Archive for March, 2011

Chattin’ live on the NCAA tourney, propped-up-feet and all

The channel I'm watching, alas, is NOT truTV. (Photography and podiatry by M. Bradley)

The channel I'm watching, alas, is NOT truTV. (Photography and pedicure by M. Bradley)

Charlotte — Welcome to our third annual live chat off the Thursday afternoon NCAA tournament games. The first two years weren’t without controversy. In 2009 you folks made fun of my TV. Last year the Milwaukee Hyatt impelled me to relocate to Major Goolsby, a sports bar across the street, by delivering the sobering news that it did not offer room service for lunch.

(For breakfast, yes. For dinner, yes. Just not for lunch. Are you kidding me?)

But I digress. And now I move to this year’s issue: Of the 65 channels available on the wide-screen TV here at the Civic Center Marriott, truTV isn’t among them. I confess that I’d never heard of truTV until it came a carrier of NCAA games, but now I know what it is. And it’s not here. So I’m going to miss those games today.

My life: Drama untold.

And here we are again. I’m pretty sure the Marriott offers at least a tuna sandwich if not truTV, so I …

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A Fox, a Byrd and a Jimmer: The Big Dance begins in earnest

Mark Fox used to work for U-Dub. Now he's facing it. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Georgia's Mark Fox used to work at Washington. Now he's facing U-Dub. Small world, eh? (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

The road to the Final Four, which will be staged in Houston, has begun with the newfangled First Four, staged in Dayton. In between much will happen, only some of it foreseeable by human minds. As the NCAA tournament prepares to begin in earnest, we offer a four-pack of foursomes for your perusal.

Four coaching curiosities

Lon Kruger, UNLV: He’s the world’s nicest guy, so what did he do to deserve this? The former head Atlanta Hawk — remember his ill-fated playoff guarantee? — will face one of his former schools (Illinois) in Round 1. Should the Runnin’ Rebels advance, Kruger would surely face the man who succeeded him at Illinois (Bill Self, now of Kansas) in Round 2. And looking way ahead, two other former Kruger employers (Florida and Kansas State) sit in his half of the bracket.

Mark Fox, Georgia: His Bulldogs will meet Washington, which is where Fox began his …

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Georgia State should take Dip; KSU needs (the other) Matta

Dip Metress: He's a basketball master who works in Augusta. (AP photo)

Dip Metress: He's a basketball master who has done great work in Augusta. (AP photo)

It must be noted that Georgia Tech isn’t the only school in the metro area in need of a basketball coach. It’s only one of three. Georgia State fired Rod Barnes. Kennesaw State fired Tony Ingle. Which makes Atlanta the hoops vacancy capital of the world.

Toward that end, I offer two more bits of advice. (I’ve already done my bit to help Dan Radakovich at Tech.) Here’s who GSU and KSU should target:

Georgia State shouldn’t look beyond the state border. Dip Metress — his given name is Darren, and his last name is pronounced “ME-tress” — is 170-51 over seven seasons at Augusta State and has taken the Jaguars to the NCAA Division II tournament five seasons running. Three of those seasons yielded a run to the Elite Eight, and last night Augusta State fell just short, losing to Anderson 75-73 in overtime in the Southeast Regional final.

We know Metress can coach because he developed the big man …

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Anthony Grant to Tech? Great idea, but where’s the money?

That does look like a Georgia Tech tie, does it not? (AP photo)

That does look like a Georgia Tech tie, doesn't it? (AP photo)

Kelly Quinlan of JacketsOnline.com has identified Anthony Grant of Alabama as a possibility to come coach Georgia Tech. You’ll have noted that I didn’t include Grant on my (slightly redrawn) short list of names for the Jackets, and I didn’t for a simple reason: I don’t think he’d take the job.

When Georgia had an opening in 2009, Grant wasn’t just on my list: He was my first choice. And, being human, I did note that Grant, who wound up in Tuscaloosa, went 2-0 against Mark Fox, who wound up in Athens, this March. (Not that Fox wasn’t a good hire — he was.) I like everything about Grant: His history as a Florida assistant; his record at VCU and now the way he has taken a not-terribly-talented Tide team and taught it to defend.

If Dan Radakovich could land Grant, I’d say call off the search and have the press conference tomorrow. But I’m afraid what happened with Georgia in 2009 could happen to Tech. The Jackets will …

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A new list of Tech possibilities, this one including Amaker

Tommy Amaker: A Harvard man to lead the Jackets? (AP photo)

Tommy Amaker: A Harvard man to lead Tech? (AP photo)

Last month I offered a list of possible replacements if Georgia Tech fired Paul Hewitt. Today, with Tech actively seeking a head coach, I offer a slightly amended list.

Mike Anderson of Missouri has been dropped because I don’t think the Jackets can afford him. (Having to pay its former coach $7 million doesn’t help in the effort to find a successor.) Scott Drew of Baylor has been dropped because his program just had a player ruled ineligible by the NCAA. And Craig Neal, the Tech alum and New Mexico assistant, isn’t on the list because I’ve discussed him elsewhere. And with that, I give you another six-pack:

Tommy Amaker, Harvard: Has rebounded from his Michigan misfire — he was dumped after six non-NCAA seasons — to make the Crimson an Ivy League power. (Harvard missed the NCAA tournament because Princeton hit a last-second shot in a tiebreaker game.) Played and coached at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski. Did nice work at Seton …

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Craig Neal: This alum merits consideration as Tech’s coach

Noodles Neal as a Jacket, driving against Ranzino Smith. (Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech)

Craig "Noodles" Neal as a Jacket, driving against Ranzino Smith. (Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech)

Ordinarily it makes little sense to hire as head coach someone who hasn’t been a head coach, but Craig Neal’s circumstances are special. He’s not just any assistant but one of the best in the nation. (He has a five-year contract; most assistants go year-to-year.) He has worked alongside Steve Alford for seven seasons, and together they’ve averaged 23 victories — first at Iowa, now at New Mexico.

Last March the Lobos, who hail from the Mountain West Conference, entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 3 seed. This was a lesser Lobo season, but they still went 21-12 in a league that yielded a No. 2 NCAA seed (San Diego State), a No. 3 (BYU) and a No. 8 (UNLV). And given New Mexico’s youth — only one senior on the roster — 21-12 and an NIT berth stands to be the worst this program does for a while.

Said Alford, speaking Sunday of Neal: “He’s been like an assistant head coach. He’s our …

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Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco: UGA to surprise, Buckeyes to win

Don't think UGA could beat Carolina? Georgia Tech did. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Don't think UGA could beat North Carolina? Let's note that Georgia Tech did. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The 24th annual edition of Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco — yes, next year will mark our silver anniversary; time flies, huh? — begins with words to commit to memory: The RPI matters. Georgia not only made the NCAA tournament field but made it with room to spare, whereas Alabama, which beat the Bulldogs twice in seven days, wasn’t invited.

But enough about that. We here have a time-honored function, and that’s to pick a Final Four. Here’s mine: Ohio State, Duke, Purdue and Florida.

Regarding Georgia: As a No. 10 seed, the Bulldogs not only avoided having to play a game in Dayton just to get into the big bracket, but they find themselves in a position to do damage. Washington is a nice team — it has a great guard in Isaiah Thomas and some size underneath — but Georgia has good perimeter players and some big guys, too. (And Washington has to travel across country, which never …

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Dancin’ Dawgs: Georgia makes the NCAA with room to spare

"OK, guys. Everybody dance now!" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Head choreographer Fox says: "Everybody dance now!" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

OK, the RPI does matter. Georgia made the NCAA tournament and made it with room to spare. The Bulldogs are a No. 10 seed, which is what Georgia Tech was a year ago after reaching the ACC finals.

Georgia got an OK draw for one round. Washington is good but not unbeatable. (Although the Bulldogs have had issues defending guards, and the Huskies’ Isaiah Thomas is one of the best.) Then you look at Round 2 and you see …

North Carolina. In Charlotte. Whoa.

But if you’re the Bulldogs, you don’t care about that now. You’re in. You’re dancing.

More later. Bracket Fiasco later. Give me 90 minutes or so.

By Mark Bradley

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Dangling-by-a-thread Dawgs: Are they in the Dance or out?

Georgia's Mark Fox: "Dayton! It's this way, guys!" (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Georgia coach Mark Fox: "Dayton, Ohio! It's this way, guys!" (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

The SEC tournament raged on without them, but the Georgia Bulldogs remained a talking point — involving much talking and little consensus — at the Dome. Soon we’ll all know their NCAA tournament fate, but a lot of us spent Saturday afternoon trying to decide if they’ll be out or in. Trying and failing.

Joe Lunardi, the ESPN bracketologist, had them out. Jerry Palm, the CBS Sports man, had them in as a No. 10 seed. (Palm has been higher on the Bulldogs than anyone else among the figure filberts, it must be noted.) Andy Glockner of SI.com had them the next-to-last team in. See what I mean by consensus, or the lack of same?

Mike Slive is the SEC commissioner, so he’s biased toward his membership. He also served five years on the NCAA committee, which means he knows more about its workings than you and I and maybe even Joe Lunardi. And he believes both Georgia and Alabama should make it.

Said …

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Tech fires Hewitt: He had it all, and then it all went away

The last stand: A 16-point loss in Greensboro. (AP photo)

The last stand: A 16-point loss to the Hokies in Greensboro. (AP photo)

Question: Over the 11 years Paul Hewitt worked at Georgia Tech, which program had more losing seasons — his or Georgia’s?

Answer: His.

If anyone still needs to know why Hewitt had to go, there it is: His teams finished under .500 five times in 11 tries, and it’s tough for a program in a big-time conference to have even one outright losing season. Georgia has had four over that span, and that’s counting the 2002-2003 season that is now recorded as 0-8 after NCAA sanctions but was 19-8 on the floor. That’s a Georgia program that worked under three different coaches (four if you count interim Pete Herrmann) and beneath the thundercloud of an NCAA investigation and subsequent probation.

Scoreboard: UGA four losing seasons (one after forfeits); Tech five losing seasons. Amazing.

Hewitt had made a big deal of his five NCAA appearances lately, saying (incorrectly) that only Duke and North Carolina had been to the …

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