BALTIMORE - When former Georgia guard G.G. Smith was announced as Loyola University Baltimore's head coach in April, his father, Tubby, interrupted his inaugural press conference with a congratulatory phone call.
But Wednesday, Tubby — who was G.G.'s coach for two years at Georgia — was able to congratulate his son in person.
"This is a great opportunity for him," Tubby said. "He's been well-trained and he's been around the game for his entire life, so he understands."
The pair answered questions from more than 50 fans while sharing the stage Wednesday at the Under Armour Tide Point headquarters in Baltimore. G.G. is entering his first season as a head coach, after serving for six years as an assistant coach for the Greyhounds.
G.G. still loves the University of Georgia and Athens, where he was a three-year starter and met his wife, Lorie. Also, he discovered his desire to coach while still playing for the Bulldogs.
"I knew I wanted to coach basketball since my junior, senior year," he said.
The former Bulldog point guard reached the NCAA Tournament twice, including a Sweet Sixteen berth in 1996. Tubby coached him those first two years, and the Georgia basketball team posted consecutive 20-or-more win seasons for the first time in school history.
Tubby accepted the top job for the Kentucky Wildcats after the 1997 season, but not before G.G. could take some of his dad's plays for future use.
"The thing I'm going to steal the most is the ball-line defense," G.G. said. "That's what we do in this business: we steal from everybody. Of course I stole from my dad."
"I hope not," Tubby said. "I hope he makes plays better than that, makes plays better than I did."
While Tubby said his son would have to make his own mistakes, he believed G.G. would succeed because of his cerebral approach as a player.
"The calmness that he has — I didn't have it, very few people have it," Tubby said. "That's his strength, and you have to coach to your strength."
G.G. will have some talent to work with in his first season. The Greyhounds only have four upperclassmen, but they have finished 23-12 and 24-9 the last two seasons. Senior guard Dylon Cormier will ease the transition after averaging 16.4 points-per-game last season and being named an All-MAAC first-team selection.
One roadblock is a tougher schedule, after Loyola joined the Patriot League this season.
The growing pains of a new coach with a young roster are also to be expected.
"Everybody is along for the ride. This is my first year, I'm going to make some mistakes, the players are going to make some mistakes," G.G. said. "It's just how you handle those mistakes that's going to define you as a team."