Tom Izzo on new Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory

Michigan State’s Tom Izzo has developed quite a coaching tree in his time at East Lansing.

One of his former assistants, Brian Gregory, took another step in his career when he agreed to become Georgia Tech’s basketball coach today.

Gregory coached with Izzo on two separate occasions, first as co-assistants under Jud Heathcote from 1990-95, before Izzo was promoted to head coach.

Gregory left a year later before returning to assist Izzo from 1999-2003. He parlayed that success into his first head coaching job at Dayton, where he’s coached the past eight years.

Izzo spoke with Wes Durham on 790AM on Monday and then with the AJC later in the day. Here is a paraphrased transcript of those interviews.

Q: Are you proud to see one of your assistants move up the ladder? You and coach Heathcote can take credit for his development.

A: I’ll take credit for every win and I’ll give Jed every loss he’s had. It’s perfect.

It’s thrilling for me. I have great respect for the ACC. I have great respect for the academic side of it.

That’s why I think Brian Gregory is going to be the perfect fit. He can coach, he can recruit, he was an academic All-American.

He helped me win a national championship (2000) here so he knows how to get that done and get to Final Fours, all those things that are important as Georgia Tech moves forward.

Q: He worked for a long time for you and coach Heathcote before coming back. What coaching characteristics does he bring to the table now?

A: It’s just like a player. Can he work to get better? I don’t know if I’ve ever worked with…someone who has worked harder to accomplish things.

What Brian has over me and everyone else is he’s very smart and very, very organized. Meticulous would be a better word. He’s got a great rapport with the guys.

I realize I’m prejudiced. I know what this guy can do. He can have discipline yet still be a player’s coach. The hours he is going to work, that’s the only area I can say for sure that he’s No. 1. No one can outwork him. At the end of the day that’s the most important thing. Do you work your way through the good times, the bad times, the in-between times?

Q: At Dayton, he’s had four straight 20-win seasons, which they’ve never done.

A: You look at some of the years, they beat Louisville, they beat Pittsburgh, they played some of the best of the best. The ACC conference is good enough, but it’s very important to him to schedule good people.

I think when you start talking consistency and 20-win seasons, he’s been a model of consistency. In some leagues you don’t always get to the NCAA tournament because there’s not as many bids in those leagues. But he won the NIT and beat a UNC team that competes on an annual basis.

He knows how to get it done guys, I promise you that.

At the same time, he helped me build the program, left, and came back in time for us to win a national championship.

Q: One of the things that I know is important to you, and something he took to Dayton and folks here are excited about, is his ability to bring former players back into the program.

A: I think you are right. We’ve done a great job of it here. Magic Johnson still helps me. When you look at some of the people you have there that are still in pro basketball that are going to be important.

Even though Coach Cremins has retired and come back, I’m sure he’ll still utilize him.

I hope he doesn’t bring back Kenny Anderson and the 3-point shot that doomed us in the Sweet 16 [in 1990].

When you have a tradition of winning, you look at the Indiana over the years when Bobby Knight was there. Tom Crean is trying to do it now. The players that played there built the place. That’s the foundation of the program. If you don’t cultivate that you are the insane. The Brian Olivers of the world, the [Mark] Prices, there are so many guys, the [Dennis] Scotts, that I remember when we were playing them. Those guys are important.

He’s got a lot of cool ideas that you are going to enjoy.

[He'll] Keep working on what you’ve got and keep building on it.

That’s what Brian needs to do at Georgia Tech, keep building on it and trying to get it to a new level.

Q: You’ve stressed a lot of Gregory’s strengths, what are some things he needs to improve upon?

A: Always when you become a head coach there’s new challenges. The good thing is he has a  background from being an assistant at a major program. Then again, I came as an assistant and hever head it [that experience]. It worked out well for me.

It’ll be challenge down there. He’ll have to hire some new people. Hopefully, he’ll learn some things. I’m a Paul Hewitt fan too. I think one of the problems is he had too many good players and too many of them left.

I like a lot more about him than I don’t like. One weakness he has, he’s a lot shorter than Paul and a lot shorter than most coaches so he’s going to have to look up a lot in the huddle, especially when he brings in all those big guys. [laughs]

A: How did you influence him?

A: It was one of those things when we started, that Jud left , we didn’t have a very good team and we had to start from scratch. From going to the barns to the frat houses. We were blue-collear guys. Im not sure he learned a lot from me. We were learning as we went.

He had input. My guys had input here. Steve Mariucci is one of my best friends. I’ve run the program more like a football program. The assistant coaches are head coaches at their positions. He was pretty involved here right from the start. I hope what we got from me was the work ethic. Anything can happen as evident from our Final Fours. He helped me build that, so he has the blue print for that.

I believe this is going to be a great thing for Tech and for Brian.

– Doug Roberson, AJC

47 comments Add your comment

just facts

March 28th, 2011
2:25 pm

why waste time and space with quotes from izzo. does anyone think he would have said anything else?

gimme a break just facts

March 28th, 2011
2:30 pm

Tom Izzo’s thoughts are relevant. He’s a proven head coach with a lot of experience. I don’t expect him to say bad things about CBG, however, his thought’s on CBG’s strengths are relevant.

Come on man

March 28th, 2011
2:30 pm

So are you going to give the New Coach a shot or hate on him before he even coaches a game? Come on man,

brandy

March 28th, 2011
2:32 pm

BOBBY CREMINS HAS THEM BOTH BEAT

William Satterwhite

March 28th, 2011
2:33 pm

The comments about bringing former players back into the program are very encouraging. I was always opposed to the idea of hiring Neal or Price as head coaches just because of their alumni status but I think now would be a perfect time to bring them (or others, like Kenny Anderson) into the fold in some way as assistants. That was one thing that disappointed me about the last few years of Hewitt’s tenure, he seemed opposed to bringing those guys back into the fold when the program obviously needed a lift.

BuzzGT

March 28th, 2011
2:36 pm

I like having the quotes from Izzo. I wonder what that possiblity is of having Neal as one of his assistants.

Voice of Reason

March 28th, 2011
2:39 pm

As much as I like Price and Neal, I think it would have been an emotional hire. I think we did well. The more i see, the more i like. Sound, fundamental basketball. Recruit basketball players rather than athletes. Family man who cares about the students progress and involving himself in things that matter. Izzo would say nothing rather than give a glowing recommendation. Good hire, Drad.

JasonGT

March 28th, 2011
2:41 pm

Think: Brian Oliver shooting with Mark Price as his shooting coach… this could be awesome

ManUp...

March 28th, 2011
2:46 pm

This is comforting. The jury is definetly out, in my opinion, until the end of his 2nd season (the first in the new McCamish center.) Consistancy is a good thing, A winning conference record and some postseason heat would be best.

Go Jackets!

Tech Forever

March 28th, 2011
2:47 pm

I can’t stand spineless reporters….Wes included. Ask a freakin tough question for once people!!! “Coach, lets be honest for a minute. It hasn’t always been roses at Dayton for Coach Gregory and yes he has a track record of 20 win seasons, but what would you say to Tech fans who are concerned about his .500 A-10 conference record and struggles on the road in spite of having one of the most talented teams year in year out in the Atlantic 10?”

juvenal

March 28th, 2011
2:48 pm

how was Dayton on FT% & turnovers?

Blue Fox

March 28th, 2011
2:48 pm

Why not encourage Gregory to bring in Neal and/or Price as assistants?? Would go a long way in helping to “re-energize the fan base,” to quote D’Rad.

Harvey

March 28th, 2011
2:55 pm

I think this will prove to be a good hire. Time will tell if it is a great hire. I’m excited to see what happens with recruiting and our commitments.

Welcome to Atlanta.

I’m looking forward to next season.

Supersize that order, mutt

March 28th, 2011
3:25 pm

A far as I am concerned, and hopefully any TRUE Tech fan will say the same, Gregory is a GREAT hire until he proves differently. He does not have to prove to anyone that he CAN succeed; until, and IF, he doesn’t succeed, then he has my complete support, even though I am no longer able to go to all (or even many of) the games. He should have the same unqualified support from ALL Tech fans.

Douglas C. Neidermayer

March 28th, 2011
3:31 pm

D Rad knows what he is doing.

Supersize that order, mutt

March 28th, 2011
3:35 pm

I like what he said about keeping old players in the fold. And I also like the fact that he was an academic all-american. That tells me he will not accept failure in the classroom.

collegeballfan

March 28th, 2011
3:38 pm

The coach needs to bring in his own assistants. People he trusts to get the job done. If he does not know Neal or Price how can he trust them to do what he wants done?

And maybe he has a relationship with both. We do not know, so lets wait and see.

FullMetalJacket

March 28th, 2011
3:38 pm

Izzo’s comments, like any former boss’s comments, are important in what they say and how they say it. A recommedation by definition is positive, but there is a world of difference between “he’s a good worker” and “he’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen and he gets results.” Good hire. Good coach. DRad needs to get to the root of the sloppy leak on Friday: dumb luck or real breech?

Supersize that order, mutt

March 28th, 2011
3:42 pm

FMJ, do you think that the Friday leak, since it turned out to be true, means that BG was DRAD’s choice all along? The interview yesterday with Mooney, if it even really did occur, might have been more Tech saying no to him, than vice versa. But by giving it, it sure did help Mooney out, getting that extension and raise.

FullMetalJacket

March 28th, 2011
3:42 pm

Tech Forever: Wes is one of the best in the biz, and I’ve heard a lot of them. He is an employee of the Institute, he is not a “reporter.” Your misunderstanding of this basic difference is alarming. I, too, like insightful journalism, but in the right context.

Supersize that order, mutt

March 28th, 2011
3:43 pm

hmm, I posted a question to you, FMJ, but it didn’t go through. Let me see if I can alter it and get it to you.

Supersize that order, mutt

March 28th, 2011
3:44 pm

FMJ, do you think that maybe, since the Friday “leak” proved true, means that BG was DRAD’s man all along?

Supersize that order, mutt

March 28th, 2011
3:44 pm

OK, that was the important part of it. Not sure why the rest was deemed improper, but I’ll let it lie; wasn’t that important anyway.

just facts

March 28th, 2011
3:54 pm

come on man…. if you are talking to me, no hate here. I think it is a very good hire. I was saying that I don’t need izzo’s comments to make me feel better about Gregory.

Supersize that order, mutt

March 28th, 2011
3:57 pm

just facts, I had no opinion one way or the other about Gregory; I really hadn’t even heard of him before Friday. I found Izzo’s comments informative and actually very encouraging.

BoneJacket

March 28th, 2011
3:58 pm

Funny, Dayton beat up on GT Nov 19, 2009. Haha.
@juvenal – Dayton has improved over 4 yrs from 0.641 to .677 this year.
Tech had FT of 0.700 with Morrow leading in ‘08. This year wasn’t horrific – 0.689 – Would hiring Mark Price as a FT coach not be a good idea???

ga tech 92

March 28th, 2011
4:00 pm

Let’s go Jackets!

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 28th, 2011
4:00 pm

Welcome to Atlanta Brian.

Our BB team has no fundamentals, next season won’t be easy. Just watching us make some free throws for a change will be nice. That would be a nice beginning.

At least GROUND HOG DAY is over, rejoice!!!

AMG

March 28th, 2011
6:03 pm

You will see a better brand of basketball from this coach and you can count on him developing the players. I hope he considers hiring Mark Price as an assistant. This is an excellent hire for Tech. I trust people will come around as they see the results. I do not think you will ever hear him say the NCAA tourney is a cr*pshoot. He knows how to get there, he knows what kind of effort it takes from the coaching staff and the players. Look for Tech to see instant sucess compared to last year. Look for a far, far more structured offense that actually utilizes players abilities, screens and real plays. Look for GT to be able to inbound the ball with ease and burn people that press us on occasion. He knows coaching, Welcome Brian, glad you are here.

Rudy Flyer

March 28th, 2011
7:28 pm

AMG – Wow, your comments are interesting. “Develop players” how many Flyers in BG’s 8 years have went on to the NBA – Zero. “Structured offense” you have never watched a Flyer game if you feel this is true. Terrible offensive coach! “Real screens” dream on. “Inbound the ball” I can think of several times this season that in crucial parts of the game we did not even get the ball inbounds, let alone get a decent shot. The worst coach I have ever seen in utilizing a timeout to set up a play. UD usually settled for the 25′ shot right before the shot clock would hit 0.

I am a huge Flyer fan and season ticket holder and believe me I am very happy to see BG go. I actually know him personally and he is a great man, good recruiter but I am sorry a terrible game coach. I hope he works out better for you than he did for us. Go Flyers and good luck Yellow Jackets.

Tech Man

March 28th, 2011
7:47 pm

Apparently two players from his current Dayton team were transferring before he was hired by Tech. If this is true and if so why are they transferring?

Old Fashioned

March 28th, 2011
8:07 pm

I prefer to look at what is important in terms of “developing players” is not whether coach developed them to be NBA players (not a college coach’s job),but whether they showed significant improvement from time of entering college until time they leave (hopefully after senior year).

Ghost of Whack Hyder

March 28th, 2011
9:41 pm

Perhaps Gregory will inspire his players to play “team” basketball with some discipline instead of the street garbage that Hewitt encouraged. It would also be nice to have players that stay more than a season or two so that they can have some continuity.

lovetravel

March 29th, 2011
9:05 am

wrong person to hiring and wrong idea of what everyone mention. it was need to have him, i would have prefer Price or Neal or Anderson. I will not be surprise if they lost lots of game and won’t be surprise if there isn’t many boys want to play for TECH. Wake up GA TECH fan

UD Fan

March 29th, 2011
9:21 am

In reponse to the post about why 2 freshmen (Staten & Spearman) transfered from Dayton this year…PG Staten (and his dad) wanted him to control the offense (doing whatever he wanted) rather than following the game plan. When he took control of the offense a few times in the 2nd half of the season the results were not good. His FG% decreased and turnovers increased. Spearman also wanted more opportunities on offense and wanted to play minutes at PG in order to prepare him to play in the NBA. He was recruited as a 2 guard. UD fans were not unhappy to see these 2 leave as they affected team chemistry and were more focused on their NBA career than playing team ball.

GT is a 4th rate high school team

March 29th, 2011
10:45 am

Gregory is a 4th rate high school coach of a 4th rate high school team.

GTGuy44

March 29th, 2011
5:02 pm

What a joke and wasted inteview. I agree with the early comments. Does anyone really believe that Izzo is going to say anything but nice stuff about his former assistant. This is a terrible hire and will not re-energize the Tech faithful I believe. He has a mediocre record and a low 60s winning percentage.

GTGuy44

March 29th, 2011
5:07 pm

Neidermayer what planet are you on? Radakovich is the problem not the solution.

stinger

March 29th, 2011
8:25 pm

GTwuss44 you are an idiot.

stinger

March 29th, 2011
8:28 pm

All you whiney geeks get off of here.

mike

March 29th, 2011
11:40 pm

Shaka Smart would of been the right hire

Remember Bill Lewis

March 30th, 2011
9:12 am

Shaka Smart has had 2 very successful years as a head coach (only a head coach for two years).

I’ll bet if you are honest, more than half of you had no idea who he was in February. Be careful of the hot and sexy coach of the moment.

Where is Bill Lewis now?

blackprix

March 30th, 2011
8:45 pm

This guy has a proven track record at Dayton. He’s coached in the Bib 10 with Izzo and Heathcoat. Right now it’s all positive. Let’s see what he can do and then make comments and decisions from there.

UD gal

March 31st, 2011
8:15 am

The thing is, many good/highly touted players did not improve under his leadership. He does run a clean program with emphasis on graduation. (We clearly had some players who weren’t the brightest and still made it through with generic degrees like “General Studies.”)
Time will tell…wishing him luck at GT. Sometimes a change in venue can make all the difference…
We are hoping a change on our end will help the Flyers improve, too.

GTfan2011

March 31st, 2011
10:47 am

It’s funny, I find it amusing that Dayton fans are on here talking about how they never sent players to the NBA. Dayton?!?! Seriously!?!?! In the last five years, Chris Wright and Juwan Staten are the only 4* b-ball recruit that Dayton has recruited. Neither guy would be expected to be drafted in the NBA based on his recruiting rankings (assuming he performed in college exactly in line with his recruiting rankings). Both guys seemed to perform well for Dayton this year, with Chris Wright being the leading scorer and rebunder and Juwan Staten being the starting PG and 3rd leading scorer, despite being a freshman.

FrankAPK

April 2nd, 2011
8:39 am

I am a Dayton Flyer grad and and avid Flyer fanatic. All I can say is thank you Georgia Tech for hiring Brian Gregory away from us! Good riddance! If it wasn’t for his winning the NIT (Nobody’s Interested Tournament) last year he may have been fired at the end of last season. He gets mediocre results and is not able to coach his players up. His record in the A-10 was mediocre at best and his road record was atrocious. One advantage he probably won’t have at Tech and one that he had at Dayton was a huge home fan base. Dayton fans support the Flyers with sell outs almost every home game……he won’t have that advantage at Tech. Good luck Tech!

Amanda Katz

April 3rd, 2011
8:23 pm

I’m also a UD fan and sad to see BG go – you got a great coach! Their are some UD fans who didn’t like BG but they also had unrealistic expectations – Frank is the same guy on the UD boards who figured UD would just ask Anthony Grant to come back to UD and he would come running from Alabama