Archive for the ‘Georgia State/CAA’ Category

Already setting Georgia State records, Hunter dreams bigger

Ron Hunter reacts placidly to the defeat of William & Mary. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Ron Hunter reacts placidly to the defeat of William & Mary. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Nine months on the job, Ron Hunter has already done something only one other Georgia State basketball coach ever did: He has won eight consecutive games, matching the record established by Lefty Driesell’s Panthers on their run to Round 2 of the 2001 NCAA tournament. Here, however, comes a disclaimer:

Not one of the eight teams the Panthers have beaten holds a winning record, and if you’ve ever wondered how an  8-3 team can have an RPI of 287, here’s your answer. According to ESPN Insider’s numbers, Georgia State has played the worst schedule among the 345 Division I teams. And here, bang on cue, came Hunter’s rebuttal.

“First of all, I didn’t make the schedule, but I’d rather play the Sisters of Poor 27 times and be 27-0. It’s more about winning than RPI. If my mother brought her team down here, I’d want to beat her — and I love my mother.”

And here Hunter, who in addition to being smart …

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2011 college Heat Check: Georgia got hot; Tech got warm

Tech's Stephen Hill feels the hot breath of the Bulldog D. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Tech's Stephen Hill feels the hot breath of the Bulldog D. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

We’re nearing the end — news flash! — of the calendar year, and our weekly Heat Check takes on broader scope. We review the year just past, and we look toward 2012 and we tick off folks in the process. Got that? Here we go.

Georgia Bulldogs: They rose from 6-7 to the top of the SEC East, winning 10 consecutive games in the process. Then they lost by 32 points to LSU. The debate will rage until next September whether Georgia got really good again or just benefited from a bunny schedule. The view here is that it did both. (The two aren’t mutually exclusive.) But it’s true that the Bulldogs lost to the three best teams they played, and it wouldn’t hurt to beat Michigan State in the Outback Bowl. 2011 Heat Index: A hot season removed Mark Richt from the ol’ hot seat. 2012 Hotness Outlook: Should be a preseason Top 10 pick and the favorite to win the East.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: They …

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For local college hoops teams, it figures to be a chilly winter

Just about everything has changed for these programs in 12 months. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Much has changed for these programs, and others, in 12 months. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Mark Fox took the Georgia job on April 2, 2009, which makes him the dean of local men’s college basketball coaches, which tells us much about the fluid state of local college basketball. “We’re still unpacking boxes,” Fox said Wednesday, bemused by his status, at age 42, of Elder Statesman.

Then he said: “This is a tough business right here.”

Fox spoke before the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s annual luncheon at the Marriott Marquis. Around the room, three other coaches, none of whom has yet coached an actual game at their particular school, were doing interviews. All were trying to be optimistic, but occasionally a note of reality intruded.

Said Ron Hunter of Georgia State: “We’re going to be better than expected — I’ll say that.”

And beating expectations, to be frank, wouldn’t take much. The four schools represented at the luncheon were a combined 53-72 last season, and that was with …

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Heat Check: Hail Tech and the Dream, Atlanta’s shining lights!

Tech's Tevin Washington, dual-threat QB, sheds Blue Raiders in Murfreesboro. (AP photo)

Tech's Tevin Washington, dual-threat QB, sheds Blue Raiders in Murfreesboro. (AP photo)

It wasn’t the greatest week in the history of local sports. The Braves, who hadn’t been swept in a series all season, got swept twice. The Falcons’ Super Bowl Express suffered a malfunction in Chi-town. Georgia fell to 0-2 for the first time since Jim Donnan was a rookie Bulldog coach. Which impels our Monday Heat Check to turn elsewhere for glad tidings.

Georgia Tech: The Jackets could always run, and now they can pass, too. (Wait a second. Is that newfangled forward pass legal?) The chief reason they fell from 11-3 (forfeit not included) in 2009 to 6-7 last season was that Demaryius Thomas wasn’t around to catch wobbly passes and give the spread option an aerial option. Now Stephen Hill is making like Bay-Bay and Tevin Washington is emulating Daryle Lamonica — did you know the Mad Bomber was a high school rival of the famous prep quarterback Bobby Cox? — and Tech has beaten two lesser …

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No longer a novelty act, Georgia State embarks on Year 2

It was another winning night for the guys in blue. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

It was another winning Opening Night for the Panthers. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Georgia State football was new last season, and new is almost always fun. This year stands to be more successful — having gone 6-5 in 2010, the Panthers should better that — but less noteworthy. The novelty is gone. What’s left is a college team trying to carve a niche in a market not lacking diversions.

The Panthers played their first-ever game Sept. 2, 2010, drawing the surprisingly robust total of 30,237 patrons to the Georgia Dome. That was, however, the maiden voyage’s emotional crest. In six subsequent Dome games, Georgia State didn’t once break 17,000.

Year 2 for GSU began Friday night, and it wasn’t quite the same. The Dome’s lower bowl, which accommodates 28,155 and was packed on Opening Night 364 days earlier, was only two-thirds full. (And the “visiting” team was Clark Atlanta, which sits within the Dome’s shadow.) You could argue that there’s a lot happening this holiday weekend — …

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Kennesaw, Tech and Georgia State: Assessing hoops hires

At Kennesaw, Lewis Preston walks into a difficult job. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

At Kennesaw State, Lewis Preston walks into a difficult job. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Here I sit, smack in the midst of what was, at least for six weeks, the Coaching Vacancy Capital of the Basketball World, and now the positions have been filled and darned if I can find cause to criticize any of the three. Have I lost it or what? (Don’t answer all at once.)

Georgia State hired Ron Hunter. Georgia Tech hired Brian Gregory. Last but not in any way least, Kennesaw State hired Lewis Preston, who was introduced at the school Tuesday. I’d give solid B’s to Tech’s and KSU’s new men, and I’d give something better to Georgia State’s. Here’s a look at each case.

Kennesaw State: This was the trickiest of the three hires. The Owls had to first find an athletic director, and they landed an impressive one in Vaughn Williams, who apprenticed at Boston College and UConn. Then Williams, whose official start date isn’t until May, had to identify someone willing to take a job that pays less — …

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Hoop scoop: Gregory, Shumpert, Royal, Neal and Kennesaw

Georgia Tech AD Dan Radakovich with his real new coach. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Georgia Tech AD Dan Radakovich with his real new coach. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Basketball-tinged items of interest to me, and I hope to you:

• Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich, speaking of Brian Gregory: “He’s real. We’ve got a football coach [Paul Johnson] who’s real, and we’ve got a basketball coach who’s real.”

• As regards the Hotness Factor: Had Gregory’s Dayton team beaten Richmond in the Atlantic 10 final, Gregory would have made the NCAA tournament for the third time. Had his team won a game in the Big Dance — A-10 teams were 3-3 in NCAA play this March — he’d have been seen by more folks as a rising star for the simple reason he’d have been seen by more folks. And maybe his hiring would have been met with more enthusiasm in the Tech ranks. Or maybe he’d have been so hot Tech could no longer have afforded him.

• Speaking of Richmond: Chris Mooney’s interview with Tech was conducted via telephone Sunday. And Tech wasn’t at all surprised when …

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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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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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Coaching GSU hoops: A tough job, maybe an impossible one

Rod Barnes indicates how close Georgia State was to turning the corner. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Rod Barnes indicates how close Georgia State was to winning. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Coaching Georgia State is a tough job. That’s why Mary McElroy, who was the athletic director in 2007, thought she’d found the right man: Rod Barnes had already worked a tough job.

At Ole Miss, Barnes won 20 games and made the NCAA tournament three times in his first four seasons. Then it went bad — four losing seasons in four tries, which led to Barnes getting fired, which led to his availability when McElroy called. By Georgia State standards, his hiring was a coup: A former SEC coach who, at 41, was young enough to build something on the Concrete Campus.

That was in March 2007. A different AD fired Barnes on Sunday after not-quite-four seasons for a basic reason: “The win-loss record does not reflect where we want to be,” Cheryl Levick said in a release, and nobody could argue that 44-79 spells  success. But now we return to our original thought.

Georgia State is a tough job.

It isn’t …

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