We tend to not pay too much attention to college basketball around here until football is over, with two notable exceptions: 1) When Georgia Tech loses to Kennesaw State (check); 2) When Georgia Tech plays Georgia.
So is Tuesday night when the programs officially pass each in adjacent elevators?
The Jackets and Bulldogs meet at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The perception since early in Mark Fox’s first season in Athens is that the Dogs have momentum and are moving forward while the Jackets are regressing and even imploding under Paul Hewitt. (Tech’s loss at Kennesaw State three weeks ago did nothing to change that.)
When I asked Hewitt Monday if he agreed with that perception, he bristled.
“How do you want me to answer that?’ he said.
Any way you want.
“I’ll leave that up to other people. We went to the tournament last year.”
Hewitt must realize a significant portion of the fanbase believes last year’s team, with NBA draft picks Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal, underachieved by reaching only the second round of the NCAA tournament (loss to Ohio State). There was a way to answer the question. That probably wasn’t it.
Notwithstanding that it’s early December, this may be as important a game as Tech plays all season. If the Jackets lose at home to Georgia, it would increase the heat on Hewitt. Win the game, and his young team would get some needed momentum. Either way, it’s a major swing.
It’s different for Fox. Win or lose, there will be a sense of optimism about his program’s direction. Some are picking the Dogs to win the SEC.
Do you agree? And how important do you think this game is for the Jackets and Hewitt — and their respective futures?
(Programming note: I will be live blogging Tuesday from the 7 p.m. game from Alexander Memorial Coliseum. ESPN2 is televising the game.)
– By Jeff Schultz