Hope you’re well. A couple notes:
1. Brian Gregory filled out his coaching staff Thursday by hiring Billy Schmidt, who was with Gregory for eight years at Dayton. He was Gregory’s top assistant.
I get the feeling this has been in the works for awhile. Schmidt, 41, was reportedly in the running for an assistant job at Michigan State for Tom Izzo, for whom Gregory once worked. Gregory and Schmidt have a considerable history. Prior to Dayton, they worked together at Northwestern under Kevin O’Neill in the late ’90s.
Tech fans will probably like this. In a poll of Atlantic 10 coaches by foxsports.com writer Jeff Goodman last fall, Schmidt was named the conference’s top assistant. The uber-connected Goodman, in fact, told the Dayton Daily News that Schmidt was no less than “the most underrated coach in the country.” (Though I’m not sure how you can be acknowledged by your peers as the best assistant in your conference and also be the most underrated coach in the country.) Goodman said Schmidt is “an old-school grinder. A lot of guys don’t make it under Brian Gregory because you have to work hard and you have to have thick skin.”
A comment, I’d note, that says something about Schmidt but also about Gregory.
Gregory also hired Amir Abdur-Rahim as his director of player development. Abdur-Rahim is a former Wheeler High Star (his brother is former Hawks star Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who, if you’re wondering, is now assistant GM of the Sacramento-for-now Kings) who previously was an assistant at Murray State. He’s another hire with significant local ties, following assistants Josh Postorino and Chad Dollar. While Abdur-Rahim isn’t allowed to recruit since he isn’t a coach, there’s nothing to stop him from going to high school games and making the rounds wearing his Georgia Tech polo shirt.
2. The Tech baseball team goes to Chicago Friday for a three-game series against Illinois-Chicago that runs Saturday through Monday. It’s Tech’s final non-conference series before finishing off the regular season with series against North Carolina and Virginia Tech. Given that the Flames are estimated to be ranked No. 210 in RPI while Tech is No. 8, this would appear to be something of a breather.
However, the Yellow Jackets are in need of a return to form, having lost three of their last four.
“I see it as an opportunity to just go get ourselves right, so to speak, heading into the last two weekends of the ACC,” coach Danny Hall said.
They Jackets, ranked No. 13 by Baseball America, are 10-10 in the last 20. Tech was hitting .333 after winning its 16th consecutive game March 27. Their batting average has dropped in the last 20 games to .307. The Jackets hit .168 in dropping their series to Clemson last weekend.
“It’s a combination of everything,” Hall said about Tech’s hitting woes. “But if I had to zero in on one, we’re not doing little things well. We’re not getting runners from second to third with nobody out. We’re not scoring them when there’s a runner on third and less than two outs. We’re not getting them in. Just the idea of putting the ball in play as opposed to striking out. We’re not doing the little things that’s going to lead to better offense.”
That said, there’s still time to get set up for the NCAA tournament. Boyd’s World, which keeps baseball RPI, estimates that Tech needs to finish 8-3 to hold onto its No. 8 RPI and thus have a reasonable shot at earning a national seed that would keep the Jackets at home through the super regionals.
3. Georgia Tech softball shortstop Kelsi Weseman is leading the ACC in batting average, home runs and RBI, as well as runs, doubles, total bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. That is amazing. Whoever has her in their college softball fantasy league must be loving life.
Tech, ranked No. 17 in the espn.com poll, plays its final regular-season series with a doubleheader Saturday and single game Sunday against Florida State at Mewborn Field. The Jackets will host the ACC tournament next weekend.
4. I had a cheesesteak and mushroom sandwich yesterday from Cheesesteak Place in Ansley Mall. I was kind of bummed because when I walked out, I saw that Moe’s had $3 burritos for Cinco de Mayo, but it was still pretty good. Pretty creative name for a cheesesteak place.