Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

For UNCW, the hard times are now very much in the past

March 7, 2017 Columns No Comments

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – When Kevin Keatts arrived in Wilmington, he was taking over a good program that had fallen on hard times. UNCW had won four CAA titles and at one time was among the powers in the conference, but those might have seemed like a lifetime ago to some in the fan base.

Now, it’s the hard times that seem like a long time ago, with the Seahawks heading back to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.

Keatts has done it quickly and without any real failures along the way. He’s basically 3-for-3 in successful seasons, avoiding the growing pains that normally accompany these rebuilds. In Monday night’s championship game, he told his players about staying the course, a course that has been steady and full of winning.

Usually, a coach tries to establish the culture and get their style of play in place in their first year in a rebuilding situation. Keatts did that and more, as the Seahawks were one of four teams tied for the regular season title in the CAA. He got a team full of veterans to play better than they had played to that point in their careers, and added in a couple of newcomers as well.

Year two is usually more challenging with the way personnel tends to go, but the Seahawks won the regular season title and this time broke through in Baltimore to win the conference tournament. Then they gave Duke all they could handle in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before they succumbed to the Blue Devils.

This year, the Seahawks were favored in the CAA from the outset, and had a well-balanced team. They played well together, to the point where with all their talent, no individual had numbers that were out of this world. They had four players who made the three All-CAA teams, and the only award winner was sophomore Devontae Cacok winning Defensive Player of the Year. Two players were in the top ten in the conference in assists and three in the top 15 in that category; Cacok leads the nation in field goal percentage, making nearly 80 percent of his shots, and that’s the only statistic that stands out on the page.

Most of all, being picked to win the conference meant they had a target on their back right from the outset. It meant other teams would want to knock them off just a little more than usual.

“It makes this run special, ” Keatts said of winning while picked to win.

It was a contrast to being picked ninth two years ago and sixth last year.

“Last year, I thought that we were kind of the underdog all year, so we had a chip on our shoulder,” said senior guard Denzel Ingram. “This year, I think we got everybody’s best shot, and we got everybody’s best game. We still found a way to get it done, and that’s what’s most important. ”

College of Charleston certainly wanted to knock them off for every possible reason. They finished right behind the Seahawks in the regular season, splitting the two meetings with the road team winning both games. The Cougars had their own difficult time a couple of years ago, before Earl Grant took over, but those days are well in their past. They were close to home, meaning the home fans had a chance to see them go for the championship. And an NCAA Tournament bid was on the line.

The Cougars stayed right with the Seahawks in the first half, then UNCW pulled away later in the game for the win. They stayed the course and saw it pay off, just as Keatts told them. They are off to another NCAA Tournament.

And for the program and its fans in Wilmington, the good times are very much in the present once more.

Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 17, 2018

March 17, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, there is one main story to focus on: history being made in Charlotte and its aftermath. But we also talk about tough times for the Pac-12 and a key member school, plus an added challenge ahead at Pittsburgh.

College Basketball Tonight – March 11, 2018

March 12, 2018 by

College Basketball Tonight returns with a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament bracket, and in the second segment Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jamion Christian joins us.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 10, 2018

March 10, 2018 by

As Championship Week nears its climax on the big Saturday, we look at a pair of semifinals and a lot of bubble teams that may be sweating it out on Sunday.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 8, 2018

March 8, 2018 by

As Championship Week heats up, we talk about bubble teams who may or may not want to earn their way into the NCAA Tournament, as well as a couple of mid-majors whose conference championship game was played earlier in the week.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 22, 2018

February 22, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with floor issues in the Big East and an important NCAA ruling that was upheld. Then we go on to the Big 12, where Wednesday night had a new twist, as well as the ACC and how it shapes up along with no team going undefeated in conference play this year.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.