Georgia Tech Tabs Siena's Paul Hewitt as 12th Men's Basketball Coach

Online Chat Recap from April 25 Press Conference Quotes Press Conference Video: Paul Hewitt (.ram) Press Conference Video: Dave Braine (.ram) Player Reaction: Jon Babul (.ram) Column: Hewitt Fits, For A Lot of Reasons

PAUL HEWITT
Head Men’s Basketball Coach

Overall record: 83-40 (4 years)
At Tech: 17-13 (1 year)

Paul Hewitt, given the task of restoring Georgia Tech’s basketball program to the level it achieved in the 1980’s and early 90’s with 10 NCAA Tournament appearances and three Atlantic Coast Conference championships, wasted little time putting the Yellow Jackets back on the map.

The 37-year-old Hewitt, who was named Tech’s 12th head basketball coach on Apr. 6, guided the Jackets back to the NCAA Tournament in his very first year on the Flats. Disproving the prevailing pre-season opinions that had Tech finishing no better than eighth in the ACC and gave the Jackets little chance to finish .500, Tech made the Big Dance and finished the season 17-13 after a fifth-place finish (8-8) in the conference.

One of the rising stars of the coaching ranks, he has added to an already impressive, if brief, head coaching resume. In his first season on the Flats, Tech knocked off storied programs such as UCLA and Kentucky and recorded five other wins in conference play over teams ranked in the top 15, and the Jackets won their first ACC Tournament game since 1996. This after guiding Siena College to an average of 22 wins and two post-season appearances in three seasons as head coach.

Tech’s on-court accomplishments might not have been possible without his ability to win over a group of veteran players. Hewitt demanded a high level of intensity, hustle and hard work, and his players delivered. He teaches a style of basketball that is fast-paced, but is grounded in sound fundamentals.

His commitment to individual player development and instruction paid big dividends for all the Tech players, particularly for the five Tech seniors, who all enjoyed the best seasons of their careers.

“Our search for a new head coach was extensive, because we were looking for the right fit,” said Tech director of athletics Dave Braine. “I truly believe that Paul Hewitt is the right person for this job. We were looking for a coach who is a great recruiter, a very good communicator and an excellent teacher. Paul fits all three of these qualifications very well.”

“He totally rebuilt the Siena program, and he has a great deal of confidence in his ability to get the job done here. He coaches an exciting brand of basketball, and he feels confident in being able to bring people back into our coliseum and recreate the Thrillerdome atmosphere of the 1980’s and early 90’s.”

Early results were a return to the post-season for the Jackets and the return of fans to Alexander Memorial Coliseum, where average attendance was up more than 1,000 last year.

Hewitt’s career record entering the NCAA Tournament is 83-40, including a 66-27 mark in three seasons at Siena.

At the Loudonville, N.Y., school, Hewitt revived a program that had been dormant since the mid-90’s and molded it into one of the best in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and among the best in the Northeast.

“I’ve been this profession for 11 years, and there are very few places that I could imagine that are better for me and my wife and our children to come and have a chance to continue to my coaching career,” said Hewitt. “A lot of us have dreams and aspirations and many times they don’t come true. Today a dream has come true.

“As I progressed through this profession, I started to realize the type of environments where I was most effective. Certainly the profile at Georgia Tech fits the type of place where I can do some very good work. The places I like to work are first of all, very strong academically. This school is one of the top 10 public schools in the country. The city of Atlanta is certainly appealing with the diversity it offers for your players and your family. The educational opportunities off the court and outside the classroom are tremendous here. Those characteristics will, I believe, make it very easy to recruit for Georgia Tech. I was looking for a place with a winning tradition, where it’s been proven that you can win.”

In three seasons, Hewitt guided Siena to a 66-27 record and developed one of the nation’s highest scoring teams at 85.6 ppg over his three seasons.

In three seasons at Siena, Hewitt developed one of the nation’s highest scoring teams. Siena ranked third nationally in scoring each of his last two seasons there, and in three seasons the team averaged 85.6 points per game while shooting 38.1 percent from three-point range and 77.8 percent from the free throw line.

“I feel like I’m very well prepared for the job,” said Hewitt. “I’ve learned under some great people, primarily George Raveling. He taught me an awful lot. He’s been the foundation for my coaching career and a lot of my philosophies, and he’s been there every step of the way to mentor me and give me advice. From a distance, I had a chance to observe John Thompson at Georgetown. I went to his camp back in 1980. When I got into coaching one of the things I did was to start working camps around the country, and I had a chance to work the Georgetown camp for four years. I observed and talked to and listened to Coach Thompson and absorbed as much as I could. I’ve also been very fortunate to work for some great people who have given me a lot of opportunities – Nick Marcarchuk, the head coach at Stony Brook (former head coach at Fordham), Steve Lappas at Villanova and the certainly the administration at Siena College, who gave me a big break.”

Following a three-season stretch in which Siena posted a record of 22-59, Hewitt guided a young Saints team to a 17-12 overall record in his first season, including a 10-8 mark in the MAAC, and to its first-ever MAAC Tournament Championship game.

In his second year, Siena garnered a great deal of national attention after starting the season 18-2. The year culminated with a 25-6 overall record, the school’s first-ever MAAC Tournament Championship and the first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since the famed 1988-89 season.

Hewitt again guided the Saints to the top of the MAAC standings in 1999-2000. Siena finished the season with a 24-9 overall mark and a MAAC-best 15-3 slate. He helped guide the Saints to their third consecutive MAAC Championship game appearance, and second-consecutive postseason berth – a bid to the National Invitation Tournament. Siena ousted Massachusetts in the first round of the Tournament before falling 105-103 in a thriller at Penn State University in the second round.

On Feb. 13 against Manhattan, his 84th game, Hewitt cracked the 60-win mark, becoming the second-fastest Saints coach to achieve that milestone – Mike Deane needed 81 games to win his 60th – and mentored the Saints to their first-ever outright conference regular-season title.

Hewitt’s up-tempo style of play, combined with a relentless defensive attack, helped bring back the excitement that had been missing since Siena advanced to the Final Four of the 1994 National Invitation Tournament. In his first season, over 60,000 fans watched Siena play at the Pepsi Arena, making it the No. 1 draw in the MAAC. During the 1998-99 season, over 85,000 fans, an average of more than 6,500 per game, came through the turnstiles at the Pepsi Arena to watch Siena basketball. On Jan. 30 against MAAC rival Marist, 11,374 fans watched the Saints post an 84-78 win and improve to 17-2 overall, one of the top five crowds ever to watch Siena play at the Pepsi Arena. In 1999-2000, a total of 90,272 spectators came out to watch the Saints — again, the best draw in the conference by far, as Siena posted a conference best 13-1 home record.

“I think the people here are going to enjoy our style of play,” said Hewitt. “We’re going to try to run and press. The system is important but the thing I think that has made us successful is our efforts in the area of player development. The coaching staff that I will put in place is going to be very strong in the area of player development. It’s a program that I believe in. If you play the style that we play, which is a pressing and running style, you’ve got to teach people how to play the game.

“I’m very big on learning from others. At the Final Four, I had a chance to hear Pete Newell speak, and he said something that I wrote down. He said he thinks the game today is over-coached and under-taught. I think if you watch us play, you will see a team that is not over-coached but is very well-taught. We’re going to put a strong emphasis on teaching guys how to play the game. When you play a high-scoring, fast-paced style, situations come up that your players need to know how to react to. You can’t stop and call every play and diagram every cut.”

Success has followed Hewitt in every stop he has made in his coaching career.

He came to Siena from the venerable Big East program at Villanova, where he spent five seasons (1992-97) as an assistant to head coach Steve Lappas. During his final season in Philadelphia, Hewitt was promoted to associate head coach.

While there, Hewitt helped lead the Wildcats to four straight 20-win seasons in five years, three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament, and an NIT Championship in 1994, when Villanova beat Siena in the semi-finals en route to the title. In 1997, Villanova was the No. 4 seed in the East Region and lost to California in the second round, finishing the season with a 24-10 record.

Hewitt has also made an impressive name for himself as a recruiter. In his time at Villanova, he helped the Wildcats land four top-20 recruiting classes from 1993 to 1997. Included in those classes were Tim Thomas, the nation’s top-ranked high school senior in 1996 who is now playing for the Milwaukee Bucks, as well as Jason Lawson, Alvin Williams and Malik Allen.

His potential was recognized early on. In 1996, Eastern Basketball magazine named him one of the top four assistant coaches on the East Coast ready to take over a head coaching position. Basketball Weekly named him one of the top 10 assistant coaches in the United States that same year.

Prior to his stint at Villanova, Hewitt served as an assistant coach at Fordham University for two years (1990-92), when the Rams posted a 45-18 mark. During those two seasons, the Bronx school won two-straight Patriot League regular-season championships and made the NCAA Tournament in 1992.

He moved to Fordham after spending a year under the legendary George Raveling at Southern California, where he served as a graduate assistant. Hewitt’s first collegiate job came as an assistant coach at C.W. Post on Long Island during the 1988-89 school year. He helped guide the Pioneers to the ECAC New York State Division Championship that season.

Hewitt spent three years as the junior varsity head coach at Westbury High School on Long Island (1985-88) following his graduation from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y.

A 1985 graduate of St. John Fisher College with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism and economics, Hewitt was a four-year letterwinner and served as the Cardinals’ captain as a senior. He also worked toward a post-graduate degree in counseling and high school guidance at Long Island University and C.W. Post.

Hewitt and his wife, Dawnette, have three daughters, Olivia, Danielle and Kayla.

Hewitt as a Head Coach

Year School Record Conference Post-Season
2000-01 Georgia Tech 17-12 8-8 NCAA West Regional
1999-00 Siena 24-9 15-3 MAAC regular-season champions, NIT second round
1998-99 Siena 25-6 13-5 MAAC tournament champions, NCAA
1997-98 Siena 17-12 10-8 MAAC tournament runner-up
Totals Siena 83-39 46-24 Overall winning percentage(.680)

Hewitt as an Assistant Coach

Year School Record Post-Season
1996-97 Villanova 24-10 NCAA 2nd round
1995-96 Villanova 26-7 NCAA 2nd round
1994-95 Villanova 25-8 Big East tournament champions, NCAA
1993-94 Villanova 20-12 NIT champions
1992-93 Villanova 8-19
1991-92 Fordham 20-10 Patriot League regular-season champions, NCAA
1990-91 Fordham 25-8 Patriot League regular-season champions, NIT
1988-89 C.W. Post 19-11 ECAC New York state division champions

*Spent 1989-90 season as graduate assistant coach at Southern Cal.

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