Archive for March, 2010

Hewitt is staying: Tech fans, how do you feel? UPDATED

Georgia Tech has now confirmed that Paul Hewitt has turned down St. John’s. Here’s the school’s official statement:

Georgia Tech head basketball coach Paul Hewitt said Thursday afternoon that he will remain at the Institute and is no longer a candidate for the head coaching position at St. John’s University.

Hewitt, 46, just completed his 10th season at the helm of the Yellow Jackets’ program, guiding Tech to a 23-13 overall record. The Jackets advance to the championship game of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament and earned a berth in the NCAA Championship for the fifth time, where it defeated Oklahoma State in the first round before being eliminated by Ohio State.

“My family and I have developed deep ties to Georgia Tech and the city of Atlanta,” said Hewitt. “I strongly believe in what Georgia Tech can do for young people, and I am committed to returning the Tech basketball program to the level of success our fans have come to expect. We took a step in that …

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If Hewitt leaves, would Tubby coach Tech? UPDATED!

Update: Apparently it’s a moot point now: ESPN and the New York Daily News are reporting that Paul Hewitt has turned down St. John’s and is staying at Georgia Tech.

We don’t yet know what Paul Hewitt will decide regarding St. John’s, but the inevitable speculation has begun: If Hewitt leaves, then Tubby Smith must be the first choice to replace him — mustn’t he?

Two things to note about Tubby Smith: First, that of all the college basketball coaches I’ve known, he’s my favorite; second, that of all the Tubby rumors since he left Georgia for Kentucky in 1997, not one has been accurate. And there have been a bunch.

Tubby to Auburn this year. (Obviously didn’t happen, given that the Tigers just hired Tony Barbee from UTEP.) Tubby back to Georgia last year. Tubby to South Carolina a while back. (Almost happened but didn’t.) Tubby to the Atlanta Hawks on at least three different occasions. (Never got close.) Tubby to the Charlotte Bobcats. Tubby to Michigan in 2007.

Back to that …

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Sweepless in Atlanta: The Hawks finally slam the Magic

After the jam: Josh Smith seems rather pleased. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

After the jam: Josh Smith seems rather pleased. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

In the grand scheme, it might mean nothing. But when it happened, it sure felt like something. It felt as if the Hawks proved to themselves and the Magic that a Round 2 series between these teams might not be a mismatch, and they proved it with two exclamatory points a millisecond before the horn.

The game had started badly — the Magic led 15-2 — and was winding down the same way. Leading by 11 points with 5 1/2 minutes remaining, the Hawks saw Orlando tie on Vince Carter’s 26-footer with 9.9 seconds left. Having burned all their timeouts, the Hawks were left to their own creative devices, and what they managed was pretty sound basketball.

Joe Johnson drove and pulled up along the left baseline. Josh Smith flew along the right baseline and, with one majestic swipe of a mighty left hand, dunked home the miss.

Then everybody got really excited. Then they had to calm down to see if the hammer of Smoove …

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The Madness moves onward in this March of the mid-majors

It wasn’t enough to see Ohio — not Ohio State, but Ohio U. – trash Georgetown. Nor was it enough to watch Cornell dispatch precise opponents in Temple and Wisconsin. Or even enough to stand back in wonder as Ali Farokhmanesh of Northern Iowa raised up against Kansas and scored the most brazen three points of any NCAA tournament ever.

Even as we seek to process the wonders wrought in Week 1 of the Big Dance, we must ponder what could be. A Final Four of …

Butler, Cornell, Northern Iowa and Saint Mary’s?

You know you’ve got a tournament when there are as many No. 12 seeds remaining as Nos. 3 or 4. You know you’ve got a tournament when the odds-on favorite goes belly-up in Round 2. As the Sweet Sixteen commences, we must ask ourselves: Has the madness subsided, or has it just begun?

The most intriguing matchup of the millennium: Cornell versus Kentucky (East Regional, Thursday 9:57 p.m.) It’s the Big Red against the Big Blue, and the two would seem to have nothing in common. Yet …

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It’d be better for Hewitt and Tech if the two sides part ways

Who wouldn't want to go where he'd feel wanted? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Even millionaire coaches need to be loved. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

It would be better for both parties if Paul Hewitt leaves. Better for Georgia Tech, which would be free of an increasingly unpopular coach and his onerous contract, but also better for Hewitt, who could return to New York as the people’s choice. As coach of St. John’s, he wouldn’t be viewed as the guy who hasn’t really delivered since 2004; he’d be the man from Queens come home to save the Johnnies.

There was a time when Paul Hewitt seemed the savior of Tech basketball. In his first season he took Bobby Cremins’ remnants and turned them into an NCAA tournament team, and in 2004 he took a team of his own creation to the championship game. And for all those who’ve looked at Tech lately and decided Hewitt cannot coach his way out of a paper bag, the memory of 2004 stands as a golden counterpoint: That team was a triumph of coaching.

I’ve said it before, but here it is again: I don’t know if any other coach …

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Tech grants permission: St. John’s can speak with Hewitt

Paul Hewitt: Is he headed back to New York City? (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Paul Hewitt: Is he headed back to New York, New York? (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Georgia Tech athletics director Dan Radakovich has given St. John’s permission to speak with Paul Hewitt about its coaching vacancy. The request from Red Storm athletics director Chris Monasch was received at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, according to Wayne Hogan, Tech’s associate AD for communications.

St. John’s fired coach Norm Roberts last week. It had targeted Hewitt, who grew up in Queens, after Hewitt led Tech to the 2004 Final Four. He chose instead to sign the now-famous perpetual rollover contract and stay at Tech.

Reports in the New York media have identified Hewitt as one of the names atop the Red Storm’s list.

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Hewitt to St. John’s? New York tabloids are abuzz (Updated!)

Paul Hewitt at work during the NCAA tournament. (AP photo)

Paul Hewitt during the NCAAs. (AP photo)

UPDATE: Georgia Tech athletics cirector Dan Radakovich granted St. John’s request to speak with Paul Hewitt at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Lenn Robbins of the New York Post reports that St. John’s, which fired coach Norm Roberts last week, plans to pursue Paul Hewitt.  This would not constitute a shock.

This wouldn’t be the first time St. John’s has targeted Hewitt. The Red Storm had an opening six years ago, but it coincided with Hewitt’s one extended NCAA tournament run. Worried that another school — or an NBA team — would steal the coach that had just led the Jackets to the title game, then-athletics director Dave Braine awarded Hewitt the perpetual rollover contract with its $7.1 million buyout. St. John’s hired Roberts instead.

Hewitt’s contract also includes a buyout on his end: Should he leave for another college job, he would be obliged to pay Tech $3.5 million. But there have been recent indications that Tech would not hold Hewitt to …

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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 …

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Live from Tech-Ohio State: Guess who’s getting a feeling?

The Georgia Tech players ready for the task. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Sunday, 12:27 p.m. CDT: The Georgia Tech players ready for the task. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Milwaukee – It’s eerie. In 2004 Georgia Tech entered as the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Regional, only to see second-seeded Gonzaga lose to Nevada (Mark Fox was a Wolfpack assistant coach) on Saturday of the first weekend and then No. 1 Kentucky lose to UAB a hour after Tech had dispatched Boston College on Sunday in the Bradley Center.

Here we are, six springs later, and seeds Nos. 1 and 3 in the Midwest are gone, and the Jackets can unhorse the second seed themselves. Should they get past Ohio State, they’d head to St. Louis with as good a chance to reach the Final Four as any opponent they’d find. Tennessee is nothing special. For all the stunning work it has done this season, Northern Iowa isn’t apt to win four times in this event. The final qualifier will be either Maryland or Michigan State, and Tech just beat one of those.

If you’re asking, “Are you having one of those Bradley …

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By beating Ohio State, Tech can turn haters into bee-lievers

Gani Lawal is among the reasons Tech has an inside edge. (AP photo)

Gani Lawal is among the reasons Georgia Tech has an inside edge. (AP photo)

Milwaukee – For no apparent reason, a Georgia Tech fan stood in the Bradley Center on Friday and, during pregame warm-ups, exhorted the Jackets by yelling, “History!” Turns out the guy was just premature.

History wasn’t on the line in Round 1 — No. 10 seeds oust No. 7’s all the time — but it will be Sunday. And it’s not history of the NCAA tournament factoid sort; it’s history as in memory, in legacy. If the Jackets lose tomorrow, we’ll recall them as a team that flirted with its potential but didn’t quite deliver. If it wins, everything changes.

If the Jackets win, we won’t much care that they were 7-9 in the ACC and were swept by Florida State and finished the regular season with consecutive losses. We’ll see them as a team that took its time learning how to play but one that, at the last possible moment, aced the final exam. We’ll see this as the second-best team of Paul Hewitt’s tenure, the team …

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