BYH to the members of the 514 for going to guard and support our country's illegal international prison at Gitmo in...

McClelland's basketball bona fides


By Tony Castleberry
The Daily Reflector

Monday, August 29, 2016

As much as he brings to the table from a pure training standpoint, Justin McClelland’s experience at two basketball powerhouses might be just as beneficial for East Carolina’s team.

McClelland, hired by ECU in May to take over strength and conditioning for men’s hoops, brings a wealth of knowledge acquired in the classroom, but the lessons he learned working at Villanova and Florida — two programs with national championship banners hanging in their gyms — probably resonate more with Pirate players than McClelland’s degrees.

The fact that McClelland also played collegiate basketball at Eastern University in St. David’s, Pa., almost certainly helps him identify with East Carolina’s players as they prepare for the season. Those combined experiences, along with a desire to be in charge of a team’s training, turned McClelland’s attention to ECU.

“I was at a point in my career where I was ready to take hold of a program because I had worked as an assistant in the past,” he said during an interview in the Murphy Center on Thursday morning. “To have my own team was definitely a step forward. I just got really good vibes throughout my interview process with (strength and conditioning boss Jeff) Connors, hearing what he had to say. ... It’s a great environment for me as a staff member and the athletes.”

McClelland takes over Pirate basketball strength and conditioning for Matt Slachetka, who left ECU after being hired in June 2014.

After interning at Villanova during the 2014-15 season, McClelland, who graduated from Eastern in 2011 before adding a master’s degree from California University of Pennsylvania, trained Florida’s basketball squad last season. Having that kind of pedigree made him stand out in a field of some 200 applicants, according to Connors.

“After I interviewed him, I knew right away that he was my No. 1 guy I wanted to have here and I think that (Pirate basketball) coach (Jeff) Lebo felt the same way,” Connors said. “I really love the fact that he was at Villanova. ... Justin is the most learned individual that we’ve had thus far in relationship to knowledge of basketball.”

Summer workouts have begun paying dividends for East Carolina’s players, who hope to improve on last season’s 12-19 record, the worst mark during Lebo’s tenure with the Pirates. Entering his seventh season in charge at ECU, Lebo communicates with McClelland on an almost-daily basis to gauge gains and losses the Pirates are making.

The players did not necessarily enter summer training out of shape, but they lifted weights four days a week under McClelland’s guidance before transitioning into smaller group workouts three times a week. Conditioning work will ramp up as the season nears, but McClelland is of the opinion that if ECU’s team carries its offseason approach into the fall and winter, the Pirates will be prepared, and not just physically.

“Sometimes when you’re coaching guys, you can see a lot of stuff and coach them on a lot of different things and it can get a little overwhelming to the athlete at times,” McClelland said. “They’ve crushed it, in my opinion. They’ve been a really good group. I think the biggest thing we’re working on is our mental toughness, staying locked in throughout the entire training session. That will correlate onto the court as well.”


Contact Tony Castleberry at tcastleberry@reflector.com, 252-329-9591 and follow @tcastleberrygdr on Twitter.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


August 15, 2018

As much pressure as there is on the East Carolina running backs to make big plays when they are in space, there is possibly even more pressure on the Pirates’ offensive line to create adequate space for the backs to roam.

Linemen and running backs working cohesively is paramount for a…


August 15, 2018

Check out some video clips from the start of East Carolina football practice Wednesday morning, featuring heavy special teams work and some other position-specific drills.

Some fumble drill action this morning at #ECU practice. Defense also was doing similar drills ... pic.twitter.…


August 14, 2018

A theme from Saturday’s East Carolina football scrimmage continued Tuesday when the Pirates began their final week of preseason camp and coach Scottie Montgomery said the defense was overall more productive than the offense.

Part of it was because of the defense winning a lot of battles in…


August 14, 2018

Dave Hart’s role as special athletics adviser to East Carolina Chancellor Cecil Staton has been extended through football season, in part because of the difficulties the Pirates are facing financially as they prepare for another scholastic and athletics year.

Hart’s original six-month…


August 14, 2018

Jack Reinheimer is with the New York Mets, giving East Carolina two former players currently on active Major League Baseball rosters. Pitcher Mike Wright (Baltimore Orioles) is the other player.

Former ECU pitcher Jharel Cotton is on the Oakland Athletics’ 40-man roster, but not active as he…


August 14, 2018

Of all the statistics that doomed East Carolina’s football team in 2017, and on defense in particular, a glaring disparity was that ECU scored 31 points off turnovers and opponents finished with 121.

Third-year head coach Scottie Montgomery has stressed for ECU defenders to be more aggressive…


August 13, 2018

East Carolina connecting on deep passes Saturday during a preseason scrimmage was sometimes directly tied to quarterback scrambles.

There were no quarterback-designed runs as suggested by the coaching staff to protect the passers from injury, but the ECU trio of Reid Herring, Holton Ahlers and…


August 11, 2018

It remains difficult for East Carolina’s offense to run against the ECU defensive front, which led to the team airing it out Saturday during the first scrimmage of the preseason.

Defensive backs and receivers battled for the football often to highlight the 100-plus play scrimmage at Dowdy-…


August 11, 2018

There is no question that Trevon Brown is East Carolina’s best receiver, and big production will be needed out of him again for the Pirates to reach their goal of making a bowl game, but opportunity also remains behind Brown.

Brown is a senior and bound to see double-teams and plenty of…


August 10, 2018

ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton has requested an independent audit of the university’s athletic department in hopes of putting to rest continuing concerns raised about the financial health of the Pirates’ sports program.

Staton told The Daily Reflector in a conversation Wednesday he…

100817ECUfootball-5.jpg (1).jpg
180 stories in ECU. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 18
        Next Page»   Last Page»