played in two Final Fours at Virginia. The second came in 1984, the year after Ralph Sampson graduated and moved on to the NBA. That ’84 team was probably Terry Holland’s finest coaching job.

Fast forward to 2004. East Carolina was in need of new leadership within its athletic department.

Coach Holland was looking for a new challenge and had hoped to serve as a consultant for East Carolina. Chancellor Steven Ballard and company wanted something more and offered Holland the athletic director’s job at the school.

Odom, by this time the head coach at South Carolina, was instrumental in getting Holland to agree to take the job in Greenville. Odom has always had positive things to say about Greenville and East Carolina University.

Holland first made a change in football, hiring Skip Holtz, who had been an assistant at where else — South Carolina.

When Holland felt like he needed to make a change in basketball, the events came full circle. Holland’s star guard in his second Final Four team could develop a staff that the AD felt was needed to win at East Carolina.

Holland chose Stokes — who happened to be Odom's assistant at South Carolina — giving Ricky a second chance at a head coaching job. Holland liked the idea of also bringing Mac McCarthy to town, feeling the duo would make a nice combination.

Ironically, rumors from the Final Four now have Odom as the leading candidate to return to Virginia as its new head coach.

If that comes true, this circle will certainly be doubly complete.

Hot bat for Chad

Former East Carolina star Chad Tracy was at his new position for the Diamondbacks on Monday afternoon.

Tracy struggled with throwing errors at third base last year. Arizona obtained Troy Glaus in the off-season and moved Tracy to first base.

In the opener, Tracy was 3-4 with a sacrifice fly and an RBI. Tracy has the kind of bat that can help keep him in the lineup.

Wolfpack on deck

ECU's injury-depleted pitching staff is showing just how important the position is in winning baseball games. The team is off to a 2-7 mark in Conference USA with Southern Miss coming to town this weekend.

But first things first — the Pirates visit N.C. State tonight.

It’s funny, but these midweek games certainly cause headaches with an ailing staff.

On the one hand, you want to play great baseball against an instate rival. On the other hand, you have to win in league play to have a shot at making the NCAA tournament.

Coach Randy Mazey may have to go about the midweek games with a “bullpen by committee.”

This is a good Pirate baseball squad that has been decimated by injuries. Hopefully, they can get a winning streak going to get back into the NCAA picture.

Send an e-mail message to Brian Bailey.

Click here to dig into Brian Bailey's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:31:43 AM

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