Category Archives: NCAABB

Brian Gregory’s Hot Seat

52-62, that is Georgia Tech Head Coach Brian Gregory’s record in three plus seasons at the helm of the Jackets, and this year is looking like it may be his worst with the Jackets currently in the cellar at 0-7 in the ACC. It looks like it is time for another change at Tech. Before Gregory, Paul Hewitt amassed a 190-162 record through 11 seasons, unspectacular if you take away the 2003-04 run to the National Championship. In those 11 years, Hewitt managed six winning seasons. Hewitt’s tenure went south after too many up and down seasons. Three of his last four seasons ended up with the loss column fatter than the winning column.

Gregory was plucked from Dayton after a 172-94 record including multiple trips to the NCAA Tournament and a NIT Championship. The move from A-10 to the powerful ACC seemed like a no-brainer. A strong coach at an emerging school making the leap to the ACC with a strong southeastern recruiting region seemed like the perfect fit. Georgia Tech, who usually manages to hold its own in recruiting, was supposed to bring in enough talent to at least be competitive in the ACC, but instead that has not been the case.

Gregory has managed to ink four 4-star prospects, but many have not panned out. Robert Carter was a key cog inside a year ago averaging over 11 points and eight rebounds, but he has since transferred to Maryland. Guard Solomon Poole was kicked off the team last February and is now Florida Atlantic’s leading scorer. Freshman Tadric Jackson from Tifton is shooting 25 percent and is just 5-51 from beyond the arc. Tech’s lone highly-touted recruit that has actually panned out has been Marcus Georges-Hunt, who is now a junior and leads the Jackets in scoring.

The talent has been there as far as recruiting sites say. Virginia has had just two more 4-star players in the same time Gregory has been at Tech, and Tony Bennett has turned the Cavaliers into the best defensive team in the nation and one of only two schools left this season to be undefeated. Bennett’s Cavs held Georgia Tech to their lowest output in ACC history as they managed just 28 points last Thursday.

If Gregory can’t turn things around, Tech (9-10, 0-7) should be ready to go in another direction. The ACC has only gotten tougher with the additions of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, and Louisville. The Jackets have not been able to keep up with the dearth of exceptional talent and coaching. The best record Coach Gregory has managed so far is 6-12 in back to back seasons. Six of their seven ACC losses this season have been by single digits, but moral victories won’t keep any coach around. Coach Hewitt, although not an offensive genius, always had teams that could score the ball and be primed to pull an upset. In his 11 seasons, the Yellow Jackets averaged 74.25 points a night. Under Gregory, that number has dropped to 63.67; the second lowest in the ACC. The Jackets struggle to share the ball and hit open shots—a recipe for disaster. They shoot a miserable 25 percent from deep which allows teams to sag off shooters and load the paint.

Gregory has seemingly tried to hang his hat on defense during his time at Georgia Tech which isn’t a bad idea, but when your team is that inept at scoring it doesn’t make much of a difference. Tech has managed to play games tight, but once the bullets start flying in the second half, they have no playmakers to get a shot off. It definitely has been a rough three plus years for Coach Gregory. He by no means has the most talented roster in the ACC, but there is enough talent to be in the hunt for at least a NIT bid.  If this season continues to sputter and Georgia Tech cannot gain any ground, Gregory’s seat should rightfully be on fire. If he is still with the program this offseason, it might be a good idea for him to meet with Paul Johnson and figure out how to turn things around and in the process, save his job.

Eagles Flying Under The Radar

In college basketball, everybody knows the prestigious programs of Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, and Kentucky. In the past decade, Mid-Major programs have been all the rage stealing spotlights and headlines with their exceptional play. 2006 gave us George Mason, 2010 gave us Butler, 2011 Virginia Commonwealth, and most recently Wichita State last season. Nothing is better than a Cinderella story, a true David vs Goliath matchup. Last year, Georgia State narrowly missed making it to the big dance after they fell to Elfrid Payton’s Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns in the Sun Belt title game 82-81 in overtime after a 25 win season. This season Georgia State is humming along under the radar nationally, but is still a favorite to win the Sun Belt this year, but I’m here to talk about another Georgia school that might have something to say about that, the Georgia Southern Eagles.

A notorious powerhouse in football, the Eagles (10-3, 3-1) have quietly put together a very nice season and have designs on thwarting the Panthers’ dreams of making it to the big dance along with every other Sun Belt school. A true dark horse, the Eagles finished 15-19 a season ago and managed just a 6-10 record in the Southern Conference. So far, it seems like the switch from the SoCon to the Sun Belt has benefited the Eagles. Currently they are second in the conference, one game behind 4-0 UL-Lafayette.

All three of Georgia Southern’s losses this season have come by single digits. The Eagles opened their season in Champaign, Illinois against the Fighting Illini. Southern entered the half tied at 31, but eventually fell 80-71. Their other two losses came against UCF by two and to Texas-Arlington by 1; both road losses. Senior Jelani Hewitt makes things click for the Eagles on offense. The playmaking guard leads the team in points (20.2) and assists (3.8) and has been the leader in these two categories since last year as a junior when he averaged over 19 points and 3 assists per game.

A key addition to this year’s team has been former Greater Atlanta Christian state champion, Trent Wiedeman. Now a senior, Wiedeman was named to the SoCon All-Freshman Team and to the Mid-Major Freshman All-American team which was selected by CollegeInsider.com. Wiedeman found great success early on in his career under Head Coach Bobby Cremins, but found his playing time decrease under new coach Doug Wojcik after he could not get healthy after two ankle injuries.

The big man has been a major boon for the Eagles’ low post game as he is currently second in scoring with 13.6 points and leads the team in rebounding with 6.8 per game. Eric Ferguson, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a sophomore and junior, is now back with the team after facing a suspension with off court issues stemming from drug charges. After missing the first six games of the season, the 6’8 forward has begun to round into shape and is averaging 8.6 points and 4.9 rebounds on 51 percent shooting.

Hewitt, Wiedeman, and Ferguson make up a formidable trio that should be able to give opposing Sun Belt foes issues with their ability to score inside and out. Georgia Southern’s main strength is its ability to control the glass. They rank 16th in the nation with 40.5 rebounds a game and lead the conference. Compare that with conference favorite Georgia State, who ranks 289th with just 32.1 rebounds per game, and the Eagles have the sizable advantage.  Where the Eagles might hurt down the stretch is their inability to block shots, where they average under two a game ranking 257th in the nation.

Though it is still early in conference play, anything can happen. Head Coach Mark Byington now in his second season at Southern, seemingly has the Eagles believing they can play with anyone. They have played a soft schedule with three non-division one schools, but the close loss to Illinois and wins against South Florida and Florida International have Byington and the Eagles hoping this season’s senior ladened team can open some eyes and make some noise in the Sun Belt.

A Student’s Plea for Kennesaw State Basketball

Another college basketball season is here, and I am afraid that it will be more of the same for the Kennesaw State Owls. I have been a student at KSU for five years and will be graduating this May. I played basketball my entire life and was hoping to be able to attend a ton of Kennesaw games throughout my time in school. However, ever since the upset victory over Georgia Tech in 2010, I along with other Owl fans have been force fed the same slop each year: a team that lacks discipline, heart, and direction.

I have seen Kennesaw go 20-105 in my time at school. I cannot bring myself to even attend games anymore because the product is so poor; Owl games are consistently empty. Trust me; this student fan base would love to get behind Kennesaw. We are stoked for the football team and are excited to go out and root on our home team, but when the basketball team is losing by 20-30 points each night to fellow A-Sun teams, enough is enough.

Talent has not been the biggest problem for the program. There have been nice pieces in place. Markeith Cummings ended his career as KSU’s all-time leading scorer and now plays in the NBDL. Aaron Anderson finished his career as the program’s all-time leading rebounder and has been successful playing overseas. On this year’s team, Delbert Love is back for his senior season along with former highly touted recruits Benard Morena, Willy Kouassi, and Damien Wilson, so can somebody explain to me how this team is not even being competitive? With losses of 47 and 34 points under their belt, it looks like Kennesaw is well on their way to another disappointing season. Many will say I am overreacting this early in the season, which I hope I am, but I have seen this all before.

The past three years Lewis Preston was in over his head as head coach. The team was sloppy, had no offense, and couldn’t defend. He had the horses to compete last season with a plethora of new faces, but could only muster three wins before taking a leave of absence on Jan. 3 and later was relieved of his duties. Jimmy Lallathin led the team to three wins the rest of the season, which unfathomably was only six less wins than what Preston could come up with in his two and a half seasons.

Preston refused to recruit in the hotbed that is Metro Atlanta and chose to reach for players from up north. There is more than enough talent in Georgia that should be getting recruited by KSU, but for some reason Kennesaw struggled to land any difference makers. Athletic Director Vaughn Williams decided to roll the dice after last season and named Jimmy Lallathin the official head coach instead of looking for options outside of Kennesaw. Lallathin recently was suspended one game after NCAA violations, but now will have full reigns of the team.

As a student, I was promised last year that things would be different and that the team would compete. It has been the same song and dance for five years now and I am tired of it. The community of Kennesaw deserves a team that will play hard and compete. There is no way the talent discrepancy in the A-Sun is that of 15-20 points nightly. Coach Lallathin needs to bring this team together and fast. I have heard over the years, “the team is young”, “the team needs time to grow”, “let the coach put his system in”, but enough has been enough and it is time to be brutally critical.

The highly recruited Damien Wilson who was granted immediate eligibility after transferring from Memphis has gone 4-20 from the field with 11 turnovers in two games. This team is in dire need of a player to lead. Someone has to say they are sick of losing and that things must change. The coaches can preach the right things, but if players don’t buy in and don’t build a winning mentality it is all for not. All I am asking for this holiday season is for Kennesaw to win some games and make me proud.