Paul Hewitt has done something right. Yes, Paul Hewitt.
Georgia Tech announced Tuesday that Hewitt had hired Robert McCullum as an assistant basketball coach. You might never have heard of Robert McCullum, but that’s OK. He’s not a household name. He is, however, a basketball coach of long standing, and the Jackets need all the coaching they can find.
McCullum is 55. He has been a Division I head coach, but not a successful one. (He had losing records at both Western Michigan and South Florida.) That’s OK, too. What he brings is experience. He has worked with Lon Kruger (at Kansas State, Florida and Illinois) and Eddie Sutton (at San Francisco). He has actually had to call a timeout.
Since Dean Keener left the Jackets after the 2004 Final Four and Cliff Warren departed a year later, Hewitt has had to do too much. Last season’s staff included Peter Zaharis and John O’Connor, both of whom came to the Institute as directors of basketball operations, and the former Jacket Darryl LaBarrie, who arrived by way of East Carolina. (O’Connor left this spring to become head coach at Holy Family.) Put simply, there was no counterweight to Hewitt.
For the longest time the only head coach in college basketball who could overcome a lightweight staff was Tubby Smith, and eventually even he got worn down. Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo are the best in the business, and they lean heavily on their assistants. Florida didn’t become a national champion until Billy Donovan hired Larry Shyatt to sit beside him.
Hewitt didn’t need another youngster to recruit and break down film. (Tech’s recruiting isn’t the issue.) He needed an assistant who’s older and who has a broader background. McCullum fits the profile. This isn’t to suggest Hewitt has found his own Shyatt, but it is to note that, for the first time in a while, the Tech head coach has effected a staff upgrade.