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Dooley wants to win at 'football school'

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Leo Corbin, president at Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce, left, shakes hands with coach Joe Dooley before Tuesday's luncheon at the Hilton. May 15, 2018.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Recruiting is going to be a key force behind new East Carolina basketball coach Joe Dooley’s aspirations of eventually turning the Pirates into a winning team.

Dooley said Tuesday he envisions ECU football and basketball, two programs that have had down seasons recently, helping each other when they both are successful, even for an athletics program like the Pirates known first for football. Dooley, who was hired April 4, was serving as the keynote speaker at the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce May power luncheon, and he hit on an array of topics on Pirate basketball.

“What happens is when we bring recruits in and we go to a football game and they see the atmosphere and what Pirate fans are about and what the community is about in a great college town, it helps us recruit,” Dooley, 52, said. “The flip side of it is when basketball is doing well it can also help football recruit because most football players go to basketball games during recruiting visits.”

Dooley, most recently a winning Florida Gulf Coast coach who also went 57-52 in the late 1990s while leading ECU, confirmed that former Connecticut assistant Raphael Chillious has been hired and working with the Pirates and assistant coach Ken Potosnak has been retained from the previous staff.

That came during a Q&A session for attendees to ask questions to Dooley.

The coach also was asked about the basketball “one-and-done” rule that is under scrutiny and is possibly changing soon. It centers around elite high school basketball players going to college for only one year because they are not allowed to enter the NBA draft like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and others did years ago.

“My personal opinion has always been that if they are good enough to go out of high school then they should be able to go,” Dooley said. “If they stay in the draft and they are not drafted then they can go back to college, which I think that would be a good rule. … If you are a tennis player or a golfer or in baseball then you can right from high school (to the pros), so why shouldn’t you be able to do it for basketball?

“I think that could help with a little bit of the competitive balance in college basketball, too.”

Dooley had other opportunities to leave Florida Gulf Coast, but he stayed with the Eagles until this offseason. FGCU went to the postseason in each of Dooley’s five seasons, including the NCAA tournament in 2016 and ’17.

He said the college town aspect of Greenville helped get him back with the Pirates.

“When I came back to Greenville, I was shocked with the amount of progress and all the new buildings, and the whole uptown area and the housing developments were absolutely mind-boggling,” he said. “I think it’s a sign of growth. … We need to get this basketball program where you guys deserve a good program.

“We have struggled at times and we know that and no one knows it better than I do. But I do see a lot of potential.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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