Tech vs. Georgia: Has balance of power shifted in hoops?

Brian Gregory: Can he wake up Tech?

Brian Gregory: Can he wake up Tech?

Mark Fox: Got Dogs to tourney quickly.

Mark Fox: Got Dogs to tourney quickly.

Because of obvious allegiances, it’s nearly impossible for fans/readers in these parts to debate the merits of Georgia and Georgia Tech — or to be fair: Georgia Tech and Georgia — and remain objective. But here goes:

Which school has the better basketball program today?

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Has the balance of power in college basketball between Georgia and Tech officially shifted to Athens?

I touched on this subject two weeks ago, though it was more from a conference perspective after the SEC earned more spots in the NCAA tournament than the ACC.

I’ll concede these two points on Georgia and Georgia Tech: 1) Mark Fox has coached only two seasons and next year the Bulldogs almost certainly will have to do without Trey Thompkins (who’s expected to turn pro) and possibly without Travis Leslie (who may follow him); 2) As much as the Georgia Tech fan base appears split on Brian Gregory — much like the Dayton fan base was split on Gregory — we have no idea what kind of job he’ll do on The Flats.

Here’s the situation at the two schools:

Georgia: Fox brought Georgia to the NCAA tournament in only his second season. The Bulldogs’ conference record (9-7) was their best in the SEC since Jim Harrick cheated. Harrick’s best SEC record in a season that the NCAA determined he didn’t cheat: 9-7 in 2000-01. Fox energized the fan base and woke up recruiting. We can debate whether the Dogs, who lost in the first round of the tournament to Washington, underachieved this season or not. My view: They did not underachieve. Thompkins, their best player, was slowed much of the season by injuries. He’s the difference in several of those close losses. This also is a program still learning how to win. Fox inherited a team that went 12-20 the previous season and he went 14-17 and 21-12 in his first two years. The arrow: pointing up.

Georgia Tech: Recruits are still drawn to Georgia Tech. We know this because for all of the criticism Paul Hewitt took the past few years, he was able to get talent on campus. Gregory’s success obviously hinges in part on how quickly he can make inroads in the state (and that starts with holding onto Milton High School’s Julian Royal). The Jackets can get better quickly. The ACC is not the powerhouse it used to be. But Gregory obviously has a lot to prove. Hewitt was fired at least in part because he couldn’t win in the ACC. Gregory leveled off in the Atlantic 10. His first two Dayton teams went 22-10 in conference. His next six went 48-48, and only one over .500: 11-5 in 2008-09, when the Flyers went to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Next season, he’ll have to try to get people excited while the Jackets split games between Philips Arena and Gwinnett Arena. The arrow: Uncertain.

So there are the Cliffs notes. Your thoughts? Has one program pulled ahead of the other? I’ve also put up a poll.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

169 comments Add your comment

hogmtndawg

March 28th, 2011
12:30 pm

You should start by comparing Tech to Kennesaw State.

DawginLex

March 28th, 2011
12:32 pm

Right now yes but it could change depending on how successful Gregory is.

As we have seen in this tournament, there are no great teams.

1 good solid recruiting class of 4 and 5 star players can get you a great season.

Buckeye

March 28th, 2011
12:33 pm

Neither.

Tech has a short-lived history and a new coach.

Uga had Howard ( before I was Trey in the NBA).

Tech has some advantage because they play Duke and UNC twice a year.

bulldog_keith

March 28th, 2011
12:33 pm

Buckeye

March 28th, 2011
12:37 pm

DawginLex,

Good to see you. Not sure if you saw my congratulatory post over the weekend.

We picked a bad night for a 32.8% shooting performance. Harrelson kept Sullinger in check. Calipari game-planned well.

Silver lining is Sullinger is coming back.

Sorry in a way that it’s UK or UConn vs. Cinderella or Cinderalla B.

Either way, look forward to next Sat.

Buckeye

El Bravo

March 28th, 2011
12:37 pm

I think this is a tad premature. Tech has had a pretty solid program even with Hewitt; specially on the recruiting side. I’ll put it this way, UGA would not have fired Hewitt under similar circumstances. They would have been more than happy with his record. Give Gregory two years and then we can talk…

Ohio-on-the-Gulf Dog

March 28th, 2011
12:37 pm

We beat Kentucky in the same year the Wildcats are in the Final Four!

An amazing transformation of Georgia’s basketball program since my days in the Classic City.

@ss clown journalists

March 28th, 2011
12:39 pm

Can you post a poll as to which ajc writer is more of an @ss clown: Schultz or Bradley

El Bravo

March 28th, 2011
12:41 pm

Heck, if you just look at the two returning classes and Tech is certainly stronger; they just need to be coached up…

hogmtndawg

March 28th, 2011
12:43 pm

State Rankings for B-Ball:

1. UGA
2. Norcross HS
3. Milton HS
4. Kennesaw State
5-Tie: GT/Georgia State

BillS

March 28th, 2011
12:49 pm

Neither Bradley or Schultz deserves a slam from a clueless booster whose opinions about the subject at hand — none expressed here — are worthless. From one bkb fan who has neither ties to UGA or GT, I’d agree on the current state of the programs. Too early to judge Tech’s new coach, and those who are after him already forget that Georgia fans were screaming about Fox when he was hired. Now he seems like a very good hire; the new guy at Tech might prove to be, although he’s got a lot of work to do with recruiting in this region and getting the fanbase turned on.

GTBob

March 28th, 2011
12:50 pm

Last year GT went to their conference championship game, and went to the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament. Most GT fans thought this was a mediocre result with the talent we had. UGA gets knocked out of the SEC tournament early, and loses in the first round of the NCAA tournament and their fans are ecstatic. Because of that it’s hard to claim any shift in power. Especially when most UGA fans really don’t care either way.

DawginLex

March 28th, 2011
12:51 pm

buckeye,

Calipari is underrated as an x’s and o’s guy but his motivation is top notch.

I thought Harrelson would offset Sullinger so that would be a push. Plus it is a senior agaisnt a freshman. You can’t teach age.

Liggins guarding Craft was also another way to neutralize OSU’s flow and it worked. It also helped that OSU was off, especially Buford.

I was amazed that UK beat UNC. When Henson got into foul trouble, that was the difference.

Now that have to play Uconn and I don’t know if Liggins can guard Walker.

Should be fun.

Hey, at least you can concentrate on spring practice now. :) :)

BigGAdawg

March 28th, 2011
12:52 pm

As a Dawg I want to say yes the momentum has shifter in our direction. However, we know well the impact of bringing in the right Coach can have on turning a troubled program around and energizing the fan base. Hopefully the head start we have from the last two years will continue to give us an edge for a while to come. I am confident that Mark Fox will continue to improve and build the UGA program.
Go Dawgs! Woof Woof Woof !!!

YoungDawg

March 28th, 2011
12:53 pm

YES! UGA with Mark Fox is the better program right now! This & the TN hire should help us in getting GA talent to go to UGA! Gregory is not an upgrade at all! They just brought in a different guy (voice) who runs a different system. Hewitt was more successful in the mid-majors so maybe this is even a downgrade! He was crumbling under the pressure at Dayton so your hiring him to coach in the ACC & recruit against a on the rise UGA & possibly GA ST?!? Right now I’ll have to say this hire is good for the Dawgs & frankly I’m more concerned about the new GA ST HC on the recruiting trail. Just WOW! GO DAWGS!

powerhouse?

March 28th, 2011
12:53 pm

Guys leaving early surely is a bummer and can drastically change a program. Seemingly the only way to counter is just “draft” a few more that might leave early. Some type of cycle, huh?

Supersize that order, mutt

March 28th, 2011
12:54 pm

THUGa has never been relevant in basketball and never will be. WHY? Because nobody cares. If Fox IS any good, which he might be but really hasn’t proven yet, he will be gone within 3 years. If he’s not any good, he will be fired or just allowed to continue the tradition of mediocrity in Athens. And to Ohio-on-the-Gulf, even with Hewitt, Tech SOUNDLY beat UNC in a year they made it to the elite 8. Doesn’t speak to highly for either UK or UNC that the two Georgia schools beat both of them.

DawginLex

March 28th, 2011
12:57 pm

to put things in perspective, here will be your pre season b-ball rankings next year

1.)Kentucky
2.)North Carolina
3.)Duke
4.)Kansas
5.)Butler

UGA and GT will be nowhere in sight of the top 25 much less the top 5. Both are capable of getting into the top 25 but neither is a national contender.

Buckeye

March 28th, 2011
12:58 pm

DawginLex,

Spring practice starts Thursday. Aticles in Columbus discussed now we can no longer focus on basketball and we’re in for months and months of Tressel questions in the news.

Oh well.

I won’t discuss Calipari’s vacated wins if you don’t discuss Tressel’s! Deal?

DawginLex

March 28th, 2011
12:58 pm

supersize, I’d say it speaks more to the fact that there were no great college basketball teams this year.

BigGAdawg

March 28th, 2011
12:59 pm

Saying “First” = A desperate cry for attention and affirmation.

If you say it on one of MB’s articles he will say “Kudos.” Most people think this an attaboy type of comment. Actually Kudos is from the ancient Sumerian and means, “You simpering sucky LOSER.”

DawginLex

March 28th, 2011
1:01 pm

It’s funny because the UK folks hated Coach Cal but now defend him to the nth degree.

I have studied a lot about Cal and it appears that he was a victim of two kids who made bad decisions under his watch. You can argue all day if he knew or not and no one but Cal, Camby and Rose and God will ever know. I do know that Memphis asked the NCAA about Rose and the NCAA ruled him eligible through the Clearinghouse and let them play the season, go to the FF and then vacate all the wins.

Kinda seems like a raw deal to me.

Tana

March 28th, 2011
1:01 pm

I think that the power has currently shifted to UGA. Fox was able to come in an almost instantly get a five star recruit in Caldwell-Pope, and remember…as much love as we have for Thompkins and Leslie that they are not Fox’s recruits. If one of them runs to the pros, it seems very likely that the addition of Kevin Ware could happen. If both leave and Royal decides to flip his commitment, you are looking at three potential starters that Fox was able to bring in. If Thompkins and Leslie stay, which personally I do not see them as NBA ready, then you are looking at two NBA talented seniors with a back court of Robinson, Ware, and Caldwell-Pope. Fox will be able to develop his big men at a younger age, who are surely to be more mobile than Price and Barnes. Dixon is 6′10″ and can do something Barnes and Price struggled with….DUNKING. Sometimes you just need to be able to go up and put it down. Dixon is long and a shot blocker.

I really think Leslie will be back, and Thompkins should come back. Both showed that they can lose plenty of games despite being the best talent on the court. I think another season could really improve their stock, and both go to potential lottery teams.

As of March 28, 2011 the arrow points to Athens, but we all know how fast things can swing.

Buckeye

March 28th, 2011
1:02 pm

BigGAdawg,

The whole “first” thing is fixed…at least with Bradley.

GTBob

March 28th, 2011
1:02 pm

YoungDawg, he was crumbling under the pressure at Dayton? He has won 22 or more games 4 straight seasons, made the second round of the NCAA tournament and won the NIT. If that is crumbling then is Mark Fox crumbling?

Buckeye

March 28th, 2011
1:02 pm

dawgs,

What the heck happened to Ann Marie and Co. yesterday? The women got shellacked.

Luke

March 28th, 2011
1:03 pm

Luke

March 28th, 2011
1:04 pm

Tana. The only problem is the lack of scholarships, especially with Thompkins and Leslie. I don’t see Julian flipping his commitment, nor do I see him coming back just to sit behind Thompkins.

Bryan G.

March 28th, 2011
1:05 pm

I remember being disappointed in the Mark Fox hire, so I would tell Tech fans (and really everyone) let’s wait and see.

Ted M

March 28th, 2011
1:06 pm

Trey Thompkins should stay. I think he could go undrafted.

As far as programs go UGA has the early lead.

JasonGT

March 28th, 2011
1:06 pm

People in the rest of the country regard GT as having off years when we don’t do well. The same people consider it a fluke for UGA to make the tournament. UGA is a better team than GT right now, but as a program GT is established while UGA is building. I’m not saying GT is a top tier team by any means but in the national spotlight we’re known for our basketball much like a Georgetown team: capable of greatness, usually just good, but sometimes awful.

Luke

March 28th, 2011
1:07 pm

Trey Thompkins will definitely leave. He’s still a first round draft pick, and plenty of teams will go after hime. As for Leslie, he needs more defining. He’s a raw talent that can jump through the roof of a building. He’s just got to develop his shot.

Ted M

March 28th, 2011
1:07 pm

UGA did underachieve this season.

I don’t know anything about Brian Gregory but his record scares me.

Basketball Fan

March 28th, 2011
1:08 pm

Paul Hewitt’s record the last two seasons: 36-31
Mark Fox’s record the last two seasons: 35-29

Tech fired the former and UGA is ecstatic to have the latter. I don’t get what all the fuss is about.

DawginLex

March 28th, 2011
1:09 pm

Ted, I didn’t think UGA underachieved. I thought they lost some tough games at home that could have gone their way.

Going 21-12 and 9-7 in the SEC and getting into the NCAA’s is about what we all hoped for. Anything over that would have been icing for me but that’s just my take.

DawginLex

March 28th, 2011
1:11 pm

basketball fan, I hope you are kidding right?

Hewitt headed down
Fox went up

Tech in the toilet
UGA building a program almost from scratch

It Ain't Rocket Science

March 28th, 2011
1:13 pm

I am a big, big, UGA sports fan, but I do not believe for one second that a couple of down years shows one team to be better than another. I am not even sure UGA belonged in the tournament this year. They showed a serious lack of teamwork when they needed it most. Tech. has had a couple of down years because they kept their coach for a couple of years too long and gave him a dream buyout that got sweeter each year. Let’s see how they do with their new coach hire. This state is for sure talent loaded for BB so I can see Tech. being back up there in a few years. Hopefully, the tech. fans will show their nbew coach a little patience and realize it will take a couple of years to build this team back up.
I think the ACC will almost always be a better conference most years, and tech. used to compete pretty good in the conference.

Buckeye

March 28th, 2011
1:19 pm

Schultz,

Balance of “power” between the two?

Tech and UGA are currently mediocre programs. That’s not to say one or the other might have a run at some point. But, the true “power” in their respective conferences rest with FL/ KY and Duke/UNC.

Regardless of coach or the latest one and done recruit, neither will compete with Donavon, Calipari, Coach K or Roy Williams.

Your question is moot. Or, as Clinch may say, “mute”.

mgdawg

March 28th, 2011
1:19 pm

Personally I don’t see how this is even a discussion right now. UGA is on its way up and the past two years have already passed tech. The new guy at tech might turn the program around, but as for right now, uga is definitely ahead.

Ozzy

March 28th, 2011
1:23 pm

Hopefully he won’t sit on the bench with his face in his hands, call time outs to kill our own momentum, be able to teach an in bounds play where we won’t have to cross our fingers, and be able to find someone that can coach free throws.

If he can do those four things and graduate his players, we’ll be headed in a positive direction.

The Sham

March 28th, 2011
1:24 pm

@Schultz – Is this article 6 months old or something? I mean there was room to debate such an angle if you were talking about UGA vs GT at the beginning of the season. Needless to say it but, #&!! Yeah we own this state (right now anyhow, but NOW none the less).

Seriously, when I saw the headline, I thought you were going to try and make the case that this new hire was an swinger back to the Techies… I was going to ask who your supplier is, bc he gave you bad stuff brother!

Not to sound like too rabid of a DAWG, but seriously???

Luke

March 28th, 2011
1:27 pm

Buckeye, you may be right about the SEC but I completely disagree about UNC owning the conference. I think between Miami, VT, UNC, Duke, FSU, BC, and Clemson, you have a pretty good spread. The ACC certainly showed they were better with the 4 teams they put in the tournament than the Big East did. All I’m saying is that though Duke may seem to be the power, the ACC is certainly nothing to be trifled with up and down. Ask UNC, who made it to the Elite Eight and got stomped by the “beleaguered program” by 30 in the regular season.

The Sham

March 28th, 2011
1:31 pm

@DawgInLex 1:11PM – Amen brother. He’s painting the picture he wants to with his narrow minded focus.

The cupboards in Athens weren’t completely bare, but CMF didn’t have much beyond the main entrees. As evidenced by our late season/late games collapses. Depth is the issue this year’s recruiting will provide.

That being said, CBG and the Techies have a chance to be really good next year if some that talent can return and gel under his new system. We Dawgs know all to well what a new coach can bring to the table. Especially a good one!

Supersize that order, mutt

March 28th, 2011
1:36 pm

The question is how many, if any, Tech players bail. Shumpert (sp?) might but would be crazy to do so now. I don’t see any others leaving. Will our current commitments remain or change? No way of knowing at this point. But if all current players and recruits stay the course, Tech has more than enough talent to succeed with any half-way decent coach. The fact that Hewitt couldn’t mold them into a team speaks volumes about his inability to coach.

The Sham

March 28th, 2011
1:38 pm

@Kristie Reiken – Come on and open your comments section. I want to tell the world about my disdain for Coach Andy Landers. His tenure peaked when the Miller twins graduated! It’s time for a change there Greg McGarity! To get doubled up in BB is hard to do, even in women’s BB… Let alone on a “national” ;) stage such as the women’s Sour 16!

To paraquote CAL – “We like the players we have, but we need more depth, more explosive players, more WHATEVER…”

What have you been doing for the last 137 years you’ve been the coach here?

What we need is a new Coach who can recruit those type of players! Wake up Greg McGarity and can that ham!

A buckeye for a brain

March 28th, 2011
1:39 pm

OSU goes down in each tournament – both times to an SEC team. Sounds about right. Makes them moot, and should make their supporters mute.

BYRDDAWG

March 28th, 2011
1:40 pm

I’m just glad that there’s a debate now! At least Coach Fox has us headed in the right direction & we’re actually talking about hoops in March……Usually the topic is spring football practice! GO DAWGS!!!!!

Decepticon

March 28th, 2011
1:41 pm

Not sure how hiring Gregory is an upgrade over Hewitt yet. I will have to see in the next couple of years what he brings to the table.

Julian Royals Daddy

March 28th, 2011
1:42 pm

Hey…I still have to give my approval. Where are we sitting at the press conference?

DMR

March 28th, 2011
1:42 pm

Both schools are wait and see. Hewitt could recruit. He couldn’t coach. We know Fox can coach. It looks as though he can also recruit. We just don’t know for sure. Georgia will surely take a big step backward without Thompkins and Leslie. Georgia’s bench was non-existent for the most part; lacking any real depth.

I think Tech takes a step forward with renewed energy and a different message. They have talent, so doesn’t Gregory find himself in a similar situation as Fox when he stepped in? Actually, from a historical perspective of success, Fox had and to some degree still has a tougher job. Fox must prove that he is not a one trick pony or some will try to run him off like Hewitt.

I think Fox is the real deal. Gregory? Who knows for sure? Balance of power? A few more season will be the only thing to bear that out.