May 30, 2007
ATLANTA Georgia Tech basketball coach Paul Hewitt told a group of alumni on May 22 that he will field a ranked team next season. But everyone knew that how high those Yellow Jackets rank would depend on the decisions of freshmen Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton regarding the NBA draft.
With those two players, the Jackets would be in the preseason top 10. Without them, Tech would show up deeper in the polls.
One day after Hewitt spoke to those alums, the Jackets' top-10 chances took a major hit.
Crittenton, an All-ACC point guard as a freshman last season, told Hewitt that he was going to hire an agent and remain in the draft. While Hewitt was in Augusta speaking to the local Georgia Tech club, Crittenton watched the NBA draft lottery with great interest.
Several point guard-starved teams claimed draft positions in the middle of the first round. Atlanta will have the 11th pick, the Los Angeles Clippers the 14th and the Miami Heat the 20th. With only one draft-eligible point guard considered a better prospect Ohio State freshman Mike Conley Jr. Crittenton figured that the time was right for him to officially go pro.
"Just look at all the teams in need of a point guard," Crittenton said. "A couple of teams need point guards and have announced they need point guards. On the night of the draft, anything can happen. Those teams can trade their picks. But I am confident in my decision."
Young's decision is still to come. He wanted to participate in the NBA's pre-draft camp before evaluating his standing. The camp was set for May 29-June 4 in Orlando, and the deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the draft and return to college is June 18.
There will be no panic at Tech in the meantime.
Clearly, Crittenton's departure hurts. He was the Yellow Jackets' most valuable player last season. He guided them to 20 wins and an NCAA Tournament appearance by leading them in scoring and assists and giving them the floor leadership they missed in going 11-17 the season before he arrived.
Yet Hewitt will have options at point guard come November that he didn't have in 2005-06. Veteran Matt Causey, a transfer from North Georgia (and previously Georgetown) who sat out last season, won over teammates with his practice play last season. Plus, Hewitt signed Maurice Miller, one of the nation's top prep point guards, out of Memphis.
Together, Causey and Miller should give Tech some stability at point guard. And with eight other regulars returning not counting Young the Yellow Jackets should be poll-worthy, just as Hewitt predicted.
GOOD NEWS FOR RICHARD, TEAM
Georgia Tech football coach Chan Gailey can look forward to two more years of Darryl Richard anchoring the defensive line.
Richard was admitted to Tech's MBA program in May. His admission came as a mild surprise, given the ultra-selective nature of the program.
Richard needed just three years to earn his bachelor's degree in business management, and he met the MBA program's academic standards. But he lacked the professional experience of the average Tech MBA candidate.
Regardless of his status next year, Richard would have played at Tech this fall. There were a handful of undergraduate courses he was interested in, enough to carry him through the football season.
Richard's admission to Tech's MBA program all but ensures that he will play out his remaining two years of football eligibility, even though he likely will be a high-round NFL draft prospect following the 2007 season. The MBA is a two-year program, and the school requires a strong commitment.
Richard is a stalwart along the defensive front. He is the Jackets' best run-stopper, and he allows the rest of the defensive linemen to work up the field. Fellow defensive tackle Joe Anoai benefited greatly from Richard's presence last season, making nine tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.
AD ENJOYS MULTI-SPORT SUCCESS
Dan Radakovich's first year as Georgia Tech's athletic director couldn't have been better athletically.
Since he took over last April, the Tech baseball team played in the College World Series, the football team made it to the ACC championship game and a New Year's bowl, both the men's and women's basketball teams made the NCAA Tournament, the women's tennis team won a national title, and the golf team made it to the championship tournament.
Tech was one of only five schools to send its football team to a New Year's Day or BCS bowl and both of its basketball teams to the NCAA Tournament in the same academic year.
"We've had a good year competing," Rada-kovich said.
He claims no credit for the success, though. He inherited competitive programs when he took over for Dave Braine last April. Braine had a knack for hiring good coaches and giving them the freedom to build their programs.
Radakovich's focus has been on the business side, and he said that Tech is winning there as well. The athletic department's expenses had significantly exceeded its revenues in recent years. A study conducted prior to his arrival projected that the cash surplus would dwindle from $17 million in July 2003 to $1.5 million by July 2007.
"That's what we had to attack first," Radakovich said. "What was happening was, each year we had $3 or $4 million more expenses than revenue. At some point in time, the well runs dry."
Radakovich made several changes to the athletic department's business model to ensure steady streams of revenue. Most significantly, he altered the method by which fans secure premium seats at football and basketball games, instituting what is, in effect, a seat-licensing program.
Like most colleges, Tech gives its best seats to its most generous donors. But since giving fluctuates from year to year, revenue shortfalls were inevitable. By placing a static value on each seat, revenues are more predictable.
Radakovich also looked to cut costs. He pinpointed areas where the athletic department which operates as a non-profit organization and is independent, at least from a business and tax standpoint, of the school could share services with the school. He found it in the business office and the human resources department. The athletic association and the school now use the same computer accounting software and share human resources personnel.
Radakovich also is streamlining his staff. Tech's athletic association employed 165 people when he arrived. Through natural attrition retirements, staffers taking jobs elsewhere, etc. that number already is approaching Radakovich's goal of 150.
"When someone leaves," Radakovich said, "we ask how we can take up that slack in the most efficient manner."
Radakovich must wait another month for the end of the fiscal year to see exactly how much financial progress he's made, and he prefers not to give estimates in the meantime. Projections are "significantly higher" than the $1.5 million estimate of the aforementioned study.
"You don't get an idea until you've been at a place a couple of years whether you've turned any corners," Radakovich said. "But I think we're well on our way to doing some real positive things here."