Ga. Tech's Cremins glad he got a father's recommendation

March 21, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

MILWAUKEE -- Georgia Tech Coach Bobby Cremins never saw guard Jon Barry play before signing him, taking him on the recommendation of Barry's father, Rick, a member of the NBA Hall of Fame.

"I'd gotten to know Rick well and I respected his opinion on basketball," Cremins said. "I'm sure he was exaggerating a little when he told me how good a shooter Jon was, but he spoke so highly of Jon that I thought Jon might fit in."

He certainly has, this season leading Georgia Tech to its eighth consecutive NCAA tournament bid. The Yellow Jackets, 22-11, will play USC, 24-5, in an NCAA Midwest Regional second-round game Saturday at 7:15 p.m. EST at the Bradley Center. The winner advances to the Sweet 16.

Cremins took Jon Barry sight unseen because forward Dennis Scott, who had led the Yellow Jackets to the 1990 Final Four, where they lost to UNLV, was leaving school early for the NBA.

Cremins bumped into Rick Barry at the Final Four coaches' dinner.

"I told him, 'Rick, I've got problems. I think Dennis Scott is going to turn pro. We've lost all our recruits. Didn't you tell me you have a son? Where is he?' " Cremins recalled.

Jon Barry had transferred from the University of the Pacific to Paris Junior College in Texas, Cremins was told.

"I went to the back of the banquet room and I called Jon and told him the situation," Cremins said. "I tried to sign him over the phone, without him visiting or anything. I told him we were desperate.

"I had to know right then and there, on the phone, if he'd come to Georgia Tech. I hadn't seen him play, but I knew that (Oklahoma State Coach) Eddie Sutton was getting ready to look at him."

Jon Barry didn't think long before accepting Cremins' offer.

"I had just watched Georgia Tech in the Final Four on TV and I was shocked when he called," Barry said. "To get a call from a Final Four team right after I watched the game was a shock. I didn't have any big-time offers and I had to jump at the offer."

Playing at his third school since graduating from DeLaSalle High in Danville, Calif., in 1987, Barry chafed under Cremins' discipline last season. Barry was accustomed to taking any shot or making any pass he wanted. In Atlanta, he went into a funk if he shot poorly, neglecting other aspects of his game.

"Last year when my shot was off I seemed to disappear in games," Barry said. "This year if I'm not shooting well, I try to contribute in other ways, like playing defense or passing."

Barry is averaging a team-high 16.8 points but also leads the team in assists and steals and is Georgia Tech's most accurate three-point shooter.

A 6-foot 5-inch fifth-year senior, Barry played a key role as Georgia Tech defeated Houston, 65-60, in an NCAA Midwest Regional first-round game Thursday night, scoring 17 points and getting five assists.

USC Coach George Raveling thinks Barry is the key to the Yellow Jackets' recent success. Since a mid-season slump, they have won six of their last eight games.

"I told our kids that Barry is the heart and soul of their team," Raveling said after watching a videotape of Georgia Tech. "If we can stop him, we have a chance of winning. He's got unbelievable confidence in himself. They're not even the same team without him on the floor."

Opposing coaches used to say the same thing about Rick Barry when he was playing.

"I really didn't learn the game from him," Jon Barry said of his father. "I learned from my grandfather.

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