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

Advertisement


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

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!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

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

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

College Basketball Tonight – March 26, 2017

March 27, 2017 by

In the latest edition of College Basketball Tonight, we break down the regional finals as the Final Four is all set. A pair of special guests join us to help break the games down.

College Basketball Tonight – March 19, 2017

March 20, 2017 by

The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is in the books, and after two rounds that could not be more different. Ted Sarandis leads the way as we break down the first two rounds, as well as coaching news that emerged over the weekend.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 18, 2017

March 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we look back on the first round games in the NCAA Tournament, starting with a couple of terrific performances on Friday night.

College Basketball Tonight – March 12, 2017

March 13, 2017 by

We bring you College Basketball Tonight, a comprehensive look at the 2017 NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran broadcaster Ted Sarandis. The NCAA Tournament field is set, and we break down each region as well as some big picture subjects.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 10, 2017, Part 2

March 10, 2017 by

In Part 2 of our podcast, we talk about the ACC Tournament and others that have found new homes in light of comments made by a prominent coach that got quite a reaction, then we talk about the NCAA Tournament bubble as that subject begins to dominate conversation for a couple of more days.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

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.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by

We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.

At the 2016 Boston Shootout, host BABC has a big day

June 8, 2016 by

Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by

The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.