Hewitt hopes he can turn page at new job

Former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt was introduced at George Mason on Monday. He spent 11 seasons with the Jackets before being fired.

FAIRFAX, Va. --- Paul Hewitt had no intention of returning to college basketball so soon. Let go by Georgia Tech in March, he had planned a trip to St. Maarten with his wife beginning Friday.


Then George Mason called. After a quick courtship, the island plans were put on hold.

"I traded one paradise for another," Hewitt said at his introduction Monday.

Less than a week after an initial discussion, the two sides quickly moved forward. Hewitt is the ninth coach in George Mason's 44-year history.

"I don't mind saying I was a little beat up after my last job," he said. "That's part of the game, no hard feelings, but this was too good a situation to turn down."

The situation was replacing Jim Larranaga, who left last month for Miami after 14 seasons with the Colonial Athletic Association program.

Money was a major reason the Patriots lost Larranaga, who took George Mason to the Final Four in 2006 and is the winningest coach in school history. Hewitt is receiving a $7.2 million buyout over five years from Georgia Tech, which would seem to make him more affordable.

Details of Hewitt's five-year deal with George Mason were not released.

"Today we open the next chapter in men's basketball at George Mason University," said school President Alan Merten. Hewitt "sends a message and we send a message that men's basketball is important. Men's basketball is doing things the right way at the right time."

Hewitt, who turns 48 on Wednesday, was fired by Georgia Tech in mid-March after completing a 13-18 regular season and compiling a 190-162 record during his 11 seasons. He directed the Yellow Jackets to five NCAA Tournament appearances and a national runner-up finish in 2004 with four 20-win seasons along the way. He managed only one winning season in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Previously, Hewitt coached three years at Siena, posting a 66-27 record.

Hewitt will inherit four starters from a team that last season matched a program-high with 27 wins, won the Colonial regular season title and reached the NCAA Tournament, losing to top-seed Ohio State.

"I think what coach Larranaga has done for 14 years is an unbelievable example of what can happen if you continue to work hard," Hewitt said.

He does not expect to make drastic changes to the basketball schemes.

"This year, it's important we maintain some sense of continuity," said Hewitt, adding that he spoken with Larranaga earlier Monday. "When you win 27 games, you don't want to change too much."