Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hawks Are Streaking Heading Into The Playoffs ... And In A Good Way!

The Hawks are currently riding a four game win streak as they enter the last week and a half of the regular season before beginning the playoffs.  They currently sit firmly entrenched at fifth in the standings and by all accounts will probably still be there after the 82nd game is played.  I'm not sure about the rest of you, but that's just fine by me as it would mean that Orlando would most likely be our first round opponent.  If I had to pick, that's the team I think the Hawks can take in a seven game series.  Orlando made some, in my opinion, questionable trades earlier this year that really changed the landscape of their team and, to an extent, how they play, all of which favor the Hawks in a match-up with the Magic.

However, until then, the Hawks still have six games left to play, three against some quality teams and three against some lesser teams.  After watching the Hawks beat Orlando and Boston this week, it looks like they are coming together at the right time.  This team has been wildly inconsistent over the course of the season and one can only hope that the team of the last four games will be the team that shows up in the playoffs.  Houston, San Antonio, and Miami all present different challenges for the Hawks, yet I believe that all three are beatable.  It probably won't happen, but it could be done.  The other three (Indiana, Washington, & Charlotte) shouldn't be much of a problem so long as the Hawks players don't get complacent.

I'm well known to be rather pessimistic when it comes to this team, but I'm making the attempt to stay positive throughout these few final games because the playoffs is where it counts most.  I, like many others, know that this team can beat anyone when they put their knuckleheads into it so I'm going to keep telling myself that and just try to enjoy the wins when we get them.  Once the playoffs begin, I'll get much more serious about this team and where it stands.  I believe that this team can make it out of the first round, but I know it will be a struggle because they have the tendency to basically give up once they get down.  I would say that a first round exit, while not all that surprising, would still be a major disappointment.  If they make it to the second round and get swept, that's going to be a huge, upsetting disappointment.  Not making it out of the second round wouldn't bother me, but not competing or giving up would just piss me off.  Sorry, it would and you can expect a major backlash from the fans, the mainstream media, and every other writer like myself.

But hey, none of that has happened yet so let's all stay positive and let's all support this team.  I encourage everyone who is capable to attend the Spurs and Heat games at home.  I'll be looking for playoff tickets when the time comes and hopefully I'll see some of you guys there.  GO HAWKS!

New GT Basketball Coach Brian Gregory

Recently Georgia Tech hired Brian Gregory, formerly of Dayton, as their new men's basketball coach.  My first impression was that this was a safe hire.  Gregory is experienced and has been rather successful during his near decade long stint at Dayton.  It's definitely not a sensational hire that gets the fans all excited, but it's most assuredly a sensible hire, and that my friends is really what you want your AD to do.  Obviously there has been a small divide in fan opinion of the hire between those who wants the big splash and those who approved the lesser headline hire.

That being said, I do admit that when I first read about it, I thought that they could have attempted to go after one of the younger and more dynamic coaches.  I apologize, but that's the fan in me.  The reason for that thought though was based on some comments from D-Rad not long after letting Hewitt go.  To summarize, he essentially said that Hewitt's buyout would not affect the coaching search and that they would spend what they needed to get the right coach.  To me, that says that if they could pay Hewitt $1.8mil then they could surely pay someone like Anthony Grant something similar or better.  So, from that perspective, I understand why some fans expected something more.  I decided to hold off on a full opinion until the contract details were released, which didn't take long.

Gregory was making close to $200K at Dayton which means that GT wasn't going to offer him anywhere close to what they were paying Hewitt.  In fact, it ended up being a contract for six years worth $1mil per.  Color me officially impressed.  Not only does the lower annual salary offset some of Hewitt's buyout, but I'd say it's a great bang-for-the-buck type hire.

In a previous post I worked through a number of potential coaches' records to try and predict how successful they would be over twenty years if they maintained their current average production.  Brian Gregory is 172-94 through eights years.  That's 21.5 wins and 11.75 losses per year with a 9.75 W/L Diff.  Projected out to twenty years, that ends up being a 430-235 record.  That puts him behind Tubby Smith's current twenty year mark, as well as behind Anthony Grant's and Mike Anderson's projected twenty year numbers, but above all the others in that list.  Anderson and Grant would have cost us much more than $1mil per so it's easy to see that this was indeed an excellent hire.

D-Rad has continually impressed me with his vision for GT athletics and his decision making based on that vision.  He has definitely made his mark on the history of the program.  All that is left is for Gregory to follow through with his end of the deal.  Hopefully he will be able to recruit successfully in the talent rich city of Atlanta and bring an actually system that the fans can see a point in.  After suffering through the last five years of Hewitt, I'm sure just about anything Gregory does on the court will be refreshing.