ECU-SMU drive

East Carolina guard Tremont Robinson-White gets around a screen set by teammate Edra Luster, right, during the Pirates' game Monday night against SMU in Minges Coliseum.

East Carolina temporarily stopped all of its men’s basketball activities and postponed both of its games scheduled for this week.

ECU’s release said the pause began Wednesday “due to a positive test, contact tracing and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the program.”

The Pirates were scheduled to travel to Philadelphia on Wednesday to play at Temple at noon on Thursday, then host the Owls in Minges Coliseum on Saturday at noon. ECU was coming off a 71-56 home loss to SMU on Monday night.

East Carolina had a similar pause in mid-January and postponed two games, including a matchup against Temple. The next possible game for the Pirates is now Feb. 17 at Houston.

ECU is 2-8 in the American Athletic Conference, highlighted by beating Houston last week. The Pirates then lost at Memphis and SMU leading up to this pause.

“We obviously need to take care of the ball and need to rebound the ball and we need to get some offensive rhythm,” said coach Joe Dooley, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 16 and missed two games, after the SMU defeat. “I thought we played in spurts, and it was the same thing at Memphis. We had some bad stretches and need to eliminate a couple of those bad stretches. I do think some easy baskets and obviously making a 3-pointer or two would probably give us a little more offensive ability.”

Coaches re-hired

East Carolina’s women’s swimming and diving and women’s tennis teams are resuming play with their former respective head coaches, Matthew Jabs and Kirsten Burgess, in charge.

Athletics director Jon Gilbert said Wednesday he hired Jabs and Burgess as part of the school’s reinstatement process. ECU cut all of its swimming and diving and tennis programs last May, then reinstated the women’s teams last month with the possibility of returning to action as early as the fall of this year or in 2022.

Jabs was the American Athletic Conference’s swimming and diving coach of the year in 2020, after the Pirate men won their fourth conference title in six years, and was the Pirates’ head coach for three seasons from 2017-20. He previously served as an assistant to ECU Hall of Fame coach Rick Kobe.

“I’m excited to be back with the program and am appreciative for the opportunity,” Jabs said in a release. “I am grateful for all of the support from family, friends, former teammates, athletes, and alumni over the past few months. As we start this new chapter, one of our goals remains the same, and that is to make the swimmers and divers of the past, present and future proud to be Pirates. ... I look forward to the challenge of getting us back to meeting the level of expectations our swimming community expects.”

Burgess took the reins of the women’s tennis program in March 2020 as interim coach following the retirement of Tom Morris. She coached two matches before the rest of the season was cancelled by COVID-19.

“I am excited to be back,” said Burgess, who like Jabs also was an assistant for the Pirates in previous years before being elevated to head coach. “Not just for myself, but for the sport of women’s tennis. I want to thank Jon for reaching out and making the best of a difficult situation.”

Jabs and Burgess are both ECU alums who were student-athletes. Gilbert said in Wednesday’s release he is confident they will positively impact the Pirates moving forward.

He said on Jan. 7 there were no plans to reinstate the men’s teams.

“As I mentioned in May, and specific to the swimming programs and the respect that I have for what our coaches and swimming alumni have achieved in the history of our men’s swimming program, but this specifically was related to providing additional opportunities for our female student-athletes,” Gilbert said.

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