First impressions mean
everything and ECU forward Corey Rouse had a funny thought when he
first saw his new coach. "He's a little short, but he's a great coach,"
said the 6-8 junior. The smile on Rouse's face Wednesday afternoon may
have indicated that the Pirates are starting to move forward after a
month filled with turmoil off the court and a disappointing finish to
The waiting game is over not just for the fans, but the team as well.
Anybody's guess was as good as the players' as to whom their next head
coach would be. "They told us they were going to get the best person
fit for us and the position we were in," said Rouse.
That person turned out to be Ricky Stokes. The former Virginia Tech
head coach and former Virginia player made his East Carolina debut
yesterday at a press conference announcing his hiring. The coach
briefly met with three of his future players, one of which he already
Stokes recruited Jeremy Ingram when he was an assistant at Wake Forest.
Ingram transferred from Wake Forest in January to join the Pirate
program. "I had a little background on him from when he recruited me at
Wake Forest," said Ingram. "He's just a great coach. I'm glad he's a
part of our program now and I just can't wait to get started."
The general feeling among the players in attendance Wednesday was
relief. "It's been a roller-coaster ride," said ECU forward Taylor
Gagnon. "You hear names thrown out in the community but you learn not
to pay a whole lot of attention to the rumors. I'm just glad the hiring
process is over."
The rest of the team likely won't meet the coach until next week when
they return from spring break. The players not at the press conference
got a call from their teammates telling them the news. "We told them
we'd call them after the press conference and let them know who the
coach was and what he was like," said Ingram.
The ECU players were remorseful about the firing of Bill Herrion and
showed great loyalty to their former coach. But the squad is already
developing a respect for their new coach, and looking forward to the