Cremins reflects on superb career

By Matt Hill

   JOHNSON CITY -- Former Georgia Tech head basketball coach Bobby Cremins' career was like Batman's record in fighting the Joker. There were very few losses.
   The third winningest coach in ACC history was on hand at the Adelphia Centre Saturday night as the guest speaker during the ETSU Hall of Fame Banquet.
   Eleven new members were inducted after Cremins' speech, including two men with Carter County ties. Judge John W. Walton and Dr. Willie John Malone were both enshrined into the Hall of Fame Saturday night.
   The other inductees were Jay Baumgardner, Jim Brown, Donnie Cook, Mike Hulbert, P.J. Leddy, Gloria Parmentier, Janice C. Shelton, Joe Shipley and Jay Shoop.
   Cremins trails only Dean Smith and Mike Kryzyeski among the ACC's all-time win leaders. His Georgia Tech team made the final four in 1990.
   Along the way to the Final Four that year, Cremins' Yellow Jackets defeated Keith "Mister" Jennings, Greg Dennis, Calvin Talford and the rest of what was an explosive East Tennessee State squad in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Knoxville.
   "I do remember the game," Cremins said right before the banquet started. "I was concerned about the game. Les (Robinson) had a very good team. He's a close friend, and I know how he can coach. He had Greg Dennis and Mister Jennings, too."
   "Our game plan was to hurt them inside. We wanted to post Dennis Scott up. They had nobody that could guard Dennis. We posted him up a lot. Greg Dennis had to guard our big guy, so there was a mismatch with Scott. We had a great team."
   Cremins felt good about the convincing win in Knoxville, especially considering the Buccaneers gave their opponents fits in their other three NCAA Tournament appearances between 1989 and 1992.
   "We had the best point guard in the country in Kenny Anderson," Cremins said. "I had a special team. I knew they would have a good crowd coming over from East Tennessee State. We just had a great team."
   Cremins never won a national championship at Georgia Tech, so he could feel good this past week for Maryland head coach Gary Williams when he won his first national title after having so many great teams.
   "Gary's a good friend," Cremins said. "I always pull for the ACC. He's most deserving. It's great for Gary to have a national championship on his resume."
   Cremins is enjoying his time on the beach in Hilton Head S.C., and he doesn't see getting back into coaching for awhile.
   "It's got to be really, really special," Cremins said. "It's hard to get it out of your system, but I have a great life. I'm enjoying life, and I'm doing well."
   Cremins has become a familiar face around Southern Conference circles, as he did color commentary during SoCon telecasts for Fox Sports Net and CSS.
   "I love it," Cremins said, who coached at Appalachian State in the early part of his career. "I have a soft spot in my heart for the Southern Conference. Having coached here six years, this was my beginning, so I love the Southern Conference."
   Malone played basketball on the 1960 state championship team at Hampton, then shined as a Buccaneer under legendary coach Madison Brooks.
   "Coach Brooks was a great coach, and I love him dearly," Malone said.
   When Malone was on the stage, he showed off his sense of humor when talking about Todd Stansbury's call to him when he found out he was going into the ETSU Hall of Fame.
   "I told him whoever is on that committee must be old," Malone said.
   Walton played on the 1969 ETSU Grantland Rice Bowl team that defeated Terry Bradshaw's Louisiana Tech squad.
   Walton treasured being inducted.
   "It's good to see a lot of old friends, and reminiscence with them about times gone by." Walton said.
   Walton is hoping the induction of Malone and himself will boost ETSU's fan support in Carter County.
   "Carter County's produced a lot of good athletes or at least they end up having the sense to end up there," Walton said. "I think it's a good recognition for Carter County, and the right step for ETSU to move in that direction."
   Hulbert is a very well-known face to ETSU fans. He has won three PGA Tour events, and is now a golf analyst with CBS.
   "I'm proud to say I went to East Tennessee State University," Hulbert said.
   The most emotional part of the evening happened when former All-American football player Donnie Cook was honored. He wanted his father to present his award, but he was killed in a car wreck in December.
   "I know he's with me now," a tearful Cook said.