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Georgia head coach Tom Crean yells at his players to move down the court and head for the basket as the clock runs down. The University of Georgia men’s basketball team hosted the Mississippi State team to fall with a final score of 68-67 on Feb. 20, 2019 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/ Kathryn Skeean)

The Georgia men’s basketball team no longer has an empty spot on its coaching staff. Georgia hired John Linehan as assistant coach, head coach Tom Crean announced on Saturday.

Linehan replaces Amir-Abdur Rahim, the former assistant coach who was hired on April 18 to be the head coach at Kennesaw State. Crean’s other two assistants — Chad Dollar and Joe Scott — stayed on after the staff’s first season together at Georgia.

Linehan was an assistant coach at Hartford the past two years. The school, which is in the America East conference, went 18-15 last season and 19-14 in the 2017-18 season. Before coaching at Hartford, Linehan coached at Brown, Drexel and Temple.

Coaching isn’t the only thing on Linehan’s résumé. He also played basketball during his college years at Providence from 1997-2002. He owns the Division I career record with 385 steals and was the consensus 2002 National Defensive Player of the Year.

Linehan then moved on to a long professional basketball career from 2002-14. Although he never made the NBA, he played in France’s Pro A League, the Harlem Globetrotters and the Greenville Groove of the NBA D-League.

“I simply love his background and his story,” Crean said.

Throughout his career, Linehan was known as a defensive menace.

“He grew up in the same area as Kobe Bryant, and I heard Kobe say one time that John Linehan was the toughest defender he ever faced,” Crean said.

But he is no longer playing basketball. But maybe he can pass along his defensive knowledge to his new team. The Bulldogs ranked 243rd in the nation with 73.9 opponents points per game last year. Linehan said Georgia still has a lot of advantages going for it.

“The University of Georgia is a big-time school with a great reputation, both for its academics and its athletics,” Linehan said. “Georgia basketball has always been very relevant, and I’m excited about the opportunity to help the program grow to even greater heights.”

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