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Jeff Eisenberg

Tweets won't help Paul Hewitt win back Georgia Tech fans

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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There's nothing more mundane than a college basketball coach on twitter.

Ben_Howland: Darren Collison had a triple double tonight <yawn>

MattDohertySMU: Need your help Sat vs UH <shoulder shrug>

GTCoachHewitt: Are you a critic or a supporter of this team? <Zzzzzz ... Wait, what?>

If you've followed Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt's twitter account the past few days, you may have noticed his message has been a little more provocative than the usual rah-rah prattle.

Hewitt has gone on the offensive against critical media and fans, accusing them of being too "judgmental" and for "quitting" on a team that has dropped four of six to put its NCAA tournament hopes in jeopardy.

"As we are coming to the latter part of the season, now is not the time to be judgemental," Hewitt wrote Tuesday. Then on Wednesday he added, "To you critics: when athletes say some of the things you say, then you condemn them as quitters. Are you quitting?"

You can certainly appreciate Hewitt trying to restore fan faith in his program, but is twitter the proper vehicle and is this the right approach? And does Hewitt really have the right to ask for more patience from fans who have grown anxious for success after nearly five years without an NCAA tournament victory?

When Hewitt received a lucrative new six-year contract in 2004 after taking the Yellow Jackets within a victory of the national title, it seemed like he was destined to be revered in Atlanta throughout his tenure. Instead Hewitt has become the target of increasing fan backlash after the talent level in the program slipped and Georgia Tech finished below .500 in three of the past four seasons.

With a preseason No. 21 ranking, three McDonald's all-Americans on the roster and a experienced senior class, the Yellow Jackets were supposed to bust out of that slump this season and contend in a watered-down ACC. That's why the rumblings about Hewitt have grown louder in recent weeks with Georgia Tech (18-9, 6-7) below .500 in ACC play and still a couple wins shy of securing an NCAA tournament berth.

What Hewitt seems to be doing here is equating fans criticizing him as a coach with not supporting the program.

Plus, what's with the empty excuses? Hewitt writes that he has a "young basketball team," but four of his top eight players are juniors and seniors. And he writes that Georgia Tech is playing its "best basketball of the season," but while the Yellow Jackets did put up a good fight at Maryland on Saturday, they've also lost at Miami and struggled to slip by NC State this month.

On Thursday morning, Hewitt tweeted that his team "deserves to be treated truthfully."

Well, coach, this is as honest as I can be. This approach is not going to win back the fans. Winning more games is the only thing that will do that.

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