Don’t hire Bob Hoffman. Don’t listen to the Middle Georgians who want to aim low and don’t know any better.
Bob Hoffman is beloved in Middle Georgia and by hacks like Bill Shanks who really do not care for Basketball and just want to give an opinion that drives clicks in between Football’s National Signing Day and the start of Atlanta Braves Spring Training/Spring Football Practice. It’s not just a sardonic point, it is exactly what happens like clockwork every season and it is the same, tired point. The problem is not just a coach, but an Administration and base that really do not appreciate sports not named Football. The next hire needs to be someone who fosters a love affair between the base and the sport of Basketball that actually lasts, a counter-culture of sorts. In many ways, Georgia Basketball desperately needs a reboot. Bob Hoffman is not that guy.
1. Just because his name is not Mark Fox or Dennis Felton, doesn’t mean he’s good.
Mark Fox and Dennis Felton are not the worst coaches who have ever lived. However, do not tell the irrational UGA base this. They are definitely not the best coaches ever, either. They are both stubborn coaches who failed to adjust and were dealt a rough hand by UGA President Michael Adams. They are both coaches who were handcuffed to start their runs, but eventually were not limited on the recruiting trail. Both coaches recruited well in their last seasons, but found ways to both lose their teams and not get their talent to perform to their potential. (We’re assuming Mark Fox is fired, if he’s not fired, let’s just say that if Greg McGarity thought there was apathy toward Men’s Basketball, get ready to hear a very loud, full rendition of Rocky Top for 2 hours next season inside Stegeman Coliseum.)
It’s not like any coach can strut into Athens and win just by recruiting top talent. It does not work that way, this is a skill sport and the rankings are deceptive, which is why coaches have to recruit the best guys who fit what they are trying to accomplish. The point is to minimize learning curves and put the players in a position to win. Athleticism does not necessarily matter like in Football and winning the Signing Periods does not ensure Championships.
Individuals win games, teams win Championships. Kentucky’s vaunted 2014-15 Team did not win the National Championship and failed to make the Championship Game, they lost to Wisconsin. Wisconsin was a team filled with guys who were not “highly rated” coming out of High School, but they fit what Wisconsin was looking to accomplish. Notre Dame almost beat Kentucky in that same NCAA Tournament, they were not loaded either, but they were confident and well-coached.
Assuming that Bob Hoffman is automatically better than Mark Fox or Dennis Felton is a major leap of faith based on nothing.
2. No demand for Bob Hoffman. Even at his peak with Mercer.
Why has Bob Hoffman not been poached yet? He and Dr. Brett Reed of Lehigh both defeated Duke in the NCAA Tournament, but Reed had the opportunity to advance in his career (huge mistake on his part), nobody called Hoffman. Why?
Why bring in someone who has no demand?
In 2017-18, Mercer is 13-13 thus far.
3. He’s 61. He does not have Rick Barnes’ track record either.
Rick Barnes is 63, he is coaching at Tennessee after a lengthy and successful run at Texas. Barnes was fired at Texas because he could not get over the hump in Austin and the decision was to replace him with Shaka Smart. Barnes has won everywhere he has been in his career, he’s a proven coach. He got it done at George Mason, Providence, Clemson and Texas. Now he’s getting it done at Tennessee.
Hoffman is a middling coach in the Southern Conference and only reached the NCAA Tournament once in the weaker Atlantic Sun Conference. This is the guy you want?
4. Slow Pace: More plodding teams in Athens.
Making a break from the past is critical. Georgia teams are passive and slow, it has been this way for a long time and if know-nothings like Bill Shanks had their way, this would continue with Bob Hoffman.
See, it is okay to be a slow-paced team if it is done from a position of strength. Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Virginia and Saint Mary’s choke the pace because they make opponents defend their unique offenses for all 30 seconds. Mercer is not doing this, if they were and played defense, they would have had more NCAA Tournament appearances than one in 9 years. It will likely be 10 after this season, they’re not going to win the Southern Conference Tournament. East Tennessee State, UNC-Greensboro (whipped East Tennessee State on Monday), Furman or Wofford are going to win it this season.
Unlike the media and message boards, there is actual back-up to claims here. Yes, Mercer is slow and here’s the proof per Ken Pomeroy’s Adjusted Tempo Metric that we all know and love.
- 2008-09: 67.4 possessions per game – 82nd.
- 2009-10: 68.1 possessions per game – 70th.
- 2010-11: 65.3 possessions per game – 173rd.
- 2011-12: 64.2 possessions per game – 214th.
- 2012-13: 61.3 possessions per game – 298th.
- 2013-14: 63.6 possessions per game – 233rd.
- 2014-15: 60.9 possessions per game – 321st.
- 2015-16: 63.4 possessions per game – 341st.
- 2016-17: 61.7 possessions per game – 347th.
- 2017-18: 64.2 possessions per game – 336th.
This is really going to excite the masses. The coach of an inconsistent offensive team that fails to play defense, but plays at a plodding pace. But hey, it is better than Mark Fox because why?
5. The core audience is not from Middle Georgia, it’s from Atlanta.
If you’re Greg McGarity and you eventually are replacing Mark Fox, you’re not there to make Middle and South Georgians happy. You’re there to make Atlanta alumni happy. Period. That’s your core audience and most of the students and alumni are Atlanta-centric. McGarity has to cater to this audience, not the audience in Macon. There are more students from the Atlanta area and more alumni that come from and live in the Atlanta area.
Here’s a major reason why Atlanta matters: Who’s buying tickets? Atlantans and those in Athens, not folks in Macon, Warner Robins or Perry! Certainly not those from Augusta or Columbus either! Atlanta is where your core audience is. Most games are on weekdays, it is easier (albeit traffic is aggravating) for those from Fulton, Gwinnett and DeKalb Counties to attend these games than those at or South of the Fall Line. This is your core audience.
Recruits are not coming from Middle and South Georgia, the Atlanta area is the main area for recruits. Yes, Fox has two from the Wiregrass (Tyree Crump and Jordan Harris) and one coming to UGA from Savannah (Amanze Ngumezi), but there are just far fewer of them. It’s not like Football, where there are plenty of athletes south of the Fall Line. Lots of kids are pushed into Football, which explains the dearth of Basketball talent south of the Fall Line. Guards from South Georgia typically have a much longer learning curve than Atlanta guards due to the quality of competition. Atlanta recruits play against top competition all year long while in South Georgia it’s only during AAU action, if the AAU circuit has top competition in the first place. Posts always have a learning curve no matter where they are from and Amanze Ngumezi has a learning curve, but it will not be as tough as it would be for a guard and he faced top competition on the AAU circuit.
Hiring Bob Hoffman does not excite the student body and certainly does not excite Atlantans. Greg McGarity by hiring Hoffman would confirm that everyone associated with Georgia Athletics are out-of-touch fuddy-duddies. It no longer would have to be a rumor nor would it have to be implied, it would just come across as obvious to everyone.
This is a premature strike to get the word out that Bob Hoffman is not the right hire for Georgia.
We need a Head Coach who is going to be here for the long haul, encourages a high tempo game, excites Atlanta alumni and has a rather consistent offensive and defensive efficiency. That’s not Bob Hoffman. Pick someone else.