College Basketball Preview: ECU starts over with new coach

Longtime Power Five assistant Michael Schwartz takes over the Pirates

East Carolina lost its top six scorers from a year ago, but forward Brandon Johnson, last season's top rebounder, returns for new Pirates coach Michael Schwartz. (Justin Rex / AP Photo)

East Carolina reached .500 for the first time since 2013-14, but it wasn’t enough. The school parted ways with Dooley, who went 44-67 in his second stint as head coach of the Pirates. In his place is Michael Schwartz, who has been an assistant coach and staff member for more than two decades at several programs, including Texas, Miami and, most recently, Tennessee.

2021-22 record: 15-15 (6-11 American Athletic)

Top players: The Pirates lose their top six scorers, so there will be some new faces leading the team. Brandon Johnson led the team in rebounding last season at 5.1 and shooting at 51.8% and returns for his second season. Shot-blocking center Ludgy Debaut is also back for a graduate year. Outside of those two, the team will likely rely on newcomers for much of its production.

Key additions: Former Boston College guard Wynston Tabbs arrives as a transfer. He averaged 13.7 points per game last year in the ACC and shot 40% from 3. French guard Quentin Diboundje arrives after one year at Tennessee and will likely be tutoring his new teammates in Schwartz’s schemes. ECU also brings in four freshmen, led by the No. 2 prospect from North Carolina in Ezra Ausar. A JUCO transfer and Iowa State’s Jaden Walker round out the group.

Departed players: ECU loses two players that started every game in Tristen Newton and Vance Jackson. The pair were the team’s top two scorers last season. Brandon Suggs, Tremont Robinson-White and J.J. Miles also started more than half of the team’s games last year, and all are gone. Overall, the team loses 82% of last year’s points, 84% of its assists and 89% of its made 3-pointers.

Expectations: The preseason poll picked East Carolina to finish dead last in the American Athletic Conference. With a team filled with newcomers, including the coaching staff, it will be a rebuilding year for the Pirates. ECU will get a soft nonconference schedule to help get things rolling before hitting the AAC season.