Tonight, the Bulldogs lost to Loyola-Chicago by a staggering score of 74-53. For those of you unfamiliar with the Loyola Ramblers, they are a middle of the road Horizon League team who lost their home opener to Rockhurst. Georgia plays Eastern Michigan in the next round of the tourney.
The AJC has the details on the loss. Here's the punchline:
The Bulldogs finished with five assists and 18 turnovers. They shot 18-for-53 from the field (34 percent) and 1-for-12 from behond the arc (8.3 percent).Ok...so here's my preview for the 2008-2009 Bulldogs.
- Guard: Georgia lacks a proven point guard or shooting guard. With the untimely departure of Billy Humphrey, the team really lacks any sort of three point threat. This problem was on full display tonight as the Dawgs went 1-12 from behind the line. Freshman Dustin Ware has the handle and natural quickness to become an SEC Caliber Point Guard down the road. It's a question of time. But shooting? I don't see Troy Brewer (soph) or Rickie McPhee (walkon) as much of an option here when we get into legitimate SEC play.
Wing: The picture is brighter at small forward where Woodbury and Travis Leslie, a true freshman who scored 23 tonight, both look promising. If Leslie rolls to shooting guard, we still won't have an outside shooter. BUT, we'll have an exciting athlete. Woody is one of the streakiest Bulldogs since Derek Dukes in the mid-90s. Super recruit Trey Thompkins could also get minutes here.
Front Court -- When Trey Thompkins' ankles heal, this could be the most raw talent along the front line assembled at Georgia in many, many years. Jeremy Price, Albert Jackson, Thompkins, Chris Barnes and Drazen Zlovaric make an interesting group of players. They combined to go 3-16 tonight, but they'll get better.
- Must Win on the Road - Under Coach Felton Georgia has struggled mightily to win outside of Clarke, Gwinnett and Fulton counties. In fact, the Dawgs are roughly 11-50 outside of the State of Georgia. I say "roughly" because I may have miscounted when reviewing the media guide, but I'm close enough.
- Must Improve Player and Ball Movement - This will be difficult with a new, unproven point guard and extremely limited options for outside shooters. If Brewer were to emerge as a legit bomber and not just a kid standing at the 3 point elbow waiting to shoot unguarded, then we could make progress here. The assists to turnover ratio has never been strong under Felton. Young guards don't generally strengthen this weakness. Ball and player movement has been the weakest area under Felton for his entire tenure in Athens.
- Must Stay out of Trouble - The Dawgs haven't had any trouble since Billy left.
- The Schedule - Felton ramped up the schedule this year anticipating a healthier, more Billy Humphrey oriented roster. With games against Missouri, Virginia Tech, WKU (road), GT (road), Illinois (road) and 4 preseason NIT games, this is a tough draw. When we lose games against teams like Loyola, we have to make those up against SEC teams. That's not a good trade.
The pundits have Georgia ranked around 10th or 11th in the SEC overall and 5th or 6th in the East. Auburn is sort of the consensus bottom of the toilet, and the Gamecocks are our other cellar peer.
If you had asked me before tonight, I would've said that Georgia would be doing good to finish at 10-4 non-conference and 6-10 in SEC play. That record combined with a 1-1 mark in the SEC Tourney would've stuck us right on the NIT Bubble.
An NIT bid without inking all-universe recruit Derek Favors would in my opinion result in Felton's departure due to his contract situation. His contract wasn't extended following the SEC Tournament Championship. He'll only have two years remaining on his deal at the end of the upcoming SEC Tournament. A two year deal would mean that he would enter the Nov. 2009 early signing period with only 1 year left on his deal to show kids who were considering inking for 2010 enrollment. That is an unworkable situation.
Felton not only has to win this season to keep his job for one more year. He actually has to win enough to warrant a 4-5 year commitment from Georgia. I'm not calling for heads, and I'm not "demanding" anything. I'm simply pointing out a contract situation.
The four games in Atlanta last March were awesome, but the other 140 games that he's coached matter, too. More importantly, the next 30 games matter even more. Six years is six years. It's time to show that Dennis Felton can build a sustainable product with upward trajectory that doesn't embarrass itself on or off the court. That's not too much to ask for in year six.
The season is not over just because we lost to a team you've likely never heard of. But the climb is uphill from here. It is my opinion only, but Georgia needs either Dennis Felton or Anthony Grant of Virginia Commonwealth to have a huge year.