and there you are
you're running for your life
you're a shooting star
And all the years
no one knows
just how hard you worked
but now it shows...
(in) one shining moment, it's all on the line.
In college basketball, it's all about the One Shining Moment. The buzzer beater, the upset, the super human performance...that second when your team catapults forward into true March Madness on one of the world's largest sport stages.
For Georgia, the last time we really experienced that sort of post-season euphoria was during the 1996 NCAA Tournament following a victory over #1 seeded Purdue in the second round. Since then, we've been the victim of a series of One Shining Moments for the other guy (See: John Wallace's Miracle Three in '96, the UTC big man that seemingly never missed in '97, and the entire SIU team performance in '02). We were also the victim of One Turd Filled Moment in March 2003 (See: Jim Harrick,Tony Cole and Mike Adams).
But how far away are we from getting there again? How long until we see our shooting stars on the biggest stage? How long until we feel the pride of watching our guys compete for glory in a tournament that really matters?
I have no idea. But right now, things look dim from my seats.
With yesterday's loss to UK, the Dawgs are 2-4 in SEC play. On Wednesday night, we will likely be underdogs at home against a Vanderbilt team with arguably more talent and unarguably more to play for. After the Vandy game, we get 5 of 8 games on the road...and our woes away from Stegeman are well document. Our lone home games during that stretch will be against Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina. It's now hard to see this team finishing SEC play with more than 5 wins.
Is that good enough? Obviously not for the Big Dance, and probably not for the Sock Hop either. So, how long must we wait? Well, that all depends on how much patience we're really willing to show vs. how much patience should really be required.
In 1979, Georgia had never been to the NCAA Tourney...heck, we had never been to the NIT! Four years and 1 Hugh Durham hire later, we were in the Final Four having beaten Michael Jordan's UNC team in the Elite 8.
In 1990, the Florida Gators were an SEC bottom feeder. Their program had arguably less tradition in basketball than Georgia, Auburn or Ole Miss, and they had just completed a season in which they went 7-21 overall and 3-15 in the SEC. Four years and 1 Lon Kruger hire later, they were in the Final Four.
In 1999, Georgia was laughed out of the NIT at Clemson. Ron Jirsa had driven the program into the ground, and his incoming recruiting class was almost a complete disaster. After hiring Jim Harrick and suffering through an initial 10 win season, Georgia squeaked into the NCAAs in Year 2, and landed a #3 seed in Year 3.
In 2003-2004, Baylor University's basketball program found itself dealing with a scandal involving player to player murder, drugs and recruiting sanctions. The scandal was so severe that the NCAA gave Baylor what amounts to the "Half Death Penalty." Along with scholarship reductions, the team lost the ability to play non-conference games for an entire year. In the scandal's aftermath, several of the team's top players transferred. Five years after the scandal started, and two years after the half season penalty, the Scott Drew and the Bears are now 16-4 overall and 4-2 in the Big 12. They will get their One Shining Moment this year.
It doesn't take six years to build a program. No matter the circumstances.
I'm as familiar as anyone about what it took to get us into the mess we're in now. I know all about Harrick's recruiting (or complete lack thereof), the NCAA scholarship reductions (which were later overturned) and our university's perception within the AAU community. But you will struggle to convince me that we were worse off than Baylor was at roughly the same time.
So when is our next March Madness appearance? Like I said...I don't know. But there's an old saying, that I remember in times like these. "The best part about hitting yourself in the head with a hammer...is when you stop."
I'm not giving up, and I'm not calling for anyone's head. I'm just suggesting that Felton is going to make his life incredibly miserable if he doesn't get this team together in a big damn hurry.
Felton really needs to start showing progress soon. Yesterday, we had the perfect storm for a huge pro-UGA crowd. A weekend game, a big name opponent and an advance sellout. Instead, we saw thousands of UGA no-shows in the alumni and student sections, and what looked like 1,500+ UK fans. We can't let apathy continue to fester among the broader UGA population.
I'll still attend just as many as I always have. But it's hard to sit here with a straight face and suggest that this is even an NIT team. And if it isn't...when will things turn around?
-- Price doesn't play - ABH (My title would've been "WTF")
-- Smaller lineup: Mixed results - ABH