It’s a big year for Hewitt, even if he doesn’t think so

Give Paul Hewitt credit. He sees reality, or at least half of it. “We should have a very, very good team,” he said, and Hewitt’s 2009-2010 Jackets seem, at least in terms of manpower, as strong as any basketball squad in Georgia Tech annals.

But here’s where the coach sails down the river of denial. Asked if 2009-2010 is a big season for the program in general and Paul Hewitt in particular, he said, “No.

Hearing, his questioner — who has, it must be stipulated, been critical of Hewitt — repeated the word: “No?” Then I half-laughed.

And Hewitt half-smiled. “Two years ago we had a very good team that was overscheduled out of a very good year,” he said. “Last year we had a lot of adversity off the court. That might not be the way other people see it, but it’s the way I see it.”

This is what’s frustrating about Paul Hewitt. Nobody expects a coach to say, “If we don’t win every game by 30 points I deserve to be fired.” (In 2000 Jim Donnan stood before a Bulldog Club convocation in Midtown and said, “I’ve waited 55 years to coach a team like this,” and we saw what happened to him.) But for Hewitt to suggest that, apart from some bad breaks, everything has been hunky-dory for his Jackets is just … wrong.

Since the night Hewitt’s Jackets played for the 2004 NCAA title in the Alamodome, Tech is 78-77. It’s 29-51 in ACC play. It has won one NCAA game, that in 2005 against George Washington. It has had a losing record in three of the past four seasons. In the season just completed, it lost as many conference games (14) as any ACC team ever.

One down year might be explained away by wicked fortune, but this sampling is too broad to be written off to anything except mismanagement. The 2007-2008 team — the “overscheduled” one — had Anthony Morrow, Lewis Clinch, Jeremis Smith, Gani Lawal, Matt Causey, Alade Aminu, Zach Peacock and D’Andre Bell and went 15-17. (Two of those overscheduled losses were to UNC Greensboro at Tech and to Winthrop on a neutral floor.) Last season Tech lost more games than any band of Jackets since 1980-1981.

Will Paul Hewitt quiet the doubters next season?

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Hewitt proved in 2003-2004 he could coach at the highest level of his profession. I’m not sure any other coach could have gotten more from that team, but that team played its last game 62 months ago. The contract extension Hewitt signed immediately after the Final Four run paid him major money and brought lifetime security. (He’ll earn $1.375 million next season, and if he’s terminated at any time Tech would have to pay at least $7 million.)

He has a chance to put things right over the next 10 months. The signee Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal, who just removed his name from the NBA draft, give Tech the most gifted pair of big men in the nation. This team should go at least 10-deep. (Good news, for as we know Hewitt substitutes every 10 seconds.) “We’ve had some pretty good teams here,” Hewitt said, “but [this is] a very good team.”

It figures, however, to be a team with a one-year window. Favors is surely one-and-done, and Lawal might not stick around two more seasons. But that’s the way of college basketball: When you get the players, you have to win big. Hewitt has the players. He has his chance. There can be no excuses this time.

Part of the package: Here’s my preseason Top 25. Tech is included … somewhere.

72 comments Add your comment

RAMBLE ON!!!

June 19th, 2009
11:32 am

So in other words, even if GT loses every game he won’t resign.

How sad, GT has bent over backwards to accommodate this politician in a coach’s uniform.

2010 8-8 ACC record, bumped from the NCAA tourney by a team we’ve never heard of. BOOK IT!!!

Keep up the good work Mark.

We’ve got Good Times (CPJ) Bad Times (CPH).

jacketbacker

June 19th, 2009
11:32 am

agreed completely…if hewitt can’t win with this bunch he needs to go…..we need a bball coach on par with Paul Johnson in football….

mountain_jim

June 19th, 2009
11:35 am

Yep. But what is the quality of the PG lineup for Tech? I confess I could not bring myself to watch them much last season, because the backcourt play and on-court leadership was so bad. Made me recall when I was a student attending the games, before GT was even in the ACC, and (I think) Dwayne Morrison was the coach.

Mark Bradley

June 19th, 2009
11:39 am

Am I the last one to notice that both Tech’s football and basketball coaches are named Paul, while both Georgia’s football and basketball coaches are named Mark?

GT GRAD

June 19th, 2009
11:42 am

TRUE Georgia Tech Fans should show thier support of the team and the coach. All true GT fans need to give Hewitt a break. He has many positive attributes, his players love him (& many/most continue to support him after they are long gone), his players play hard. I will admit he has had a few difficult years, but all of the problems are not his fault. I expect some solid seasons are in the immediate future. With a more positive fan base, I think the future of the GT B-Ball program can be very bright!

Go GT!

GT Fan

June 19th, 2009
11:49 am

I’m a GT fan and I wouldn’t piss on PH if he was on fire. If not for that stupid contract his a@@ would be gone. Thanks Blaine!

Rob

June 19th, 2009
11:50 am

Perhaps this particular roster has a one year window since they’ll likely only be together one year, but I think this team has a chance to be competitive for a string of years if the other players in this recruiting class hang around and improve. Maybe Tech even manages to sign another big time national recruit in the next couple years too. This is definitely Gani and Favor’s only season together, so there will be room on the team to fill.

TampaGator

June 19th, 2009
12:06 pm

Good recruiter…poor game-day coach…needs to surround himself with great game-day assistant coaches. Favor…one year, gone tot the NBA with the other kid. Tech…one year and gone back to the bottom of the ACC. Coach…one year, then gone to Charleston Southern.

Ted Striker

June 19th, 2009
12:07 pm

Mark — You’re not the last on the Paul & Mark thing. I was unaware. (But now am on the lookout for duplicate coaches named Matthew and Luke to complete the gospels of coaching).

On Hewitt, he probably feels the intense pressures just like any big time college coach, despite his iron clad contract. He’s very good at avoiding the projection of desperation, which only fuels critics and injures recruiting. However the flip side is that he fails to project a real sense of urgency.

I’m a huge Mark Richt supporter — and wouldn’t trade him — but he’s so laid back that it’s sometimes difficult to see a sense of urgency, which can’t be said of a Saban or a Meyer.

If I were Hewitt, I’d have answered “EVERY year is a huge at a top notch school like Georgia Tech.”

Cuz

June 19th, 2009
12:10 pm

I wonder if Jim Harrick is available?

You mean to tell me you Jackets have no way to get rid of this maroon. Games and grades have plummeted. Get a good ambulance chasing attorney and get Bozo out of the Institute.

Go Hewitt, as far away as possible.

Bishop

June 19th, 2009
12:13 pm

Best frontcourt in the nation huh? We’ll see how they do when they run up against Rashanti Harris and James Vincent. Go State!

Phil McCrotch

June 19th, 2009
12:21 pm

And the guy who wrote this article is named Mark and my dad’s name is Paul and I just read this ,however, my name is Phil but it has the same amount of letters in it as Paul and Mark and……

Angus

June 19th, 2009
12:28 pm

You can’t deny the facts. Currently, Tech has the worst hoops program in the ACC (who’d ever thought you could say that?).

Seriously, 29-51 in the ACC over the past 5? Record 14 losses last year? All following a national championship game appearance? Really? How in the world do you pull that off?

As an outsider looking in, I can’t believe PH has survived this long (even with the ridiculously stupid contract you gave him).

I say regardless of what he does this year, he’s an exceptionally poor coach – not worthy of the Tech job – and until he’s gone, Tech will remain in the second tier of the ACC.

c-bham

June 19th, 2009
12:30 pm

Does Hewitt remind anyone else of Obama? A little too cocky for what they have accomplished. I’m just sayin.

blue fox

June 19th, 2009
12:36 pm

Mark, you are the last one to notice the Four Pauls, but only Richt has the distinction of being called “St. Paul.”

bigstack19

June 19th, 2009
12:36 pm

So when this team underachieves Hewitt will be gone? I say when because every Tech squad since the Final Four year has underachieved and last yeas team was pitiful. Bobby Cremins was let go for less and he was twice the coach Paul Hewitt could ever hope to be.

Tech

June 19th, 2009
12:39 pm

Who are Rashanti Harris and James Vincent?

Mac

June 19th, 2009
12:42 pm

So, if this clown gets fired for being a crappy coach, the school has to pay him $7 million? That’s criminal. Did Dave Braine do that? Geez, what a fool.

Mark Bradley

June 19th, 2009
12:45 pm

They’re Georgia State recruits, Tech.

Tech Hoops on the rise (again!)

June 19th, 2009
12:49 pm

Jim Harrick that is hilarious. Its tough in the ACC look at Williams at Maryland. I still think Hewitt has got it. He expects perfection from the team and thats what he got the 2003-2004 season. What all you haters do not admit is that Tech has been more competetive even in these down seasons than they were with cremmins. Look at the numbers He finished first in 96 and 2nd like twice. Other than that usually no better than 5th out of 8 teams in the ACC. Look it up. Remember the cremmins seasons without Marbury or the 1990 and previous folks. Pretty mediocre at best. If we hung in and played Duke or UNC to the end, it was a fluke. On our home court I expect to beat them this year and the year they did with critt and Young. Maybe you dont like the subs thing. But we would not have gotten to the national title game without that philosophy. His style allows him to compete with the big boys and if he has not the talent, then that style falls flat on its face. But you have to have that type of style to excel in hoops this day and age. Yes we lost a bunch of games last 3 or 4 years. But the year we were good a few seasons ago we could hang with most teams. Crushed UNC at hoime. The 2005 season the last team to beat national title team and on a neutral court no doubt. And that should be surpassed this year. The ACC is a bit down with the mass exit at UNC. Remember when coach K fainted he got so hot under the collar the year after the tournament run? Hewitt made that great coach collapse from pressure! Competing is the key. I know hoops much better than the next guy having come from NC with DUKE and UNC alums in the family long time. Was not a tech fan til I went to school here but could still name playerss in the 80’s better than almost all Tech guys I know. Look at that recruiting he is doing better and better at. He is finally going toe to toe with the big boys and you want him gone. Pathetic. I thought u guys went to GT. School was no bed of roses for me and adversity hit a little too much. But I thought Tech taught me good perseverence. Top 5 recruiting first time ever! Beating UNC for Shumpert toe to toe. Just keep it up. Hewitts “gimmick” did great fast and then has had some tough times with good players. Wait til this year when he finally got a roster of great players. Oh and those of you who say hewitt pushes the guys to the NBA…look whos back this year. The guy who will make it impossible for other teams to put their two best post men on a double team on one guy underneath. Cause we got probably the best 2 big men we ever had to play at the same time. (think Salley and Joseph played together but this should be better) And finally we got guys who will can battle and score inside. I think we look like Wake last year without the self destruction at the end. Its a long year and Hewitts teams tend to peak at the end of the year. No one ever mentions these little things that are essential to high success in the ACC and beyond. IT like the SEC you could have a great year in another conference but in the ACC you got to play at a high level to be at the top. 2 teams will always be hot and usually 1 or 2 others. So quit being so harsh and support your team. Bad years in the past. This is the best anticipated sports season for both teaams since I was a Freshman (’90). So sit back and be happy to be a Jacket. WE gonna be regulars on Sports Center again for hoops just watch.

Oh and the classic…..in 2003-2004 ESPN ran story on Cameron crazies before DUKE UNC game. They came in to shoot the game that weeknight before the big game. When Tech came in and killed Duke. Id pay money for that story to see the look on their faces. That was all Hewitt. Entire gym was not ready for that, especially the TV crew.

U corporate boneheads who are the owners of the seatbacks… Bit my A##!! How do you expect to get great recruits here when we have empty half court sets on national TV and big teams are here. I’ll give everyone a pass last year but come on. Hard to get the blue chips or 4 stars to come here when at other places its standing room only. So support the team or quit buying tix/complaining. WE need positive fans for the Hoops team! Go Jackets.

The guy who is questioning the backcourt. Udofia. Thats the new Jack.

Actually, Ted Striker...

June 19th, 2009
1:04 pm

…if you want “to complete the gospels of coaching”, you need to be on the lookout for duplicate coaches named Matthew, Luke, and JOHN. Paul was a late convert, and was not a Gospel writer.

And, while the Techsters continue to espouse the holy grail that is currently known as Paul Johnson, and the expectations of his teams now and forevermore, please be mindful, as Mr. Bradley pointed out, it was only in 2004 that Paul Hewitt was being similarly annointed when he took the b-ball team to the Holy Land known as the Final Four. History has proven that what one does one year does not necessarily translate into what will become the norm for the future, despite what you may have done to UGA on the football field!

Cuz

June 19th, 2009
1:07 pm

Oh my God. I just noticed me, Bradley, Coach Richt and Coach Fox all have the same first name. I better go play the lottery.

i'd rather be a tarhole than a democrat

June 19th, 2009
1:09 pm

I hope Hewitt doesn’t read this garbage.

TECHSUX

June 19th, 2009
1:12 pm

Hewitt may be a good recruiter, but he should not be a head coach. I hope tech loses at everything they try to compete in. The entire sports world knows that tech has the most classless fans in all of college sports…they even whine about their coaches and ALWAYS blame their adversity on the refs.

P

June 19th, 2009
1:15 pm

Gee Tech hoops…great points but try and use some paragraphs!

I generally like Hewitt. Not sure his personality is doing him many favors these days. I agree he should not have answered that this is not an important season. That showed me something.

GT will certainly have record season ticket sales this year. Raise prices 3-4 bucks and put the extra in a fund to pay him off if they don’t make it to the sweet 16 (at least)!

tt

June 19th, 2009
1:19 pm

I blame the Morrow, Dickey, Smith, Frederick class. That was the class that came in after the Final Four run and were supposed to keep Tech at a high level. Well, we all saw what happened. Hopefully this next crop has all of the intangibles to close out games. As bad as Tech has been the last couple of years, you can count the blowouts on one hand. For the most part they are in the game late in the second half but can’t close the deal. Where does the blame lie? Who knows?

J-MAN

June 19th, 2009
1:25 pm

Dang! Bradley, you are by far the busiest writer on AJC I think your writing a piece every 2 hours. Do you get paid by the story. Just wish D. Orlando could put up a new blog about the Falcons so I can find out whats up with them .

yellarjacket4life

June 19th, 2009
1:25 pm

Great question Mountain Jim. This team will go as far as the PG position will take them. Mo Miller has to take care of the ball and make quality decisions for this team to be successful. I think Udofia will eventually be a very good PG, but this year he’s a freshman and we can’t rely on him to carry the PG load.

I believe Shumpert should play some PG again this year, because his jumper is not reliable enough for the 2 guard. Don’t me wrong, I really like Shumpert and think he will help this team win, especially on defense. I just don’t think he is consistent enough with his 3 point shot to force defenders to cover him away from the basket, so many teams will play zone against us, double Lawal or Favors, and make us beat them from the perimeter. I bet we see Bell and Storrs at the 2 guard some this year if Shumpert struggles with his shot.

This team is loaded with front court talent, but we need our guards to really step up this year. Defense will not be the problem. Can we consistently score, shoot at least 70% from the line, and cut down on turnovers?

One prediction for 2009-10: D’Andre Bell will be the ACC Defensive POY.

George P. Burdell

June 19th, 2009
1:26 pm

I disagree that Hewitt fairs well in a direct comparison to Cremins. First off, when Cremins took over, GT basketball was at below zero. He turned that team around but it took some time. When Hewitt took over, GT wasn’t where it had been, but it was far from the bottom of the barrell. In his 19 seasons, Cremins went to 5 Sweet Sixteens. Hewitt has been to one.

They have similar overall records but again, a lot of that was Bobby’s first few years without much to work with. Hewitt definitely had issues with the people he was left with, but he had some players. The really telling stat to me is the ACC record. Cremins is over 47%, including the early bad years, while Hewitt is barely over 40%, and most of that came early on. There is no doubt that Cremins performance had declined and it was time to go. My concern is that Hewitt continues to see diminishing results and has had seasons that not even Cremins had in the early years. I hope the 2009 team does well but I’m not sold on the overall direction of our program. 2004 was a while ago and it should not take that long for a good coach to rebuild a program. Do you think Roy won’t be feeling some heat if Carolina doesn’t make a good showing in the tournament until 2014?

Ted Striker

June 19th, 2009
1:38 pm

“Actually” @ 1:04 pm — Thank you; I stand theologically corrected. It’s been more than a few years since my old and new testament classes in college. Add that to the post traumatic stress of being excommunicated and having too many glasses of non-sacramental wine…I’m bound to get confused. That said, I never confused the Apostle Paul with Moses. Or Bradley with Furman Bisher. (I did, however, enjoy reading Bisher’s 3047 B.C. interview with Methuselah).

JBisEP1K

June 19th, 2009
1:44 pm

if anyone knows basketball the reason paul heweitt isnt successful is because of the system. We get amazing players who get drafted after one year because they want to go to the NBA. we are forever in a rebuilding stage. He is a great coach, yet he almost recruits too well. The system needs to change. If college basketball was like college football, you’d see a more competitive system with more competitive schools.

E

June 19th, 2009
1:48 pm

Same old story Mark, Hewitt on the hot seat, heard that on before……Some old posts from Tech “fans”…. Fire Hewitt…. I’m sure in February when Tech is in the Top 10, the same “fans” will be back on the band wagon.

Dave

June 19th, 2009
1:53 pm

I think Coach Hewitt is a good coach, but at the dollars we are paying him .500 in the ACC should be the minimum! If a coach makes more tha a million dollars, he should win period! Now I know this is the ACC not the Big Ten or the SEC but still he should win most of his non-conference games and go at least .500 in the conference. This would insure a tournament bid and keep his job. The conference is tough but that is why you get the money! With this team’s depth and talent, he should be able to play his style and run most teams off the floor if he works hard!

Mitch

June 19th, 2009
1:56 pm

I think Coach Hewitt deserves a break. He got us to the championship game a few years back, and he just signed, argueably, the best high school player in the nation. I think he deserves a few more seasons before we start sticking our noses in his work. Go Tech. THWG!

Mr. Bradley, great read as always. I hope you get some time away from the blog this weekend to relax.

Cuz

June 19th, 2009
1:59 pm

Striker if it is any consolation. Luke was Paul’s gentile physician. He was not a member of the original Disciples. Of course also not to be confused with the Original Drifters.

mobetta

June 19th, 2009
2:05 pm

Start the thank god and greyhound crap with this guy too.

wes

June 19th, 2009
2:07 pm

Georgia Tech will make it to the Big Dance the next 4 years running…NOT because of Gani Lawal or Derrick Favors…BUT because of M’fon Udofia.

Tech has essentially played without any sort of decent point guard since Jarrett Jack left in 05′.

Will the Paul Hewitt haters at least acknowledge this point?

eBuzz

June 19th, 2009
2:20 pm

Unfortunately, Hewitt bought another couple of years with a good recruiting class that will be one and done. Followed by another “down” year, followed by lame excuses. Not doubt that he is a nice guy, but the reality of the situation is than he is not performing and will not perform in the long run to steadily compete in the upper tier of the ACC, or the Big South for the matter. He needs to go, and the sooner the better, so that Tech can move on.

GT 79

June 19th, 2009
2:20 pm

Hewitt may not have the best record but I am proud that he is our coach. I lived through some pretty bad years at Tech (75-79) and we are light years ahead of those teams. The cup is mostly full so people should just chill out and let the kids play.

yellarjacket4life

June 19th, 2009
2:24 pm

Wes – I’m not a Paul Hewitt hater nor am I a huge fan either. I can acknowledge the fact that our PG play has been below par lately, so why can’t Paul get a legitimate PG in here to run the team?

I would argue that Javaris Crittenton was a decent point guard and he came after Jack. He led the team to our last NCAA tourney appearance if I remember correctly. It seems the wheels really started to fall off after he unexpectedly left early for the NBA. Wouldn’t you agree?

Why do you think Udofia will not cut it in the ACC? We haven’t not seen him play one minute of collegiate basketball yet. I think he is the type of PG who can help rebuild this program because he’s not going to bolt for the NBA after a couple of years. We should start to see some stability at the PG postion for a change.

scjacket

June 19th, 2009
2:25 pm

I saw a newspaper article back in the spring that showed GT has the worst win/loss record in the ACC over the past 3 years. Perhaps that is causing the off the court problems Hewitt mentioned. Bottom line, he must deliver next season or he should be fired. Define deliver?

winning ACC record
Win two games in ACC tournament
Ein one game in the NCAA tournament

gte268p

June 19th, 2009
2:26 pm

I think people also forget the outstanding job Hewitt did the first year he was at Tech. He took a group of players that nobody expected to go anywhere to the NCAA tournament and lost in a very close semifinal ACC tournament game. They also swept in 3 games a Virginia team that was picked by some to go all the way. I recall the players themselves didn’t expect to go anywhere. They didn’t even know what day selection Sunday was during the early part of the season. Hewitt got the most out of Alvin Jones, Tony Akins, Shawn Fein, Halston Lane, etc. I believe the past few years would have been much better if Jarrett Jack had stuck around one more year to take the new crop of players under his wing much like Tony Akins was around one more year when BJ, Ish, Big Ed, Schensher, et.al were freshman.

c-bham

June 19th, 2009
2:55 pm

Hewitt is a great recruiter. He brings a fast pace, uptempo, defensive minded philosophy to the table. However, he OBVIOUSLY not very good when he has to teach FUNDAMENTALS. The common denominator when we were good in Paul’s early days was good assistant coaching(Dean Keener). Once he was gone, I believe that alot of the small things that we were doing well went out the window. Javaris Crittenton didnt learn a THING under Hewitt. You can see flashes of brilliance from the guys, and that is just because he recruits great athletes. By no means are these guys great basketball players.

Born2Buzz

June 19th, 2009
4:11 pm

wes, agree that we’ve been without a quality PG since Jack left, but who is responsible for getting a replacement? Or being prepared for when a star recruit leaves early.
And gte268p, you are right on with that observation, which makes the past few years even more puzzling. And not to mention Darrell LaBarrie!!!!
I think Hewitt lost his way and stopped coaching his original philosophy and tried to coach a system more in keeping with mainstream college ball. A great coach knows is system will work, no matter who he has running it and no matter what everyone else may think about his system (see Paul Johnson).
Hewitt knows next year is make or break for him. He has to, but like someone else pointed out, he’s not going to come out and put himself on the hot seat. That would be wrong. I hope he succeeds because he projects the right image for TECH, is a class guy and I want to watch great basketball and see a packed house at the games.

MB, I’m curious as to what he thought was the adversity off the court last year. Bell’s injury, Dickey’s injury, Clinch’s early season suspension? Those were tough but you still had 3 quality big men and Clinch came back. Was there something else?

Jaded Jacket

June 19th, 2009
5:02 pm

Gotta turn the heat up on Mr. Hewitt. He has to know that Tech won’t continue to accept mediocrity. Sure he’s well aware of what happened to Mr. Gailey.

Jaded Jacket

June 19th, 2009
5:10 pm

GT lands another football recruit – CB Ryan Ayers. He had offers from UGA, Alabama, UNC, Arkansas, Auburn and others. Good job!

Mark Bradley

June 19th, 2009
5:23 pm

If there was, Born2Buzz, I’m not aware of it. But Hewitt made Bell out to be — at least in Bell’s absence — the greatest all-around player since Dennis Johnson.

Oh, I’d submit that Javaris Crittenton was a pretty good college point guard his one and only season at Tech.

[...] of the package: Here’s a little something I’ve written about Paul Hewitt looking ahead to next season. Click at your own [...]

Born2Buzz

June 19th, 2009
5:55 pm

JC was pretty good but wasnt a pure PG and made many freshmen mistakes. Bell might have provided a guiding influence last year that was definitely missing. He will be the leader of the team next season so we will see what happens.

Bless you

June 19th, 2009
6:16 pm

I don’t care if they go to the Final Four it will not change my mind on JH. I always pull for the players but Paul can go to h*#@.