Memo to Paul Hewitt: Please Join Chan Gailey
Paul Hewitt's honeymoon at Georgia Tech is over—at least it should be. His ramblin' wreck are just that, a wreck, and it's not the first time this has happened at the school on North Avenue. Hewitt, simply put, is not suited to coach in a top notch conference. Oh sure, he can bring in some talented players and put together a solid year here and there—but he's proven that he can't sustain any type of success. He's had multiple recruiting classes with which to work, as well as an appearance in a national title game to build upon—and he's yet to prove that this is nothing more than a mediocre program that every once in a while will step up and play slightly above average.
Yes, Hewitt does have four NCAA appearances at Georgia Tech, which isn't bad—but it's not at an acceptable level...not when 65 teams a year are making the Big Dance. Hewitt's problem is an inability to build any depth on this team in order to prevent complete collapses, like the one seen in 2005 or the one the Jackets are enduring this season. He lost Jarrett Jack early to the NBA following the 2004-2005 season. Tech had absolutely no answer at point guard the following season, and the result was an 11-14 record, marred by a 2-11 finish. That wasn't the first time Tech followed an NCAA tournament run with a disappointing season. Following a trip to the NCAA tournament to conclude the 2000-2001 season, point guard Tony Akins exhausted his eligibility. With no solid answer behind him, the Jackets floundered the next season. Following last season's return to the NCAA tournament, stud point guard Javaris Crittenton bolted early for the NBA. Had Hewitt learned his lesson from previous tournament runs and the impending exodus of his point guard? No, clearly not. The result? Another sub .500 season at this point in the year.
Last night's game against Kansas was the epitome of a Paul Hewitt team and the program under him. They have the athletes and the talent, for the most part, to compete with the big dogs of the college basketball world. However, they are often missing that vital piece to actually beat them—that missing link is usually a point guard. Tech fans know all too well about offensive ineptitude; they've seen it on the football field for far too long. Apparently this inability to score points is contagious. Hewitt's offenses do not remotely resemble a thing of beauty—instead they seem to more closely resemble George Bush sitting through a global warming convention. The players are uncomfortable, they don't look like they know much of what they are doing, nobody is on the same page, and it seems that their minds are elsewhere—and that they might wish their bodies were too. Stagnant offense was costly in last night's loss to Kansas, as was Tech's inability to do anything in the half court, which hurt them over several different stretches in the game. Then, late in the game with the chance to win, they turn the ball over—which is typical of a team with no quality point guard.
In big time college basketball, you have to have big time talent to succeed. More than that though, you have to be prepared to lose that big time talent early to the NBA. Kansas lost Brandan Wright early from last year's team. Tech lost Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton. The difference? Kansas had the depth to easily replace such losses. The Florida Gators lost basically their entire team from last year, and while they aren't exactly a national title contender right now, they aren't exactly fodder for the rest of the country either. Why? They've built depth.
You would have thought Hewitt would have learned his lesson, but he hasn't. You have to recruit big time talent, but you also have to recruit guys who will be there for four years to complement them and fill the holes when those stars leave early, as they most certainly will if they even sniff success at the collegiate level. Hewitt seems incapable of building a roster prepared to deal with the early exodus of players. You don't think the other big time programs don't have young kids leaving early? Of course they do, they are just better equipped to handle it. Granted, Hewitt probably didn't expect to come into this season missing three players from last year's team that weren't seniors (Rashean Dickey was ineligble for the first semester and will miss the rest of the year with an injury), but he had to know when recruiting such blue chippers as Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton that he was exposed to the possibility of having neither return. Hewitt had to know that he needed to develop a quality option at point guard behind Crittenton. Maybe he did know, but just wasn't capable of doing so.
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