Archive for the 'Basketball' Category

Emulating Mercer?

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.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Happy trails to KCP

Not that it was unexpected, but KCP is leaving school for the NBA Draft and will hire an agent. This team was respectable thanks to KCP this year. I’m already dreading what this team will look like, unless the unthinkable happens and a solid recruit or two comes on board. 

Wearing Black and Gold

I was raised in a small rural Georgia town. I still live in a small rural Georgia town. This is by choice. I love my hometown, just as many of you love your hometown. There’s something about “home.” Small rural Georgia towns offer things that larger cities don’t. For better or for worse, if you love your small rural Georgia town, you think it’s the greatest place on earth. My friends here at TGT and I have a lot of fun with this. They don’t find my small town to be quite as delightful as I do. For some reason, Corbin doesn’t like the fact that our high school football stadium overlooks the Dollar General. But he never turns down a meal at Scott’s BBQ.

Something I think is fairly unique to a small rural Georgia town is the intimate sense of community. Everybody knows everybody, and for the most part loves everybody, even if you don’t like everyone. Kind of like family- you can talk about your own, but nobody else can. Country music songs are written about small rural Georgia towns. You’re also proud of your own. Very proud. When somebody does something good from your hometown, everyone shares in the sense of accomplishment. High school sports are HUGE in the small Georgia towns that dot the rural countryside. Not saying they aren’t huge in the larger cities- clearly they are- but it’s just different. If you’re from a small rural Georgia town, you know what I mean.

Right now, Cochran, Georgia is Wichita State Country. Native son Carl Hall and his Shockers have made an amazing run through the NCAA Tournament. Businesses around town have signs out front encouraging and congratulating Carl. You can’t go anywhere without someone bringing up the topic of Carl and his Wichita State team. For a small town like Cochran (Bleckley County has a population of less than 12,000; Cochran less than 6,000) it’s a really big deal to have a hometown kid to be playing in the Final 4. It’s a huge deal. That kind of thing doesn’t happen often to small rural Georgia towns. Kids from Atlanta play in the Final 4 every year. They play in BCS National Championship games and in all of the major professional leagues. But towns like Cochran don’t have this opportunity very often. That’s why, when it happens, it’s a really big deal. Again, if you’re from a small rural Georgia town, you know what I mean.

carl hall

Tomorrow night, everyone in Cochran will be tuned in to watch Carl Hall and his team take on Louisville. This is the biggest stage, and Cochran is sharing in Carl’s success. It’s fun, and it gives us all a sense of pride. To many, this is just an exciting Final 4 game. For the community of Cochran, it’s more than that. It’s a chance to see one of our own do something incredible. We’re proud of Carl and are having a great time watching him play on national television. This is the kind of thing that unites small towns and brings everyone together.

We’re wishing Carl and his team all the best as they get ready for the biggest game of their lives. Win or lose, we’re proud of you Carl!

Go Shockers!


Tough, but familiar fate for Landers, Lady Dawgs

The more I think about, Andy Landers has to be ranked pretty high as far as great coaches who seem attracted to bad luck in critical postseason games.

Monday night’s loss to California was tough to swallow. A few shots or there, Jasmine James not fouling out or California being forced to test its players for testosterone…if either of those things happen, the Lady Dawgs are in the final four.

Rather, it’s another hard-luck loss for the Lady Dawgs.

Georgia has been in position to win national titles in the past, but to win one, you need all the breaks to go your way, and this program has experienced the opposite. Whether its two starters fouling out in the championship game in 1985 against Old Dominion, losing a starter to a knee injury on a national title favorite team or simply having the bad fortune of being in the conference with the greatest program in women’s basketball history, good fortune has eluded Georgia women’s basketball.

The NCAA certainly hasn’t done Georgia any favors. If the NCAA had a regional site in Siberia, the Lady Dawgs would end up there. Look at this year – UGA was slotted once again for the west regional, where they played two Pac 12 teams. Tennessee and UConn, of course, get the luxury of playing close to home thanks to the NCAA fixing the odds in their favor.  

At the end of the day, this team and its six seniors are all Damn Good Dawgs. Every team starts a season dreaming of the final four. This team was a bounce or two away from making it there. 

Go Dawgs!


Lugnut Dawg


Eating crow with the Hoop Dawgs

I’ll admit. I, along with many others didn’t feel too good about the state of this Georgia basketball team about two months ago.

At that time, this team was downright bad, losing to bad teams out of conference. Its managing to win one of its first five SEC games seemed to be, at the time, a minor miracle.

I’ll admit – I had reservations about Coach Mark Fox. Not about his coaching abilities, but the direction that the program was headed. There was a building case for a hard look at if the burner underneath his proverbial hot seat needing to be lit.

But I’ll proudly say that I’ll eat some crow on that one, preferably served with a side of Mrs. Griffin’s BBQ sauce.

Sure, this team got going thanks to a less than stellar schedule, but it won those games it is supposed to win. Now, its playing its best basketball, and that is a definite credit of Fox being able to squeeze all that he can out of the cards he has in his deck.

Look, I know Kentucky fans, who like one of their players think that they should ‘never to lose Georgia,’ will claim last night’s win was no big deal.

Stop right there, though. I don’t care what the circumstances are – Kentucky is still Kentucky – a team that won a national title last year.

Who knows, maybe the Hoop Dawgs can make another run through the SEC tournament.

Someone has to do it. Why not Georgia?

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

How many ‘almost victories’ can a team have?

Based on the state of this team earlier in the year, it’s pretty easy to excuse Georgia’s losses on the basketball court as close losses. The only problem with that is that this is major college athletics.

Tossing out phrases like ‘screwed by the refs,’ ‘life is hard on the road’ or played ‘good enough to win’ are ok if you are a program in transition. That, however, is not the case for this basketball program. Moral victories are something the unwashed masses at South Carolina and and Georgia Tech believe in.

If this team had pretty much everyone back next year, that’d be one thing. But without KCP, this team is in sad shape – and one could not blame KCP for leaving school after this season. In other words, the logic of close losses building to big things next year holds zero water..unless KCP returns.

Here we are, in year four of Fox’s regime. Is there a lack of talent on this team in some areas? Yes, without question. Other than KCP, this is for the most part an average basketball team in terms of talent.

This team simply needs to find some ways to win. It’s easy to blame refs for close road losses. The fact of it is what a high school football coach from South Georgia would often say, that ‘we’ve got to play well enough to take advantage of the breaks we get, and we have to play well enough to make up for the breaks we aren’t going to get.”

This is big-time college basketball. Things of adversity happen. Teams have to find their way through it.

Lugnut Dawg

Trailer for 2008 SEC Basketball Tournament Documentary

One of the most memorable weekends in Georgia athletics history is coming to life Sunday via ESPN’s SEC Storied series (the same one as the Herschel documentary last year).

Yep, the 2008 SEC Tournament that became defined by a tornado ripping through downtown Atlanta. Here’s a link to a preview

The best part of the weekend? Not only earning a trip to the Big Dance, but doing it in Tech’s house.


The Hoop Dawgs Run: What It Means For Now and The Future

To be direct, winning is better than losing. I’ll take victory over defeat any day. But sometimes, the true impact of wins are hard to measure. No truer case is out there right now than the state of men’s basketball at the University of Georgia.

Not since the days of Jim Harrick has Georgia basketball enjoyed a winning streak this long – five games after Saturday’s win over Texas A&M. But there’s still a lack of buzz, despite that success. Without question, the athletic deparment’s neglect of the program is a factor. Georgia failed to see the value of men’s hoops over the years, and it has shown. 

Georgia is an average team in a very very bad conference, that competition can screen a team’s shortcomings. This team has looked very bad at times, but playing weak opponents has not caused sometimes inept offensive play to be too costly. 

Still, this team has gotten better. You can fault Mark Fox for certain shortcomings within this program in regard to recruiting, but has has done the best he could with the deck of cards he has been dealt.

Count me as one in December that saw this team play and didn’t see it winning an SEC game this year. I’m glad to say that I was wrong.  

Any time you win five in a row in a conference, you are doing something right. 

Provided KCP stays for another year, some good pieces are in place for a tournament run next year. That, however, may be a big IF.

Lugnut Dawg


One Good Pick

March means madness, and this year’s tourney has been one for the ages. Everyone fills out brackets and talks as if they know what on earth they’re talking about. Then, after the first weekend, everyone who tries to sound smart ends up looking foolish. After the second weekend, 99% of Americans are left to just enjoy basketball, having their brackets blown to the heavens. Your humble author is in the 1% eagerly awaiting the Final 4 anticipating a big pay day.

I want to use this space to air some grievances temporarily, while rubbing some salt in the wounds of you silly Duke fans who persistently think this overrated squad will win the tourney each and every year.

First, the thing that drove me crazier than any other comment in late February and early March was the constant “fact” that UConn would be tired from their Big East tourney run. For all of you who said this, COME ON! Think back to when you were 18-20. You were never tired. Now that we’re all old and washed up, we get tired just watching a game. But when you’re a bright-eyed youthful athlete you don’t get tired. Adrenaline fuels you, excitement pushes you, and you just go with it. I could do things at 20 that I couldn’t dream of now. Thus, I picked UConn and my man Kemba Walker to win it all, fully confident that they would, in fact, make it all the way. This One Good Pick has rocketed me to the top of the leaderboard in every pool I have entered. While everyone else picked Kansas, Duke, Ohio State and Pitt to meet in an all-chalk Final Four, yours truly knew that this wouldn’t happen. Sure, I picked Kansas to join them, and I didn’t foresee Pitt making the early exit they made, but I never once bought in to UConn being tired and not being able to play basketball for three more weekends in March.

I will admit, UConn is my only Final 4 team left. But that doesn’t matter, because March Madness is all about relativity, and my single Final 4 pick is relatively better than your o-fer.

To you Dukies out there-yes, you Royal Dawg, I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m not. Did you really think that Duke would make enough 3 pointers to get past the Sweet 16? Duke gets all the love, all the time, and perennially let the “crazies” down. I only wish my boys from Connecticut had gotten the chance to beat them, but the conservatives from Arizona handled the task nicely. Kansas let me down…I thought they had the makings to go all the way to Texas, and they almost did. I wasn’t surprised when Ohio State lost (I picked UK correctly there.) I actually had Pitt and Florida playing, with Florida winning that match. I was one of the many who underestimated Butler again, but I don’t mind losing a few points in a bracket to watch Florida lose to a Bulldog. Too bad it’s another breed of Bulldogs who can beat them. I can’t say enough good things about VCU. I was one of the 68 team haters, and I was wrong. VCU played poorly down the stretch, but have gotten white-hot in March and thoroughly deserve to be where they are today. To knock off KU the way they did is awesome. I can’t wait to watch the Butler-VCU game.

We have, in my opinion, a great Final 4. Two traditional powerhouses and two “Cinderella’s” facing each other for a chance to cut down the nets. That’s what makes March so great.

So, after all the rambling, I get back to my initial point. One Good Pick can make all the difference in the world during March Madness. Brackets are as bad as I can remember, with all the chalk losing so early. I stuck with my heart with UConn, and with a victory over UK this weekend I am in line for a big payday simply because I picked one team correctly. My bracket as a whole is nothing to be proud of, but compared to yours it smells like money.

Have a great rainy Monday.


p.s. I fully expect UConn to let me down now that I am in a position to win it all. But I’ll bask in the limelight for a week anyway while I still have a dog in the hunt next weekend.

Tourney Talk

It’s Valentine’s Day, and that means March Madness is just around the corner. That’s actually exciting this year on a personal level for Bulldog Nation.

Somehow, Georgia’s stock has seemed to rise, at least according to Joe Lunardi. Ok, it didn’t realy rise, but he has us with a better draw, so that counts, right? His latest bracketology has UGA in better shape for the tourney than a few weeks ago. Even though we’re now a 10 seed according to Joe, that’s actually better in my opinion than the 8 seed I’ve seen. He’s got us playing St. John’s in Rd. 1, and the 2 seed is SDSU. Not a cake walk by any means, but if he’s right and we did get that draw it’s actually better than having to play a 1 seed in Round 2. Of course, finishing really strong and getting up to the 7 or 6 would be better, but who’s counting.

There’s much left to do in order to get there, but speculation is part of the fun. This huge 3 game stretch with Vandy, UT and UF will be telling. I don’t think many UGA fans care where we fall seed-wise, as long as we get in. We don’t need to get swept in these 3 games if we want to be one of the 65 invited to play in March. But sweeping them would sure be nice.

Go Dawgs!