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:
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