Despite being only his second year in Athens, Tubby recruited every player on that team who gave meaningful minutes. The team was young, and he put together a winner.
This year's Dennis Felton squad struggled mightly in Year 3. Many barriers were in Felton's way that have all been well documented. But just how different is the talent level from those two teams?
Let's look at the players from Tubby's team (as of their 1997 ability...not what they became) vs. this team.
Points: GG avg 9.5 / Gaines avgs 10.3
Assists: GG avg 4.5 / Gaines avg 3.34
Rebs: GG avg 2.4 / Gaines avg 5.1
TOs: GG avg 2.76 / Gaines avg 2.4
Edge: Gaines. Now imagine Gaines in Tubby's offense. More assist opportunities to be certain. Defensively, I give the edge to Yada all day.
SG: Ray Harrison vs. Levi Stukes
Points: Ray avg 11.0 / Levi avg 11.7
Assists: Ray avg 3.6 / Levi avg 1.66
Rebs: Ray avg 4.1 / Levi avg 3.2
TOs: Ray avg 2.1 / Levi avg 1.86
Edge: Very close although I'd give the edge to Levi as a shooter. Especially since Harrison averaged 6 more minutes per game than Levi. Defensively, it's about even.
SF/3rd Guard: Mike Chadwick vs. Mike Mercer
Points: Chadwick avg 12.4 / Mercer avgs 10.8
Assists: Chadwick avg 1.6 / Mercer avgs 1.6
Rebs: Chadwick avg 5.5 / Mercer avgs 3.0
TOs: Chadwick avg 2.04 / Mercer avgs 1.8
Edge: Chadwick comes out on top. Chadwick was much more physical than Mercer is, and he had a much more polished offensive game comparing season to season. Mercer might be a better defender of guards.
PF - Jon Nordin to Newman
The stats are almost a wash right down the line including reb, points, minutes played you name it. Both were starters.
C - Lorenzo Hall vs. Bliss
Edge to Zo Hall. He averaged 2 more points/game and almost 2 rebounds more per game. Much better defender as well.
So among the starters, the difference isn't huge except at Center. Even when you add Adrian Jones vs. Channing Toney, the difference isn't that big. When you add Derrick Dukes (as a JR) vs. Billy Humphrey, you get a nudge for Tubby's crew there as well, but Dukes only averaged 3.5 points per game more than Billy.
The point -- the talent gap wasn't "huge" except at center. Despite the huge variance in record.
We must improve our inside play offensively and defensively with either Kendrick Johnson or Woodbury next year. And we must get more organized and fluid on offense.
The easiest man to guard is the one standing still.