Aug. 22, 2012
By Charles Odum
ATLANTA (AP) – Bobby Cremins is rallying Georgia Tech’s old-timers for the program’s new coach.
Cremins, who retired in March as the College of Charleston’s coach, was back at Georgia Tech on Wednesday. Cremins said he is recruiting former players, assistant coaches and student managers to return as a show of support for second-year coach Brian Gregory when Georgia Tech opens its new arena Nov. 9 against Tulane.
Cremins, 65, was the Yellow Jackets’ coach from 1981-2000. His name was placed on Georgia Tech’s court at its old Alexander Memorial Coliseum in 2003. The court at the new McCamish Pavilion also will bear his name.
Cremins says his first priority is still at the College of Charleston as a part-time assistant to the school’s president, George Benson.
He said his agreement to again represent Georgia Tech in a volunteer role emerged from a conversation with Gregory.
“Brian and I were talking and I said now that I’m a part-time employee and I’m not coaching, I would love to give something back to the school that I coached 19 years at and I love,” Cremins said. “This was my baby. This was my life.”
Cremins’ first job as a head coach came at Appalachian State. He said Georgia Tech “put me on the map with so many great players from Mark Price to John Salley.”
Cremins took Georgia Tech to the Final Four in 1990 during a string of nine straight NCAA tournament appearances.
“Georgia Tech will always be a special place in my life until the day I die,” Cremins said. “Now I find the opportunity to support a new coach in a new building. And it’s beautiful. I went on the court recently and I had chills.”
The program has declined in recent seasons. Georgia Tech played in the 2004 national championship game, but that was the only year in Paul Hewitt’s 11 seasons as coach the team had a winning record in Atlantic Coast Conference games.
Gregory was hired from Dayton after Georgia Tech fired Hewitt.
Attendance sagged with the decline in wins under Hewitt. More momentum was lost when Georgia Tech was without a true home arena last season while the new facility was under construction.
Georgia Tech’s home games last season were played at the Gwinnett Arena near Atlanta and Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta. The new on-campus arena was built on the same site as the old facility.
The Yellow Jackets finished 11-20 overall and 4-12 in the ACC in Gregory’s debut.
Cremins believes getting former players excited about the program will help to generate renewed interest from fans.
“Now we need somebody to bring back the buzz, and that’s all going to be on this guy,” Cremins said, motioning to Gregory.
Gregory said he wants to build momentum in the team’s new home.
“We’re going to have the opportunity to open up a new chapter in Tech basketball while celebrating our right tradition and also honoring those people who built this great program,” Gregory said.
“The idea was for us to get former players and coaches back that evening to thank them and also to get them excited about the program that they care about so much.”
Cremins said he’ll be part of the opening night celebration and then may return for a few more games.
“Maybe once a month,” he said before adding with a laugh, “Depends on how we’re doing.”