Commentary

George Mason wise in Hewitt hire

Updated: May 3, 2011, 11:18 AM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

Down at George Mason, they did a super job finding a replacement for Jim Larranaga. They went out and hired former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, getting an experienced leader, who has had a winning track record over the years.

[+] EnlargePaul Hewitt
Josh D. Weiss/US PresswireGeorge Mason hired former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt to replace Jim Larranaga.

I was so happy for Hewitt, because he would have been a lot more successful at Georgia Tech if a number of players didn't leave early for the NBA draft. Think about guys like Chris Bosh, Jarrett Jack, Derrick Favors, Gani Lawal, Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton, talented players who went to the pros instead of staying around and playing for Hewitt and his Yellow Jackets.

Now, Hewitt gets to work for one of the best athletic directors in Tom O'Connor. My friends, O'Connor knows basketball inside and out. He lost a quality guy in Larranaga, who went to Miami of the ACC. But he got a good man for the job in Hewitt, who also has an ACC pedigree.

Hewitt will bring a lot of enthusiasm and energy to the Patriots. In 11 seasons under Hewitt, Georgia Tech went to the NCAA Tournament five times and played for the national championship in 2004, losing to Connecticut. Hewitt compiled a record of 190-162 at Tech, and his overall record as a head coach is 256-189, with eight postseason appearances in 14 years. Fans will also think back to his days as head coach at Siena and as an assistant at Villanova.

He was an outstanding selection be George Mason, a school that has also made some noise with a Final Four trip under Larranaga. This season, the Patriots won 27 games and advanced to the second round of the big dance before losing to Ohio State. George Mason is one of the top mid-majors in America, and its league, the Colonial Athletic Association, has teams that can flat-out play. Just look at VCU, baby!

The program should remain in good hands with Hewitt at the helm.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.