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January 24, 2013

Profiles in Malaise: Our basketball ceiling is below our rivals' floors

What happened in last night's game is why I am bearish on the program right now. Sure, Fox inherited a very different team than Billy Donovan did at Florida, but the program Donovan built at Florida has the same basic inherent issues that Georgia does, namely alumni and student's preference to support football, football dominance of the landscape, and plenty of other things to do in the college town they are in. They also have one big issue we don't: Proximity to a major basketball talent pool. Donovan began coaching at Florida in 1998, dead in the middle of the Fun n' Gun days of the Ole Ball Coach, and after Lon Kruger left the cupboard bare and moved to a 'better' program at Illinois.

He made the NCAA tourney in his second season, made the National Championship Game his fourth season, and won back to back national championships in 2006 and 2007. His teams have played in the  NCAA tournament in 14 of his 16 seasons. The other two, they lost after deep runs in the NIT.

That's right, the floor for Florida's basketball program is the NIT a deep run in the NIT.

Think about that. Nearly every person I have talked to about Georgia basketball has said a variation of the same thing: get to the NCAA every other year, but just make a post season tournament. Even though we took the NIT banners down in the Felton years, our fans would likely be ecstatic over a deep NIT run. In other words, our expected ceiling is lower than Florida's floor.

That. Is. Bull. Shit.

I'll grant the Gators pass the eyeball test as one of the best teams in the country right now. However, it is ridiculous to me that our University and its supporters don't expect more from all of our athletic programs. And this isn't about Florida. Or Mark Fox, for that matter. This is about expecting the very best and finding a way to get there. It is about building athletic programs that are based on consistent excellence on and off the field. We should want to be more than Nebraska, circa 1995. But that is what we are. A football school with a couple of other notable strong non-rev programs (noting that we should be proud of those programs, which I am).

Why aren't the same people that were demanding Mark Richt's head after one losing season doing the same in basketball in the midst of a third losing season in four years? Why aren't the students doing so? Why can't the boosters that power athletic department decision making see the inherent upsides of a top ranked basketball program (and baseball and women's basketball, for that matter), and the peril of not caring about anything but football? Why can't the University administration see the upside to that in terms of positive publicity, increased enrollment/applications, increased dollars to the academic mission of the University from the athletic department?

Or maybe the question is, why don't those people care?

We are in the midst of the worst SEC season, as far as quality teams goes, in 15 or more years. The SEC is likely to only get three and no more than four teams in the NCAA tournament  Georgia is only going to win one or two more games, at the most. This is a season we should have been able to make hay with, even with a one star roster. Instead, we are looking at ten or fewer wins.



Hunkering Hank said...

Amen. I wrote a post on this blog a few weeks ago that was of a similar sentiment. It's just ridiculous and, frankly, embarrasing as an alum. Our basketball team is a TOTAL JOKE. It absolutely does not have to be this way, but it is, and nobody but me (and you and four other people I can think of) seem to give a shit.

Anonymous said...

It is absurd and until the UGA alum/fan base/students clamor for a coach that can recruit Atlanta, the absurdity will continue.

- Hobnail_Boot

Paul Westerdawg said...

I don't see what firing him now accomplishes. Post season, sure. I'm also not sure that the admin doesn't want or expect more. But I'm more concerned that they don't know what to look for from a HC to get us there. In other words, I'm not confident that there is a plan even if we do fire him.

Anonymous said...

By "now", I think most people mean the end of the season. His staff is a big part of the problem so no sense letting one of them take over for the remainder of this season. It would be even more embarrassing...if that's possible.

Anonymous said...

Give him til the end of the year, then fire him!!!

Anonymous said...

There is no solution. My HS was good at bball and football. I was shocked when I got to UGA and met so many people that didn't care about the game. Maybe it's because a handful of HS programs dominate the state? I have given up on UGA being good, and the in state talent is over rated.

Dawg19 said...

Until we get a big name coach that the Atlanta kids respect, nothing will change.

Anonymous said...

If you want to change the culture of a men's basketball program which has not done well for many years now under many coaches, you have to give the recruits in-state something to be positive about this woe-be-gone program : A New Gym. Georgia Tech put in a new gym, and we cannot ?

Anonymous said...

Fire him on 2/28, the day after the Vanderbilt game. Then start looking for a new coach on March 1. There will only be 3 games left at that point.

And get freaking serious about the money pumped into the program and stop this nonsense about always trying to be a top 5 athletic department in terms of profit. Being at the top of the profit chart shouldn't be our #1 goal. I'm sick and tired of it.

Anonymous said...

The in-state talent is not over-rated. They are the top players on the top teams in the nation playing in a gym which seats nearly 20,000. New gyms. Gyms which are modern miracles. Gyms which have hosted an NCAA Tournament Game more recently than we have 41 years ago because our gym SUCKS.

The in-state talent if fine. None want to play in this old


AthensHomerDawg said...

"Why aren't the same people that were demanding Mark Richt's head after one losing season doing the same in basketball in the midst of a third losing season in four years? "


Paul Westerdawg said...

You don't need a big name coach. You need a coach with relationships in ATL AAU.

Paul Westerdawg said...

We have spent 45 million on bball facilities over the past 7 years. Money isn't the issue. The issue is the HC. Felton recruited circles around Fox. We have a coach who is barely competent as a recruiter.

Paul Westerdawg said...

Anon 10:08 - when was the last time you visited Steg? How many other gyms have you actually been in?

Facilities aren't the issue. If Facilities were a cure all then Auburn and SC wouldn't stink. And NCSU wouldnt have wandered the wilderness for a decade. Maryland wouldn't have fallen apart after they got their new gym.

Ark wouldn't have fallen apart after Bud Walton was built.

Great recruiters recruit. Period.

Anonymous said...

If we're so willing to spend money on the basketball program, why did we lose out to Alabama on getting Anthony Grant?

McGarity is going to show whether he's a real AD or just another lackey in a little over a month.

Tyler Dawgden said...

We lost out on Anthony Grant because we were busy offering Mike Anderson (who at the time was the coach at Missouri) $2M. He turned it down for $1.3M to stay at Missouri.

Yes. Jimmy Sexton's client walked away from $700,000/year to not coach at Georgia.

Grant was, at best, the back up to Anderson and Jeff Capel.

Hunkering Hank said...

PWD! You are always defending the Steg! I've been very recently and it is not great. I will grant you that it ain't the worst and it doesn't host rodeos anymore and it is MUCH improved in the last few years. Nonetheless, in my opinion, and the opinion of a great many others, it is an improved piece of shit. Getting a new gym would certainly not cure every ill, but having a good coach with ties to Atlanta AAU AND a new gym would be a hell of a start in this Double Dawg's humble opinion.

In any event, one thing we can agree on is that the team is woeful and changes need to be made to improve it. McGarity needs to earn his keep. Right now.

The Original Blawger said...

History has shown that the Georgia fans will support a winner. Look at the Harrick years. The facilities were completely inferior at the time, yet Harrick was able to put a winning team on the floor. And as for the coliseum? It. Was. Packed. We even had scalpers. Scalpers! At Georgia basketball games. So to recap. Recruit. Coach. Win. The fans will come.

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