The University of Georgia Bullogs Men’s basketball team is in jeopardy of losing the season.
By all accounts, for Georgia Bulldogs fans this is not where folks expected to be just a few short days ago. UGA’s Men’s Basketball squad currently sits at 12-8 on the season, and 4-4 in SEC Conference play. It’s that last number that humbles them.
Mark Fox is, objectively, and by definition, a very good coach. In this, his 8th year as Head Coach in Athens, he has led the Dawgs to 20-plus win seasons in 4 of them. In addition, under his leadership, a stagnant history of recruiting has seen some positive momentum recently, as well. That is no small feat when trying to lure quality players to an attested and proud “football school”.
Still, 2016 promised a veteran team, with experience at crucial positions, and a roster poised to take the ephemeral “next step”. In fact, just last week it looked like UGA was on its way to an NCAA Tournament bid, and Conference record that would put it in the top 3 or 4 teams. A team who could travel and give games to teams considered nationally viable. Now, not so much.
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Two incredibly bad road losses, and one home blow out, now put the Dawgs firmly ensconced in the NIT conversation, with very tough match ups on the horizon. It is difficult to win on the road in any conference, and in any sport, but it was the way they lost that confounds and dismays. Florida is a tough place to play, but after having led the entire game, Georgia found a way to lose their lead in the final minute of regular play, and then lost the game in overtime.
The following road loss, to a Texas A&M squad, is still baffling. The Aggies aren’t that good, and frankly, UGA had no business losing that game, poor refereeing via clock mishaps, notwithstanding. Finally, a 20 point blowout at home on Wednesday, from a pedestrian Alabama team, pulled the Dawgs from staggering to reeling category. Harsh reality is that a team that passes the March Madness smell test doesn’t give off that 20 point home loss odor in late January.
Can the Dawgs turn the season around?
This isn’t to say that the season is lost, necessarily. After a 59-57 home win against a bad Texas team this past Saturday, big opportunities to shock and re-calibrate present themselves in match ups against Kentucky, South Carolina, and Florida in the next 10 days. All of those opponents seem to be on the path to go “dancing” come March. One has to think that winning 2 out of 3 is a must, and that winning all of them is the only way to really scrub the smudge away from those last three aforementioned losses. Add to that, future rematches against Alabama and Kentucky that can allow for avenging a previous loss, as it were, and there is still hope for the season.
Coach Fox and Company can right the ship, as they say, but the Red and Black are in rough waters, with some fans asking if they are adrift. The next few weeks afford the ability to change the narrative and direction of this team, but it won’t be easy.
There are 11 regular season games remaining, and the SEC Conference Tournament. Going 8-3 in those, and winning a few in the Conference Tournament, might get them in the “Big Dance”, but it will require the veterans and leaders to close out games, hold court at home, and win on the road. All things that would be a departure from recent weeks. If they accomplish that feat, and become the dancing darlings of Athens, it would be quite the story, indeed.