Filed under: carolina, College Basketball, College Football, GEORGIA, Mark Fox, POWER FOOTBALL, richt, SEC, special teams
Furious rally fell short as Dawgs fell to Washington in 1st round of Big Dance by three. Nice job by Mark Fox on a strong season.
Speaking of that…IT”S FOOTBALL SEASON!
Filed under: athens, bama, carolina, College Basketball, Floor-DUH, GEORGIA, kentucky, Mark Fox, NCAA, records, SEC, special teams, Sports, tennessee, travel, UGA, vandy
The University of Georgia was in last place in the SEC last season in men’s basketball and made a remarkable turnaround in year two of the coach Mark Fox era. At 21-11, UGA has a decent record, and the Dawgs are battle-tested from having been in the rugged SEC East, playing twice each against fellow tournament teams: Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Tennessee. Out of conference, Georgia faced strong competition from tournament squads: Xavier, UAB, Temple and Notre Dame.
Georgia’s record against top teams was notably bad; they just won a few big games and beat every team they were clearly supposed to beat. Washington does not fall into that category coming off a Pac-10 tournament championship. The glaring problems for UGA are lack of depth, inability to consistently shoot the ball from outside, and above all the lack of a killer instinct to close out good teams when playing with a lead. This last problem was notable in two recent slip-ups against BAMA – losses that could have cost UGA a trip to the Big Dance if BAMA’s schedule was remotely close to comparable to UGA’s this season. BAMA came from way behind twice to beat Georgia, and both teams ended the season with the same overall win total.
All three weaknesses are definitely interrelated. A team rotating as few as six regular players will tend to tire near the end of a tight ballgame playing against a deep team that subs frequently and runs. The most laborious way to score is by working for shots near the basket as UGA must, and conversely the least energy is exerted by pouring in outside shots. Georgia’s perimeter players (Dustin Ware, Gerald Robinson Jr., Travis Leslie) are noteworthy for their athleticism and overall skill set, not their long range shooting ability.
Led by scoring point guard Isaiah Thomas, godson of the Detroit Piston great by the same name, the Washington Huskies are dogs of a different bread. Though they actually have better inside size than UGA, they rotate deeply and are known for a fast-paced style. Tempo, tempo, tempo. It grinds on teams that cannot keep up with Udub in fast break scoring. All season long, Georgia has struggled with running and gunning teams. The games have been close, but the Dawgs have found themselves on the short end of those contests. And while Georgia can become cold late in big games, Washington has regularly come up with big scores to win close games.
I can’t say I like our chances in this contest, unless we play better than we have all season. Win and we get the blue blood University of North Carolina Tarheels in a border war that would be played in the hostile confines of Charlotte, North Carolina. Win that contest, and this would undeniably be a special basketball team that gelled at the right time. Regardless, I’d like to see Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie return for their senior seasons, as Trey can go from proven talent to utterly dominant and Leslie can quiet the skeptics by continuing to improve his outside stroke and mid-range scoring created off the dribble.
Filed under: athens, ATL, championships, College Basketball, GEORGIA, Mark Fox, NCAA, records, SEC, Sports, tech, UGA
The University of Georgia had it cooking with my buddy Ezra Williams from Marietta High School and the Hayes brothers (Jarvis and Jonas). UGA looked to be at least a 3 seed in the NCAA tourney and was widely considered a major threat to win the SEC basketball tournament…and then Tony Coles happened. He shed light on the coaching staff’s blatant NCAA improprieties, and the school removed itself from postseason consideration before the NCAA hammer ever dropped. Self-imposed sanctions left the program in shambles, and the NCAA considered them harsh enough – Jim Harrick and staff were shown the door.
Before all that, the program had been a bit up-and-down since Tubby Smith departed Athens for the Kentucky bluegrass after only two stellar seasons in the Classic City. A Tubby-protege named Ron Jirsa had become head coach then, and though he had the talented Jumaine Jones on the roster, he was never able to accomplish much.
Never a basketball school, the alums and fans program expectations had soared to heights under Tubby unseen under our statistically greatest head coach, Hugh Durham. When Harrick replaced Jirsa, we immediately started winning big again. But doing things the wrong way and winning at all costs is pointblank not what the University of Georgia is all about as an institution of higher learning. The nation’s oldest state chartered public university and its leadership were adamant that UGA must have continued rising standards of ethics, academics and achievement in all regards. They did the right thing by moving swiftly to bounce Harrick.
Enter Dennis Felton and a return to mediocre play. Unacceptable as anything other than light entertainment, UGA basketball had obviously reverted and was not a major challenger in a strengthened SEC. A weak UGA team did shock the nation by winning the SEC tournament in Atlanta in 2008, but that ended up as a bad thing for the program in the longterm as it only prolonged the misery of the Felton era by buying him more time in Athens. Finally, he was replaced by Mark Fox.
Tech has been to the NCAA basketball tournament 16 times to UGA’s 11, has 2 Final Four appearances to UGA’s 1 and has a marginal career winning percentage advantage over UGA. But since the annual contest was moved back on campus from a neutral site game in Atlanta (mostly played in the Omni), Georgia has the nod in wins. The home team always wins in Athens and usually wins in Atlanta. That slight difference was strong among the reasons why Georgia Tech recently fired their head basketball coach. He was 4-7 versus UGA, and Tech has generally stumbled and bumbled as a program since once reaching the NCAA’s final game under him.
Meanwhile, Mark Fox has done a remarkable job at Georgia in just 2 seasons, pushing the record to 21-11 this season against a difficult schedule. UGA has been getting the majority of strong instate talent for several years – such as juniors Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie – and has finally taken the program to heights deemed unlikely as recently as last season. With the improved facilities at UGA, the sky is the limit if UGA can retain Coach Fox.
Filed under: athens, bama, College Baseball, Floor-DUH, GEORGIA, NCAA, records, SEC, Sports, travel, UGA
Playing at Dodgers Stadium in scenic Chavez Ravine, Georgia baseball completed a perfect week with a defeat of St. Mary’s. On the quick West Coast trip, Georgia also defeated USC and #5 UCLA. Earlier in the week, UGA opened SEC play with a victory over BAMA in the Braves minor league stadium in Lawrenceville and beat Mercer in Macon. The season started with the Dawgs being swept at Stetson in Florida and the squad struggling to play near .500 ball otherwise. The turning point seemed to be a competitive series in Athens against then #5 FSU. Georgia lost that series two games to one but played well enough in each game to gain overall team confidence. I’ll be in attendance to watch the Diamond Dawgs play at Kennesaw State University on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. before SEC play begins in earnest.
Filed under: athens, bama, championships, College Basketball, GEORGIA, Mark Fox, NCAA, SEC, taunts, tech, THE ATL, travel, UGA
Battle of the Dawgs Friday night in the NCAA tournament in Charlotte, NC (9:45 p.m.) as the University of Georgia Bulldogs will face the Pac-10 tournament champion University of Washington Huskies and hotshot guard Isaiah Thomas. Georgia is a 10 seed, playing in the Big Dance for the 11th time in school history. When It came down to the lingering questions about Georgia on the bubble, the RPI and strength of schedule are what pushed UGA over the hump as compared to SEC West champion BAMA. Georgia’s only two questionable losses were both to BAMA, while we played Notre Dame, Temple, Xavier, Colorado, UAB and Georgia Tech out of conference. Tech is looking for a new head basketball coach by the way, and that is not a bad job if you think about it: inner-city in the gorgeous capital of the South and the second best basketball program in a great state.
For only the seventh time in UGA men’s basketball history, the Dawgs won twenty-plus games. In Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, BAMA came from way behind late to steal an overtime victory in the second round of the SEC tournament over UGA. Coach Mark Fox called an ill-timed timeout with 0.8 seconds left, as what would apparently have been the game-winning shot by Dustin Ware then banked in from long range. Georgia, having previously gifted the momentum to the Tide, could not regain control in the extra period and dropped to 21-11 on the season. With quality wins against potential tournament teams: Kentucky, Tennessee, UAB and Colorado and no bad losses whatsoever on the season, UGA should reach the NCAA tournament due to strength of schedule, strong RPI (39th) and body of work throughout the course of the season. If UGA is left out, this would be the best team in school history to not get a tournament bid. Ten times the University Georgia has been selected for the Big Dance, and I justifiably expect an eleventh. GO DAWGS!
Filed under: athens, championships, College Football, Garner, GEORGIA, Herschel Walker, Moreno, NCAA, POWER FOOTBALL, records, richt, SEC, tech, UGA
Flashing back: UGA playing highly-ranked rival Georgia Tech in Atlanta after already enduring five losses in a season for the first time in his tenure, head coach Mark Richt had embattled offensive coordinator Mike Bobo dial up a heavy dose of what successful offensive football teams at UGA have always been known for – powerful running football. The school that produced Herschel Walker, Moreno, Hearst and Hampton appeared to be finally back to basics on that final regular season day of 2009, as Washaun Ealey and Caleb King dominated the Yellow Jackets from the opening whistle. Then Georgia won a bowl game versus Texas A&M to finish out a tough campaign at 8-5.
With a redshirt freshman starting quarterback offset by a veteran offensive line and both backs returning, 2010 promised to be a successful year of smashmouth football. Instead, the running game faltered, while Georgia fell below .500 and lost a bowl game to the University of Central Florida Golden Knights.
Enter Isaiah Crowell and the 2011 recruiting Dream Team. King and Ealey have been more consistently in trouble off the gridiron than dominant on it, and number one nationally ranked running back Crowell should immediately jump from starting tailback at Carver High in Columbus to the national spotlight of carrying the ball for the Dawgs in their primetime Georgia Dome opening tilt versus power Boise State.
Mountain John Jenkins is obviously comparable to recent Bama great Mt. Cody. Both played for the same Mississippi junior college; both have prototypical size to play noseguard in the 3-4 defensive scheme now implemented at UGA and throughout much of the SEC; both came to major football universities to win championships. DeAngelo Tyson will shift to his natural 3-4 position of defensive end to make way for the mammoth Jenkins to start immediately in 2011. Look for Jenkins to have the most impact of any new starter in the conference next season, as defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s defense takes major strides in year two.
At the other defensive end slot, hotshot recruit Sterling Bailey of Gainesville, GA has already shown to be of the highest character and ability. He will at the very least be in heavy rotation and may be the day one starter. Ray Drew of Thomasville was an even more prized high school defensive end, and he will be called on to provide a consistent pass rush at outside linebacker for Georgia. Drew’s ability to disrupt the timing of opposing quarterbacks and replace stud Justin Houston, an early NFL draftee-to-be, will be crucial to the overall strength of the defense.
Cornerback/wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell saw his recruiting stock soar as he spent more time on offense his senior year in Title Town, Valdosta. Some recruiting services had Mitchell rated as the top cornerback in the nation; however, Mark Richt has already stated that he is leaning toward using the versatile weapon at punt returner and wide receiver, where the NFL exodus of all-world wideout A.J. Green creates an immediate need. Look for Mitchell to be the opening day third receiver opposite Tavarres King and Rantavious Wooten. When the Dawgs line up in a four-receiver set, early enrollee Chris Conley of Dallas, GA could see the field. At 6-foot-3 with leaping ability, Conley has the size to create nightmarish mismatch problems for shorter opposing conference defensive backs.
Another UGA early enrollee is Christian LeMay out of Charlotte. Due to a disciplinary issue, LeMay sat out his senior year of high school and may resultantly redshirt his true freshman year in Athens. He is a polished passer and mobile young quarterback who could see his redshirt yanked if Aaron Murray and Hutson Mason both falter.
Jay Rome was Malcolm Mitchell’s high school teammate and the top tight end recruit in the country. The depth at tight end at Georgia is apparent, with sometime starters Orson Charles and Aron White both returning to action. However, Rome may be just too athletic not to play some right away.
Grady high school’s Damian Swann is a versatile athlete with strong cover skills. He is projected as the dime back and a compatible defensive complement to speed merchant returning corners Brandon Boykin, Sanders Commings and Branden Smith.
Linebacker Kent Turene of Lauderdale Lakes, FL verbally committed to Lane Kiffin and the USC Trojans of Los Angeles, before reconsidering and inking closer to home with UGA. Turene is expected to see playing time in the linebacker rotation, where depth is a bit of a concern. He has the developing size and closing speed to play both inside and outside linebacker in college. Highly-regarded linebacker recruit Amarlo Herrera also shows promise.
High school quarterback/athlete Nick Marshall of Wilcox County will likely switch to fulltime cornerback at Georgia and may need a redshirt season before he is ready to make a major contribution on defense. On the other hand, with Richt and the rest of the coaching staff desperate to improve the win total in 2011, Marshall could be the type of explosive skill athlete that commands to have the football in his hands due to his ability to make big plays.
Offensive line coach Stacy Searels has departed the University of Georgia for the same role with the University of Texas Longhorns in Austin. His replacement, Will Friend, has some tough decisions to make in terms of rotation, as attrition has left UGA a little thin up front. Recruits Xzavier Ward (Moultrie), Watts Dantzler (Dalton) and Zach DeBell (Tarpon Springs, FL) will vie for playing time alongside Trinton Sturdivant, Cordy Glenn and company. Georgia simply must show improvement on the offensive line and in the running game if 2011 is to be a complete success.
And who knows, a more unheralded recruit may make the biggest impact over the long haul of a career of playing football at UGA. One thing that is for sure is that this incoming group of top recruits was needed. A major talent infusion may quickly right the ship and eventually produce the ultimate goal at UGA: championships.
Filed under: ATL, Auburn, bama, championships, College Basketball, GEORGIA, kentucky, media, NCAA, records, SEC, Sports, taunts, tech, travel, UGA
In a rematch of teams that played into overtime in their only meeting this season, Georgia whipped Auburn in the opening round of the SEC men’s basketball tournament in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome for a twenty-first win. Trey Thompkins and UGA’s other bigs dominated the outmanned and inexperienced Auburn post players all game, while the dual point threat of Gerald Robinson Jr. and Dustin Ware controlled the tempo with slashes and passes. Georgia’s weakness is clearly outside shooting, and the grand dimensions of the mammoth Dome did nothing to improve this quagmire. Today it did not matter, as the far superior team won. Georgia moves onto Friday action, where the SEC West Champion Alabama Crimson Tide awaits off a bye. Should Georgia win at 1:00 p.m., they would advance to a 1:00 p.m. Saturday semifinal – probably against Kentucky in a rubber match.
Joe Lunardi is widely considered the preeminent NCAA tournament entry prognosticator. Three days ago, he had UGA and BAMA both in the last four teams left out of the tournament. Prior to the tip of the SEC tournament, he had reevaluated and realized that Georgia has already proven itself worthy of a tourney berth – though a second loss to BAMA would obviously hurt our NCAA seeding. BAMA has a poor strength of schedule and an average at best RPI, while Georgia is relatively strong in both important categories.
The University of Colorado – a team UGA beat without the services of All-SEC forward Trey Thompkins – is also considered a barely-in bubble team at this point in prognostication and has a similar season resume to Georgia. UGA’s biggest wins: Kentucky, at Tennessee, (twenty-two-win) UAB. UGA’s worst loss: at BAMA. Win tomorrow, and NCAA tourney entry is all but guaranteed. Lose and the tournament selection committee may be forced to choose between UGA and BAMA. Though BAMA would merit consideration for beating Georgia twice, the overall season strength of Georgia would put the committee to a test of their values. Entire body of work is what the committee says they evaluate. Leaving UGA out for a poorly-rated BAMA team based on two games would show otherwise.
Win three more consecutive 1:00 p.m. games, and UGA would be SEC tournament champions for only the third time ever, while actually taking two-of-four. The 2008 SEC tourney saw a rather weak Georgia team rally to win four games in three days at Georgia Tech’s self-titled Thriller Dome, after the Georgia Dome’s roof was severely damaged by a tornado that passed through Downtown Atlanta.
Filed under: ATL, Auburn, bama, College Basketball, GEORGIA, Mark Fox, media, NCAA, records, SEC, Sports, travel, UGA
UGA looks like an invitee to the Big Dance, with 20 wins, no bad losses, a decent RPI and decent strength of schedule. However, 20-win SEC West Champion BAMA has an abysmal strength of schedule and far below stellar RPI, which may end up being the negative key for Georgia, should BAMA beat Georgia Friday at 1:00 p.m. in Atlanta.
If the tournament selection committee passes on Bama, the thinking goes, they may also pass on a Georgia team that has lost to Bama in two consecutive games for the Tide. Or if the committee decides they can only choose one, wouldn’t they take the winner in that game. First, UGA must win against Auburn at 1:00 p.m. Thursday to even get to play Friday. In an odd twist, a loss in the first round might actually serve UGA better than a loss in the second round, in terms of selection committee consideration, as losing to BAMA twice hurts our chances of playing in the Big Dance.
If Georgia loses to Auburn, I think we get in as a 12 seed. If we beat both Auburn and BAMA, we would probably move up to a 10 seed. Lose to BAMA again, and the DAWGS may be headed to the NIT.
Filed under: ATL, Auburn, championships, College Basketball, College Football, family, GEORGIA, Mark Fox, media, NCAA, records, richt, SEC, Sports, UGA
The University of Georgia will face its oldest college football rival in the SEC basketball tournament in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome on Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Georgia beat Auburn by nine points in basketball in the teams’ only regular season meeting this season. Win and UGA advances to face SEC West champion Alabama in a rematch of the final regular season game.
Auburn and Georgia are both football schools under varied dark clouds. UGA had its first losing season in 14 years and has a head coach on the hot seat; while Auburn won the national championship but is currently under intense NCAA investigative scrutiny. An Auburn football program supporter wishing to remain anonymous told me off the record that the hammer is definitely coming down, and it involves more than just the semi-professional status of Heisman-winning quarterback Cam Newton. It is rumored that Auburn boosters have been filtering dog track gambling money to top football players. I’m interested to see if this comes to light anytime soon and if the SEC and national titles will eventually be vacated due to major NCAA infractions.