Archive for February, 2011

Hewitt and Tech by the numbers: Be grateful for Hoosiers

April 2004: Paul Hewitt in San Antonio. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

April 4, 2004: A happy Paul Hewitt at the Final Four in San Antonio. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

The folks in Print asked for a chart to accompany the previous Paul Hewitt post, and we decided this would be an appropriate way to illustrate how Georgia Tech compares to other teams that reached the NCAA finals and lost between 2000 and 2009. Only Indiana, which lost to Maryland in 2002, has a worse winning percentage since its title appearance than does Tech. The list:

Florida since 2000: 273 wins, 95 losses, a winning percentage of .742.

Arizona since 2001: 219 wins, 103 losses, a winning percentage of .680.

Indiana since 2002: 143 wins, 135 losses, a winning percentage of .514.

Kansas since 2003: 226 wins, 44 losses, a winning percentage of .837.

Georgia Tech since 2004: 111 wins, 104 losses, a winning percentage of .516.

Illinois since 2005: 149 wins, 84 losses, a winning percentage of .639.

UCLA since 2006: 123 wins, 44 losses, a winning percentage of .737.

Ohio State …

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Time for Tech to cut its (many) losses and fire Paul Hewitt

Tech needs to surrender to the inevitable: This man can't get it done. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Tech needs to surrender to the inevitable: He can't get it done. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

We can cite his record in regular-season ACC play, which is 70-101, or his conference road record, which is 19-66, but this number tolls loudest:  Paul Hewitt has had three losing seasons since Georgia Tech graced the 2004 NCAA title game. As bad as that sounds, it’s actually worse.

Fifteen different programs played for the national championship from 2000 through 2009. Of those 15, only four have since suffered a losing season. Illinois and UCLA have each had one. Indiana, which reached the 2002 NCAA final under Mike Davis, has had three, but the Hoosiers bear an asterisk: They’ve had three coaches and are still digging out from post-Kelvin Sampson probation. (And Mike Davis, the coach who took Indiana to the championship game, managed only one losing season before resigning.)

Since 2000, only one Division I coach has presided over more than one losing season after leading that program …

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The Hawks: Stuck in the rut of not being good enough

Stephen Jackson (right) made the game-winner Saturday. Joe Johnson (left) did not. (AP photo)

Stephen Jackson (right) made the game-winner Saturday, which meant Joe Johnson (left) did not. (AP photo by David Goldman)

The Hawks have become that strangest of creatures — a team with a good record that almost nobody takes seriously. They’re on pace to win 51 games, down two from last season, but where that aggregation was seen (at least by some, this writer included) as a threat, this one isn’t regarded as even a nuisance. The reason being:

This team is essentially the same as last season’s, and we saw in Round 2 against Orlando how threatening those Hawks really were. They played four games, winning none, losing by an NBA-record aggregate of 101 points.

All that has changed is that Jason Collins, who can’t really play, plays a bit more, and Larry Drew is the coach, though to call him a new coach is to ignore his six seasons as Mike Woodson’s chief assistant. What we see is a team that has shown us its limits but has been kept together anyway.

To say these Hawks have been …

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Chuck Tanner: A nice man who promised a Peachtree parade

The essence of the man himself: Chuck Tanner in 1986. (AJC file photo)

The essence of the man himself: Chuck Tanner in 1986. (AJC file photo by Rich Addicks)

In the 45-year tome of Atlanta Braves history, Chuck Tanner is regarded as the jester. He was the smiling guy who arrived from Pittsburgh and promised “a ticker-tape parade down Peachtree.” He lasted 2 1/4 seasons, having managed the team to a last-place finish, a next-to-last-place finish and a 12-27 record through May 22, 1988.

Tanner died Friday at age 82, and the wire-service accounts of his passing made little note of his time in Atlanta. But those of us who were here recall that, in the fall of 1985, Tanner’s hiring was seen as a coup.

The Braves were coming off the epic failure of the Eddie Haas Experiment. They’d fired Joe Torre in October 1984 and replaced him a day later with Haas, who’d been managing the Class AAA Richmond Braves. Poor Haas was so overmatched he was fired Aug. 26. The Braves’ front office — John Mullen was then the general manager — was in such disarray that Ted …

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In McShay’s mock, the Falcons pounce on the other Pouncey

Randall Cobb accounted for 41 touchdowns at UK. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Randall Cobb accounted for 41 touchdowns at Kentucky. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Don’t know this for a fact, but I came away from the 2010 NFL draft believing the Falcons would have taken Maurkice Pouncey, the Florida center, had he been available. And he almost was. The Steelers snagged him with the 18th pick. The Falcons had the 19th pick and took Sean Weatherspoon, who was hurt and didn’t do much.

Maurkice Pouncey started every game as a rookie — save the Super Bowl, and his absence was key — and made All-Pro. But now Todd McShay of ESPN Insiders and Scouts Inc. believes the Falcons could well grab the next best thing to Maurkice Pouncey in Round 1 this April.

Mike Pouncey, his twin.

Here’s the McShay rationale (link requires registration):

The Falcons are definitely in the market for a pass rusher, but there is none on the board worth the pick. Atlanta also needs to upgrade its interior offensive line, and Pouncey makes perfect sense given his ability to contribute …

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A lineup change for the Hawks? Let’s start by sitting Marvin

This came on a night Marvin didn't start. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

This, perhaps not coincidentally, came on a night Marvin didn't start. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Doubtless you’ve read the post by esteemed colleague Michael Cunningham in which Larry Drew says he’s contemplating a lineup change for his Atlanta Hawks. Which sounds fine. But who should sit?

Drew has already made one lineup tweak, choosing to start Jason Collins at center and moving Al Horford to power forward. (Drew does this only on occasion, usually when Marvin Williams is out, which he often is.) This has helped bump up Horford’s scoring average by two points a game, but when you’ve got Collins as your center, somebody else had better shoot.

To say that minor alteration has galvanized the Hawks would be incorrect. They’re about the same, give or take, as they’ve been since Mike Bibby arrived in February 2008. Speaking of whom:

Some folks regard  Bibby as the Hawks’ weakest starter and clamor for Jeff Teague. I would note that Teague’s workload has risen only two minutes …

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5 reasons to be concerned about your 2011 Atlanta Braves

"Now boarding: Flight 2011, bound for ... glory?" (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

"Now boarding: Flight 2011, bound for … October?" (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Ever notice how every player and manager always says he’s “excited” about spring training? Because every player and manager always is. Spring training is the fun part. But somebody has to function as a wet blanket, and here I stand. (Or drape, as the case may be.) Here are five reasons I’m concerned about the local nine as it readies for Lake Buena Vista.

1. The defense could be deadly. Dan Uggla will help the batting order, OK? We’re agreed there. But Uggla is a bad defender — 47 errors over the past three seasons, which is a bunch for a second baseman — and he’s the new Braves second baseman. Which means Martin Prado moves to left field, where he has played a total of three big-league games. Even if Chipper Jones is healthy, he’ll still turn 39 in April. And Alex Gonzalez, who turns 34 next month, was a major defensive disappointment.

Think about it: At how many positions do the Braves have a …

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Another home loss for the underwhelming Georgia Bulldogs

Trey Thompkins after fouling out Tuesday. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Trey Thompkins fouled out Tuesday. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Give Georgia this: None of its seven losses has come against a bad team. But wasn’t that supposed to the point of this season, that Georgia has itself grown into a good team?

The Bulldogs lost another home game Tuesday, this to Xavier. There can be no real dishonor in losing to Xavier, but this was yet another opportunity squandered. Since beating Kentucky on Jan. 8, Georgia is 4-5. Three of those losses have come at Stegeman Coliseum, and that’s noteworthy. The 14-17 Bulldogs of last season lost only four home games.

Nobody’s blowing Georgia out — its only loss by more than seven points came in double overtime — but teams, at least the good ones, are out-executing the Bulldogs when it matters. That shouldn’t be happening. Mark Fox is a good coach, and his starting five includes four juniors and a senior. And it’s a very gifted starting five.

Which is why none of this makes sense: You’ve got the coach, and he has …

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Jon Bon Jovi as Falcons co-owner? Is Vanilla Ice too busy?

Smitty is chagrined to learn the new fight song is "Livin' on a Prayer." (AP photo)

Mike Smith is chagrined to learn the new fight song is "Livin' on a Prayer." (AP photo)

We begin with a stipulation: There’s no accounting for taste. People like what they like, and that’s OK. I’m sure some people — millions of them, if record sales are any gauge — truly enjoy the musical stylings of Jon Bon Jovi. I’ve just never met anyone who does.

I have lots of records in many formats: Vinyl, cassette tape, CD, digital, even those old Flexi-discs. Nowhere among this personal collection is a track by Bon Jovi. Indeed, the only Bon Jovi song I’ve enjoyed to any extent is an obscurity — “The Edge of a Broken Heart” — that JBJ and Co. didn’t feel moved to put on a proper LP. (It showed up on the “Disorderlies” soundtrack back in 1987. I believe it’s now available on iTunes.)

I mention this because ESPN has reported that Jon Bon Jovi is in negotiations to buy 15 percent of the Atlanta Falcons. (The Falcons have issued a no-comment.) Ordinarily the thought of a famous musician …

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Deion Sanders: A Hall of Famer who left too much undone

Deion Sanders scores a touchdown in his first NFL game. (AJC file photo)

Deion Sanders scores a touchdown in his first NFL game. (AJC file photo)

He was the most gifted Falcon ever, but Deion Sanders was never content to let his gifts do the talking. He applied the hard sell to a product (himself) that needed no selling. He was always pushing. He wound up pushing his way out of the city he should have owned.

At first he was a breath of life to Atlantans numbed by the ineptitude of the Falcons and the Braves. (From 1984 through 1990, neither managed a winning season.) We saw him land at the airport on Draft Day 1989, and we believed our town’s sporting fortunes were about to change. And then he ran back a punt for a touchdown in the first quarter of his first NFL game and we were agog.

But that wondrous debut came, or should have come, with a warning label. Sanders had missed training camp because he was off playing baseball for the Yankees. It would become his signature. (He figured it was always Prime Time somewhere.) He wouldn’t stick to one team …

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