Pirates Find that Rebuilding
Takes More than Time

by Josh Spence

If the rebuilding process takes longer, does it lead to a stronger foundation?  That’s the question that many fans and supporters of the East Carolina basketball team are waiting to have answered.  The fact is, that it’s been a long time since ECU has even had a winning record, much less the chance to play in the NCAA tournament. 

You have to go back to the 96-97 season under Joe Dooley for the Pirates finishing above .500.  In fact that season capped one of the strongest stretches for Pirate basketball.  With their 17-10 record in 96-97, ECU capped a stretch of 4 consecutive winning seasons.  Although the 92-93 Pirates finished at 14-16, that season is also among the most memorable in Pirates history because of the teams’ incredible run through the CAA tournament.  The Pirates appeared for only the second time in the NCAA tournament in team history.

Other than that 5-year span,  Pirate basketball doesn’t have a whole lot of fond memories to look back on.  You have to go back to the 88-89 season for the teams last winning record before that, and all the way back to 73-75 for back to back winning seasons. 

With so little history to fall back on, building a strong program now is that much harder.  At ECU we don’t have the luxury of some of the ACC schools in the state of competing in the NCAA tournament year in and year out, or sending 2 or 3 players a year to the NBA.  Winning builds tradition, and tradition brings in the players that help you win.  It’s a vicious cycle that  the Pirates can’t seem to beat. 

For the coaching staff of a school that is known for football, building a winning basketball program is tough.  The current coaching staff is finding out just that, as they’re off to a 3-5 start after four consecutive losses.  The addition of transfer Jeremy Ingram will help, but that too will take time.  Even though Ingram has practiced with the team for several months, including the off-season, time off from the game could hinder his abilities. It’s always difficult when a team gets another player midway through the season.  Ingram hadn’t seen game action in nearly two years before playing the Pirates game at Winthrop on December 18th.  He also has the aftermath of 3 knee surgeries to deal with in his attempt to return to game shape.  For ECU basketball the road ahead is long and tough.  It will likely take a couple of years to even see the potential of the Pirates under Ricky Stokes, Mack McCarthy and the rest of the staff.  Give them time, support the team and eventually this program will build enough tradition to form a strong foundation for the future.

Josh Spence