Georgia Tech scored 28 points against Virginia on Thursday, the Jackets’ most meager output since the 1946-47 season, when there was no 3-point shot and Billy Packer was in grade school. Two other teams — Rutgers with 26 points, Harvard with 27 — have fared even worse against these unrelenting Cavaliers, but we’ll let other outlets worry about those programs. Back to Tech.
Had Virginia not scored after halftime, the Jackets wouldn’t necessarily have won. The game would have been tied at 28 headed to overtime. Even as we ask, “What does it say about a program that can’t manage more points in 40 minutes than a good team does in 20?”, we know the answer: Nothing good.
Tech is 52-61 in three-plus seasons under Brian Gregory. The Jackets have made a big deal out of needing to get to the NIT this season — they haven’t yet played beyond the ACC tournament under this coach — but when did the NIT become even a medium-sized deal?
In his first four seasons here, Gregory’s predecessor made the NCAA tournament twice (and the NIT once, just for the record). In Year 4 under Paul Hewitt, Tech played UConn for the national championship. In Year 4 under Gregory, the Jackets are 0-6 in ACC play. At no point in Hewitt’s careening tenure did the Jackets go three consecutive seasons without reaching the NCAA, which is now a distant light.
When Hewitt was fired in 2011, his career ACC record play was 72-104 (a winning percentage of .409). Gregory’s ACC record is 16-42 (a winning percentage of .276). Granted, Hewitt left a mess for Gregory, but Hewitt inherited a program in disarray from Bobby Cremins and had it in the Big Dance 11 1/2 months later. And here’s the real kick in the gut:
Hewitt’s final four seasons at Tech — the ones that convinced Dan Radakovich to pay $7 million to make his coach go away — yielded a record of 62-65 overall and 21-43 in ACC play. The worst of Hewitt has been better than the best, at least so far, of Gregory.
It’s possible these Jackets could salvage a little something from their season: They have six games remaining against teams with losing ACC records, and they play middling North Carolina State here next week. If they win all of those, they’d be 16-14 overall headed to the ACC tournament, and that would put them on the bubble — for the NIT. But when getting to a tournament that doesn’t matter is the measuring stick, your program has ceased to matter.