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Dooley left good situation for Pirates

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East Carolina basketball coach Joe Dooley speaks during a Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce power luncheon last week.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, May 26, 2018

It is not easy to leave a winning program for one mired in a string of four straight losing seasons and that hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1993.

Joe Dooley did that in April when he left Florida Gulf Coast, a team he led to the NCAAs in 2016 and ’17, to take over at East Carolina for his second stint with the Pirates.

Dooley said earlier this week that a key factor in his decision was the conferences in which both teams play. FGCU is in the Atlantic Sun, a league that usually only sends one team to the NCAA tournament, the squad that wins the A-Sun tournament.

ECU is in the American Athletic Conference, which is in much higher regard nationally in large part because of programs like Cincinnati, Wichita State, Connecticut, Temple and others.

“(FGCU) will be predicted first or second again next year, but that being said, it’s a one-bid league and you have to win three games (in the A-Sun tournament),” Dooley said. “That’s the frustrating part because you know it’s not going to be a multiple-bid league. Here, the challenge is to get to the top half of the league and it is a terrific league and we’re excited about that.”

Like the Pirate coach before him in Jeff Lebo, Dooley also has referenced the importance of moving up in the AAC standings. ECU finished 11th out of 12 teams last season with a 4-14 league record.

The Pirates’ best finish in the American came in 2015 when they tied for seventh place when the conference had 11 teams.

“If you get to the top half of this league, you are in a postseason tournament and that’s our goal,” Dooley said. “That’s the whole deal and now the fight is to get to that top half of the league. When you look at it, Memphis is spending $235,000 per year per player and we are spending $55,000.

“There is discrepancy, but that being said, that doesn’t ensure that you are going to win and there a lot of programs that spend a lot of money and it doesn’t translate. But this is a big boy league.”

Like football coach Scottie Montgomery, special athletics adviser Dave Hart and others at ECU have discussed, Dooley is optimistic about the possibility of Pirate student-athletes getting some type of training table. This would allow for players to receive personalized food options and opportunities separate from the regular dining hall experience, which in theory should improve their diet and performance.

“If we can get this training table, that is a major morale deal and you are not at an disdvantage,” Dooley said. “Years ago when I was recruiting I used to always figure out who is helping me, but now I try to figure out who is hurting us. What they can do is look and see they don’t have a training table and this is a big deal because another school can say, ‘Well, they don’t care.’”

ECU hasn’t been to the postseason since losing to Wright State in the opening round of the 2014 CollegeInsiders.com Tournament. The highlight of the Lebo era was winning the CIT the previous year during a 23-12 campaign.

The Pirates have slipped since then, and part of the reason is not being able to keep pace in the AAC.

“Our fans want us to be good in basketball and we have to figure it out and that’s why we’re here,” Dooley said. “I do think the fans want it and let’s cut to the chase, it’s a revenue deal. We want football to be successful and we want basketball to be successful and all the sports to be successful, but especially in the revenue sports because if you are successful then it means more money for everybody.”

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

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Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

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

ECU

June 17, 2018

The United States team completed a dominant run at the FIBA Americas U18 basketball tournament in Ontario, Canada, on Saturday night with a 113-74 victory against the host Canadian squad to take the gold medal.

East Carolina first-year coach Joe Dooley helped pick the team, which was led…

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June 16, 2018

East Carolina sophomore outfielder Bryant Packard earned his school-record seventh All-America honor after being named a first-teamer by the American Baseball Coaches Association on Saturday.

Packard led ECU in seven offensive categories, including batting average (.406) to rank seventh nationally.…

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June 15, 2018

East Carolina first-year coach Joe Dooley played in part in assembling the roster for the USA Basketball U18 National Team that could be on a collision course to face host team Canada this weekend in the championship game of the FIBA Americas tournament.

Dooley was a court coach during…

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June 14, 2018

To many in the world of women’s basketball, Anne Donovan was a giant. And not just because she stood 6-foot-8.

She won a national championship at Old Dominion, two Olympic gold medals as a player and another as a coach in her storied career. She died Wednesday and people in Greenville…

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June 13, 2018

Anne Donovan, the Basketball Hall of Famer and former East Carolina women’s head coach who won a national championship at Old Dominion, two Olympic gold medals in the 1980s and coached the U.S. to gold in 2008, died Wednesday of heart failure. She was 56.

On her rise to prominence, Donovan…

June 12, 2018

Reality set in for East Carolina shot put standout Galissia Cause during her hotel check-in last week in Eugene, Ore., for the track and field NCAA Outdoor Championships.

She competed at the NCAA East Regional meet in all four of her seasons, but only this year did the senior make it past…

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June 10, 2018

There is a group text message involving some recent East Carolina baseball players.

They are great friends, and it is during these messages about jobs or social plans when Evan Kruczynski is reminded how lucky he is to be a professional baseball player.

There is a grind associated with the day-to-…

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June 08, 2018

Galissia Cause already was the East Carolina record holder in the outdoor shot put and she ended her collegiate career Thursday night in All-America fashion, placing 10th in the shot put event at the NCAA Outdoor Championships held in Eugene, Ore. Taking 10th place garnered her second-team All-…

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June 07, 2018

East Carolina baseball coach Cliff Godwin had been linked to the Mississippi State head coaching position this week, but Godwin confirmed Thursday that he is staying with the Pirates.

This is the second Southeastern Conference school that has shown interest in Godwin, who is an ECU alum and former…

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June 06, 2018

Just like last June, East Carolina baseball’s pitching ace is headed to the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

ECU Friday night starter Chris Holba was selected early in the final day of the Major League Baseball draft Wednesday, going in the 11th round to the Cardinals. St. Louis also…

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