It's not a magical cure all, but it's directionally what this program needs. It needs hope. Check out some of the commentary from the beat writers who follow the Illini for outside perspective on our team:
"Georgia came equipped for a heavyweight fight Saturday night, and all Illinois could answer with was middleweights." -- St. Louis Post-DispatchHere at home, Dean Legge had my favorite headline when he asked if this was Mark Fox's Hobnail Boot Game. From his keyboard to God's ears my friends.
"Georgia manhandled Illinois inside, building a 38-22 scoring advantage in the paint and finishing with a 37-29 win in the rebounding battle." - Springfield Journal-Register
"They really rotate those big guys and they're all huge,'' Cole said. "They were physical and screened the heck out of the guards. They played more physical than us, and we didn't play with a lot of energy until we got down.'' - Illinois Player (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
"As the Bulldogs watched film of Illinois, they noticed that while they might not be the more talented team, they could be the more physical team. Georgia's physical play manifested itself inside, where the Bulldogs had 38 points in the paint." - Chicago Tribune
I don't know what our record will be. Maybe, Mark Bradley is right. This team will likely finish with about 13 to 15 wins, but now there's hope. Hope because you could see what Fox is trying to accomplish against a competent opponent. Hope because we can compete, and hope because our kids played like they belonged.
Gwinnett County is the key to the future of the UGA basketball program. In order to sellout Stegeman on a consistent basis for SEC games (as Harrick did his last two years), you have to pull heavily from the Hwy. 316 and Hwy. 78 corridors. It'll take Dawg fans in Gwinnett to make the trip to Athens for midweek SEC games other than UK. They have the shortest commute to make a 7:00 pm start, and they have the greatest concentration of alumni within short driving distance of any county in the State.
Additionally, the county (along with Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton) is among the most talent rich of any from here to Baltimore. We didn't have the crowd we needed this time, but we can win them over in time. We just need to give fans more reasons to believe. They just need more hope.
I'm as proud as I've been of the basketball team since the SEC Title run.