The Good Word

TO: Fans, Friends, and Supporters of Georgia Tech Athletics

FROM: Dan Radakovich, Georgia Tech Director of Athletics

Congratulations are definitely in order for MaChelle Joseph and our Georgia Tech women’s basketball team for advancing to the NCAA Tournament, getting another first-round victory and fighting tooth-and-nail with Ohio State on its home court. Coach Joseph has done an amazing job here at Tech. This marks our fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance with five straight 20-win seasons. It is another milestone in the progression of Coach Jo’s success. Great season, Yellow Jackets. Next year we’ll be back to challenge again.

Men’s Basketball Coaching Search

March Madness this year has a somewhat different connotation around the Georgia Tech athletic offices this week. I am able to surface briefly from the throes of our ongoing search for the new head basketball coach to share a few thoughts for this edition of The Good Word.

First, I appreciate, as always, all of the input I have received from our fans and supporters. I feel really good about the progress we have made in the search process. As expected, it has been elongated somewhat because some of the coaches we are interested in have teams playing deep into the post season.

While there are no guarantees in this difficult world of coaching searches, I still feel strongly that we might be able to have a new coach selected before next weekend’s Final Four in Houston. I have been gratified by the significant interest in Georgia Tech basketball from across the country. I believe we are positioned to make a great hire and see a resurgence in our program.

We all understand that we have some work to do to rebuild the confidence of our fan base. On the other hand, we have the nucleus of a pretty good basketball team for next year if everything remains constant. It should be a veteran bunch with guys who have been around the block a few times in the ACC. Add to that a couple of very talented signees in Julian Royal and Ray Parks, the enthusiasm of a new coach and I think you’d have to say the program is poised for a comeback.

I believe the program will get healthy again very quickly. I am getting the sense from my communication that a lot of the fans who have taken a hiatus from the program are ready to come back. I think the anticipation of a new coaching staff and the move to a new arena in 2012 will infuse the energy and excitement we are all looking for.

The basketball coaching job at Georgia Tech is incredibly high profile by nature. The right coach with a successful track record and the right energy, enthusiasm and message will certainly energize our fan base even before he ever coaches a game.

Red Hot Start for Baseball

Speaking of immediate impact…how about the impact of all of those freshmen contributing to Danny Hall’s baseball team? The surprising Jackets have now won 13 straight games, including their first six ACC contests, and have jumped to No. 12 in this week’s national rankings. And just to put some icing on the cake, the club spanked rival Georgia Tuesday night over in Athens, 15-6. Hats off to Matt Skole, who had five hits, two home runs and eight RBI vs. the Dawgs.

Congratulations to Mark Pope and Kyle Wren for sweeping the weekly ACC honors. Wren batted .591 with nine runs scored, 13 hits, three steals, a .727 slugging percentage and a .609 on-base percentage to lead Georgia Tech to a 5-0 record on the week. The Peachtree City, Ga., native had nine hits and batted .643 with a .667 on-base percentage in three ACC games against NC State over the weekend, helping the Jackets sweep the Wolfpack to improve to 6-0 in ACC play.

Pope scattered three hits and one unearned run over eight innings to improve to 5-0 on the season with a win over NC State last Friday. He retired 13 straight batters to open the game and didn’t allow his first hit until one out in the fifth inning against the Wolfpack. The Marietta, Ga., native had seven strikeouts, and has now pitched 33 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run, lowering his ERA for the season to 0.23.

11 Alive Story on Baseball Manager

I hope you have a minute to check out Randy Waters’ piece on Georgia Tech baseball manager Clark Shelton. His dreams of playing college baseball dashed by childhood cancer, Clark’s is one of the special stories that inspire us every day. We appreciate what Clark means to our baseball program. Click here to see Randy’s story on Clark Shelton.

Spring Practice Set to Begin

Paul Johnson begins his fourth spring practice here at Georgia Tech on Monday with workouts four days a week through the annual T-Day game, which is set for April 23rd at noon. With Rose Bowl Field under construction as the new Mary R. and John F. Brock III Indoor Football Practice Facility is added, all spring practice activity will take place at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Practices, however, will be closed to the general public, accessible by invitation only.

We Mourn the Death of Drew Hill

It was with great sadness we heard the news of the death of former Georgia Tech great Drew Hill earlier this week. Hill, 54, is in Tech’s record books in several categories: receiving yards per season (t-15th, 708, 1978), receiving yards/career (19th, 1,080, 1975-78), and yards per reception/career (t-4th, 19.3). He was loved by many in the Tech community and he will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Drew’s family and friends. The funeral service for Drew Hill will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at St. Smyrna Church in Newnan, Ga. There will also be a memorial for Drew here in the Edge Center Friday at 1 p.m.

Softball: Saturday Strike For The Cure

The Georgia Tech softball team, red-hot of late and sporting a 25-5 record, hosts NC State in a three-game series this weekend. The Yellow Jackets and Wolfpack meet in a Saturday doubleheader at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., and then conclude the series Sunday at noon. All games will be played at Mewborn Field.

Saturday will be the team’s annual Strikeout for the Cure Day as Tech has partnered with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Saving Second Base, LLC to raise money for breast cancer research. Donations will be taken throughout the day and there will also be special pink merchandise for sale including hats, t-shirts and visors. The team will be wearing special pink jerseys on Saturday and the ones the seniors wear will be auctioned off on RamblinWreck.com next week.

Track: Hosting YJ Invitational Friday-Saturday

Georgia Tech will host the Yellow Jacket Invitational Friday and Saturday at the George C. Griffin Track and Field facility. This will be Tech’s final home meet of the 2011 outdoor season.

Saturday Parking

If you plan to attend either home event on Saturday – the Yellow Jacket Invitational track and field meet or Tech softball’s doubleheader vs. NC State – know that Peter’s Parking Deck might be your best available spot. We expect all parking at Alexander Memorial Coliseum and along Fowler Street to be completely occupied by late morning.

Women’s Tennis: Hosting The Irish Today

Coach Bryan Shelton’s team has a big non-conference match today (3 p.m.) when it hosts Notre Dame at the Bill Moore Tennis Center. The Yellow Jackets, 7-5 and coming off a key 4-3 road win at Vanderbilt last week, travel to Tobacco Road this weekend, with matches at NC State Saturday and at Wake Forest Sunday.

Men’s Tennis: Key Home Matches Friday, Sunday

Coach Kenny Thorne’s squad, which saw its eight-match win streak come to an end with a tough 4-3 loss at Miami, takes a 10-2 overall record and 1-1 ACC mark into home matches on Friday and Sunday. Tech hosts NC State on Friday (2:30 p.m.) and Wake Forest on Sunday (1 p.m.).

The Yellow Jackets will once again participate in the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation Week by taking donations and raising awareness for the organization at its match against Wake Forest. Tech, which joined forces with the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation last year, “adopted” Nolan Blake, who was diagnosed with Anaplastic Medulloblastoma in October, 2009. The team raised money for Blake and made him an official member of the team. He has had a recurrence within the last month and continues to battle his condition.

Some background on Nolan and his relationship with Tech’s men’s tennis team can be found here:
http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-tennis/spec-rel/051110aaa.html
http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/nolanblake

Golf: Bama-Bound Monday

Coming off a fifth-place finish and a 3-1 record in the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship, the fourth-ranked Yellow Jackets will send three individuals to Glencoe, Ala., Monday and Tuesday, for the Grub Mart Golf Intercollegiate.

Not Getting Sting Daily? You’re Missing Out

In Tuesday morning’s edition of Sting Daily – our six-day per week electronic newsletter that gets sent exclusively and free of charge to Yellow Jacket fans – we read the interesting story and saw the video of our men’s tennis team swimming with the sharks at the Georgia Aquarium.

You can only get these kinds of stories in Sting Daily. Click here to register for free.

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