Paul Hewitt has been fired at George Mason

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It is finally over. Steven Goff of the Washington Post was first to report the news today. George Mason has fired Paul Hewitt after four seasons and a 66-67 overall record in Fairfax. His conference record over the last two seasons in the Atlantic 10 was 8-26 and made for a disastrous transition into a new conference for the program. His failure at Mason went well beyond just the wins and losses, his teams often looked sloppy, unprepared, and in complete disarray in games. Turnovers and poor defense were issues every single season and no improvement was ever really shown. In four years none of his teams ever came close to competing for an NCAA tournament bid.

His roster management, something he mentioned was a problem at his prior coaching stint at Georgia Tech, was also an issue. He failed to recruit a point guard or for that matter, back court players that could compete at a high level. The 2014-15 team dealt with injuries/eligibility issues but looked like a team full of forwards and didn’t have the back court needed to compete in the Atlantic 10. After three full seasons of being here, I found it odd that Hewitt was talking about how they were going to struggle on offense before the start of this year. He had all this time to bring in his own recruits and this was the result? And read up on this year’s best player Shevon Thompson and you will find Hewitt got extremely lucky when he found him as they were initially looking for his teammate.

Hewitt also wasn’t the most likable guy among the fan base. He often blamed players in post game interviews and had a condescending tone when discussing losses. He was never all that energetic on the sidelines and did little to engage with fans. He asked me to put together a Q & A at Brion’s Grill only to lecture those who went about saying critical things about the program on social media.

It’s finally time to move on to hopefully better days for Mason Nation.

[Photo by Bill Bride]

  • mkaufman1
  • Andy Minor

    Good move all around. Hewitt was a nice guy but for whatever reason he can’t cut it as a head basketball coach.

    I fully trust the university will make a good hire moving forward that can return this program to the prominence it once enjoyed as a contender. George Mason Basketball is special. Can’t wait for next season.

    • ricandersen

      Was he a nice guy? (Serious question.) I don’t think he was overly nasty, but I got the impression he was not a nice guy.

      • mkaufman1

        Yeah, really nice guy, but unfortunately paranoid looking to blame anything except himself for failures.

  • Chris Hirsch

    I’d at least gauge Anthony Grant’s interest.

  • mkaufman1

    I’m ready for next year! New Era! Can’t wait. Go Mason!

  • Rick Jank

    YES! Now… we can hope!!
    My gut level thoughts on Anthony Grant:
    1. Having a former VCU guy? Weird, it would just be weird.
    2. Not sure our best move is getting someone who just got ran off from a struggling major program….
    Ben Howland is still out there, right?

    • Chris Hirsch

      Howland got run off from UCLA, why would he be better? He also has barely any ties to the area and is really OLD.

      • Rick Jank

        Yeah, I realized that when I wrote it. But Howland got run off for different reasons, like internal strife, not dealing with a player the right way, and not to mention the extremely high expectations of UCLA — just making the final four, repeatedly, wasn’t good enough. I’d rather look at a guy who says he learned his lesson about character and personalities and so forth than a guy who couldn’t make the x’s and o’s work at his previous job.
        Maybe I’m gun shy about anything resembling the Hewitt type. Frankly, it surprises me that Grant didn’t have more success at Bama.

  • Chris Hirsch

    Gunston for coach!!!

  • Noelle

    FINALLY! Can we get Larranaga back please?

  • GMU-74-EVR

    How about Tommy Amaker? Or Bobby Hurley?

  • ricandersen

    So, I’ve sort of been the curmudgeon here. I’ve been vocal when people foolishly predicted wins against VCU or top-50 teams. I was critical when people expressed optimism after Mason came in second in the CBI (we lucked our way into the finals, beating Charleston on a last-second shot and needing overtime to beat Houston, before losing a 3-game series where we hosted Santa Clara twice).

    That admittance aside, I agree with everyone that Paul Hewitt is just a really bad coach. In fact, I take exception to everyone who said, “Well, at least he’s a good recruiter.” But man, he is just a horrible coach. I actually held back on the forum here, just because everyone else was so vocal.

    I attended Mason at its previous low marks, in the late 1988-2003. The last time we had back-to-back 20-loss seasons. Ernie Nestor and Paul Westhead ring any bells? (Rhetorical question.) They coached Mason to a lot of losses. But, they weren’t horrible coaches. Ernie Nestor wasn’t good, by any stretch. But he had a lot less to work with than Hewitt, and fans still enjoyed the games. Westhead just had a system that failed at the collegiate level his second time around. But you knew going into a game that we would lose 90-85. Defense be damned!

    I’m pretty realistic at all times (to a detriment, perhaps). But I recognize that the fan base is more despondent now than anytime in the past. Sure, GMU has had bad attendance numbers years past. But that was because we were a commuter school in a fledgling mid-major conference (CAA) that didn’t rise to prominence until recent years (A LOT of that having to do with GMU).

    This is just a long rant to say that I’m very pleased Edwards finally acted. And I take exception to ESPN writing that Hewitt “struggled once the program left the Colonial for the Atlantic 10.” Hewitt inherited the framework for the teams that won 20 games each season in the CAA, and I will always be a little bitter that history will credit him for victories he didn’t deserve.

    And I am disappointed that Hewitt received his “longevity related bonus” of $85,000; Edwards should have fired him before March 1.

    I don’t blame Hewitt for sucking, oddly enough. As I’ve stated earlier, all my ill will is aimed at Tom O’Connor. As for Hewitt, he may suck as a college coach, but kudos to him for becoming a millionaire at it.

    • StopWearingPurple

      If we bring back Paul Westhead (I checked, he is still alive) it would be interesting to see if it would bankrupt Chick-fil-A.

  • ChrisC

    I think ESPN is reporting GMU having high interest in Coach L’s son Jay who is currently an assistant for the Celtics

  • GaMoo79

    This may end up being your most commented on post to date Ryan. At least until the next coach is hired!
    Random ramblings: I am very glad Hewitt is gone. TOC made a terrible hire. I do not want Anthony Grant, a VCU guy, nor any other coach who has just been fired. I also bought the great recruiter so-so coach line. I was looking forward for him bringing in NBA caliber studs. I really thought we would be improved this year. I am excited to see who Edwards brings in. We have some good players who have shown promise. A good coach who can bring in some ball handlers and shooters to compliment our forwards…GO GAMOO!!
    BTW, while I was there, I actually had a green and gold painters cap that said Gamoo on the front. Wish I still had it. Mr. Edwards? Marketing Dept.? You listening?

    • GMU-74-EVR

      Gamoo the fat lady sung. How bout dat?

      • GaMoo79

        Yesssss!

        • GMU-74-EVR

          Maybe we’ll both be around to celebrate some new successes.

  • Josh Marks

    Yes! Best news of the day!

  • GMU-74-EVR

    Final Hewitt Report card: 2011-2015
    Season 1: 24-9 (With a loaded team and POY failed to get even an NIT Bid) Grade: C+
    Season 2: 22-16 (With a depleted CAA blew a huge lead against NE in SF; CBI Runners-Up) Grade: C
    Season 3: 11-20 (First year in A-10, so many close losses, worst losing streak in ages, 9 games, not even one decent win, lost to Fordham twice) Grade: D
    Season 4: 9-22 (13th in A-10, two more losses to Fordham) Grade: F
    Overall grade: D-

    • GaMoo79

      In a lot of respects, this year was even harder for me to watch than last year. A) It was our first year in the A10 and I expected to struggle some. B) Though we had a knack for shooting ourselves in the foot at the end of games, I tried to chalk it up to just not having players quite up to A10 standards. C) I knew we would be weak at the guard position this year, but I expected Jenkins to have a better year and for Royal to be a true 4-star player, and for Copes (another alleged 4-star) to finally be healthy and want to go out strong, and for Holloway to actually be able to shoot…none of which happened. D) Etc.
      Yes, my expectations were higher for this year; and yes, it was much more frustrating!

    • Rick Jank

      Pretty accurate. I’d give the C+ for season 2, though and a C- to season 1. He truly squandered our talent in year 1 and for many of us wrote the handwriting that is now on the wall. In year 2 he finished the season with the best his era had to offer: a narrow CBI series loss to a similarly “just above average” team in Santa Clara. I think we went 4-2 against the CBI. That was our best.
      Well…. splitting hairs = me.

      • GMU-74-EVR

        Hey Rick what do you think about Tommy Amaker as a coaching option?

        • Rick Jank

          I’d schedule an interview right away! But I don’t know what makes you think that he’d leave Harvard. Or if he left Harvard, that he wouldn’t be shooting higher than an A10 school.

          • GMU-74-EVR

            I kinda thought A-10 would be a step up from Ivy.

  • Mason7Eleven

    I’ll begin my own post with a caveat. We’re all glad Hewitt has been released, and there’s probably no reason to hash out what was good or bad about him. But…

    Everyone keeps talking about how he is a nice guy. In what way? He showed no class in his post-game interviews or other media interactions by always blaming others. He doesn’t interact with the fans or community enough for us form any sort of impression about him concerning life off of the court. If by nice you mean apathetic, I can get on board with that description.

    I know it does no good to compare current coaches with former coaches, but Hewitt really lowered the standard compared to Larranaga when it comes to community engagement. I live within walking distance of campus, and Coach L was a prominent and available figure in our community. He showed up to events that had nothing to do with Mason or basketball. Why? Because he was a nice guy. Liz Larranaga was just as much a part of our community as he was. My impression of Hewitt was that he was here to collect a paycheck and keep his resume’ current. Just because he never threw a chair doesn’t make him nice. He didn’t care enough about Mason and our legacy enough to make a determination about his niceness.

    • GMU-74-EVR

      Well said. I even sent him an e-mail in his first year wishing him luck and he didn’t ever reply. Good riddance!

    • GaMoo79

      I never liked him in the press conferences, even in the first two years when we were winning. Very bland. No fire. No competitive spirit. About the same as when he was on the bench.

  • Steve

    i am so thrilled that the Hewitt era is over. Already feeling refreshed and somewhat excited for the new season to start in November. This will make my desision to renew my season tickets that much easier. not having to look at Hewitt on the bench anymore is certainly worth it.

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  • steven times

    Really bad coaches don’t make it to the Final Four!!!!!

    • gmurva

      You have a point, I think the problem was motivation and he probably has not been truly motivated since going to the final four at GT. We need a coach motivativated by personnel success and/or helping others succeed with no concept how much success is enough or at least still has a way to go.