I took the tour and visited the men's and women's locker room, the player's lounge, the freshman gym, the Whack Hyder room and one of the suites. Gary Lanier was my tour guide. He mentioned that next on Paul Hewitt's agenda was to knock out the east wall of the freshman gym and double its size.
I really liked the men's locker room. Above the lockers were 7 quotes by sports personalities in big black letters and backlit. The quotes were from Muhammad Ali (2 quotes), Vince Lombardi, Pat Riley, Mike Ditka, Larry Bird and Arthur Ashe.
Taped to each locker was a single 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper. On it were the "six principles of GT basketball" (my name) followed by the phrase " = the foundation for every successful TEAM."
I really liked that. Simple, yet effective description of what I think the staff expects GT basketball to be.
Also there was a sheet of paper on the plus/minus charting. Basically each player is charted on various items at each practice and given plusses or minuses. At the end of practice, if you have a negative balance you have to run sprints, one for each negative (ie -2 means you run 2 sprints). If you have a positive balance you can carry it over to the next practice or give it to a teammate who has a negative.
Also in the locker room was a tribute board to Michael Isenhour with his picture and his final speech at the basketball banquet. Also, they had a "Jackets in the NBA" wall.
One other neat little thing in the locker room was that each locker had a nameplate on the side for every player that had used that locker.
The women's locker room was nicer than the men's. They had a big Jacuzzi tub. They also had this cool "column of comments" (my name for it) which was a big column where each graduating senior could write her thoughts to those who were coming back. I thought it was a neat idea.
As for the program… both Machelle Joseph and Paul Hewitt gave short overview speeches looking back and ahead and then took questions from the audience. Charlie Radford (a sometimes Hiver) made a great presentation to Paul giving him his glass encased basketball with the signatures of all the members of the 1990 team. Said it was the first thing he showed Hewitt when he arrived and felt it was now time for it to be retired. He's giving it to the Edge Center so it can be displayed with the other Final Four memorabilia. Coach joked that the only reason he was giving it up was because he expected a signed basketball from this year's team.
Coach Joseph talked about the excitement of being a head coach and how much she was looking forward to the future. Said they needed to avoid the injury bug. They signed 3 players in the fall which some analysts said was a top 5 class. They expect the PG from NC to start. All the freshmen need to be able to play. One of the local kid's Mom was an AA at UGA, so they are hoping her daughter can do that at GT. Also, they have a commitment from the National Player of the Year from Sweden, but she couldn't say anymore since the paperwork hasn't arrived yet. Also it sounded like we are getting a player from Australia, partially through Luke Schenscher. Machelle also introduced her new assistant - a very tall and beautiful dark haired Australian who was an assistant at Auburn the last 3 years. A little Hive birdie told me last night that this assistant has a younger sister who is in the 11th grade who is 6'5. Someone asked her about where we are in relation to Duke and how long it will take to catch them. She said her assistant coach at Purdue is the current Head Coach at Duke and said that she took the Duke job in 1993 and you see how long it took her. We will get there, but it will take some time. Also mentioned that she felt our women's facilities were as good as anywhere in the country. Said you had to go to Connecticut or Tennessee to see women's facilities like we have. She also thanked Paul for his support. Paul said he had a wife and 3 daughters so he better be a big women's supporter.
On to the men's side... I was very happy with the recruits coming in. In particular, Hewitt really likes that they are all good passers. Said that Jeremis Smith is one of the best passing big men he has seen in years. Said he talked to Anthony Morrow this weekend and he is now 6'6, 200 (said he was about 6'4 1/2, 180 when we started recruiting him). Also said that Jeremis is about 6'7, 240 now and maybe we'll get lucky and he'll keep growing into a monster. Once again mentioned Smith's passing skills and said he needed to work on his left hand and his outside shot. Hewitt said he teases Isma'il Muhammad all the time that he thinks Jeremis is a better athlete than he is. Both Morrow and Zam Frederick can really shoot the ball. He thinks Ra'Sean Dickey is going to be a steal that can help us right away.
We are still waiting word from one recruit (Randolph Morris). People tried to tease information out of him but to no avail.
Paul mentioned that a month out from the Final Four all he can think about is next year. Said we have a lot of seniors which gives us a chance to be very good. Also mentioned that he was already thinking how next years team would be a little different than this year's. Said that a couple of the seniors have a chance to play on and he wants to give them a chance to shine while still making sure they do what they need to do to help the team win games.
Someone asked about the new academic requirements. Said it would make it tougher, but that was ok, they'll deal with it. He said it impacts a school like GT more (math and science oriented), because historically those schools have lower graduation rates. He felt the NCAA folks are really good people, but that they don't see the unintended consequences sometimes. Said graduation rates will rise across the country, which is what the NCAA wants, but is not sure they will know why or if it will be for the right reasons.
Asked about improvements the players need for next year and he mentioned 2 things. One, he thinks we can be a much better passing team than we were this year. Two, he thinks we can be more consistent outside shooters. Said that Jarrett Jack has a chance to be a very good shooter and that Ish was really shooting the ball well in practice at the end of the year. Said he encouraged Ish to take more shots late in the season but Ish was determined to get to the basket.
Here's some future radio news. Hewitt said he was very happy with their relationship with 790. He said other than one incident in the fall he really likes Andrew Saltzman, Steak Shapiro and Beau Bock and said they do a good job of promoting us. With the Thrashers leaving 790 it looks like they will have just GT and Falcons locally, so no more being bumped for hockey and more promotion for us. Also, said that they were working on an FM deal with a major (and very well known - my words) Atlanta station to carry all their games so the signal would carry at night. (I am not giving the station ID out yet since it didn't sound like things were finished yet, but it would be a huge boost in our coverage if it happens.
As far as scheduling for next year… we are playing Georgia at Alexander Memorial Coliseum as well as a Big 10 team. Georgia Tech plays Kansas on the road too. He said it is getting more difficult to schedule games as a lot of teams don't want to play us anymore.
Someone asked him about beating UGA next year. He said if he says yes then he gives them bulletin board material, if he doesn't he makes the audience mad. So all he would say is that the game would be played at AMC in December, let's see what happens.
Hewitt we were looking to sign 4 or 5 in the class of 2005.
It was a fun evening.