The Georgia Bulldog’s basketball team is having one of their best seasons thus far.
The Georgia Bulldog’s basketball team is enjoying a great season that most Dawg’s fans are missing. This is the Southeast. It comes as no shock that football is the focus of this area. College football might be the only thing that draws more people than a Baptist convention and a country music concert combined. But that season has ended, and while Kirby Smart and Co. hit the final stretch in 2017 recruiting, something has happened to little fan fare…Mark Fox and Company have put together a fantastic first half of the season.
The University of Georgia Men’s Basketball team, after a convincing conference win on the road Wednesday night, over an Ole Miss team, sits at 11-5 on the season, and 3-1 in SEC play. Very quietly, and on the backs of quality road wins (see: Georgia Tech, Auburn, and Ole Miss), UGA is in top third of the conference, and is in position to, possibly, top 20 wins for the season. If accomplished, this would be the 4th straight year for such an accomplishment…one rarely, if ever, seen at Stegeman Coliseum. Mark Fox, for all intents and purposes, has been a success in Athens.
That said, reaching the illusive 20 win demarcation isn’t a guarantee to make the NCAA National Tournament, at least for Georgia, and therein, lies the rub. Of those 3 aforementioned 20 win seasons (2013-2016), only one of those seasons ended with the Dawgs “dancing” (2014-15). Even with the mercurial selection committee stating the contrary, hiding behind the curtain like the cowardly wizard in “Wizard of Oz” every “Selection Sunday”, it has become conventional wisdom to most familiar with the UGA Mens Basketball program, that it isn’t just the number of wins, but also the “quality” of wins that would send Georgia to “The Dance”. And here we are. It is the middle of January, and the talk of March Madness is starting to creep.
Usually, after losing 2 veteran players and leaders like Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines, a team regresses. This year, though, under the steady and thorough guidance of J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten, the 2016-17 Dawgs are showing some bite. Frazier and Maten average over 15 PPG each, and others have started to consistently contribute. Derek Ogbeide gives the presence down low, Juwan Parker has returned from injury after 2 years, and Freshmen Jordan Harris and Turtle Jackson are showing flashes that whisper.. It is a team that is unselfish, that plays with effort, and that looks like they’re having fun. Those are all qualities needed to advance come March. Those are qualities that belie “flash in the pan” platitudes and personifications.
Yes, this is football country. And yes, Kirby Smart and Company are killing it on the recruiting trail. But, if you pay attention, you’ll see a University of Georgia basketball team that is quietly building a resume, and a season, worthy of a dance card. There might just be some bite behind that bark of preseason hopes and expectations.