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Joe Dooley provides update on state of ECU men’s basketball

WITN Sports goes one-on-one with the ECU men's basketball head coach
Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 3:54 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 15, 2020 at 12:14 AM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The WITN Sports team went one-on-one with head coach Joe Dooley on Tuesday to get an update on the state of the ECU men’s basketball program.

OVERALL THOUGHTS ON PANDEMIC?

“Obviously our guys have been gone for a while, and we finally have everybody back on campus. So it’s nice to see their faces. Obviously taking precautions and social distancing and making sure the guys are trying to stay safe, and try to get some normalcy back to these guys as much as possible.”

ON KEEPING CLOSE EYE ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON?

“Well, I think the football season is a little bit different because it’s on us already. I think, you look at us, we could probably have contingency plans for something in January if something went sideways, but I also think we’ve got probably about 14 or 16 weeks before we would have to make a decision. We’ve got until early November. We’ll see how these next couple weeks and months play out, but we have until probably late October to probably make a decision as a governing body on what we’re going to do.”

POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES DURING PANDEMIC?

“The negative obviously is everyone has been in harm’s way, in society, in general. The other negative I think from strictly a basketball standpoint is we weren’t able to have any continuity in the spring, nor was anybody else, but having all these guys back, you would’ve liked to have tried to create some identity with your team and continue to do some of the things that we had done and have familiarity. But we’re in the same stage everybody else is in, so no one has an advantage.”

WHAT HAS THE TEAM BEEN UP TO DURING PANDEMIC?

“During the stretch, a lot of our guys were home. Some of them had better access to facilities and gyms than other people. There were a couple guys who stayed here. Our international students were here. They couldn’t get home, so they were here, staying safe. Now that they’re back, they’re allowed to do some voluntary weightlifting, some voluntary shooting. Then, the NCAA has said starting next Monday, August 20, we can go on the floor with the guys like we always do. It’s optional, but the NCAA allows us to be on the floor four hours a week, and I think we’ll take advantage of at. We’re looking forward to it.”

IS THE WHOLE TEAM ON CAMPUS IN GREENVILLE?

“We’ve had probably 11 of the 13 scholarship guys here. The last two guys got here over the weekend. Noah Farrakhan and Charles Coleman got here over the weekend and obviously had to get tested. Once they get cleared from all that they’ll be able to go on the court voluntarily, and then we’ll have everybody here for next Monday.”

WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE NEW GUYS?

“Well, we’ve got two scholarship guys. Noah Farrakhan from New Jersey and then obviously Derrick ‘FiFii’ Quansah from Hargrave Military Academy. FiFii’s been here for about two-and-a-half weeks and Noah’s been here since Friday of last week, so they’re starting to get settled in and get used to being here.”

HEALTH UPDATE?

“Ludgy Debaut is healthy. He’s been cleared to do everything. Bitumba Baruti is feeling a lot better. I think Tremont Robinson-White has felt a lot better. Tremont’s injury just required rest, and he was able to get some rest even if there wasn’t a pandemic, so those guys have all been cleared. Everybody has been back on the court.

COACHING CHANGES?

“I don’t think it really changes Steve Roccaforte’s role at all (as an associate head coach). It’s a title, but I think he has the same responsibilities. Antwon Jackson has been around the block. He’s a pro. Very successful at Cincinnati. He’s been in the ACC at Virginia Tech. Recruited a lot of really good players when he was at UMass. And if you look at his success, he knows what our league is like, having been at Cincinnati for seven years, and I think he has a good feel for what it takes to be successful in our league and what type of players you need to be successful.”

WHY WAS ANTWON JACKSON THE RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB?

“Well, obviously a bunch of people called with familiarity. Mick Cronin and I have been good friends for a long time, and when Mick called me about him I took notice, and he worked with Darren Savino who I worked with for a couple years, and Darren highly recommended him. Then talking to a bunch of the AAU people in the state and around the southeast, as well as moving north toward D.C. spoke very highly of him.”

HOW DOES THIS PANDEMIC IMPACT RECRUITING?

“Recruiting has obviously been very different. It’s been different when you’ve been out on the road for 32 years seeing guys in person. We were fortunate that in the 2021 class we had seen a lot of guys because we didn’t have large numbers in the ’20 class. In some regards I thought we were at an advantage because we’ve seen people live, we know how tall they are, we know what they look like live. But with that being said, we’ve had to look at some tape, especially on the 2022 class which is a little bit different. It’s been different having to Zoom. No in-person contact. No in-person evaluation is different, but everybody is in the same boat. I think recruiting has changed a lot for everybody.”

WHAT ABOUT THE FUTURE IMPACT OF RECRUITING?

“I think maybe some people will do more in-home visits with Zoom. I would prefer not to. I’d rather see people in person, but that’s a personal preference. I do think what you’re going to see is you’re going to see the Transfer Portal is going to explode because I think a lot of guys are taking guys they haven’t seen a lot of, and I think a lot of kids are making decisions based on just not taking visits. So it’ll be an interesting next two years to see what happens with the portal and transfers.”

COVID-19 WORKOUT PROTOCOLS?

“We get tested and get our temperature as soon as we walk into the building. There will be some protocols when we go on the court with them. We’re sanitizing the basketballs, telling these guys they have to wear their masks in the building. Obviously when they’re playing they don’t need to wear their mask. In some regards they’re in their own little bubble. So I think I’d rather have them here and doing some things where we know who’s in here playing then being some place where we don’t know where they are.”

WILL BASKETBALL START ON TIME?

“I couldn’t tell you. We’re looking day-to-day. I don’t know. Hopefully, like I said, we’ve got some time to see how this thing turns or doesn’t turn. There’s probably already a contingency plan in place like there has been for football.”

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