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Gilbert: Dooley's team passes look test

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East Carolina basketball coach Joe Dooley is interview June 25, 2019.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Minges Coliseum court is in under renovation as East Carolina’s basketball coaches also are working to reconstruct their teams that will play this year on a new-look Minges paint scheme.

Fresh from checking out a recent workout of men’s coach Joe Dooley’s squad, which this season will feature standout sophomore returning forward Jayden Gardner and 11 newcomers, ECU athletics director Jon Gilbert made it a point to highlight basketball when addressing East Carolina Board of Trustees members Thursday during board meetings.

ECU had a 10-20 record in 2017-18, then the Pirates turned to Dooley for his return to Greenville and ECU went 10-21 last season.

But Gilbert, a football player at Lenoir-Rhyne during his college years, is plenty optimistic.

“I am really encouraged about the leadership of our basketball programs,” Gilbert said. “We were not competitive the way we wanted to be this year, but I can tell you that what Joe Dooley inherited from an academic standpoint, we could build a statue for Joe for what he did on the academic side.

“I do know by attending a workout the other day that we really do pass the look test right now. We have a couple guys over 6-foot-10 and are shooting the ball much better. I am really encouraged about where that program is headed."

Gilbert added that he thinks first-year women’s coach and Bassett, Va., native Kim McNeill is the right fit to stabilize and push that team forward after it had three head coaches last year and finished with a second straight 16-15 record.

In the classroom, Dooley and the Pirates produced under pressure during the spring semester. The program had a multi-year academic progress rate score of 931 for 2017-18, barely above the 930 mark the NCAA requires to compete in the postseason and avoid other consequences, but the Pirates posted their best-ever spring cumulative GPA of 3.10 and graduated all three of their seniors along with junior Seth LeDay.

ECU football also needed an academic boost during the spring and got it with a program-best semester GPA of 2.74.

“We have been fragile in both men’s basketball and football, but the job that Joe Dooley and Mike Houston did this year was very remarkable academically,” Gilbert said.

The Minges court is being sanded and will be lightened. Gilbert said the project should be completed by mid-August.

The AD also mentioned other possible upgrades, like the speaker system, that could help with the atmosphere of the Pirates’ basketball arena that opened in 1967 and has a seating capacity of 8,000.

“You could spend relatively little money, but make a big difference from an aesthetics standpoint with that arena,” he said. “I do think we should have that on our list for future consideration.”

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

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ECU

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