Would Tech be smart to hire Smart? Or does it need a Buzz?

D-Rad the AD figures to be a ramblin' guy the next two weeks. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

D-Rad the AD figures to be a ramblin' guy the next two weeks. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

The nice thing about this NCAA tournament is that it keeps offering up possibilities for programs seeking a coach, which describes Georgia Tech. (And also Kennesaw State. But no longer Georgia State, which has hired Ron Hunter of IUPUI.) To our Tech short list of last week, we attach Shaka Smart of VCU and Buzz Williams of Marquette. But we affix asterisks to both.

If you’re a program seeking a coach, what you hope is that your targeted man wins an NCAA game to pique your interest — and also your fans’ interest — and then loses before the first weekend is done. The trouble with Smart and Williams, and also Chris Mooney of Richmond, is that their teams are still playing. And a school seeking a coach can’t really interview a guy if his team’s still playing.

Georgia Tech spent last week preparing itself for this week. (Athletic director Dan Radakovich went to Columbus with the women’s team.) Tech has its list and figures to start interviewing candidates very soon now, but logistics could become an issue. About all Radakovich has said about his coaching vacancy is that he’d like to fill it it before the Final Four, which convenes Friday, April 1. That gives him 10 days.

But Richmond, Marquette and VCU don’t play until Friday night. That doesn’t mean it would be impossible to hire one of those coaches before March is done. (This assumes the coach’s team doesn’t qualify for the Final Four, which probably isn’t a safe assumption.) It does mean Radakovich would have to move really fast.

What to know about Smart: He’s 33 and has been a head coach only two seasons. He was an assistant at Clemson under Oliver Purnell and at Florida under Billy Donovan. The past two Rams coaches — Jeff Capel and Anthony Grant — have jumped to bigger jobs. (Although Capel just got fired at Oklahoma.) On Jan. 3 his team lost at Georgia State by 10 points. In the NCAA his Rams have beaten Southern Cal, Georgetown and Purdue by an aggregate 49 points.

What to know about Williams: He’s 38 and has taken Marquette to the NCAA tournament the past three seasons. He spent one season as head coach at New Orleans but resigned — in July — to accept a job as Tom Crean’s assistant at Marquette. His first real job came when, while still a student at Oklahoma City, he badgered the Texas-Arlington coach into hiring him. His nickname came from his days as a student at Navarro College, where the head coach described him as “buzzing” around the program. His given name is Brent.

Possible complication: Williams is considered the front-runner for the Oklahoma job, one of three schools — North Carolina State and Arkansas are the others — that figure to have more money to spend than Tech. That said: Wouldn’t a guy nicknamed Buzz fit better here than anywhere else?

(Oh, and I should probably say this again: I haven’t included Brad Stevens on any Tech list for the simple reason that I don’t think he’ll leave Butler anytime soon, if ever. I see Stevens as the new Mark Few, who remains at Gonzaga despite repeated attempts by richer schools to pry him away. But I’ve been wrong before, most recently about Purdue making the Final Four.)

By Mark Bradley

217 comments Add your comment

Bubba

March 21st, 2011
9:25 am

Bubba

March 21st, 2011
9:25 am

Can I buy an “L”?

Rickster

March 21st, 2011
9:27 am

Mark Bradley

March 21st, 2011
9:29 am

Kudos to Bubba. Condolences to Rickster.

T-Bone

March 21st, 2011
9:31 am

Mark,

Why isn’t the Butler coach on your list for Tech, especially after this weekend? Surely the ACC is a step up from whatever mid-major he’s in.

MatthewH

March 21st, 2011
9:33 am

Mark, what about the article from Doug R saying that Mark Price is interested in the job?

T-Bone

March 21st, 2011
9:36 am

Ooops. Sorry, MB. I didn’t read the column before I posted my question. Trying to get in the queue as fast as possible. But shouldn’t DRad talk to Brad Stevens anyway.

MatthewH

March 21st, 2011
9:38 am

This is one of the problems with living in a city (Richmond) that has two very good mid-major schools. (VCU and U of Richmond). Their coaches always seem to leave for greener pastures. I still think Mooney would be a better candidate for the job. Yuo can rell that he has coached the fundamentals (something that Tech sorely needs)

yeah

March 21st, 2011
9:38 am

I like how Smart’s team plays. But I dont know if he has proven enough yet to get a job like GT. I wouldn’t be mad if he was hired, but it may be a gamble given his limited time at VCU and the fact that VCU wasn’t exactly in the dumps when he took over. However, Bobby Cremins was a gamble too, but we all know how that worked out.

MatthewH

March 21st, 2011
9:41 am

sorry- “You can tell. . “

Thomas Pynchon

March 21st, 2011
9:42 am

I’m available to coach!

Mark Bradley

March 21st, 2011
9:45 am

I’d definitely make a call to Brad Stevens, but I don’t think he’ll be receptive

Reality Check

March 21st, 2011
9:45 am

T-Bone, please read the whole MB post, Brad Stevens is likely to stay and had chances to leave Butler after their final four run last year to better jobs than GT.

jacketsball

March 21st, 2011
9:46 am

Based on blogs and other rumors Mooney seems to be a front-runner or a done deal. I would be happy w/ any of the these coaches: grant, mooney, shaka, marshall. Obviously Stevens would be the #1 choice if there’s any chance we can get him but like you and others have commented it’s very unlikely.

March Madness

March 21st, 2011
9:48 am

MB, why do you continue to block my posts under Reality Check, even JS is not so think skinned that he has them blocked.

Dink

March 21st, 2011
9:52 am

I think Moody is still my first choice.

Mark, is Pitt a perennial bust or what? Barkley may be right, the “Big Least”

Mark Bradley

March 21st, 2011
9:53 am

The only thing I’ve gotten right in this tournament is not picking Pitt.

On the other hand, I didn’t pick Kansas, either. And look at its regional — three double-digit seeds and the Jayhawks.

Kenbud

March 21st, 2011
9:58 am

I hope they have high interest in Cuonzo Martin at Missouri State ….. Purdue (and no, I’m not a grad or fan) has a strong legacy of good coaches. His team won the regular season and lost in the finals of their conference tournament. He’s “built” a program there in a very short amount of time. He could do the same at Tech. REALLY hope he’s on the short list.

Dink

March 21st, 2011
9:58 am

Mark, BTW I have to say I’m really impressed with THE Ohio State University. Haven’t seen them much but great ball movement and passing with a strong inside and outside game. A very well coached team. If Lighter stays hot I’m not sure anyone can beat them.

D A DoubleU G

March 21st, 2011
9:59 am

Tech needs a “buzz” (puke) in their program.

Mark Price would give it to them. I hope this is the route they go because I don’t see Price being AT ALL successful as a head coach.

Go get him Techies!!!

Hewitt fan

March 21st, 2011
10:00 am

@Mark
What about the coach from Kansas ST Martin?

Oh yeah i see the refs handed the great Coach K another one yesterday..What a horrible officiated game!..Duke won again due to the refs….the game was won at the ft line 25fta for Duke Um 14..NC also..you should be sick of this…But anyway i think Martin would be a great fit at GT…

Rickster

March 21st, 2011
10:08 am

MBThanks for the condolences on ’second.” But I really need condolences on my bracket.

After going 27-7 in the first round (a .781 batting average) I went 8-8 and then 4-4 in the next two.

From ranking 140th, I’m not down to 1,370th.

“The horror…. the horror.”

Rickster

March 21st, 2011
10:08 am

But at least all four of my final 4 picks are still in the running.

And even better, I’ve got 82 points to MB’s 58!

FullMetalJacket

March 21st, 2011
10:08 am

Of everyone mentioned, Chris Mooney seems like the best fit on the surface. Smart is too young and inexperienced, though he has a lot of potential. His “havoc” style of play may not work well in the ACC. Mooney seems the antithesis to Hewitt, but if he keeps winning he may not be affordable.

Mark Bradley

March 21st, 2011
10:10 am

I’m still in the 5,000s in the Fiasco. Purdue killed me. And I knew it would. But I picked it anyway because I’d vowed not to pick Kansas.

MightyQuinn

March 21st, 2011
10:10 am

Enter your comments here

Mark Bradley

March 21st, 2011
10:11 am

And I can’t say I’m crazy about Frank Martin. He has done a nice job at KSU, though.

MightyQuinn

March 21st, 2011
10:11 am

Dangit! Haven’t posted in awhile, obviously. Was wondering what you thought of the GSU hire, Mark.

Mark Bradley

March 21st, 2011
10:11 am

If I had to guess — and I don’t, but I will — I’d say Chris Mooney is the Tech front-runner. But I’m basing that on nothing of substance.

Rwreck77

March 21st, 2011
10:12 am

Mark, While we wait on the NCCA tournament and D’rads choice why not a drop us a little info on Jackets baseball now and then. Nice to hear about the women’s bb and even let us know how Bobby C is doing in the NIT

Mark Bradley

March 21st, 2011
10:13 am

I’m going to the Georgia State press conference and writing something for later, MightyQuinn. But I think Ron Hunter is a decent hire.

Worm

March 21st, 2011
10:13 am

Tech picked a bad time to be hiring..NC State, Oklahoma,Arkansas and soon to be Tennessee will snare this years hot coaches.

ACC Fan

March 21st, 2011
10:16 am

Wait on Mooney to finish the tournment. He is by far the best candidate.

Stuck at work

March 21st, 2011
10:16 am

Smart is winning with players he didn’t recruit.

Williams is winning with players he did recruit.

TomB

March 21st, 2011
10:17 am

Why do I listen to the so called experts? Big East has been a big flop. How did this conference get eleven teams in I’ll never know. Only the play of Marquette has made them marginally respectable. And, of course the ACC is way down this year … really weak conference they said. Now, who has the most teams in the sweet sixteen?

I would offer Stevens first and let him turn it down. Next I would offer the job to Mooney. Smart is a reach if only because of his Hewitt like resume. I like him a lot though and he will probably make some program look very smart one day.

MightyQuinn

March 21st, 2011
10:21 am

Thanks Mark. Have often thought GSU should sink serious bucks into the basketball program, given its urban location, then after success in that, go after football, a la Louisville in the 80’s/90’s. As a GSU alum, I loved it when Lefty came here and built a winner.

Ben

March 21st, 2011
10:24 am

Brad Stevens is the shining jewel in all the possibilities, but I agree, I don’t think he’ll leave Butler.

MightyQuinn

March 21st, 2011
10:26 am

Also Mark, did GSU contact Dip Metress, per your report, and if so, what was the problem? Did they just like Ron Hunter more?

Bill

March 21st, 2011
10:26 am

Like all your picks but my 1st choice is Mooneeeeeeeey unless you could get Stevens.

Price is not right for the times…..

Go Lady Jackets, kick A@@!

mon

March 21st, 2011
10:29 am

still pulling for Mark Price and so happy to know that he is the last person Mark Bradley would choose..thank goodness…if the ACC called, Brad Stevens will take a look, give me a break. He has Mooney beat..

By the way, out of all the hotshots out there, ACC’s Jeff Fann picks Mark Price over Smart, here is FANN’s list of choices:

“Here are my personal choices in this order: Price, Smart, Mooney, Marshall, Tyndall, and Neal”

here is Fann’s article:

http://georgiatech.raycomsports.com/blog/

Jackets 2011

March 21st, 2011
10:31 am

I usually screw up my brackett when Tech is in by picking them to go farther than they do.
Dawg fans have that problem this year unless they picked their team to go one and done.
Mark
I think everyone likes you better when you do poorly.
Then they feel better about doing crummy too.
Lots of games could have gone either way.

GT Insider

March 21st, 2011
10:32 am

Bradley,

Is the AJC too cheap for you to get some insider information? GT’s next HC is the worst kept secret in College Basketball currently. Only because his team is still playing in the Sweet 16. Shaka Smart is NOT a candidate.

Wow….Do some research…..

Joshua Barlowe

March 21st, 2011
10:36 am

No to Smart – he’s winning with a bunch of seniors recruited by Anthony Grant. Maybe to Buzz, but I like Mooney better, Brad Stevens even better.

Not Smart

March 21st, 2011
10:37 am

For those who want to pick Smart…..Hewitt took Siena to NCAA’s then took GT to finals. He was ‘hot’ coach but frankly, unproven in a big time program. Smart is NOT a good candidate. Little head coaching experience and VCU is clearly on a cinderella run. This doesn’t make Smart an automatic lock as a big time coach. He’s simply having a great year. Now, I’d really like to take a look at that coach from George Mason. Talk about taking talent and developing into winners!!!!!

Kentucky Jacket

March 21st, 2011
10:38 am

Mark, a name off the radar but deserves consideration is Scott Davenport, head coach at Division II Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky. Very successful head coach in High School, won a state championship, assistance under Denny Crum and Rick Pitino at U of L and now has Bellarmine ranked #2 in Div II and headed to the Elite 8. Great coach who deserves some recognition. Check into him.

Larry

March 21st, 2011
10:45 am

Please, no bald guys with goatees named “Shaka” for GT! Image matters!

Williams maybe, but right now I’m happy with either Mooney, a graduated from Princeton, or Mark Price, a GT graduate.

GT just experimented with a dumb guy who couldn’t coach (blewitt). The time is now for an intelligent and articulate coach in the image of a Mike Kryzewski that can recruit AND coach for an institution like GT.

Dumb guys with bizarre names are not the answer–see Barack Obama!

William Satterwhite

March 21st, 2011
10:45 am

Smart looks really good right now but I wish he had a few more years under his belt to get a better idea of his ability to actually build and sustain a program. It’s important to remember that he inherited a pretty good situation at VCU, while he looks like the real deal and would be a perfect fit in Atlanta, he’s a bit more iffy than guys like Marshall and Mooney who have a few more years under their belts and have shown that they can at least build/rebuild a program.

joe

March 21st, 2011
10:45 am

How about Bruce Pearl? Sounds like he’ll be available soon…

404

March 21st, 2011
10:47 am

D A DoubleU G:

Thanks for caring so much about GT, and spending so much time on the GT blog.

Bet I can guess what the DA stands for.

Daniel

March 21st, 2011
10:48 am

As most people have mentioned and you have already covered, I am really holding out hope that Dan can sweet talk Brad Stevens. What are you basing your feelings on?