Coaches urge Cape Fear Pirate Club to continue support

Kevin Davidson was a student at East Carolina when Joe Dooley last coached the Pirates.

At least that's what he knows now.

"I couldn't have told you (his name then)," said the Cape Fear Pirate Club president, a 1999 graduate. "I could say Steve Logan (then-football coach)."

Back in Greenville, Dooley understands and embraces the pressure to grow the men's basketball program at a school known for football. Flanked by women's basketball coach Heather Macy and football's Scottie Montgomery at the Wilmington Shrine Club, they also understand all three programs are in recovery mode.

So they implored the crowd at the Pirate Armada event Thursday to continue their support. They believe it's showing in their efforts to get ECU winning again across all sports.

Dooley, who is back after leading Florida Gulf Coast to multiple NCAA tournament berths, cited schools in rural areas such as Clemson and Virginia Tech as examples that big-time college athletics can come from anywhere.

"We've got great fans and got a following, we just have to pull together," said Dooley, who last coached ECU from 1995-99 and finished with a 57-52 mark. "And we have to put a good product out there, and we will."

One way to come together is in higher attendance. That's rarely been a problem at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, even as the football team has struggled to back-to-back 3-9 records.

Macy said there's no excuse to come to Minges Coliseum with that same enthusiasm.

"You're close enough to come, just don't come alone," she told the Wilmington group.

There's reason for optimism. ECU baseball is nationally ranked and in line to host an NCAA Regional. Montgomery has brought in one of the country's top recruits who happened to play at Greenville's D.H. Conley.

And on Thursday, he found out the Pirates outlasted North Carolina for another Conley standout.

"It's been a crazy 24 hours. We went head-to-head with that high school UNC," said Montgomery with a smile to the delight of ECU fans.

At the same time, he noted that recovery mode is something "we have to accept."

That's why many on Thursday remain excited of what's to come.

"I think we're starting to see recovery and excitement," Davidson said. "But we stress win or lose, we need financial support."