Jayden Gardner

Sophomore forward Jayden Gardner takes a shot at the basket.

After having its basketball season end in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament, the East Carolina University men’s basketball team made off-season moves that has given fans hope going into the 2019-2020 season. I believe that on Nov. 5 and throughout the season, Pirate fans need to go out and pack the stands for their opener against the Virginia Military Institute in Minges Coliseum.

Coming off of a season where the men’s team had to overcome an adjustment period with the head coaching position when it played its first season under head coach Joe Dooley for the first time since 1998, it finished the season with a record of 10-21 overall and 3-15 in conference play. While last season focused on coaching changes, this season the focus was on making roster changes across the board.

Eleven new guys were added to the roster adding much needed depth that was not present last season. Two of the biggest issues that ECU had to deal with was lack of shooting and presence in the paint. More times than not the Pirates would get bullied at the rim because there was not enough size on the team to contend with the other teams in the conference.

"We were able to upgrade our length and athleticism," Dooley said via ECUPirates.com. "We were tiny last year and we were able to address some frontline athleticism (needs). We'll be more versatile next season and I think we'll shoot the ball better. Those were some weaknesses which necessitated our focus and I think we did a great job of finding those pieces."

We did lose some players that made an impact at ECU such as former guard Shawn Williams who was the 2017 AAC Rookie-of-the-Year. However to see a men’s team make as many moves as they did and have only two players returning from last year’s roster that include sophomore forward Jayden Gardner and redshirt senior Seth LeDay says that the team perhaps has built a roster that will be able to contend with the AAC.

Fans have had the tendency to pack the stands at the beginning of the season and not show up as much to games in the middle of the season and when conference play starts. A revamped/improved team with a head coach known for winning equals more wins and more success as a team.

I went to plenty of games last season as both a reporter and a fan. I found that the seats would be empty and the team would not get that much recognition or fan support until they took on then No. 8 ranked Houston Cougars. I was highly disappointed because I thought basketball was bigger than what it was. Basketball is a fast-paced sport, filled with highlight plays in anyway possible, this season I believe fan attendance will change in a good way.

Am I saying that this team will win the conference championship? No. What I am saying though is that this team is not to be overlooked when the season starts. The team has worked on developing team chemistry and instilling that winning mentality all across the board. At 7 p.m. on Tuesday Nov. 5, the men’s team will kick off the new season looking to show why they represent ECU and improve in terms of wins and losses.

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