The UGA Men’s Basketball team learned of its post-season fate late Sunday, and though the result was predictable, the mixed feelings from fans is evident.
You don’t have to live in the state of Georgia long to learn or figure out it is a “football” state. That isn’t to say that the state of Georgia doesn’t produce world-class talent in basketball, baseball, soccer, and track and field, because it most certainly does. It does so on a yearly basis. Yes, football is king. But it isn’t the only thing. UGA Men’s Basketball means something.
Much ink has been spilled here distilling, diagnosing, and diatribing about this University of Georgia team. The acknowledged fact that it isn’t a “powerhouse” program, and how that baffles locals. We’ve had discussions on Mark Fox and the steady, but stagnant direction of his charges. There is preponderance about the kind of product one expects the state university to put on the court.
This writer even pontificated that, if UGA were to win six of their last seven regular season games, that it would be enough to make the NCAA Tournament. That prediction looks prescient. The problem is that UGA lost that last game to Arkansas by 18 points.
Which leads us here. The “here” here is the NIT Tournament. It is completely understandable, with the knowledge that Yante Maten was out for weeks due to injury, that UGA didn’t make the tournament. The problem is that they could’ve made it anyway. There were too many early season losses (again). There were too many games where turnovers and missed free-throws cost them games (again). Frankly, there were too many games where the UGA Men’s Basketball team led with a minute to go, and still lost (again).
UGA fans will watch their team play in the NIT. The fact is there are many teams, and fans of those teams, who would love for their season to continue. Georgia fans would watch Georgia play in a regional dumpster tournament, because they love their team and school.
But fans, and donors one would presume, are looking askance at the UGA Men’s Basketball program after this year. Fox and company had two “All-SEC” 1st-teamers, and still couldn’t make the “big dance”. At some point, the steady has to give way to the surging.
The state of Georgia is a football state, to be sure. But fans want more than the NIT tournament from the state school’s basketball team. Especially, when 10 (+) teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament feature players from Georgia. You can’t keep up with the Jones’ when your kids are playing for them.