Georgia Tech basketball has a shakeup on the coaching staff, but it might not be the one some fans want. Assistant John O’Connor is leaving Tech to take the head job at Division II Holy Family after spending six seasons on Paul Hewitt’s staff.
The Yellow Jackets got back to the NCAA Tournament this year after a two year drought, but many still felt the season was a disappointment with such a talented squad. Two likely first round picks graced the roster this season, yet Tech only managed seven wins in the ACC. Hewitt’s ACC record of 67-93 in ten seasons is a sore spot for many Jacket fans.
But it was not always this way in Atlanta. In Hewitt’s first five seasons, he was 96-66 with a 39-41 conference record. Tech made it all the way to the national championship game in 2004.
After the 2004 season, assistant Dean Keener left the staff to take the head job at James Madison.
In 2005, Tech made it back to the NCAA Tournament and fell in the second round to eventual Final Four participant Louisville. After that season, another assistant Cliff Warren left to become head coach at Jacksonville. Warren had been on Hewitt’s staff for the past eight seasons, including his previous gig at Siena.
The Yellow Jackets performance took a downward turn after the 2005 season. Since Warren left, Tech is just 80-76 and even worse 28-52 in the ACC.
Hewitt has recruited very well the last five years having two players drafted in the first round and several others make NBA squads. This year the Jackets will likely have two first round picks.
Many Tech fans point to the lack of X’s and O’s and poor guard play as a reason for the poor records as of late. And the poor records started at the same time as Keener and Warren left.
The struggles over the past few seasons have caused a divide in the fan base as to what Hewitt's future should be. The former ACC Coach of the Year has a buyout north of $7 million. Still, the athletic director may be forced to make a change if the divide grows even further with another poor year.
This past season, the Georgia Tech head coach made multiple mentions of how the guard play on the team needed to improve. Also, the Jackets had issues with executing a simple inbound play.
The hope in Atlanta is that Hewitt will hire a coach who can coach guards and scheme at an ACC level and not just a recruiter. His recruiting prowess is already well demonstrated by the amount of players in the NBA.
The opening being so recent, no candidates have come to the forefront. Keener is out of coaching world and it is unclear if he has been approached by Hewitt or if he would even be interested.
With the opening, Hewitt has a chance to make a significant hire who can take the Yellow Jackets still talented roster back to the NCAA Tournament and back near the top of the ACC.
Will Paul Hewitt make that hire?
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