basketball Edit

Joe Dooley and ECU Players Talk Pirate Hoops for Pirate Media Day

ECU head basketball coach Joe Dooley answered questions from the press on Thursday on media day.
ECU head basketball coach Joe Dooley answered questions from the press on Thursday on media day. ( photo)

With basketball season set to begin November 6 against Delaware State, new ECU head coach Joe Dooley met with local and regional press to discuss the upcoming season.

Dooley comes in with a lot of energy in his second stint of duty in Greenville after returning from a successful run at Florida Gulf Coast. He hopes to parlay the success he had there and as a lead assistant at Kansas under Bill Self into a more potent program at ECU in the coming years.

"It's amazing that it's less than two weeks until the regular season and when we start talking to coaches around the country it seems the list of things to get done keeps getting longer, not shorter," Dooley said on Thursday, "We've got some things to get working on but I think so far we've had a good preseason for the most part. We've been a little dinged up the last couple of weeks with some guys being hurt which sort of has affected practice, but that's part of it throughout the country."

Dooley says he has some guys who have been out for a week to ten days and a couple more who they are waiting to find out more when they have some MRI's done and one guy in concussion protocol. But with a great deal of the preseason work in the books, Dooley talked about where his team is at the moment.

"I think the rotation depends on how many we have healthy. That's one of the big things. We'd like to play eight or nine guys on a regular basis especially early in the season to see who we are. Foul trouble and injuries and who we are playing (big or small) always factor in so I think we have some things we need to figure out."

The one constant is Dooley always gets great effort from his teams and this groups is no different.

"I think we've made some progress. I really have to complement the guys in general for the effort for the most part and I think they're excited about getting ready to play here and so are we," said Dooley, "We've had one scrimmage last Sunday and we've have one this Saturday to try to get a little bit of a feel for who we are and what we are. I think the next two weeks we've got a lot of work to get in and our guys know that."

"We are a bunch of guys that do give really good effort. We're still trying to figure out where the pieces fit together and when we sub, how do we play. We could play a bunch of different ways but who we are is a bunch of guys who try really hard right now."

Isaac Fleming returns for his senior season at guard with the Pirates after averaging 12.5 points a game last season to go along with 3.8 boards a game. Fleming averaged just over 32 minutes a game of play last year where he hit nearly 26.5 percent of his three-point attempts and nearly 45 percent overall and 66 percent from the stripe.

"I feel like we're ready to go. We're conditioned, we're in shape. We've got the basics down pat and we're just ready to show everybody what we're capable of," Fleming told," I feel like this coaching staff has been here for years. They leave it all on the table. Anything they would say in front of us they would tell anybody so they don't hold anything back. He hates losing. If we don't want to be out here all day running, we don't want to lose any games that we should not be losing."

"We've grown a lot confidence wise and we've figured out how we can play together. The first scrimmage we had a lot of turnovers and stuff but that's going to sharpen up as the season goes on," Shawn Williams said, "We play hard and that's what I'm proud of."

Sophomore forward Dimitrije Spasojevic has a year under his belt in AAC play and that should pay dividends this season when the Pirates hit the court in November.

"You can just feel a different energy and the guys are positive about the outcome of this season. I think we're going to do really good," Spasojevic said, "I've got a lot more experience and Coach Dooley has done a great job here and has done a lot to develop my game. It's definitely easier now because I got adjusted to the pace of the game, physicality and athleticism of the guys in the U.S. so I think it's going to be a lot easier for me personally."

6-8 sophomore forward Justin Whatley returns this season and despite battling some nicks and bruises, he should play a big part in any success the Pirates are able to generate this winter.

"Physically I feel a lot better than when I had an injury and right now I'll be back very soon," Whatley said, "I love everybody who came. All the freshmen, everybody works hard. We don't have any problems chemistry wise. We mix well together. We all have strength and weaknesses that we can fix and it's all working out good right now."

Catch PI Audio from new ECU head coach Joe Dooley along with selected players from Thursday's media day in Greenville.