John Bazemore, Associated Press
ATLANTA — Brian Gregory is ready to get started on rebuilding Georgia Tech's beleaguered basketball program.
He certainly wasted no time getting the attention of his new players.
"He's not a pushover," freshman forward Jason Morris said Monday, shortly after Gregory met with the team and was introduced as the Yellow Jackets coach. "He's going to get what he wants. Whatever it takes, (even) if he has to break you down to your lowest point to build you back up."
Gregory coached at Dayton the past eight years before agreeing to take over at Georgia Tech, a program that fell on hard times after reaching the national championship game in 2004.
Paul Hewitt was fired shortly after the team wrapped up its fourth losing season in the past six years with an ugly loss in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
The 44-year-old Gregory said all the tools are in place to restore the Yellow Jackets to national prominence, including a strong recruiting base, membership in a leading basketball league and a prominent history that he plans to tap into.
"We need to reconnect and re-engage with our former players," he said. "Their blood, sweat and tears made our program what it is today."
But Gregory received a rather rude welcome from one of the current players when Iman Shumpert, the team's leading scorer, tweeted right in the middle of Gregory's introductory news conference that he would test his NBA options.
"Ok...I've decided to test the waters and put my name in the 2011 NBA Draft," the junior wrote.
He hasn't hired an agent, meaning he could still return to Georgia Tech for his final year. Shumpert averaged 17.3 points a game this season.
"I reached this decision before meeting the new coach...i didn't know I was meeting him today," Shumpert tweeted.
Gregory said he met with the entire team an hour before his news conference, but didn't get a chance to meet with anyone individually. He plans to sit down with Shumpert as soon as possible.
"It's in his best interests to do that with the junior year he had," the new coach said, shrugging off any suggestion that Shumpert's tweet was poorly timed. "He's a good enough kid and a smart enough kid and the program means enough to him that he'll do the right thing."
Gregory received a six-year, $6-million contract to coach at Georgia Tech, where the athletic program is saddled with heavy debt and further burdened by a $7.2 million buyout that Hewitt is owed over the next five years.
Athletic director Dan Radakovich insisted money was not a limitation in his coaching search.
"The fit was more important than paying the large dollars," he said. "If there was someone we thought was a better fit, maybe we could have gone there. But I look at this as being a great individual for who we are at Georgia Tech and where we want to go."
Gregory went 172-94 at Daytona. He guided the Flyers to a pair of NCAA appearances, reaching the second round in 2009 with an upset of West Virginia. Dayton also won the NIT in 2010, beating North Carolina in the championship game.
Dayton had only one losing season under Gregory and won at least 20 games five times. But the team is coming off a disappointing season, going 7-9 in the Atlantic 10 and 22-14 overall. The Flyers failed to reach the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row, losing to Richmond in the final of the A-10 tournament.
They settled for a bid to the NIT and were defeated by the College of Charleston 94-84 in the opening round.
"Sometimes you don't really know a coach until they've had some adversity and you see how they come back from it and how they handle it," Radakovich said.
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