Tech leaves us wondering how much it might have done

D'Andre Bell's postmortem: "We were just inconsistent." (AP photo)

D'Andre Bell's postmortem on his Yellow Jackets : "We were just inconsistent." (AP photo)

Milwaukee – Elbows on knees, a scowling Iman Shumpert bent forward in his chair. Someone asked if Ohio State was better than Georgia Tech. “Not at all,” Shumpert said.

So: Was Tech better than Ohio State? Said Shumpert, almost spitting the words: “A lot better.”

Judge these teams 1-10 and there’s no comparison. Brad Sheehan, Tech’s 10th man, was pressed into service Sunday and contributed a three-point play. Ohio State deployed only seven men, and its two reserves worked a total of 13 minutes. (Brian Oliver, Tech’s eighth man, played 16.) But college basketball isn’t a draft lottery, and it isn’t a beauty contest. It’s a matter of what coach can take talent and mold it into a team.

Paul Hewitt spoke this season of his Jackets having a “high ceiling.” They altered our perception of them as rank underachievers with a stirring run in the ACC tournament and a Round 1 NCAA dismissal of Oklahoma State, but in the end that ceiling remained untouched. This team took Hewitt back to the Big Dance for the first time since 2007, but with three McDonald’s All-Americans was that the ultimate goal? Just to make an appearance?

Said D’Andre Bell: “We were inconsistent. At certain points we showed how great we can be.”

A great team would have beaten Ohio State on Sunday. As strange as it sounds, there was a clear imbalance of talent between the No. 2 seed and the No. 10. Tech had the three best big men this day, and yet Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors got called for the fouls that changed the game. Jacket fans will complain forever about the officiating, but here’s the thing: With no Ohio State post presence to defend, Tech’s post players still fouled. How? Why?

The Buckeyes left the door open almost all game: They fell eight points behind early and gave back 11 points off a 15-point lead late, and they missed six free throws and made 18 turnovers (to Tech’s 21). Evan Turner scored 24 points but needed 19 shots to do it, and his nine rebounds and nine assists were undercut by nine turnovers.

But Tech didn’t lead over the final 22 1/2 minutes because it could never punish the Buckeyes, who essentially start four guards,  and when the Jackets’ offense crumbled the game became a flurry of Ohio State fast breaks and transition treys. If it wasn’t easy for the Buckeyes, it was never as hard as it coulda/shoulda been.

So much awaited Tech if it could have upset Ohio State. The Midwest Regional would then have been without its No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds, and nobody in St. Louis — not even Michigan State — would have matched the Jackets on manpower. Asked if Tech could have reached the Final Four, Derrick Favors said: “I think we could have. But we ended up losing this game.”

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Thus do we take our leave of the most gifted team in Institute annals. If its legacy won’t be of utter failure — it did reach the ACC finals and win a game in the Big Dance, both accomplishments Tech hadn’t managed since 2005 — neither did it approach its potential. It finished seventh in a diluted ACC, seventh with a losing conference record. It lost to Georgia. It made the NCAA as a 10th seed and was gone on the first weekend.

Said Hewitt: “We got to the [NCAA] tournament, and that’s a really major accomplishment. I think our guys played really hard and were really unlucky at times, but their effort never wavered. We had a great year.”

Then, perhaps realizing he’d oversold his case, Hewitt said: “A very good year.”

Actually, it was neither. It was a B-minus season. If losing 13 games with Favors and Lawal and Shumpert is a “great” — or a “very good” — year, standards  need to be recalibrated. Hewitt can and will endeavor to put the sunniest of faces on this season, but the empty looks in his locker room Sunday told a different story.

The Jackets knew how much they had and how far they might have gone. Sad to say, this team of vast promise was done playing before it really got going.

481 comments Add your comment

Paul in RDU

March 21st, 2010
6:41 pm

Good column Mark

Paul in RDU

March 21st, 2010
6:42 pm

BTW – While you are waiting for your plane at Mitchell Airport you should get a couple of bratwurst and a Leinies.

Class of '98

March 21st, 2010
6:44 pm

30-24!!!!! hahahahahaha

gb

March 21st, 2010
6:44 pm

this team had the talent and experience to be a 1 or 2 seed. lack of coaching made them a 10 seed.
i was a cph fan until the last couple of years, but i think the contract made him too secure in his job.
lazy might be a good word.

PaulHewitt

March 21st, 2010
6:48 pm

My team fought hard and I need a contract extension!

mid town

March 21st, 2010
6:50 pm

Just remember next Jan and Feb when the ESPN experts are screaming about how great the ACC, BIG
EAST, etc. are, they may be great because of talent, etc. but there are very few genius coaches out there.
Some are at schools that can get talent, but all in all if they coached at your local high school, most could not out coach the JV coach.
How many ACC teams left?? If you want to watch some well coached teams tune in to the “quote”, mid majors.

Winfield Featherston

March 21st, 2010
6:50 pm

Good column. Sums it all up pretty much.

Biff Pocoroba

March 21st, 2010
6:51 pm

You need to put more of a positive spin on this article or Hewitt isn’t going to talk to you next year. Of course this was a great year for Hewitt, he got an extra year added to his contract and he gets another $100,000 for making the second round. Next year will be worse than last year and Hewitt will continue to hold us hostage but there won’t be any pressure since their won’t be any fans in the AMC to boo him.

Opinion

March 21st, 2010
6:52 pm

I just tired of this coulda shoulda woulda crap with Georgia Tech……One win in the NCAA doesn’t make me happy with the Talent we had.

Derrick Favors already had his mind on the draft (he already flunked out this semester) and Tech players are just idiots, Gani Lawal knows he has 2 fouls and there is 40 seconds left in the half and he picks up a 3rd foul….just bad coaching, idiotic play calling, and lack of effort in the second half.

I’m done with this old news story…..known as Georgia Tech basketball

Danny G

March 21st, 2010
6:52 pm

Techsters. Beautiful losers.

Jackets all the way

March 21st, 2010
6:52 pm

It’s time for a new coach. Underachieving does no good.

Pi$$onaDawg

March 21st, 2010
6:54 pm

Mark good write-up. TECH didn’t do what they needed to and left too many chances on the floor today. I hope you get home and get a rest to feel a lot better. Thanks for the coverage and the live chat.

O'Brien

March 21st, 2010
6:54 pm

Mark,

This was a disappointing season for me as a fan. 7-9 in a down year in the conference, with 2 of those wins being UNC. (No surprise that Duke is the only ACC team remaining in the tournament).

We played well in the ACC tournament, but that only reinforces the fact that we were capable of so much more, but we consistently underachieved.

I’m glad that the players got to play in the ACC championship game, and I’m glad they made it to the big dance. But I hate the fact that Hewitt gets to call it a good year, and he gets a $100K bonus.

How would this team have performed if we had a different coach?

And assuming Favors and Lawal are leaving for the NBA draft, isn’t it safe to asusme that we will take a step back next year? And of course, the man with the golden contract is here to stay.

it's contagious

March 21st, 2010
6:55 pm

Gotta say you nailed it and good article. At times the bees played like they were capable. Today was status quo of their inconsistency. But then that seems characteristic of CPH teams that can make the Championship game one year and having losing ACC records 9 out of 10 years. Think Tech needed one more Shump on the team to help direct the offense and keep him fresh. Very concerned about next years team.

Max Sizemore

March 21st, 2010
6:57 pm

I’ve watched more basketball the last four days than I have all season, so I’m certainly not qualified to make any pronouncements. But with the exception of Duke and Kentucky, I didn’t see a single team from the SEC or ACC that I thought was very good. FSU was awful on offense, Maryland can’t play dead on defense, Vanderbilt was highly overrated, and Tennessee is athletic and very little more. Florida was thoroughly outcoached. Wake Forest barely knows how to line up. And Tech, well, I have nothing to add. Anybody else agree with me? Or not? After watching Butler and St. Mary’s and N. Iowa — teams which really get the most out of what they have — it’s quite a comedown to watch the ACC or SEC.

Opinion

March 21st, 2010
6:58 pm

Hewitt knows defense, but knows nothing about Offense

Sums up Georgia Tech Basketball in one sentence.

Pi$$onaDawg

March 21st, 2010
6:59 pm

Mark thanks for the write-ups and the live blog. Hope you get back to the Atl and get some rest. Mad at the end but got to pull for the team and still hate the money paid for the coach.

GT in CT

March 21st, 2010
7:00 pm

Fair assessment, Mark. “Standards need to be recalibrated.” Right on.

GT3O

March 21st, 2010
7:00 pm

Danny G, is UGA still in the tourney? Oh wait, nevermind, UGA never even had the chance to lose a game because they were at home on their rear ends watching real basketball teams play. Silly me.

Richard

March 21st, 2010
7:00 pm

Hewitt saying that getting to the tournament is a “major” accomplishment seals my opinion of him. He’s stll living in the Sienna mindset.

Reid in EAV

March 21st, 2010
7:02 pm

Example #1A as to why I find it hard to pay consistent attention to college basketball. Sloppy, turnovers galore, bad inbounds passes, seesaw production. Give me the NBA any day.

Mark Fox

March 21st, 2010
7:02 pm

I think Paul Hewitt is doing a mediocre… I mean a great job. Dan Rad, please give him an extension!

Steve

March 21st, 2010
7:02 pm

Yeah Shumpert.. Right… Tech is better. That is obviously why tech won!

Go Bucks!!

Pi$$onaDawg

March 21st, 2010
7:04 pm

I think the BEST AAU players coached for 2 weeks could have done what TECH did in the Tourny.

Ozzy

March 21st, 2010
7:07 pm

I tried to bite my tongue (or my typing fingers) but I couldn’t.

Shumpert, here’s how it works. The team that wins is the better team. When asked if a team that just kicked your ass is better than your team, the correct answer is……”yes, they were the better team today. We didn’t play well enought to win.” You don’t say “we’re a better team” after you just got an ass kickin…makes you look really stupid.

And enough with Hewitt and the “we were unlucky at times” BS. Just say, “we didn’t accomplish what we set out to accomplish. It wasn’t the year we wanted, and here’s what I intend to change to make sure we improve next year……….”.

Don’t say stupid stuff, and don’t make lame excuses. Jeeeeeez.

The basketball team needs to go to the Paul Johnson school of Telling It Like It Is.

AMG

March 21st, 2010
7:11 pm

Today resumed what is Tech basketball over the past 10 years. One lucky run in the tourney 4 years ago with a 7-9 ACC team does not mean you are a successful program. I could handle some post season disappointment alot better if the regular season was not always a disappointment as well.How long will it take Tech to get back to the big dance under CPH? 3 years is my best guess. Is this worth 1.2 million dollars a year?

Matt B.

March 21st, 2010
7:11 pm

Over/Under on how long it takes for Paul Hewitt to start blaming Mark Bradley or someone else for his most recent failure?

Tron5000

March 21st, 2010
7:13 pm

Hire David Boyd from Milton.

UGA is so 3 Decades Ago

March 21st, 2010
7:15 pm

What – 4 wins in the last 9 days are supposed to erase the first 30 games of the season!!?? Not for me. Tech was just average. Coach is average minus.

Navigator

March 21st, 2010
7:19 pm

It seems that people want PHewitt to start coaching, but folks he is coaching and that’s the problem. He’s not a good one, doesn’t use his bench well, bad instructions during the game, and worse of all he doesn’t understand himself that he’s not a good coach.

..so frustrated i went to the store 4a rillo

March 21st, 2010
7:21 pm

why is it so hard for us to throw the ball in bounds? bring the ball up across half court? throw the ball down low?
….We should have won this game.

Technophobia

March 21st, 2010
7:21 pm

The season was a big improvement from last year and a modest success but also a slight disappointment. Hewitt needs to raise his standards even though that’s hard to do when your being criticized since the natural response to that is defensiveness. I’d grade them as follows:
Effort – A
Coaching – B
Ball control – C minus
Focus/decision making – C minus
Team Play – C
Free throws – D
Overall – B minus

vince

March 21st, 2010
7:22 pm

I wonder how many of the negative comments come from people who played basketball? We love you Paul Hewitt!

Tech Fan Since 1950

March 21st, 2010
7:22 pm

Tech did not have a “great” year in basketball. The team lacked discipline from start to finish and it only got slightly better when a little discipline was shown when the cell phones were taken away. You expect athletes to have confidence and for that confidence to be built up over time. You do not expect athletes to be so cocky when the facts show otherwise. Tech athletes should be more intelligent than that. I guess Favors and Lawal are gone for the dollars, but if their SAT intelligence kicked in they would know that neither one of them is ready mentally for the NBA. The head coach needs to take a long look in the mirror too. He is a good man and certainly represents the Institute well in many ways, but a little reality check needs to kick in. A thirty-eight percent graduation rate for Tech basketball players just doesn’t cut it. Let’s stop recruiting the one and dones. It should not be condoned by the administration. It is a discipline thing and a little more “team building” attitude is required.

Paul in RDU

March 21st, 2010
7:22 pm

Ozzy @7:07 – Excellent post. Shumpert seems to misunderstand the difference between “good athletes” and “good basketball team”

Yurtle_the_turtle

March 21st, 2010
7:23 pm

Matt B. I think it takes 24 hours before Hewitt will say that he doesn’t read the AJC and yet blame Mark Bradley for our NCAA Tourny loss. Then he will blame those of us who dare criticize him and come back next year. Of course we’ll go 4 -12 in the ACC, but he’ll have another “I didn’t think that Derrick Favors was going pro” excuse. He is the albatross around our necks.

kennyh

March 21st, 2010
7:24 pm

dont worry, tech will really suck next year and we may can get a new coach after that..one that can recruit players like northern iowas or saint marys.gets.

PawleysIslandJacket

March 21st, 2010
7:24 pm

Another “right on target” column….stay on Hewitt’s ass!

Kevin

March 21st, 2010
7:25 pm

I’m a Tech fan, but I do not see ANY player on our squad who is ready for the next level. Favors is a great talent, but he has not figured out how to play when the chips are down. Lawal flirted with the NBA Draft last year, but he too needs a senior year to get ready. The season ended up like I thought it would.

Ozzy

March 21st, 2010
7:25 pm

Vince – you must have played Upward Bound basketball. Don’t keep score, no winners or losers, everyone gets a trophy at the end.

Herschel Talker

March 21st, 2010
7:26 pm

Shumpert’s a punk. GT was not “a lot better.” They were beaten soundly on a neutral court. He’s just like Paul Hewitt. Full of excuses, empty on substance.

cumming around

March 21st, 2010
7:26 pm

I kept hearing the word freshmen today …. thats good

RomeDawg

March 21st, 2010
7:27 pm

Seems like Paul Blewitt went to the Dave Braine School of Standards with that “very good year” comment. Who is dumber, Hewitt who couldn’t coach this team to the Sweet 16 or Shumpert for saying his team is “a lot better” after getting thumped completely?

Fortunately, everybody knows sports teams from Tech are supposed to SUCK!

Tech vs. Round 2

March 21st, 2010
7:28 pm

“Was Tech better than Ohio State? Said Shumpert, almost spitting the words: “A lot better”

The better team never loses that’s why they’re called the better team ….

GT4LIFE

March 21st, 2010
7:28 pm

Hewitt blewitt really gets 100k for winning 1 DANG GAME??? u CANT be serious!!

GT fan

March 21st, 2010
7:28 pm

Shumpart is not as good as he thinks he is. A tad bit over rated. FAvors and Lawal are great.

GTman:

March 21st, 2010
7:30 pm

Class of ‘98 Hey UGAG fan: Your team looked awesome today playing with themselves. I wouldn’t be talking chitman, not afer your embarrasing season. Your school, team and fans are a joke. THWG!

gtg

March 21st, 2010
7:30 pm

i gave up…will not watch tech BB til we havve new coach.

Mark Bradley

March 21st, 2010
7:32 pm

Paul in RDU, you wouldn’t believe what time my flight leaves tomorrow morning.

Matt

March 21st, 2010
7:32 pm

Hewitt needs to move on. He has some of the best talent in the county, and we finished 7th in the ACC and got a 10th seed in the NCAA tournament. Some blame a young team, look at Kentucky…they don’t have an issue with four freshman getting major minutes. You’ll never win games when you can’t make free throws, get the ball in bounds, handle pressure, and average over 15 turn overs a game. The lack of performance comes from poor coaching. The best season Hewitt had came with several players he inherited. Mark Price, John Salley, somebody…please come help!