Greenville - ECU Director of Athletics Terry Holland introduced Mack McCarthy as acting head coach at a news conference on Thursday. Below are selected quotes from that conference.
ECU Director of Athletics Terry Holland
"Well I don't think there is any doubt that the reason we are here is because we were 14-44 on the court. After this season I sat down with the coaching staff and we had some good heart-to-heart talks to get started. The main theme of those talks was that we have one year to get this thing right. So we continued to talk and meet in order to determine the best thing we could do to move this program forward. We met individually and collectively. I met with Coach Stokes, Coach McCarthy and Coach Ferguson. I know they got tired of talking to me because they wanted to get on with the business of winning games next year.
"I believe moving a program forward takes more than just winning games. If we start to concentrate too much on winning games because of pressure, I believe we forget about other important aspects of the game that we have to do as coaches to move a program forward. We are trying to build a program rather than just win games. That was our challenge, trying to figure out a way to do it. We agreed that we were going to stay after it until we got a unanimous vote."
"Finally, toward the end of the summer, we came up with what we think is the best solution. Simply put, Coach Stokes felt it was a good time to make a career change at age 45. He wanted to focus on the bigger issue and the things we have to deal with to move this program forward."
"There is no bigger issue than building a practice facility that will allow our teams, not only just men's basketball but also women's basketball and volleyball, to have access to facilities that they need. It's not going to happen overnight, next year or even in the next two or three years but it will never happen unless we start pushing for it. [Ricky Stokes's] job will be to promote all of those programs in order to help us do whatever it takes to get the job done in the long term."
"Coach McCarthy, our acting head coach, will focus on winning games. That doesn't mean that is the only thing he is concerned about but he is going to be figuring out how to win games. I don't know that we could find anybody who has a better track record than he has in doing that. His number of wins going into this past season would put him in the top-50 in the country and so would his winning percentage. We hope he will improve on that as he leads us forward."
Acting Head Coach Mack McCarthy
"I'm both pleased and appreciative of the opportunity to be the head basketball coach at East Carolina. I would like to thank Coach Holland and Dr. Ballard for their faith and confidence in my ability to lead this basketball program into the future."
"When I first got here, my only experience with East Carolina University had been as head coach at VCU. When you are a visiting head coach you have a limited knowledge of what the school is like. What I did know was that Minges Coliseum is a great place to play and a great atmosphere to play in. What I have come to know is that Greenville is a special place and the Pirate Nation is a special group of people. There is an athletic administration and university administration in place that wants Pirate basketball to be really good. The support is unbelievable.
"Despite our record over the past two years, a lot of progress has really been made. The infrastructure of the program has been helped by small things like renovating the offices and locker room and improving the recruiting database and video scouting. Certainly when we got here, the academic support system was in disarray as it relates to the basketball program but two years later, we are on very solid footing from an academic perspective."
"When we decided that this was direction that we are going in with the program, I was excited. However, when I talked to the players and their families, I became ecstatic. They couldn't have been more positive, excited or passionate about East Carolina basketball. They got me to the point to where I couldn't wait to get started. We took off as a staff, partly on mandate, and we went to beach and started planning for this season. A lot of things are in place but we have to grow the program."
"We are going to give the players our support and our patience. They need our support and patience but they also need your support and patience. We do not need to make every game a referendum on our progress. Judge our progress on how we improve over the season. If we are not playing better basketball in January or February, we are not doing our job. The improvement we make will be the ultimate judge of our program."
Holland on whether he considered a return to coaching at East Carolina
"That was the only thing that wasn't allowed to be put on the table. I have been away from it too long but I am glad we have [Coach McCarthy] back in the saddle for a few years because he knows how to win."
Holland on whether it was Coach Stokes decision to step down
"In the end, I think Coach Stokes said that he is a big picture guy and that he would like to try something else at this point."
Holland on Coach McCarthy's "acting head coach" title
"I think we all know that we have to put ourselves on the line this year. We are going to stick to that title until the spring and then we will see where we are. I think that should give everyone comfort. We did not want a referendum on Coach Stokes and we do not want one on Coach McCarthy."
Holland on the recruiting impact of Stokes's decision
"You cannot tell any recruit that a coach will be at a certain school the next season. It doesn't matter how long the contract is. If the job isn't getting done, that coach is going to be bought out."
McCarthy on the players' attitudes after the change
"I think initially the new guys were shocked and confused a little bit. As we explained what the process was, they reacted in a very positive manner. The older guys, while they didn't know everything that was going on, they were a bit more ready to go forward."
McCarthy on his coaching style versus Coach Stokes
"Everybody does things differently. We agreed on some things but also disagreed on some things. However, we made all those plans together and he was good about getting input from everyone. He was the head coach and he made the ultimate decisions. I can tell you that all of my teams have and will play hard."
McCarthy on the pressure he might feel this coming season
"Part of my job is to not let pressure get to the kids. The only pressure the players need to be under is to play as well as they can. We shouldn't put so much emphasis on game-to-game progress but rather ask, have we improved over the course of the season."