Monday, May 02, 2011

Paul Hewitt, Perennial Underachiever,To George Mason

The big college basketball story over the weekend was the fact that Paul Hewitt was hired to be the new head coach at George Mason. You can see some of my initial thoughts on the George Mason job from last week, when Jim Larranaga took the Miami job. I'm surprised by the Hewitt hiring. It was expected that the school was going to go for an outsider, rather than a current or former assistant of Larranaga, but the conventional wisdom was that they were going to promote some quality coach from a smaller mid-major. The leader was thought to be Mike Lonergan, from Vermont.

In my opinion, this isn't a good hire. Hewitt is not a guy who is going to try to build a program - he's going to bring in some big time recruits that can get him some wins so he can get back to a major conference. But this is already a team that is loaded for next season. Hewitt will bring in big time recruits, but big time recruits don't mean wins. And if there's a good example of that it's, well, Paul Hewitt.

Here is a list of some of the players that have been on Hewitt's Georgia Tech teams over the past six seasons:

Thaddeus Young
Javaris Crittendon
Gani Lawal
Derrick Favors
Kammeon Holsey
Iman Shumpert
Lewis Clinch
Zach Peacock
Ra'Sean Dickey
Jeremis Smith
Anthony Morrow
Alade Aminu
Mfon Udofia

Those players combined for five McDonald's All-American appearances, and three went in the first round of the NBA Draft. Yet during those years his teams went a combined 33-63 in the ACC, never finishing above-.500 in conference play, or above a tie for sixth place. They made the NCAA Tournament twice, winning only one game - a fluky upset in the 2010 Tournament over Oklahoma State. He did have that amazing run in the 2004 NCAA Tournament with Chris Bosh and Jarrett Jack, but there's only so long a coach can live off of one improbable NCAA Tournament run.

And before somebody argues that Larranaga is living off his one improbable Tournament run, all I have to say is that the past two seasons Larranaga has built a really good team. His boys were better than VCU this past season, and were primed to be a Top 25 team next year.

There's no guarantee that a guy like Mike Lonergan can recruit or coach as well at the CAA level as he had at Vermont, but if I was leading George Mason's athletic department I'd have rather gone that route that taking another major conference retread.

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