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As the title of this series of postings implies, I am
largely woefully ignorant about basketball beyond the basics that are obvious to anyone who has ever been to a game and/or seen the movie “Hoosiers.” Also, I’m back home after spending Thanksgiving Day at my in-laws’ house, where the cat dander aggravated my allergies and left me feeling a little under the weather. On top of that, the holidays have thrown off my children’s sleep schedule, so they both went to bed late tonight, as a result of which I saw literally about a minute’s worth of game action in Georgia’s loss to Temple in the Old Spice Classic. In other words, feel free to take this with several grains of salt, and to rip it apart in the comments; in fact, I’d appreciate it if someone could convince me I’m wrong.
There is absolutely no reason Georgia should not be good in basketball. Bulldog basketball is today approximately in the same position that Florida football was in two decades ago: all the pieces of the puzzle were there, so much so that the program’s singular lack of success over the long haul wasn’t just curious, but was downright baffling. The Red and Black are the sleeping giants of the hardwood.
Nevertheless, one evening after absolutely handing the Fighting Irish the game, the Hoop Dogs trailed Temple by two at the break before being outscored 34-29 by the Owls after intermission. Travis Leslie, Gerald Robinson, and Trey Thompkins combined for 43 points; the rest of the squad contributed fifteen. While the Athenians’ free throw shooting improved to 70 per cent (14 of 20), Georgia shot under 40 per cent from the field (21 of 54) and made only two of eleven three-point tries. Although dissatisfaction with his starters prompted Mark Fox to pull his first team off the floor, the increased opportunities for the reserves did not lead to the bench contributing more than three assists, one steal, or six points. The backups hit only two of a dozen field goals and no shots from beyond the arc. In Stegeman Coliseum, as in David Lynch’s “Dune,” the sleeper must awaken, but all I’m hearing at the moment is snoring.
During the course of the hiring process that produced Mark Fox—a hiring process that went about as smoothly as the hiring process that produced Ray Goff two decades earlier; which is to say, not at all—I advocated hiring our Lon Kruger. That is, since we knew we weren’t going to go out and get the guy who could take the Bulldogs to the promised land, we had to go out and get the guy who was willing to accept the challenge of taking charge of the program with the weakest basketball tradition in the Southeastern Conference, which has not historically been known as a basketball conference, and making Georgia relevant.
Mark Fox represents a clear upgrade over Dennis Felton, and I believe he will be the Lon Kruger who makes the Red and Black relevant enough that, five or six years from now, Greg McGarity will be able to replace him with the Athens equivalent of Billy Donovan. Relevance, though, is about the best I am prepared to expect at this point. I hope to be persuaded otherwise, but, quite frankly, I argued on Monday night that Mark Fox would be an ideal choice to deliver the pregame pep talk prior to tomorrow night’s gridiron showdown with Georgia Tech. After the Old Spice Classic, I retract that suggestion as a bad idea. As evidenced by the fact that I have slogged through the duty of producing content for a Bulldog weblog on nearly a daily basis through three crummy, crummy years for University of Georgia athletics, I am no fair weather fan, but, while I like Mark Fox, I see several glass ceilings above this basketball program, and I question his ability to break through any of them beyond the first one.