Wednesday night’s 20-point win over LSU to close out the home schedule at the Steg was a big step on the road to where UGA athletics needs to be.
With Trey Thompkins hurting from a toe injury, Mark Fox’s Dogs flipped their usual scenario of playing great in the first half and collapsing in the second half. Instead, Georgia started cold, missing all but two shots and falling behind 13-4 before coming back to lead 30-25 at halftime and then blowing out the Tigers in the second half, led by Gerald Robinson’s 16 points.
That ensures a winning SEC record for the Dogs, gives them their first regular season 20-win finish that counts since Tubby Smith’s final year as coach and all but locks up an NCAA tourney spot.
It’s not a sure thing until the bracket is announced (unless you win your conference tournament), but as Fox put it after the game, “Nine wins with a chance of 10 in this league, OK? Twenty wins in the regular season. A good nonconference resume. I wouldn’t sit here and tell you that we’re in the NCAA tournament, that we can be satisfied with where we sit. [But] if I were sitting here with the selection committee, with some other coaches, I’d argue all day for our team. You’re darn right I’d argue all day for our team.”
Twenty wins just two years after suffering 20 losses is quite a turnaround and Fox deserves major accolades for the job he’s done in Athens.
Of course, with the roundball Dogs outshining their football counterparts this school year, we’ve already seen the predictable jibes about UGA now becoming a “basketball school.”
But the truth is Georgia needs to be aiming for a lot more than being a basketball or football school, and I’m sure that’s exactly what Greg McGarity has in mind. After all, he spent the better part of two decades at Florida, which has the kind of all-around successful athletic program that the University of Georgia should want to emulate. The Gators are a conference and even national power in just about every sport they play, currently leading the SEC East in men’s basketball and ranking No. 1 in the country in baseball and women’s gymnastics.
That latter standing is particularly galling to the Bulldog Nation, as Jay Clark’s Gym Dogs have fallen off stride in the past couple of years in a sport where they formerly dominated under Suzanne Yoculan, who closed out her UGA career with five consecutive national titles. There’s still a chance the Gym Dogs can get back where they belong this year, but so far it’s looking a bit shaky. Meanwhile, David Perno’s Diamond Dogs, which had become close to an every-other-year regular in the College World Series, are off to another terrible start.
Yes, what the vast majority of folks who frequent this blog are most concerned about is having Mark Richt get his program, the financial underpinning of UGA athletics, back among the SEC and national elite.
But UGA fans need to take a broader view and expect the kind of excellence across-the-board that UF fans have become accustomed to.
I think McGarity is the man to see that goal accomplished.
Meanwhile, a hearty “well done” to Fox and his scrappy team for doing their part.
SPEAKING OF THE JUNKYARD DOGS …
A tip of the hat to the Senator, for pointing out that a new collection of James Brown singles was released this week, and it includes both the long and short versions of the Hardest Working Man in Show Business’ ode to the Georgia football program, “Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs,” which hasn’t been commercially available in quite a while.
It’s always been a source of pride that a legendary performer like the Godfather of Soul recorded a song for UGA, not something that happens very often.
We unfortunately don’t hear the song played by the Redcoats at games any more (anything with “Dooley” in the title apparently is verboten while Mike Adams is still around) and you don’t even hear it on the radio on game days that often any more. I got so caught up in a rare airing on an Athens area station a couple of years ago as my daughter and I were entering the Classic City for a game that I took the wrong entry ramp on the Loop and had to drive the long way to my folks’ home! It was worth it, though.
Anyway, if you don’t already have “Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs” in your music collection, here’s your chance.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg