When we started thinkng about the conference this year, our immediate
sentiment was that hoops pretty much would end at the NC border,. because
Clemson, FSU, and Tech were sure going to suck.
They're not going to be worldbeaters, but we don't think that any of the
three will be horrible. The Great ACC Coaching Transition is pretty much
over, since the new guys (Sendek, Gillen, Robinson and Shyatt) have all
increased their talent, and of course Doherty inherited a pretty good
team. So those guys should all do better. But what about Tech?
That's a tough one, frankly. We are inclined to think, though, that
despite the depleted talent, Paul Hewitt will squeeze a lot out of this
team. Let's be honest: everyone loved Cremins, but no one called him a
coaching genius. Even Cremins said his strong suit was chemistry, not X's
The immediate and startling difference will be Tech playing as many kids as
possible. Cremins talked about doing that, but never got around to it somehow.
You can bet your bottom dollar Hewitt will.
The other thing which works to his advantage is being new with the
kids. Alvin Jones, who is pretty widely considered a head case, said he
drops by just to talk to Hewitt. And his comments in the ACC Handbook
indicate he is a pretty good judge of the human psyche. That may
well work wonders with Tony Akins and Clarence Moore, two guys who showed some
talent but maybe didn't have as much confidence as they might have
And if you think about it, potentially it's not a bad base to build on:
whatever his faults - and we have always thought he was a head case - Alvin
Jones can hold down the inside at least on defense. We remember watching
Akins at Duke last year and thinking that the kid was pretty damn quick.
There's something to work with there, in other words, and a pretty quick guy in
a running system -and it's not like Jones is slow - will be dynamic.
In terms of other athletes, Tech returns Darryl LaBarrie, TJ
Vines, and the less athletic Jon Babul and Shaun Fein. They also
bring in Robert Brooks, who will have to provide some depth up front,
Halston Lane, and Marvin Lewis. Lewis has a rep as a solid shooter, and Lane has
been compared to Matt Harpring as a hardass. Not talent wise, attitude wise.
Speaking of Harprings, Matt's little brother Patrick is a walkon this season.
|Stanford or Sacred Heart|
So there's at least some talent on the team. Not as much as other ACC
schools, but some. Hewitt promises to put out a superbly conditioned team.
We've already gotten an inkling of the difference that is making for UNC, and if
Tech is in better shape and playing more players, then who knows? They could
And a word or two about Paul Hewitt. He comes in with some unhappiness
from a few people who wanted a bigger-name coach. but they fail to
understand that the ACC has always hired young up and comers, starting with
Everett Case. UNC broke the tradition when they hired Frank McGuire, but
their next three coaches were all unproven as head coaches (Doherty still is).
Cremins himself, Valvano, K, both Bill Fosters, Lefty (Davidson was a pretty
small job even though he was awesome there), Sendek, Odom, Carl Tacy,
Robinson - the list goes on. There are exceptions - Gary Williams and
Gillen come to mind - but it's not like that's the normal thing. The ACC
never really goes after Pitinos or Izzos or Roy Williams - wait, scratch that
last one. But you get the point.
We didn't know much about him when he was hired, but the more we read the
more impressed we were. There's an excellent chance that Tech managed to nab a
rising star, a guy who could be a truly special coach. If so, that's good
for Tech and the rest of the ACC as well. Let's hope. It could be a long
season, or it could be a bright point for both Tech and the conference.