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Henry's Highlights
Tuesday, March 15, 2005

By Henry Hinton

Lid on hoops search about to lift slightly


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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 now.

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.

The 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 ago.

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 in Charlotte.

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 shagging universe).

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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02/23/2007 10:16:09 AM

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