HomeNewsComing soon for college basketball fans: The (New) Clint Bryant Show

Coming soon for college basketball fans: The (New) Clint Bryant Show



The college basketball season is officially heating up as the sport angles towards March Madness. We are lucky to be able to call on Clint Bryant to guide us through the remainder of regular season, the conference tournament chaos, and the NCAA Tournament itself as part of a weekly show that will be posted right after the AP Top 25 College Basketball Poll releases every Monday. If you’ve been around long enough to remember “The Clint Bryant Show” that aired every week on Jones Intercable in the 1980’s and 90’s, you might remember Coach Bryant’s own weekly top 25 list, and you’ll also recognize the inspiration for this new show.

Of course, Bryant recently retired after serving as Augusta University’s athletic director for 34 years. He coached Augusta’s men’s basketball team during the first nine years of that period. Before coming to Augusta, he was the associate head coach for the University of Miami for four seasons. And before that he was the assistant coach for Clemson during the first seven years of his career. Coach Bryant’s relationships in the college basketball world and his knowledge of the sport are both unparalleled, making him the perfect guide for the remainder of the college hoops season.

I met with Bryant Monday in his office in downtown Augusta for a half-hour interview before our first official taping of “The (New) Clint Bryant Show” on Monday, January 30. Below were some of Bryant’s thoughts about the themes and teams to watch for as the college hoops season continues to unfold.

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Chad: Why is this the best time of the year to follow college basketball?

Bryant: It’s an exciting time of year, being now that college football is over and we’re in the heart of conference play. It’s so important for conference play right now because teams are trying to work to get a good seed for their conference tournament. And winning the conference tournament normally means an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. And then also, depending on how good you are in your record, you might get an at large bid. But some conferences don’t have teams that get at large bids. So there are a lot of people very concerned right now about being very good or No. 1 in their conference. The NCAA Tournament is the measuring stick of success in college basketball. So everybody’s just working really hard to get themselves there. There’s some great college basketball on (TV) right now.

The “Big Dance”: The blue bloods might win it, but Cinderella makes it special

Bryant: You know as well as I know, one of the big schools is probably going to win it. North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, UCLA, Kansas or whoever… they’re probably gonna win it. But what makes the NCAA Tournament are those first two days. That first weekend. When you’ve got Cinderella at the ball. Everybody’s looking for a Florida Gulf Coast, or a University of Maryland, Baltimore County… 

Dave Odom’s son, he coaches at Utah State. They have a heck of a team at Utah State. But he made his first run as a Retriever at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. And then you take a team like the University of New Mexico Lobos (No. 25). The last time I checked, Chad, I think they’re 18-2. They’re coming out of the Mountain West. Nobody wants to play them in the first round. Furman’s got a good team in the Southern Conference. Saint Mary’s. The best team on the west coast right now is not (No. 14) Gonzaga. It’s Saint Mary’s. They’re 18-4. Southern Mississippi has one of the best teams they’ve had in a long time. Marshall has a good team.

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Should the NCAA Tournament field expand?

Bryant: Lefty (Driesell) said over 50 years ago that every college team should be in the NCAA Tournament. And guess what, I think Lefty was 50 years ahead of his time because college basketball is that competitive. There’s that much parity. I’m one to think that the proposal about increasing the field from 68 teams to 90 is a good one. I wish they would increase the field from 68 to 100.

(Note: Lefty Driesell was the fifth winningest coach in the history of college basketball when he retired in 2003.)

The unpredictable nature of college basketball

Bryant: Who would’ve thought, Chad, that on January 23, that I would say there’s an AP Poll of the top 25 teams, and neither North Carolina nor Duke are in the top 25. You would’ve said, ‘Coach Bryant has lost it.’ But it just goes to show you. North Carolina, the No. 1 team in the first two or three weeks of the season, now is not even ranked. Duke, not ranked. Kansas losing two games last week… But this is just conference basketball.

Who are the teams to watch close to home here in Georgia and South Carolina?

Bryant: You look at No. 24 Clemson and everybody knows, and it’s no joke, that Clemson’s a football school. It has been. Always will be. But there have been some runs for Clemson in basketball. I was fortunate enough to be on the staff in 1981 when we made the Elite Eight and lost to UCLA, one game from the Final Four. That’s the most success Clemson has ever had in basketball. From 1981 to 2023, what is that, 42 years? It’s been a long time! 

But (current head coach) Brad Brownell is one of the best coaches in the country. You look at the starting guard from Seton Hall… he transferred to Clemson. The starting guard from Missouri… he went to Clemson. The starting forward from Marquette… he went to Clemson. Again, now Brad has taken a different group with a bunch of young kids… Hunter Tyson is a pro! He has made himself a pro. He’s in his sixth year. But nobody would have thought it when he came out of Monroe, North Carolina when he did. No ACC school other than Clemson offered him. Man, what if he was at Wake Forest? I bet you North Carolina and Duke are all saying now, ‘How did we miss this guy?’

So again, you’ve got Clemson. But the best team in South Carolina might be the College of Charleston (No. 18). They’ve got great tradition from (legendary head coach) John Kresse to Bobby Cremmins from Georgia Tech, who later coached there. The young man who’s now the head coach at Boston College, Earl Grant, did some great work there too. Now they’re 21-1. And now, because UNC Wilmington has a nice team, the Colonial Conference might get two or three teams in the NCAA Tournament. So I’m saying even if the College of Charleston wins their league and gets upset (in their conference tournament), they still will be worthy of getting an NCAA bid.

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Who should we watch for in Georgia?

Bryant: Right now in the state of Georgia… I always say Augusta University has the best basketball team in the state of Georgia. But the second best team might not be Georgia or Georgia Tech. It might be Kennesaw State, who’s running around now 7-1 in the Atlantic Sun with an opportunity, if they win their conference tournament, to go to the NCAA Tournament. So it’s an exciting time. Great basketball. We have a lot to look forward to.

The power of home court advantage in college basketball

The thing I wish the Augusta University students would do… I challenge the students to get out and support that team. Because Saturday (January 21) they played on a neutral floor. This time of year, at home, you can’t let your floor be neutral. It must be a hostile environment. Not mean spirited. But loud and raucous for your team. That makes a difference in college basketball. The students in Indiana were the reason Indiana won against Michigan State yesterday (January 22). If they had played that game on a neutral floor, I don’t think Indiana would have won that game. But playing at home in front of your fans makes the difference.

What makes college basketball completely different from the NBA?

The difference is… the pros can take nights off. They play an eighty-game season. The college season, even if you make it all the way through, it’s only about 35 games long. So you have that energy every night in the college basketball game. That college atmosphere. 

Georgia was able to beat (No. 15) Auburn this season because they had a heck of a crowd in Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia Tech was able to beat (No. 20) Miami because they had a good crowd there in Atlanta. Students do make a difference. A lot of times nowadays people say the students are too busy on their cell phones and everything else, and that they don’t have enough time to go to the games. But take two hours of your time to go out and see a college basketball game. And guess what? It will be an atmosphere, and it will be well worth your time.

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The biggest story of the last week

I think the biggest story of the week about basketball was not actually about college basketball. It was about the young man Josiah Johnson, from Louisville, a young man who was born without legs, who is starting on his middle school basketball team. I encourage those of you out there seeing this to go to your iPhone, iPad or computer and look up Josiah Johnson. He is a story, man!

Just think about it. Here’s a kid born without legs. But the game of basketball has made a tremendous difference in his life. And because he is playing, he’s going to make a tremendous difference in other kids’ lives, especially kids who were born with certain disabilities.

Follow Chad Cook’s coverage of local sports on Facebook and Instagram at @AugustaPressSports, and on Twitter at @AugPressSports. 

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