A glitzy new roster plays like the same old Georgia Tech

Freshman sub Glen Rice Jr. hoists one of his shots. (AP photo)

Freshman sub Glen Rice Jr. hoists one of 10 shots. (AP photo)

Late in a close game, Georgia Tech’s football team figures its coach will think of something. Late in a close game, Tech’s basketball team is pretty much on its own. Because Paul Hewitt won’t have any timeouts to call, and even if he did, what’s he going to say?

How many times have we seen the same game that played out at Tech on Sunday? Heck, we’ve seen it three times over  two calendar years against Florida State alone. Tight down the stretch, plays to be made … and darned if Leonard Hamilton’s guys don’t make them every time. Coincidence?

In December 2007 Tech lost to FSU here on a length-of-the-court drive even though the Seminoles were missing all their big guys that night. In the ACC tournament in March the Jackets lost when Hamilton drew up a beautiful inbounds play for the winning layup. This time it should have been different — the Seminoles no longer have Toney Douglas and Tech has a passel of gifted freshmen — but was not.

How many times have we seen it? Twenty? Fifty? A hundred fifty? Tech falls behind because it can’t run its offense. It rallies on defense and desperation and sheer talent. Then it loses at the end. The belief in this space is that no other ACC team — not Carolina, not Duke — can match these Jackets in manpower, but against an FSU team that had lost by 16 to Florida and by 13 to Ohio State manpower wasn’t enough.

“We have the ability [to go places],” said Gani Lawal after a game in which he made one basket. “We’ve got to do the things it takes.”

To watch Tech these past several seasons has been to see two different entities — the halting bunch that falls behind and the daring crew that finally decides, “Heck with this.” The Jackets rallied against Florida State only because Zachery Peacock, who needs little encouragement to shoot, started shooting every time he touched the ball.

There aren’t many teams in the land who have a Peacock as a sixth or seventh option. But if the team’s ACC opener was any gauge, the longstanding question remains: Can this coach get the most out of his many good men? Hewitt missed the 2003 NCAA tournament with Chris Bosh, and he made it only as a 10th seed in 2007 with four players who would move on to NBA rosters. This team is deeper than any he has had, but can Hewitt find a mesh?

“We’ll fit together,” Lawal said. Then this: “It doesn’t matter if we fit or don’t fit if we aren’t doing what we’re supposed to do.”

Lawal and Derrick Favors should be the nation’s finest 5-4 combo. They combined for 12 points on 15 shots against FSU. Thwarted underneath by the tall and quick Seminole defense, the Jackets lacked all form and function. Something’s wrong when Glen Rice Jr., a freshman who doesn’t start, takes more shots than Favors, projected as the second player taken in the 2010 NBA draft. But weren’t we saying the same seven years ago, that Bosh (the No. 4 pick in 2004) didn’t get enough shots?

About the timeouts: Hewitt spent his last in regulation with 3:02 remaining to set up his press, which did help Tech pull even. And he burned his one in OT with 2:52 left because, he said, “Zach asked me to call it. He had a cramp.” And the timeout thing wouldn’t have been such a big deal if it didn’t happen as a matter of course.

This should be a big season for Tech hoops, and it still could be. (To be fair, FSU wasn’t an easy league opener, even at home.) But anyone expecting  a bold new look Sunday went away disappointed. This was, sorry to say, the same old Tech.

324 comments Add your comment

willie martinez

December 20th, 2009
11:43 pm

first i guess

Mark Bradley

December 20th, 2009
11:48 pm

I guess you are, Coach Willie. Kudos.

richard cranium

December 20th, 2009
11:52 pm

Time will tell to find if they jell…… Yes, I’m a poet..

Clay

December 20th, 2009
11:53 pm

It’s always a good day to read about Tech losing. If they don’t turn it around soon, the school is going to have to take out more ads in the newspaper begging their fans to ask retailers to carry Tech gear again!

I know that was uncalled for. It’s just that making fun of Tech is my business–and business is good…

Dawg catcher

December 20th, 2009
11:54 pm

Coach Hewitt has proven over and over again that he is mediocre at best. This program deserves better — God knows the player talent is there to take the National title, but with that coaching it will never happen. D-Rad, Crank up the search engine and find us a REAL coach!!!! You did it for the football program and exceeded all expectations — The basketball program should be at least as good (actually they should be MUCH better, given the depth and level of talent they have). GET US A COACH!!!!!!!!

Mark Bradley

December 20th, 2009
11:55 pm

I have to confess: Five years ago I thought Hewitt had the makings of the game’s next great coach.

Dawg catcher

December 20th, 2009
11:55 pm

Go back to the trailer park, Clay.

wiley

December 20th, 2009
11:57 pm

….if we only had a coach this team would be a final four caliber team. Im willing to bet if you give this roster to Roy Williams, Calapari, or Bill Self you would have a deep run in the tourney and a shot at the national championship…..

gtgreg

December 21st, 2009
12:00 am

ok, i guess i’ll jump in here. i was there tonight, and you’re right. no organized offensive plan. we run the “Pick & Roll, hold the Roll please”. guys set about 100 picks tonight, but not once did they roll effectively to the basket, and never received the pass either. and anytime there was a zone defense in place, our players looked so confused you would have thought a giraffe had just run out on the court. why can’t we execute or defend the in-bounds play? seriously, this has been an issue for years and years. it’s almost comical. i really am puzzled at how there could be such a serious lack of fundamental basketball knowledge among our players, clearly representative of atrocious coaching. i’ve been a Hewitt defender for a couple years now, but i am done with it. it’ll be sad to see him go, because he’s a great guy and top-flight recruiter. but what good is this incredible recruiting class now? they are going to waste….

Old School

December 21st, 2009
12:02 am

MSG TO MARK BRADLEY (AGAIN): I went to your game blog to copy and paste my comment, but alas it was gone. Hell, after predicting BEFORE the game that Tech would make it to the Final Four, I would have pulled it too. Anyway–as I said in my comment on your blog, how in the name of Whack Hyder could you make the totally outrageous statement BEFORE the game that Tech would go the Final Freakin’ Four?!?!?! And then AFTER the game you say: “How many times have I seen this game? Ten? Twenty?” Did you really think that the talent is so great that even Hewitt could not screw it up? Then I read your post-game column and you trash Hewitt–call it whatever you want– and in effect say that Hewitt can’t get the job done? But then you say BEFORE the game that Tech is Final-Four bound? What gives?!?! I have read your columns for years and enjoyed them, but these incongruous statements really doesn’t do much for your credibility. What the hell got into you?

StateBird

December 21st, 2009
12:02 am

Dittos on outlook five years ago … dittos on current outlook

Dawg catcher

December 21st, 2009
12:02 am

Five years ago I did too, but it’s time to face reality — Coach Hewitt just isn’t that good. he had MANY chances with more talent than any coach could reasonably ask for, and he has blown it over and over again.

Mark Bradley

December 21st, 2009
12:03 am

Not many teams have as many good players as Tech. For example: Remember Moe Miller, last year’s starting point guard? He’s now the ninth man.

Same Old Song

December 21st, 2009
12:05 am

This is the most talent that Hewitt will ever have and it will go to waste. I hope next year we bring in someone new and at least make a go of it with the four other freshman who will still be around as sophmores.

The part I fear is that with all the money going to Johnson that there is not enough in the piggy bank to get a top tier guy.

Mark Bradley

December 21st, 2009
12:05 am

I didn’t predict Tech would go to the Final Four. I said it would stand “a splendid chance” of getting there. That’s not the same thing as saying, “Tech will go to the Final Four.

And the live chat is still up.

wiley

December 21st, 2009
12:07 am

Any Coach who gets the job at GT will be able to recruit, the same level of talent as Hewitt. We have put so many people in the league over the last twenty years that all the top recruits give us serious consideration as a path to the NBA. An ACC school in the middle of a large city…in a basketball talent rich state like Georgia…they will always recruit well. Hire Mark Price or Matt Harpring!!

Mark Bradley

December 21st, 2009
12:07 am

There’s not a person at Tech who doesn’t want Hewitt to succeed. He’s liked and respected over there. But his is, as we know, a results-oriented job. And he hasn’t had what I would consider an above-average season since the Final Four run.

Hayseed Dixie

December 21st, 2009
12:07 am

It’s simple: Hewitt cannot coach.

He got out game-planned by a far lesser team.

The abberation that was Tech in the NC game was due to Jarett Jack’s passion and leadership. Time has only reinforced this supposition.

I’d love to be proven wrong, but I still believe Jack should be getting 1/3rd of Hewitt’s post-title game salary.

Submariner683

December 21st, 2009
12:08 am

This was the first game I got to watch this year, being that I live up in PA. I only got to watch the second half. I was shocked to not see Lawal and Favors in the game at the same time. What was up with that? Hewitt was essentially subbing one for the other. Was Lawal in foul trouble? I saw Favors in for most of the 2nd half. It couldn’t have been because of match ups, since Florida St didn’t seem to have a particularly small team in there. Even if they did, why not dictate the game and have your two best players in there at all times?

I liked what I saw out of Mfon and Rice Jr. For the most part, I saw what has become a typical Hewitt team of virutally no real movement of offense, poor ball handling, poor free throw shooting, and the tendency to allow really good looks from 3-point range.

mansup01

December 21st, 2009
12:08 am

Mark was correct, in that the team looks the same….year in and year out. Players change. What else can be said? It is all a terrible waste.

gerald perry's yoga routine

December 21st, 2009
12:09 am

Back in my day, I remember between innings in the clubhouse watching Price and Yvone Joseph run the pick and roll. It was like jazz. Chess. Cool. Universal rhythms.

Mark Bradley

December 21st, 2009
12:09 am

Something else to consider when talking about Jarrett Jack: Hewitt not only had one point guard that year — he had two. And Jack and Will Bynum were the guys who took Tech to the Final Four. (Remember, B.J. Elder sprained his ankle early in the Sweet 16 game against Nevada.)

Mark Bradley

December 21st, 2009
12:11 am

The reason Lawal and Favors weren’t in together, according to Hewitt, was that Peacock was scoring and keeping Tech in it. And that is a legitimate point: You can’t play all three big guys together. Or at least you’d have a tough time doing it.

Tech Forever

December 21st, 2009
12:12 am

In 2004 we all thought Hewitt was going to be the man. EVERYONE should now realize that team made it to San Antonio on the shoulders od Jarrett Jack IN SPITE OF Hewitt.

We’ll flounder along this season and finish somewhere a game or two below .500 in league play…maybe .500…and have another shot at getting a 10th seed in the tourney. Then we’ll lose 2 or 3 key components and we’ll be right back where we were last year. BUT THERE IS A POSITIVE LINING!!!! Hewitt’s contract expries after next season!!! Finally the last touch of the Braine Administration will be gone. Only about 50 more games to endure…..then we’re free.

Roy Williams with this team would have beaten FSU by 15 tonight.

Dawgfan

December 21st, 2009
12:13 am

((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((30-24))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))
hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

was at that game and honestly, both teams looked terrible, especially tech. the first 10 minutes was honestly the worst ten minutes of basketball i have EVER seen. and u nailed it bradley, after the game i went home confused why favors had only 8 points and lawal 4. and most of those points were on offensive rebounds and put backs. Hewitt doesnt no how to feed the ball to the big men. if i were one of them, id be pissed. Love a tech loss especially after a HUGE uga win

J

December 21st, 2009
12:14 am

Enter your comments here

Old School

December 21st, 2009
12:15 am

My bad, Mark. Okay, you say (said) “splendid chance.” Even at that, knowing Hewitt and having watched him year after year, how could you even say that?? Would it be wrong to say that YOU think there could be a chance of a San Antonio replay where the talent surmounted the coaching? Is that why you thought Tech had a “splendid chance” of going to the FF? As I said: the talent is so great that even Hewitt can not screw it up. I about fell out of my chair when I saw your statement. And frankly, from what I have seen in 10 games, Favors is big-time overrated. As I noted earlier, if he was HALF as good as his press clippings he would be totally dominating games, freshman or not. Frankly, I think he is downright lazy, doesn’t get back on defense (yes, I know, most ’stars” only play one end of the court), and seems to tire easily. Sorry, just very frustrated. I will be surprised if Tech goes .500 in the ACC. BTW, where the hell is that dumbkoff Dave Braine?

Mark Bradley

December 21st, 2009
12:15 am

Actually, Hewitt’s contract doesn’t expire after this season. He has four more years after this one plus an automatic rollover. So long as he coaches the Jackets, he’ll always be working on a five-year contract.

JWR

December 21st, 2009
12:17 am

I attend all Ga Tech BB games and I am about to give up on them! Paul Hewitt must go. He must go soon. We could get a good HS coach and better the record that we will have under PH this year.

Mark Bradley

December 21st, 2009
12:18 am

Why would I say Tech has “a splendid chance”? Because this is one of the most talented teams in the nation. Seriously. And Hewitt did get to the Final Four with a team not nearly this good.

I’m not ready to write Tech off. But I was extremely disappointed with how it played against Florida State. Subtract Toney Douglas from the Noles and add Derrick Favors to the Jackets, and Tech should win. Shouldn’t it?

Mark Bradley

December 21st, 2009
12:19 am

Oh, and I don’t think Favors is lazy or overrated. I think he’s deferring slightly to Lawal. But I expect that to change.

Hayseed Dixie

December 21st, 2009
12:19 am

You’re right, Will Bynum had a game winner or two along the way.

But Jack, even as an NBA player, gets bent out of shape over Hewitt’s late vintage Jackets.

It’s not too far a leap from there to suppose that Jack had the type of personality and leadership that held his teamates accountable.

And it’s not too much a leap from there to suppose that Hewitt is devoid of that characteristic in any meaningful way.

Mark Bradley

December 21st, 2009
12:21 am

As I recall, Bynum hit the game-winner (or clincher) in three consecutive rounds: Sweet 16 against Reno, Elite Eight against Kansas, Final Four against Oklahoma State.

Tech Forever

December 21st, 2009
12:21 am

Oh that’s right!!!! I was thinking the extension he signed in 2005 carrying him through the 2010/11 season was the last extension. I completely forgot about the extension he signed for Braine in 2007. UGH!!!!! And with what, a $10M buyout or something like that he’s never going to go away!!!

JustWokeUp

December 21st, 2009
12:26 am

DRAD: You know what you need to do. Start looking for a replacement NOW. You needn’t fire Hewitt until season’s end, but start looking NOW. Be ready to act quickly after the season…someone who is a good tactician, for a change. Hewitt is negating all the good press we are getting in other sports, and we ticket holders will continue to stay away in droves until it stops. We like being good in Football and Baseball. It’s great to have champions in sports from tennis to softball to track to golf to “fill in the blank”. But we can’t continue to play so poorly in basketball in the ACC, for God’s sake. It’s good to be Tech, except for Basketball season. At least it will be over by the end of February…really, with Hewitt at the helm, it already is over.

flagboy?

December 21st, 2009
12:26 am

I don’t pretend to have nearly enough basketball knowledge to judge a coach or team. . .

But the problem with so many teams seems to be there is only one basketball allowed on the court at one time. You get all that “talent” out on the court at one time, everyone isn’t going to get what he believes to be his fair share of the shots. If Favors is that big of a talent, the offense should run through him. Then again, he’ll probably be a one and done like so many other college bball players.

seems like Hewitt has been on the underachiever list for at least 2 years now. . .how much longer?

Old School

December 21st, 2009
12:26 am

Yes, it should win ON PAPER. But alas, to use an old cliche, games aren’t won on paper. Hewitt simply does not know how to coach talent. As someone else wrote earlier, they are undisciplined and for the most part do not play as a TEAM. And that goes straight to the feet of the coach. With one lone exception during his entire career, Hewitt’s teams have CONSISTENTLY been underachievers. Just curious Mark, since you brought it up, why do you think Hewitt is so respected by the people at Tech. I underscore the word, “respected,” not “well-liked.” After all, his teams have not only underachieved but from what I have heard, the flip side of the coin in college athletics, his teams are very poor academically as well. I just don’t understand.

Helluva Engineer

December 21st, 2009
12:27 am

The big argument against firing CPH tihs season is purely financial…. the price tag on the buyout is simply too great. We have to start boycotting games to show DRad – whom I have complete confidence in – we’re essentially done with Hewitt. Hate to bail on the kids, who I think are an extremely hard working bunch, but we have to think long-term here.

Tech Forever

December 21st, 2009
12:29 am

Flagboy? Hewitt has underachieved every year he’s been at Tech save his first season and the ‘03/’04 season …..that’s it. Look up his record in league play. It’s pitiful!!!!!!!!!!!

JustWokeUp, DRAD can do NOTHING. We cannot afford Hewitt’s buyout.

David

December 21st, 2009
12:31 am

After our run at the National Title that fell short, we lost our assistants. As it turned out, they were the only ones that coached this team. Hewitt will forever be known as a guy that can recruit like crazy but can’t coach worth a crap (see: Mark Richt). Nice guy, plays the game right, gets the players he needs, but can’t put it together.

It’s become nauseating to watch three McDonald’s All-Americans on a single team, and yet no one looks like they know what they’re doing on offense. Case in point: Watch Thaddeus Young at Georgia Tech, and then watch a 76′ers game. It’s amazing what he’s been able to evolve into with a little bit of coaching.

Helluva Engineer

December 21st, 2009
12:31 am

Bob Knight would be taylor-made for us. We need someone like the General to just have these guys execute. If we could get him for a year or two on an interim-basis, we would see a team that is well-disciplined that would at least have some motion on the offensive end. Moreover the defensive lapses would vanish and we could maybe actually have some competency from a game management perspective.

flagboy?

December 21st, 2009
12:33 am

techforever, i agree with you. I was referring to the fact that the Championship run bought him a few years, but that grace period seemed to have run out a few years ago. . . but now hearing about that automatic add on year, i can understand why there isn’t more rumbling going on. ..

Matt

December 21st, 2009
12:34 am

Paul Hewitt is just like Mark Richt, always brings in great talent, but underachieves. If you don’t think Mark Richt underachives, then consider that this year’s group of seniors was one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. Hewitt is a great recruiter, but a not so great floor coach.

flagboy?

December 21st, 2009
12:35 am

Helluva Engineer, I wonder if you had someone like Bob Knight if you’d have someone like Favors at the same time. . .

ben

December 21st, 2009
12:38 am

I made excuses for Hewitt for a few years, but I’m now convinced he just can’t coach. We’ll have to buy him out and hire someone who will work cheap. There’s just no denying it anymore.

Mark Bradley

December 21st, 2009
12:38 am

That’s well said. I don’t remember Knight bringing in the big recruiting classes his last decade in coaching.

JustWokeUp

December 21st, 2009
12:40 am

Yeah, Tech Forever. Unfortunately it will be “Hewitt Forever and Five.” His outrageous salary is bad enough, but as MB and the AJC reported last year, it’s that multi-year AUTOMATIC rollover that really kills us. No matter when we bite the bullet and fire him, we’ll have to pay him for five years. I say do it now and get it over with. We may have to hire a young gun or a journeyman veteran on the cheap, but at least we’d have POTENTIAL again, and in a few years we’d have the bread to hire big again if necessary. With Hewitt here, hope and optimism are dead, and it is getting harder and harder to get excited about it. Even the students, who have supported Hewitt consistently, started not showing up for games last year, and their tickets are really cheap!!! I hate the analogy, but we fired another good man who just didn’t get it done in football, and he was a heckuva lot more successful than CPH. We probably won’t get another CPJ, but at least we won’t be losing the same old way, game after game, season after season, …

flagboy?

December 21st, 2009
12:44 am

JustWokeUp, as a dawg fan I’m not being a total jack*** here, but could tech afford that buyout? That would have to put a serious hurt on the AD as a whole. . .

December Madness

December 21st, 2009
12:44 am

NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!! NERDS!!!

JustWokeUp

December 21st, 2009
12:47 am

Knight just isn’t going to happen, for political as well as practical reasons. It might actually be a good fit in some ways, but it seems like Knight’s reputation kind of caricatured him for recruits. I wouldn’t mind him not getting all the one-and-doners if he could still win and represent the university well, but it may be too late for him to do either one. Still it is interesting to speculate.