Archive for March, 2010

Is Jackets’ season a success, or are you waiting for more?

The Jackets got a lot of people (including themselves) excited with three wins in the ACC tournament.

Georgia Tech created excitement — and expectations — in the ACC tournament. (AP photo)

The NCAA selection committee got it right when it made Georgia Tech a 10th seed in the tournament. Higher would’ve ignored the sense of underachievement in the regular season. Lower would’ve ignored the run we just watched in the ACC tournament.

But should just making the tournament field as a 10th seed define success for the Jackets?

What’s a successful season for Georgia Tech?

  • Just making the tournament.
  • Winning one game. (Round of 32)
  • Winning two games. (Sweet 16)
  • Winning three games. (Elite Eight)
  • Winning four games. (Final Four)

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This is not a fire Paul Hewitt referendum. Fact is, I’m not sure I would’ve supported Hewitt’s exit even if Tech had failed to make the tournament. But this is about grading a season, relative to expectations. Tech’s year is still an incomplete.

In the last four games, we saw the Jackets’ upside. So let’s …

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Woods’ safest return is on golf’s biggest stage: Masters

A controlled environment would benefit Tiger Woods if he made his return at the Masters. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

The controlled environment at the Masters would benefit Tiger Woods. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

In the past several days, we have read reports that Tiger Woods plans to return to golf at the Masters; that he hasn’t decided when to return; that he is taking lessons from his swing coach (that’s golf, not women); that he is back living in the same home with his wife; that said wife Elin is happy, or torn, or possibly both; that on the night of the accident (involving an SUV, a fire hydrant and an oak tree), Elin gave police two Vicodin bottles that belonged to Woods; that the ambulance crew that night suspected domestic violence; that Woods has the lowest “Q Score” of any athlete since Kobe Bryant; and that he has hired former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer to handle his public relations.

At some point soon, I’m sure Fleischer will either seek pain killers himself or ask Woods to create some minor diversion that Fleischer is more accustomed to handling,  like invading …

Continue reading Woods’ safest return is on golf’s biggest stage: Masters »

No miracles for Georgia, but direction is established

It was a happy night for Georgia coach Mark Fox but the sting of the season being over should end quickly.

It was not a happy night for Georgia coach Mark Fox. But the sting of Friday's loss shouldn't last long. (AP photo)

NASHVILLE – They did not come into the week with some delusion that this SEC tournament was about fattening up their RPI or maybe gaining a swing vote on the selection committee. Because the only way Georgia was making it into the NCAA tournament was by shocking its conference brethren again.

That didn’t happen this week. But that’s OK. Two years ago, when the Bulldogs won the SEC tournament, it sent out inaccurate signals of the program’s direction. We learned that when they lost seven straight the following year, and Dennis Felton was drop-kicked with two months left in the season.

Georgia didn’t need to go on another miracle run in this week’s SEC tournament to convince us of direction. We already have a sense where things are headed. The only thing that was affirmed Friday night was that there’s still a ways to go. After giving Vanderbilt fits in two games …

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We’re LIVE and Thompkins says, ‘We want to win it all’

Trey Thompkins led Georgia in game one against Arkansas with 23 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.

Trey Thompkins led Georgia in game one against Arkansas with 23 points, 14 rebounds and six assists. (AP photo)

NASHVILLE — OK. Let’s play this thing already. This 9:45 p.m. stuff is getting kind of old.

Georgia knows if it can follow up Thursday’s win over Arkansas with an upset of Vanderbilt, it will play in Saturday’s semifinals against Mississippi State during non-vampire hours (3:15 p.m. EST).

Most wouldn’t fault the Bulldogs if they lost to the Commodores, who are 23-7 and a lock for the NCAA tournament. They got their one SEC tournament win, which is one more than most expected. But there is no sense of satisfaction in their locker room.

From Trey Thompkins: “We want to win it all. We didn’t come here to win one game. We plan on moving forward.”

Before the Georgia-Arkansas game, Vanderbilt players were quoted as saying they preferred to play the Razorbacks in game two, given the Bulldogs defeated them in Athens and nearly pulled off an upset in Nashville (Vandy won in …

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These Dogs are tired of talking about the 2008 Dogs

Mark Fox looking for a tournament upset.

Mark Fox's team is looking for tournament upset No. 2.

NASHVILLE — When a school does something as improbable as what Georgia did two years ago in the SEC tournament, it’s a given that almost every Bulldogs team that follows is going to be asked about it at some point.

So can you guess what subject Georgia players would rather not talk about any more?

The Dogs, hoping to replicate the miracle conference title run in 2008 — oops, there I go again — upset Arkansas in their opening game late Thursday night. Tonight, they play Vanderbilt, which is headed to the NCAA tournament. Win again and maybe these Dogs can create their own identity.

“As a team we really never thought about [2008] because we’re not that team,” forward Trey Thompkins said. “That’s just the truth. They were a different group of guys. We want people to talk about us the way they talked about that team.”

Winning three more games — over potential opponents and NCAA tournament teams Vanderbilt, Florida and Kentucky …

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Georgia drills Arkansas — and could it happen again?

A desperation three-point shot by Ricky McPhee just before halftime gave Georgia a 40-32 lead over Arkansas, and the Bulldogs never looked back. (AP photo)

Ricky McPhee's three-point shot just before halftime gave the Bulldogs a 40-32 lead, and they never looked back. (AP photo)

NASHVILLE – Playing the 9:45 p.m. game on the opening night of a conference tournament doesn’t scream main event. It’s a relative play-in game involving a last-place team.

Funny. Georgia didn’t look the part Thursday night.

The Bulldogs, showing their days as a sixth-seed might be over after this season, upset Arkansas, 77-64, to open SEC tournament play.

Could it happen again?

Maybe it’s a little early to project a repeat of the miracle tournament run of two years ago. But given the Bulldogs’ second-round game Friday night is against Vanderbilt — a team they’ve already beaten once this season and barely lost the rematch to, 96-94, in overtime — don’t go anywhere.

This team plays hard. This team plays smart. This team goes through lapses now and then, largely because it is thin on talent. But then it seems to toughen up when games get tight.

It happened …

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We’re live from Nashville: Is it miracle time for Georgia?

Georgia coach Mark Fox, here defending guard Vincent Williams in practice in Nashville, hopes the Bulldogs can pull off another miracle. (AP photo)

Mark Fox, here defending Dogs guard Vincent Williams in practice, hopes his team can pull off another miracle. (AP photo)

NASHVILLE –Bruce Springsteen wrote a song, “Countin’ On a Miracle.” Seems like an appropriate tune for Georgia basketball fans right  now. Then again, after what happened in the SEC tournament two years ago, can we assume anything?

It’s the Dogs and the Hogs tonight. I’ll be here courtside taking your questions, at least until such time that editors begin screaming at me for the print column. Which should be in about five minutes.

I’m not making any predictions here. But things potentially set up nicely for Georgia. Yes, Mark Fox’s team went 5-11 and finished sixth in the SEC East. But the opening game is against Arkansas, a team that finished the season with five straight losses. If the Dogs win, their second game would be against Vanderbilt, a team Georgia upset in Athens, 72-58, and nearly defeated a second time in Nashville (losing in overtime, …

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If this is Nashville, why is everything so blue?

You don't suppose they intended a double-meaning with this shirt, do you.

Now, you don't suppose they intended some sort of double-meaning with this shirt, do you?

NASHVILLE — Anybody who ever has attended the SEC tournament knows that the event generally is covered in blue. Kentucky fans dwarf those of other schools tenfold.

I would say it’s because they have nothing to look forward to during the football season. But then some yahoo from Maysville would post a comment, “Oh yeah? Cats 34, Dogs 27! Take that! Hahahahaha!”

Welcome to Nashville. Or is it Lexington?

Welcome to Nashville. Or is it Lexington?

So I’ll pass.

But here in Nashville, home city of Vanderbilt and home state of Tennessee, there’s only one school represented with significant rented retail space: Kentucky. “Cat Fan-Attic” has a store smack on Broadway, which cuts through the heart of town.

“We’ve been doing the SEC tournament for six years,” said co-owner Ann Stith.

How about the SEC football championship?

shirtwall

Pick a shirt, any shirt.

“No. Kentucky hasn’t been there.”

One of the most popular shirts is the one above. Even if …

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Expect Georgia’s Thompkins to be early NBA pick — in 2011

Georgia is hoping Trey Thompkins doesn't take his game to the NBA for at least a year.

Georgia is hoping forward Trey Thompkins doesn't take his game to the NBA for at least a year. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

NASHVILLE — According to NBAdraft.net, Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins are projected as the Nos. 8 and 11 picks in the 2011 draft. That would be just fine with Georgia coach Mark Fox because it would mean both will be back for another season.

Leslie and Thompkins are sophomores. Leslie has said he will return next season (although players have been known to change their mind). Thompkins’ situation is a little more intriguing. He has turned into a strong player and leader for the Bulldogs, and Tuesday was announced as a unanimous All-SEC first-team member — the first Georgia player to earn that honor since Jarvis Hayes in 2003.

Thompkins acknowledged Wednesday that he has been getting more individual attention lately. But he reiterated that he has not made a decision.

When asked if he considered that the SEC tournament might be the final week of his college …

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Pearl heaps praise on Mark Fox, Georgia (and then stops)

nashville 002

How long can Georgia play this week on Broadway (the one in Nashville, not Manhattan)?

NASHVILLE — Hello. Haven’t visited the Ernest Tubb Record Shop or the lights of Broadway yet  — actually it’s still daylight — but I made it to the arena in time to catch the end of Bruce Pearl’s news conference. When it was over, I asked the Tennessee coach off-stage about Georgia and coach Mark Fox. Not surprisingly, his response was complimentary.

“He’s done a great job, and they’ve beaten some really good teams,” Pearl said. “They played great obviously in Athens [when the Bulldogs upset then eighth-ranked Tennessee, 78-63, in January]. They knocked on the door on the road. But I think what that indicated to me was, it’s almost like SEC football. Where do you go? Where do you turn? Where can you go to get a relatively easy game?

“Mark Fox did not come here to finish sixth in the SEC East. And he did a great job. He finished sixth — and he did a great job. That’s how tough it is.”

Pearl …

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