Archive for March, 2011

Georgia Tech’s coaching search: Won’t be much longer, folks

Gregg Marshall in his Winthrop days. I'd guess he's high on Tech's list. (AP photo)

Gregg Marshall in his Winthrop days. I'm guessing he's high on Radakovich's list. (AP photo)

Perhaps you have questions about Georgia Tech’s coaching vacancy. You’re not alone. I do, too. The man who could answer them all — athletic director Dan Radakovich — isn’t talking, but in his stead I’ll offer what I know and what I’ve been given reason to believe. And, as a bonus, even a wild guess.

What’s taking so long?

Paul Hewitt was fired nearly two weeks ago. If Tech hasn’t interviewed anyone — and as of Wednesday morning, it hadn’t — it hasn’t been to heighten the drama. Most of the coaches in whom Tech has interest have teams still playing, which would only make sense. Wouldn’t want to hire someone whose team didn’t reach the postseason, would you?

When will interviews begin?

As soon as those coaches’ teams lose.

Does Tech have a short list? Is there a leading candidate?

Yes to the first. And if there’s a leading candidate, he hasn’t been identified by any outsider in position …

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Another home blowout tells us the Hawks have quit on Drew

Kirk Hinrich: Not exactly the missing piece, was he? (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Kirk Hinrich arrives and the Hawks start stinking it up at home. Cause and effect? (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

This is why you don’t promote the nice-guy assistant. Because the players who’ve known him only as the nice-guy assistant will quit on him. And if you think the Hawks are still playing hard for Larry Drew, how are we to explain the misdoings of the past three weeks?

The Hawks have lost six home games in 18 days. (By way of comparison, they lost seven home games all last season.) Only one of these six losses has been by fewer than 13 points. Average margin of the six losses — 17.2 points.

On Friday they trailed Miami by 29 points after three quarters. On Saturday Al Horford convened a players-only meeting, which apparently enabled the Hawks to subdue the awful Detroit Pistons by eight points the next day. But the shelf life on players-only meetings, at least for these Hawks, is only 48 hours. On Tuesday they trailed Chicago by 29 points after two quarters. (They would …

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Georgia State’s new coach: Ron Hunter, dreamer of dreams

Ron Hunter receives a pair of shoes for Samaritan's Feet from Georgia State athletic director Cheryl Levick. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

New Georgia State basketball coach Ron Hunter receives a pair of shoes for his favorite charity Samaritan's Feet from GSU athletic director Cheryl Levick. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

Think it’s hard recruiting for a program that’s 379 games under .500 and plays its games in a walk-up gym? Try doing it at a place where two basketball tentpoles are mentioned in your school’s name.

Ron Hunter comes from IUPUI, which stand for Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. The Indiana Hoosiers have a history of Bobby Knight and Branch McCracken and Isiah Thomas; the Purdue Boilermakers have Gene Keady and Rick Mount as touchstones. The IUPUI Jaguars had a coach who once worked a game in bare feet, and they played in a gym that shares a building with, as Hunter says, “a world-famous swimming pool” (the Indiana University Natatorium).

It’s unclear if anyone can actually win at Georgia State, but Ron Hunter is the man to try. He has spent his vocational life working at urban …

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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.) …

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Butler fouls! Pitt fouls! Weirdest NCAA ending ever? Yep

OK, you’re asking: Have I ever seen anything like the end of Pitt-Butler? And the answer is:

No, because nobody has ever seen anything like it.

The silliest foul in the history of the Big Dance followed by an even sillier one. An absolutely great game that had an ending to make even the winning coach feel sheepish. And here’s the weirdest part: The refs weren’t wrong either time. Both the goofball fouls — first Shelvin Mack’s, committed 45 feet from the goal, and then Nasir Robinson’s, committed 90 feet from the other goal — were fouls.

If it was unfortunate that such a game was decided by back-and-forth lapses of sense, it nonetheless proves yet again that the NCAA tournament cannot be handicapped or scripted. You can’t write stuff like this. Butler is the most resourceful team in the land and possibly the best-coached, and it messed up. Then Pitt messed up worse. Amazing. But not really.

Because that’s the thing about the Big Dance: These guys aren’t pros, and many of them …

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UGA’s hoops epitaph: It gave itself a chance but lost anyway

The story of a season. (AP photo)

It was both the end of the road and the story of the season. (AP photo)

Charlotte — “Losing in the tournament,” Mark Fox said, his voice a rasp as Friday night became Saturday morning, “there should be no shame in that.” There shouldn’t, and there isn’t. You could even describe the presence of Georgia in the NCAA tournament as a breakthrough. And yet …

The season that ended here didn’t feel quite that emphatic. Georgia won 21 games and made the Big Dance, yes. It also lost 12 games and was gone from the NCAA after 40 minutes that could stand as the season in miniature.

The Bulldogs got what they wanted against Washington — the game, the pace, the score. They just couldn’t win it. “Yes,” said Fox, the Georgia coach, “that was frustrating.”

Two years ago it was possible to wonder if the Bulldogs would ever again grace the only tournament that matters. That they made it in their second try under Fox says much about this coach, and in a different era we would look on Georgia and …

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Live from UGA-Washington: It’s late night at the Big Dance!

Mark Fox at Thursday's practice at Time Warner Cable Arena. (Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Observer)

Mark Fox coaches free throws at Thursday's practice. (Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Observer)

Charlotte – To borrow from the Kenny Loggins song that served as NBC’s theme for the 1980 NCAA tournament — yep, NBC once had the Big Dance — this is it. Georgia and Washington are about to meet, and ’round midnight we’ll know if the Bulldogs will be halfway toward the Sweet 16. And now you ask: Who in his/her right mind would pick Georgia to make the Sweet 16?

Er, me.

I haven’t had a very good tournament, forecast-wise — and we’re only in (Full) Day 2! — but I have made a bit of a comeback from yesterday’s misdoings. I had Arizona over Memphis, George Mason over Villanova, Florida State over Texas A&M. (I also had Tennessee over Michigan and came within 31 points of being right.)

As we speak, I’m seated courtside at Time Warner Cable Arena, and you will be shocked to know there are about 12,000 folks wearing powder blue in the joint. (North Carolina play Long Island in the early …

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UGA’s in the NCAA, and Dennis Felton deserves a thank-you

Give that man a hand! His players are playing in the Big Dance! (AJC photo by Rich Addicks)

Give that man a hand! His recruits are playing in the Big Dance! (AJC file photo)

Charlotte – Mark Fox has received and deserves much credit for lifting the Georgia Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament in his second season. When Fox arrived from Nevada in the spring of 2009, this was a program with little credibility and no real reason to believe anything would get any better soon. But as we prepare to watch the Bulldogs work against Washington on Friday night, it seems the appropriate time to reconsider …

Dennis Felton?

Dennis Felton was fired by then-athletic director Damon Evans on Jan. 29, 2009 — 10 1/2 months after Felton saved his job by leading Georgia to the bolt-from-the-blue SEC tournament title and NCAA tournament appearance. The knocks on Felton were many: He hadn’t won big, he hadn’t connected with fans and (this above all) he hadn’t recruited well enough in a state where basketball recruits are plentiful.

But when we look on Fox’s second Georgia team, we see his …

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What a Fiasco! I’m 5,461st in the NCAA contest I founded!

The ageless Joe Mazzulla and West Virginia had a better day than I did. (AP photo)

The ageless Joe Mazzulla and West Virginia had a far better day than I did. (AP photo)

It’s not exactly a great moment when you awake on the second full day of the NCAA tournament to find you rank 5,461st of 5,742 entrants in the contest you founded. But that’s where I, Mark Bradley, stand in Mark Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco after as bad a prediction day as I’ve ever known. (Which is saying something.)

I went 7-9 in Thursday’s games. My two major upsets — Belmont over Wisconsin and Wofford over BYU — never came close to fruition. The two major upsets I chose not to pick — Morehead State over Louisville and Richmond over Vanderbilt — actually happened. The Michigan State comeback against UCLA fizzled. Old Dominion lost to Butler on a last-second putback. Missouri and St. John’s and Clemson all lost, and only Clemson was ever in its game.

To which I say: Rats. But now we move forward. The good news is that I have all my Elite Eight working. (The less-good news is that only three of …

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Georgia in the NCAA: A good team that still might get it right

The bright lights of the Big Dance shine on the Bulldogs. (Photo by M. Bradley)

The bright lights of the Big Dance shine on the Bulldogs' media session. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Charlotte — Sometimes I feel I’m the lone ranger. I watch Georgia and I see good players, a good coach and a good team. Others wonder why this team made the NCAA tournament field. So I asked Lorenzo Romar about the Bulldogs, and now I don’t feel so all alone.

Said Romar, whose Washington Huskies will play Georgia on Friday: “I definitely don’t see a team that shouldn’t be here. They’re physical. In the paint they’re more than capable of playing well and competing against any team. They’re well-coached. They have a system that you can see they’re disciplined in. They have great quickness, and they really do a good job defending.”

Then, regarding Mark Fox: “You can see he has them playing the right right way. I’m really impressed with how he goes about handling his business.”

Then, regarding Trey Thompkins, the Georgia forward Romar coached this summer as part the USA Select team: “He …

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