During the weekend, it was hard not to be happy to see Mercer’s upset of Duke, especially for those of us at TGT residing in Middle Georgia. Plus, who can’t enjoy Duke losing. It does not get much more American than that.
But there’s one thing about Mercer’s big win against Duke that sticks out, and it should rattle the cage of anyone with an interest in UGA basketball. Consider this excerpt from Seth Emerson on Friday.
In fact, Mercer is a model for what Fox hopes to have at Georgia very soon: A team built not on five-star recruits, but experience and chemistry. Georgia starts one senior, one junior and three sophomores this year.
“One of the goals we’ve had is to eventually have an older team. And when you have an older team and an experienced team it works to your advantage,” Fox said. “We’ve not really had that, because of early entries. We haven’t had a lot of that. But we’re getting closer. And hopefully next year we’ll have a stronger flavor of that experience.”
Let that sink in for a second. With all the resources that Georgia has, it is pretty much looking at the model of Mercer as a barometer.
At what point do the excuses run out for the basketball program in Athens as a whole? Having a down year in talent doesn’t hold water…these are the guys that Mark Fox recruited. Sure, the NIT is nice and all, but I’m sure you won’t find any team in America starting the season saying, ‘NIT or bust.’
I remember during a TV broadcast once that Dick Vitale recalled telling Jim Harrick that when he took the Georgia job that he’d never be in a better situation in terms of being able to compete. You have a loaded in the coffers athletic association and you are in the backyard of one of the biggest hotbeds of basketball talent. I’m not saying you should outrecruit Duke or Kentucky for players…for teams like Florida State and Georgia Tech should not beat you out time after time.
For a very long time, basketball at Georgia has been a side-deal. Being competitive and making an Big Dance ever so often was accepted, unfortunately.
Imagine for a moment if the UGA football program started averaging 8-win seasons with a bowl game every three years. Would that be acceptable.
This basketball program can be great. But it’ll only be as great as its fans and the UGA Athletic Association demands of it.