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Dooley puts staff decisions on hold

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East Carolina's Shawn Williams goes up for a jumper against Tulsa in Minges Coliseum on March 1.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

First-year East Carolina basketball coach Joe Dooley is still evaluating the roster and coaching staff for his first team, but the hiring of new staff is on hold for now.

Dooley hired Raphael Chillious, who was at Connecticut last year, as a lead assistant and retained assistant Ken Potosnak from the previous Pirate staff, but Dooley said Monday that he has hit pause on filling out the entire staff because he’s looking more into the possible effects of the Condoleezza Rice-led Commission on College Basketball review. The 60-page report offers suggestions for the NCAA, and implementation could potentially soon change coaching and support staff rules and roles.

“I would like to see how this is going to wash out a little before we finish, because there could be some different moving parts to how you could do your staff now going forward,” said Dooley, who came to ECU after a 114-58 record in five seasons leading Florida Gulf Coast.

Chillious is known as a strong recruiter, and that was evident in his recruiting work at UConn and Washington. Dooley, who has one more full-time assistant coach to add to Chillious and Potosnak, said recruiting will be a vital part of all staff responsibilities.

The roster has seen additions and subtractions since last season, which ended with a 10-20 record for the Pirates. Talented players Kentrell Barkley and Jeremy Sheppard had on- and off-the-court issues and were removed from the roster early in May, and post player Usman Haruna recently left the team.

ECU is set to add its three original signees this summer, led by 6-foot-7 forward Jayden Gardner from Heritage High in Wake Forest, and it got a recent commitment from 6-3 guard Tae Hardy from Athens, Tenn.

Dooley said developing the Pirates’ young core — regardless of more roster movement that might still be coming — will be key.

“We haven’t had great retention, but we need to have retention and the young guys to develop and grow up,” he said. “Some guys choose not to be here by their actions. That’s a deal where we need to make sure we are recruiting the right people and the right type of student-athletes and academically they are doing what they are supposed to do.”

The coach added that he is looking to add another a player or two for this year.

East Carolina has four sophomores, led by the most recent American Athletic Conference rookie of the year in sharpshooting guard Shawn Williams. Dooley also mentioned 6-8 Dimitrije Spasojevic as an important player for now and the future.

“I’ve watched games and I do think that with Shawn and Demitrije and some other guys, you have some pieces and we need to add some pieces,” Dooley said. “It’s all different when it is live, too, and not just at controlled workouts. I think once we get out on the court and are able to do some things with all the freshmen every year, we’ll have a better picture of what we have.”

The returning players, including Virginia Tech transfer Seth LeDay, who sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules, are doing a lot of weightlifting workouts. Dooley is planning to begin group workouts on the court June 4.

“We have to try and figure out what gives us the best opportunity to have class balance,” Dooley said of finalizing the roster. “Those are things we are looking at and I do think with not having a ton of upperclassmen, it gives you the opportunity to kind of look at who we want to recruit for next year and our scholarship situation.”

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

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