Resume Building 101
Just a few short weeks ago I was writing off this basketball season as a work-in-progress and today I am making a case for why this Georgia team could make it to the big dance in March.
Fresh off a win, make that a spanking, of then #8 Tennessee, there is a lot of excitement surrounding Coach Fox and the Bulldog program. Stegman was rocking on Saturday as the Dawgs posted some of the best minutes of the season on their way to the first win over a top ten team since Felton’s Dawgs beat #8 Kentucky in his first season (lets hope Fox’s career doesn’t follow the same path – I seriously doubt it will). The truth is Fox has these boys playing hard and progressing every game. I knew it would take a near perfect effort for the Dawgs to win against a top 25 team this season and that is just what they turned in Saturday. I didn’t keep count but I would say that 8 or 9 players got significant minutes and actually delivered. Tennessee was not able to make a run when these guys came off the bench. In fact the opposite occured. Georgia’s bench extended the lead and brought a lot of fresh energy to the court and you could see the confidence building with each possession. The team that beat Tennessee was much different than the team that squandered leads against Ole Miss and Mississippi State. They were confident. They were poised. They were a team coming together and proving to the University, the state, and the nation that they are a contender.
So I know that its only late January but I am going to look at what has already happened and what has to happen in the coming weeks for Georgia to make a run at the NCAA tournament in March. One of the biggest statement wins will be over Georgia Tech who has since gone on to defeat Duke and UNC – two perineal tourney goers. The win over Illinois was what got the train going and depending on how they finish out the season could effect Georgia’s “appeal” if you will. The demolishing of Tennessee shows what Georgia can really do. Tennessee was not a bad team. They were the same team that knocked off the #1 team in the nation. They were loaded with athletes (and some criminals) and has a lot more experience than Georgia does as a whole. However, on Saturday, Georgia took them out of their game and into theirs. Tennessee looked confused by Georgia’s defensive scheme and failed to match up against the size Georgia had inside. Georgia needs to use this as a template for the next few weeks as they try to fight their way through a grueling SEC schedule that starts on the road in a must win game against the Gators. Beyond that all other home games are must wins to keep the name in the hat for tournament contention. The last 6 games of the season will weigh large in the chances. It starts with a road game at Tennessee – it will be interesting to see how we do the second time around. After that, Alabama comes to town then a trek to Vandy on my birthday (the 25th). Two home contests against Florida and Kentucky – Stegman will be rocking. And, to close out the season, a trip to the bayou where Georiga will seal its fate with a big victory over the Tigers.
The two big red marks on the schedule will be defeats to Wofford and UAB early in the season. However, if Georgia makes this late season push it will be hard to argue against them as one of the best teams in the SEC.
How likely is this SEC run? Im a realist, Im not saying its very probable. However, if Georgia can play the way they did Saturday for the next six weeks it is not out of the question. As the bench continues to get opportunities they will continue to gain confidence and play with more consistency. Also, I believe Trey Tompkins and Travis Leslie will bring their A-game every week. What you have to look out for is the play of the other 3 guys on the court. Jeremy Price came in and provided some great minutes the other night bringing excitement and posting 9 points in the process. When this kid is on, he can be scary. Albert is progressing. He hit a beautiful left handed hook in the second half against Tennessee. Please perfect that Albert, its very hard to stop. Chris Barnes can jump out of the gym it will just be a matter of controlling his body and putting himself in opportunities to score easily. I would be remiss if I did not mention the super spectacular plays that Leslie made on Saturday. The reverse windmill dunk was nasty. The follow up jam on McPhee’s miss brought the house down. Iwould like to make a motion that during the Battle Hymn before the game we show highlights of his dunks instead of the freaky pictures that now grace the big screen. If you havent seen the reverse windmill, shame on you but check it out here (and notice the sound level in Stegman, chilling). I can hear Dickie V saying it now, “Dipsy doo dunk-a-roo, better get a TO baby!”
So, go out on Wednesday and give the Gators hell Dawgs! One game at a time, one possesion at a time, one shot at a time, build that resume for the Big Dance! GATA! Just Win Baby!
Until next time, “You stay classy Classic City.”