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December 20, 2009

Extremely proud of the Hoop Dawgs

Saturday night's win over Illinois was arguably the biggest win for the basketball team since the 2008 SEC Tournament. The guys played hard. They played smart, and they never quit in the face of adversity. It was exactly the type of game that can convert people from passive observers back into basketball fans.

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-Dispatch

"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
Here 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.

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.



pbugsmommy said...

Love Coach Fox's passion. When things got heated, the jacket came off. When the boys made some super-stupid mistakes in the last 10 minutes, the timeout came quickly and I was afraid he was going to blow a gasket. A timeout where Coach screamed the whole time seemed to do the trick. That man loves to stomp his feet - whew!

Also, Georgia needs to advertise these Gwinnett games more. The only reason we knew anything about it was from the advertisement on the board driving past the arena one day a few weeks back. Beyond that, we heard nothing.

Impressive showing by the Illini faithful. Looked like a home game for them.

Mr. Sanchez said...

While I agree with you on having a big win, and hopefully a momentum/confidence builder before Tech and the SEC slate, I disagree on the need for the "316 and 78 corridor" to sell out games. Simple math, and the fact that people support winners disagree. When we win (see Harrick's last two years, Tubby's term), there is plenty of excitement about men's hoops. Between Athens and surrounding counties, there's 100-150k+ in population. Add in students when class is in (and the other transients), and you get another 30-50k bump. If Fox builds a winner, that excites students and you can get 10% or more of them. 10% of students gives you 3-3,500 out of an arena that seats around 10k. And if you are winning (or the 12 month lag behind winning), there is more than enough in the local area to sell the remaining 7k tickets. Stegeman isn't Sanford, and the local population is much more capable of selling 10k tickets than 90k.

Jarred said...

I commented to by buddy early on that it was amazing to see an offensive set actually be run. No more just run around the perimeter, jack up a three, and hope for a rebound. Hell of a game dawgs, keep it up.

rque said...

Gwinnett is the key for fans and players. Go Dogs.

LHS said...

Le's not forget that we have two more games to put into the win column before 2010. We take the court at 7:00 on Wednesday for a game against florida Atlantic and being a true Dawg, I hate all florida (yes - lower case - no respect) schools.

How Bout those Lady Dawgs. 10-0 with a complete destruction of #17 VA last night. Lady Dawgs take the court on Tuesday night against Detroit. Watching these girls play is the best deal in Athens.

See you at the games.

Unknown said...

Eh. I'm happy for the team, no doubt. And as a moderate Hoop Dawg fan I would be overjoyed to see them succeed. But I wouldn't get too worked up over one win. It isn't a watershed moment--remember, we had these type of wins under Felton (the 2008 SEC Championship--UK & MSU in the same day!; UGA beat UK in Rupp the first two times under Felton). The team needs consistency. This team has already lost to Wofford and got crushed by UAB.

Ollllddude said...

I could not watch the game, but I did watch the Mark Fox show last night, and his comments really tell several things: 1) He has no illusions about the program in general - comments like "we are not as talented as we'd like to be" and "this has been a troubled program" and "we needed to get our guys some confidence". 2) He has a pretty good idea of what he wants to do and how he wants to do it, and he clearly thinks that once the players learn that and gain some confidence then we'll be competitive.

I bet we win more than we lose before the end of the year. And that would be astonishing, yet I still it's true. We're getting better as each game goes by.

Unknown said...

Dan - UAB is a tourney team. They are already 10-1 with a win over us and Cincy. They could easily go 2-1 vs. Butler, at UVA and at ARK. That would put them at 11-2 entering CUSA Play. Where they are likely to finish 2nd in the league behind Memphis.

That's not a bad loss on the road.

As for Wofford....
They lost to Pitt by 3 points on the road despite leading most of the game. They played Illinois tough on the road, and they beat South Carolina on the road. considering they've also played Michigan State, they are extremely battled tested for the SCon. They're a good bet to go dancing this year. It's not like we lost to TAMU-CC or Loyola-Chicago.

Those are quality mid-majors.

Particularly UAB.

Anonymous said...

This is an awesome win. The two days after feeling here has been that this is a harbinger of bad tidings for Illinois. I have felt all along that the Dawgs can play with any team for 40 minutes, and win against more talented opponents, if they play physical underneath and are smart with their shot selection. I am not sure about the 'hobnail boot' game analogy yet, but it was a wonderful example of what can happen with a solid offensive game plan, 40 minutes of effort and a coach the players trust and believe in.

Strangely enough, folks have been avoiding me this morning at work.

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