Don’t Hire Earl Grant: Just More of the Same

Do you like slow-paced games with an unproven coach?

Earl Grant is the hottest suggestion as far as Head Coaches to replace Mark Fox.  This one also falls into the Yellow Dog category of the preference being anyone over the current coach.  Earl Grant is a former Assistant Coach under Gregg Marshall, which excites UGA supporters without any other justification needed.  Grant attended Georgia College, which is in Milledgeville and that excites those outside of the Atlanta area.  Grant is the present Head Coach at the College of Charleston and given his presence in the Southeast there’s an automatic assumption that he will succeed in recruiting Atlanta despite the fact that many of the recruits were not even born in the State of Georgia.  He’s having a strong season at the College of Charleston, but nothing is guaranteed and there are reasons why hiring him at Georgia is a bad idea.

The Slow Pace Continues in Athens

There are those who think “Oh, he’ll change in the SEC.”  Why are you wanting to hire him again?  The objective is for the coach to bring their style of play to Athens and do it with upgraded talent.  Otherwise, this is like marrying someone with the expectation that they will change their bad habits because of the legal designation and a ring.

Earl Grant’s Adjusted Tempo per KenPom over the seasons at College of Charleston.

  • 2017-18:  65.0 possessions per game – 328th in the country.
  • 2016-17:  64.5 possessions per game – 314th in the country.
  • 2015-16:  63.8 possessions per game – 335th in the country.
  • 2014-15:  60.8 possessions per game – 322nd in the country.

Who is Earl Grant actually emulating?

Grant is not just a Gregg Marshall disciple, he’s a Brad Brownell disciple.  He was coaching under Brownell when Brownell put the brakes on things completely at Clemson.  Remember how Clemson dropped off considerably in pace and performance after Brownell’s first season after taking over for Oliver Purnell?

If an NIT Semifinals is what gets you going, then Earl Grant is going to create a huge buzz.  After all, Josh Pastner made it to Madison Square Garden last season, want Josh Pastner?  He can recruit and he has won more games than Mark Fox last season, he won more NCAA Tournament games and he won more NIT games.  Is this a good choice?

What about hiring Brad Brownell away from Clemson, why go to the unproven student when you can go straight to the master and have Clemson’s results?  Clemson without Earl Grant actually started to play better and this season will be in the NCAA Tournament.   Brownell can play slow, recruit the region and bring along ace recruiter Steve Smith for the short ride from Clemson.  Does this sound good?

Earl Grant and Quality Victories

To be fair, it is tough for a program like College of Charleston to notch quality victories as their own conferences are rather shallow and the start of the season is usually still a feeling out time.  Smaller conference programs have more challenging learning curves and talent deficits.

Here are the best wins for Earl Grant per season.

  • 2017-18:  Home-and-away wins over Northeastern.
  • 2016-17:  Home win over Boise State and a road win at UNC-Wilmington.
  • 2015-16:  Home win over LSU (Johnny Jones and Ben Simmons)
  • 2014-15:  None.

Is this what excites you?  

The schedule is padded up with wins over teams that are not very good.  Two of the wins this season are against Division II opposition.

Yes, because this is the best Georgia can do.

Grant is another “Defensive Coach”

Dennis Felton was a “defensive coach” and Mark Fox is clearly a “defensive coach”.  Earl Grant would follow their lead as the third slow-paced, defensive coach to come to Athens.

Turns out, his team is slow and this season is not playing strong defense.

In 2016-17, Georgia was more efficient offensively playing Hero Ball with J.J. Frazier than College of Charleston.  They played strong defense, but once again, is this the best candidate that Georgia can pursue?

In 2015-16, it was a putrid offense with a strong defense.  The pace was also at a relative crawl.

What’s a fast break?

When it comes to transition shot attempts, College of Charleston had less shots in transition than Georgia in every season except the current season where Georgia has tried to match Virginia in pace.

  • 2017-18:  17.4% of shots in transition – 63rd lowest.
  • 2016-17:  17.8% of shots in transition – 84th lowest.
  • 2015-16:  19.3% of shots in transition – 122nd lowest.
  • 2014-15:  17.5% of shots in transition – 72nd lowest.

Conservative Style of Play with Poor Ball Movement

College of Charleston does not turn the ball over much and they do not force turnovers either.  They sport a very poor Assists-to-Field Goals Made ratio.  How do possessions end?  It should be on a rebound, but they are not the best rebounding team either.

The positives are that College of Charleston finds their way to the Free Throw Line and keeps opponents from having strong ball movement.

The negatives so far are that College of Charleston does not have good ball movement and the offense is seemingly incapable of getting shots down from the field.  The FTA/FGA ratio is not high enough to make up for the lack of shots made.

It’s nothing that blows anyone away.

An average to below-average rebounding team that does not force turnovers is one that gives up second chance opportunities.

Gregg Marshall is not walking through that door.

Earl Grant is not a can’t miss coach like Kevin Keatts.  Keatts had an exciting and disruptive style of play that helped provide his teams the ability to win on nights when the shots simply did not fall.  Grant appears to be a continuation of the same style of play.  He’s not Gregg Marshall, his coaching style is more reflective of Brad Brownell.

If you’re going to hire a Mid-Major Coach for the third straight time, hire someone who is distinctly different from the predecessor in terms of style of play.  Earl Grant is a continuation of the same.  Expecting him to change based on talent-level is a leap of faith, this decision needs to be based on results and actual performances rather than castles-in-the-sky and feel good moments.

Earl Grant may be better for a different program (a Mid-major program or a Power Conference program in complete disrepair), but not Georgia.  This is a road that has been traveled already, it’s time for something very different.  Someone more proven and dynamic.

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