March 28, 2011
Dan Radakovich Opening Statement
“When we began the search to hire a basketball coach at Georgia Tech, there was a lengthy list of very qualified coaches who showed interest in our position. This really wasn’t a surprise, as Georgia Tech basketball not only has a proud past, but is a program with a very bright future. We play in the nation’s best college basketball conference, we play in the heart of Atlanta, in a talent-rich state with outstanding high school basketball talent, and we have passionate fans who have shown great support for our program. And in 2012, we will begin play in a newly refurbished facility, the McCamish Pavilion.
“As I worked with Eddie Fogler and our search committee, we looked for a coach who would be a perfect fit for Georgia Tech: someone who has been a part of successful programs, has shown a history of recruiting high-quality student athletes, and has a coaching staff and a team that will represent the Institute in a positive manner. And we wanted a coach, through his efforts and his team’s efforts, will excite and energize our fan base.
“Throughout the more than two-week process, one coach continued to stand out, and that was Brian Gregory. I am proud to announce Brian Gregory as our new head coach and we are happy to have his wife Yvette with us today as well. Brian has a reputation through college basketball as a relentless recruiter, a motivator, a teacher of the game, and also someone who cares deeply for his players. He makes it clear to his players that the commitment to academics is a priority. Entering this past season, every senior who has played for Brian at Dayton has graduated.
“His coaching superlatives are documented in the press release, but here are a few numbers I hope you would consider. Over the past four years, Dayton has won 97 basketball games. The 2009-10 Dayton squad beat the University of North Carolina for the NIT Championship. He has worked alongside legendary head coaches Jud Heathcote and Tom Izzo at Michigan State, and in his second stint at Michigan State the Spartans won the 2000 National Championship. He was also part of two Big 10 conference championships.
“I would like to say thank you to our search committee, some of those members are here this afternoon, and I really appreciate their help during this process. I would also like to thank Eddie Fogler, former basketball coach at Wichita State, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina, who assisted us in this search, and certainly President Peterson, who has given us great guidance and support during this search process. There is no question in my mind that Brian Gregory will success at Georgia Tech, and he will do things the right way. And with that, please join me in welcoming our new men’s basketball coach, Brian Gregory.”
Brian Gregory Opening Statement
“It is truly an honor to be named the head basketball coach at Georgia Tech today. This is an elite university, one of the most elite institutions in the country. We compete everyday in one of the most elite conferences in the country, and it is my job and I am excited about making sure that Georgia Tech basketball becomes once again one of the most elite basketball programs in the country as well.
“There are a lot of great things about Georgia Tech. One of the things that made an impact on me was the people that I met with. I want to thank Dr. Peterson our president and obviously our athletic director for the unbelievable support they gave me. Dan was tremendous during this process in terms of giving me the education I needed and the information I needed regarding what a special place Georgia Tech is. Those two, in their leadership for this university, have created an academic vision for the future and athletic support that has created unprecedented success for our student athletes both competitively, and in the classroom.
“I know this is a special place, and I am excited about making this a special program once again. We have an unbelievable tradition, an unbelievable history, something that means something to so many people around here. There are so many great qualities and important factors that make this challenge so exciting to me. First off is our players, I just met with our players, and I think that we have a good group, I really do. And I am excited about getting onto the court and working with them, showing them the things we are going to do, how we are going to play, the pace we are going to play with, the intensity we are going to play with, and their work ethic and their dedication and their commitment and their sacrifice are going to set the tone to get this program back on track.
“I mentioned our tradition and our rich history. I truly believe that one of things that we need to do is reconnect and reengage our former players. Those are the guys whose blood, sweat, tears, and hard work made this program what it is today. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for those great former players that have set the path for our current players. We need to get them back involved with this program. You cannot have a great program unless your former players are involved and supportive of what you are doing. We are going to do that, we are going to get those guys back. Our guys are going to know, our current players and our future players, are going to know the rich tradition this program has, not just the success on the court, but the type of men that Georgia Tech produces.
“A couple of other things that were really important to me, first was the academic prestige of this university. As Dan mentioned, academics is very important to me, and it is a perfect fit here at Georgia Tech because I want to recruit the highest caliber player without compromising the important character components that are needed for success and academics is number one. You have to have guys that want to be successful in the classroom so that when their player career is over, their next endeavor in life they are ready for and ready to excel in and that is what we do here at Georgia Tech and that is what we are going to continue to do. That is very, very important to me.
“We have a situation in terms of recruiting where we have a tremendous product to sell. We have first class academics, we have tremendous new and improved and renovated facilities, we have a situation in terms of where we can recruit from that has plenty of players and we need to protect our home turf in the recruiting battles and at the same time, this is a national institution, so we have to be able to recruit out of our footprint. We have great tradition, we have great leadership, we play in a great conference, and at the same time, Georgia Tech basketball has a national name. When you add those things up, we have a great product to sell to anybody. We are going to recruit high caliber players who are high caliber kids who understand that Georgia Tech is a special place and take pride in that tradition and are willing to do the things necessary to build this program back up.
“I always talk about reestablishing this program and reestablishing the things that are important to this program and are important to the people that care about this program. That is the job that is in front of me. I am passionate about this job, I am excited about this job. No one is going to work harder than I am in terms of doing the things necessary to get this thing back on track. I am going to have our players buy into that, and that is the first and foremost most important thing. I am going to build those relationships with those players so that they do trust me, with the former players so that they understand that they are part of this process, for our unbelievable fan base and alumni base that have been so supportive of us in the past and are going to be even more excited and re-energized in the future, and to this local community, a great community that supports us, a world-class city in Atlanta that is ready to be reinvigorated in terms of Georgia Tech basketball and that is exactly what we are going to do.
“I am going to open it up for questions in a second but one thing I would like to do, obviously Dan introduced my lovely wife. We have two daughters who are back at home, to show you how important academics was they stayed at home to go to school, and I wouldn’t get in trouble with my new bosses. My lovely wife Yvette sitting over here has been such big part of this decision. It has been a family decision for us from the moment we learned more about the job and the opportunity, this was a perfect fit for us. And if anybody questions my recruiting capabilities, I think she answers them right there.”
On style of play
“We play a fast pace. The term we always talk about is that we play with a great pace. We do push the ball on every possession, both makes and misses. That does not mean we’re pivot pass and up and down and play out of control basketball. It’s a fun way to play. It gives our guys freedom to make plays. It gives our guys the opportunity to improve and showcase the things that they are improving in. So offensively we do want to play at a great pace. Pace in the full court means pushing the ball in the half-court, that means moving the ball and making the extra pass and taking great pride in creating shots for your teammates. I think that’s one thing we really want to do is share the ball, make the extra pass, and really feel good about getting the shot for someone else. That’s on offense and we conclude every offensive possession by relentlessly pursuing missed shots. Our teams have always been great offensive rebounders. Dan mentioned Coach Izzo. If our teams are not good rebounding teams in general, Coach Izzo disowns you from the family. So it’s something that’s really important that we have to make sure that we do.
“Defensively, we put a lot of pressure but we don’t necessarily press, but we are a high intensity pressure defensive team. We’ve been good in forcing low percentage shots and controlling the glass. If you do that then you create offensive opportunities as well. Basically in a nutshell we defend, we rebound, we run and we share the ball. We do that with unselfishness and a commitment to sacrificing, the best thing for the team. It’s amazing when you do that how many individual accolades players receive and how great players feel about their individual game when they’re more concentrated on the team.”
On his involvement in bringing fans back
“I do think there’s a great opportunity next year in terms of reaching out and maybe getting more fans. As the head coach for Georgia Tech basketball, I need to make a great effort to make a greater impact in the community and make myself available in the community. This is our home and it’s more than just fans. This is our city, this is our home, and this is our university and it is important that I get out there and make sure that our fans know the way we’re going to play and how hard we’re going to play, and that they’re going to respect that.
“This is a hard-working town with hard-working people that pay their hard-working money to come to games, and they deserve to see a team that plays just as hard. They roll up their sleeves and get the job done with great effort and intensity. The fans are going to appreciate that, and at the same time, you can’t sit back and just do that. In this day and age you have to be engaged in this community and this great city, and I plan on doing that. I believe we have a tremendous product to sell, and I believe that we have the best of the best when it comes not only to players, but the character of the players, and we need to get that message out there.”
On Tech’s personnel for next year and signees
“I will connect with both signees immediately. I did talk to our current players to see if they had some contact with the two early signees. To be honest, in the recruiting process the players sell the program better than anybody. After meeting with them today, that’s one of the things that I talked to them about. They need to be in contact with these guys, because we’re only going to be as good as the pieces we have in place.
“I think both those guys coming in are quality players, and the minute this press conference is done, I’m going to make those two phone calls. I think that’s important. If I need to get out there, then I’ll get out there. Julian needs to know locally here that it’s a great opportunity for him, and I’m excited about coaching him. With that we only have one scholarship to give, and I watched some film on the team the last couple of days just to figure things out, and I’m going to get every game film and watch those. It’s one thing I did last time when I got a job, and I think it really helped me. Again you treat that one scholarship like gold. You don’t want to use it just to use it so you can write a story that we signed somebody. It’s important that you bring in the type of guys that are going to help us in the future and also help represent the mission of Georgia Tech the right way.”
On what have you seen on film that can replicate success and what to work on
“One of the things we talked about with the team is that our system and style is going to be a little different, so they’re trusting me, and sometimes it has to be a blind trust. One thing that’s a little benefit for us is that we played some of these guys two years ago and we were successful in that game. They remembered how hard we played and the defensive intensity that we played with and so forth. The pace that we play at is where everybody says they want to play and run, and it’s hard to do while playing under control and taking quality shots and taking care of the ball. Defensively I think we need to improve and defend better. We need to defend the three-point shot better and defensive rebound better, and that gives us the opportunity to start the fast break.”
On staff from Dayton coming to Atlanta
“That’s yet to be determined. I’m hoping that my associate head coach Billy Schmidt, who’s been with me for eight years, has an opportunity to get the head coaching job at Dayton. He’s done an unbelievable job, a great recruiter, and a great x and o’s guy. Sometimes in this day and age, it hurts you being behind the scenes and not a self-promoter. He’s not that, but I think he’s ready for that job. Over the next four or five days I’m going to start solidifying who I really need to sit down with in terms of staffing. Our guys deserve the best staff that I can put together – guys who can teach and understand the prestige of this institution and undertand the work that needs to be done and are willing to put that work in.”
Initial impression on players staying
“The initial impression was good. Guys are excited and ready to get to work. I’ll have a little better feeling when I sit down face-to-face and watch a little film on the guys, and I’ll be able to give them a little bit of an evaluation. I would hope that everybody that I met with at 4 o’clock would be, if it’s in their best interest, playing for us next year and help us restore some of the pride and tradition that so many of the great players here help build.”
On the possibility of getting former Tech players more involved
“When it comes to getting the former players involved and active in the program, I’ve just gotten the feeling they feel disconnected and not engaged. One of the guys I talked to today was Steve Smith, who lives here. I was fortunate enough to coach him when he was a senior in my first year as a G.A. [graduate assistant], and I was one year older than him at Michigan State. He is excited that I came, and those are the relationships that you have with your coaches and so forth that we need to get back here.
“Those guys built this thing, they made it special. They are the ones that got this thing rolling. Those guys are smart enough, when I say involved, it’s not like they are going to diagram a play for me to run, but they are going to be involved in this process. Our players need to know the type of men that played here before and what they did. When they put on that uniform, they aren’t just playing for themselves or this great institution, they are playing for those great players that played before here. “
ACC wins have been hard to come by around here, “are you nuts?”
“I’m not nuts, I’m excited and I am ready for the challenge and I think our guys are. This is a great program and we just need to reestablish it and reestablish the greatness. This is a national program and I think our guys are ready.”
On what he told the current players
“I told them what an honor it was to be named the head coach here, and they should maybe look at playing here as an honor as well. We need to do some things different, because obviously what was happening before wasn’t good enough, and I think they are ready to go.”
[For Radakovich] On how many candidates he talked with
“We went through a large list of people, probably half a dozen or so folks were spoken with face-to-face, but probably more than a dozen were vetted through the committee. It was a thorough process, but as I said during my statement, there was a constant theme as we looked at Brian’s credentials, and then we had an opportunity to meet with him face-to-face, we realized that he was a great fit for what we needed to do here at Georgia Tech.”
On the homework he did before accepting the offer
“Every bit of homework I did I got more fired up about it, and when you look at the important building blocks for a great program, you just keep checking them off: prestigious academics, tremendous leadership, history and tradition, great players that have played here, tremendous league and a league with great integrity, you just keep going down the list. Did I talk to Coach Izzo a lot? Yes I did. I mean, he is my best friend in the business, and we talk all the time and just about everything, and I am sure that will continue. He couldn’t be happier for me. He has gone through these gut-wrenching decisions. I love the place I left, it was a great place, but this is a perfect fit for me and family right now and we are excited about moving forward.”