Monday, March 08, 2004

Paul Hewitt on Jim Rome

Well, I snuck in the interview and here is my quick take. Rome talks to so fast it's hard to keep up, so this is the best I could do.

JR: You get the 4-seed in the ACC tourney - done with a coin flip. I bet you don't get caught up too much on who you play, since any ACC game is a killer
PH: I wish there was a way for it to be settled on the court, but so be it. It will take 3 tough games to win the tourney

JR: Do you like the ACC Tourney or does it wear your team down?
PH: I like it. It motivates the players, having all the ACC teams in one place. I think it helps them focus and get ready for the NCAA tourney.

JR: You won the pre-season NIT by beating UConn, as team as tough as there is. You had to know early on you might have something special
PH: No doubt. Our size on the perimiter makes us interesting. We have tall physical guys who can guard the perimiter so we have focused on tough defense and especially how it leads to transition offense

JR: You beat Dook at Dook. Do you move on or do can you tap into this for future games?
PH: We can use the win to build confidence, but you cannot dwell on it. We played a tough FSU team on Saturday and were fortunate to come away with a 3 point victory at home. We didn't play great offensively but played solid defense. We could have easily gotten too high on ourselves after Dook at had a letdown.

JR: I have never met a coach who did not think their conference was tough. However, we had WF's Skip Prosser here recently. He said what makes the ACC different is that EVERY team in the league is competing for the national championship.
PH: Gary Williams, who has been in this league for over 15 years told me that the league is the toughest it has been since he had been here. That is saying a lot. He helped me out when I got into the league by teaching me some things about the ACC.

JR: Talk about how another coach be-friends you like that
PH: Well, Gary and I ended up in the same airport terminal after my first ACC media conference (or something like that). We talked for awhile.

JR: So when another coach tells you things, do you believe him, or think he's just trying to set you up?
PH: (laughs). At first I thought that could be the case, but as the season wore on, I realized he was telling truths.

RJ: With the success you have had at a young age, it is inevitable that your name comes up in connection with other coaching jobs. Not that you can give me a straight answer, but do you have any interest in the St.John's job?
PH: No, it doesn't interest me right now. I have a good AD and you know in today's environment how important that can be. I have a good situation in Atlanta, my family likes it. Five or six years ago I would have jumped at the opportunity coming out of Sienna. As long as Dave Braine is here, it is safe to say I will be too.

JR: This year you lose Chris Bosh after one year - was it worth it?
PH: Absolutely. He is a very unselfish and a great player. For him it just came down to economics that he couldn't pass up, being a top 5 pick. With the success he had at GT and now in his first year in the NBA, we get great publicity and that has been key in helping us with recruiting. And of course at GT recruiting is tough because of the academics. So it was a win/win for us.

JR: Talk about the academics at GT - is it tougher than FSU, for example?
PH: I can't speak for FSU, but GT is primarily an engineering and science school, which means you are limited in the types of players who can make it here.

JR: Take a guy like Robert Brooks. Here is a kid who reads Shakespeare, is an artist, sculptor, writes poetry. That's a different type of kid.
PH: Yeah - he's a regular renaissance man.

JR: Is there admiration for a guy like that or do the players think "what is up dude"?
PH: (laughing) Actually more the latter. Sometimes his teammates get on him about being more of a kid sometimes.

JR: Do you remember every kid who plays for you or do some just standout.
PH: Oh, you remember them all. With only 13-15 kids a year, you remember them. Certainly some guys standout. For example Marcus F (name??) at Sienna is like a son to me. I talk to him regularly and he is currently playing ball in Europe.

JR: Thanks coach. It's great to finally have you on the program.
PH: Thanks Jim.