It’s a big week for UGA hoops: First the Gators, then Kentucky

The big Dawg Trey Thompkins is hungry for more. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

The big Dawg Trey Thompkins would appear hungry for more. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

There are two people I know who believe Georgia will win the SEC East. One is esteemed former colleague Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader, and he’s in the Basketball Writers’ Hall of Fame. The other is yours truly, who on occasion walks down the hall of his house in unfashionable South Cobb while humming the theme song from the movie, “Fame.”

As we know, I’m often wrong. But Jerry isn’t.  Listen to him if not to me.

This is the week we’ll all learn if such a notion has weight. The Bulldogs play Florida on Tuesday in the Stegasaurus — I’ve been asked politely to stop referring to Stegeman Coliseum that way, and this is my polite way of saying, “Uh, no” — and then Kentucky on Saturday in Rupp Arena.

Win once and Georgia is in good shape. Win twice and it’s in what the Brits call the driving seat. (Not to be confused with the driving range. Or a driving rain. Or driving the lane.) Winning twice won’t be easy, especially with the latter game in Lexington, but I’m thinking this team has it within itself to win pretty much anywhere.

Nobody in the league — the SEC West is awful, as you might have heard — has a better player than Trey Thompkins. Nobody in the league has a better starting five than Georgia. (Several teams have more depth, which could become a factor.) When it plays near capacity, Georgia is capable of overpowering Kentucky, which rarely happens in this sport. The comprehensive victory of Jan. 8 was a lovely bit of skill and cohesion and willpower, and it served notice that the Bulldogs were indeed a team of worth.

But then: Georgia lost at Vanderbilt. That wasn’t so bad: Vandy is where good teams go to get humble. (Also to rage at the refs.) The Bulldogs responded the way an angry good team should by hammering Ole Miss in Oxford. But then: Georgia came home and lost to Tennessee on Brian Williams’ stickback at the buzzer.

Georgia fans howled that Williams should have been called for climbing over Chris Barnes’ back, but I can see why there was no whistle: Watch the replay. (I have, many times.) Williams didn’t so much push Barnes as he outfought him for the ball. And once Williams had the ball, he was free to do with it as he pleased. Which he did, to the Bulldogs’ displeasure. But it should have taught them a lesson: If you’re going to win a conference game — or a conference title — you can’t be passive. Williams made a big-time play. Georgia stood around and griped.

And that’s my only real question about these Bulldogs: Can a program that has won one SEC regular-season title — that in 1990, when Kentucky was ineligible and LSU had too much talent — convince itself that it belongs in the discussion with the Wildcats and the Gators, who have nine NCAA titles between them? Can it climb to the top of the division and then take everyone’s best shot down the stretch?

I’m thinking Georgia can. I’m thinking this team can stand with any in school history. (Yes, even the 1983 Final Four team.) I’m thinking we’re about to see the Bulldogs have a big week. And I’m thinking my man Tipton might be thinking the same thing.

ALSO: It’s a big week for Tech hoops: First the Hokies, then the Terps.

By Mark Bradley

108 comments Add your comment

todd grantham

January 24th, 2011
7:20 pm

i thought you had lost interest in the UGA program

Mark Bradley

January 24th, 2011
7:21 pm

Only the UGA football program. (I’m kidding!)

todd grantham

January 24th, 2011
7:22 pm

after all, no blogging from the Miss State massacre.

todd grantham

January 24th, 2011
7:22 pm

same here. and first. and only so far.

todd grantham

January 24th, 2011
7:24 pm

speaking of the football progam, looks like CMR has fired everybody except Bobo and himself. Is that a vote of self confidence or an inability to find a good offensive coordinator?

Johns CreekDawg

January 24th, 2011
7:26 pm

Mark, do you think that eventually UGA’s poor shooting around the perimeter specifically the 3 will eventually catch up with them? I know they can power it in down low but I’m worried about the lack of a stroke from the outside.

Beeeeg Boy

January 24th, 2011
7:29 pm

Brantley gives the another threat from the outside.

Reno

January 24th, 2011
7:30 pm

Mark,

I like the name Stegasaurus… it’s a term of endearment now after the great renovations to the place in the offseason.

the Florida game is also the 4th sellout in a row for UGA (longest since the Harrick era), it’s great to see Coach Fox and the players’ hardwork be appreciated

SoCal Dawg

January 24th, 2011
7:31 pm

Bradley- “Williams made a big-time play. Georgia stood around and griped.” Who griped?

Mark Bradley

January 24th, 2011
7:33 pm

Ware can shoot, Johns Creek. (Ask Paul Hewitt.) And I’m thinking Marcus Thornton might see more time as he matures.

But you’re right: If Georgia has a liability, it’s perimeter shooting.

Nate D

January 24th, 2011
7:38 pm

Go gators. They are going to win. I predict huge game for Chandler Parsons and Veronon macklin the future center for the Hawks.

Nate D

January 24th, 2011
7:39 pm

What do you think of that Mark Bradley.

Nate D

January 24th, 2011
7:40 pm

What about that Mark Bradley.

"Chef" Tim Dix

January 24th, 2011
7:40 pm

It would be easy for this program to put it on autopilot considering they’ve match last season’s win total.

Won’t happen with this bunch, they’re on the fast track to the dance, and the SEC Tourney is up for grabs.

Gators will be the bait tomarrow.

Matthew

January 24th, 2011
7:43 pm

Mark, care to make a score prediction on the Florida game? I havent seen the Gators this year, but I just feel like the Dawgs look disinterested at certain points in games. There is no excuse to lose to UT and Vandy with the talent they have on the floor–like you said, the SEC’s best starting 5. Thanks and I’m enjoying reading.

Dawgdad (The Original)

January 24th, 2011
7:44 pm

I think Barnes was fouled, but that was not the biggest mistake made by the refs. If you allow the basket on the over the back foul, you should still have had a tie game.

The biggest mistake was allowing the Vols basket to count after the shot clock expired. It happened with about two minutes to go and was confirmed by the TV replay. Is Fox not permitted to ask for a TV review by the refs. They clearly blew that call and cost the Dogs the game. What say you Mark?

brett

January 24th, 2011
7:47 pm

The offseason football arrests have started. Here is the total:

Oklahoma – 2
Florida – 1
Georgia – 0

Here’s to hoping that the bball dawgs help us get over the football season, that the folks at the blind pig tavern has a ton to cheer about on signing day, and that the dawgs all stay out of trouble during the offseason.

Go dawgs and get after the gators and cats.

Btw, mark, you are crazy about that last play against tenn. I was standing right there, and if you hadn’t been typing on your laptop, then you would have seen it too. Also, Williams himself said on a postgame interview that the thought they would call a foul.

KevinM

January 24th, 2011
7:50 pm

Sad Mark, you promote your allegiance with a guy who takes every chance he can to slam UK. Is that what you call intelligent journalism?
Tipton has such an agenda against UK and you look up to this man….really? You must agree with his views more often than not. We here in Atlanta have a lot to look forward do if you decide that that is good sound questioning.

Take this for what its worth: Tipton asked Cal tonight at a news conference if a Terrence Jones dunk was a heroes’ play at his press conference? Now what kind of ignorant question is that to ask about a kid who is trying to help his team win a road game at South Carolina?

He also asked Cal if a play like that is part of a psychological advantage…really? Is that all that the Hall of Fame writer has to ask to a coach who has the 9th youngest team in the conference.

I’m sure you’ll have a rebuttal that fits the questioning Mark. I question your common sense promoting the great Jerry Tipton.

Will you do a follow up column when Georgia comes home Sunday at 3-4 in the conference? Probably not, it will be time to move on to another agenda.

Scott

January 24th, 2011
8:00 pm

Thanks Mr. Bradley for your articles on Georgia basketball. Some commenters complain about it, but I thoroughly enjoy it! Keep up the good work… ~Scott

My Old Kentucky Home...(got foreclosed on..)

January 24th, 2011
8:04 pm

MB..I think we win tomorrow…but Sat. in Lexington I’m not so sure…the crowd will be wearing blue and the refs will be wearing panties…the no calls we got against UK in Athens won’t happen this sat…they won’t let the big guys “play”…just my opinion..Vegas likes us tomorrow nite..UGA is favored by 2pts…

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Finchdawg

January 24th, 2011
8:15 pm

Well, now that Bradley has predicted them, there go the wins. Hopefully not, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Heath

January 24th, 2011
8:21 pm

UGA’s experienced players should be a boost if/when they get in the tournament this year. Ironic that they could get to the Sweet 16 in basketball and have their 2nd losing season in a row in football.

And as far as that goes, it’s nice that they are getting commits from all of these big time football players, but Richt will just red shirt them all, so it won’t help this year.

GTBob

January 24th, 2011
8:23 pm

This is a big week for UGA. It would be really hard to win both of those games though. I’m also surprised that you don’t seem to be mentioning Tennessee much in that race. Their next 4 games are against the SEC west so they should be 6-2 in the SEC. At that point they get Bruce Pearl back. I think the fact that they have played a much much tougher schedule then anyone else in the SEC is going to help them down the stretch.

F-105 Thunderchief

January 24th, 2011
8:30 pm

What are these hoops of which you speak?

Just kidding. Mark Fox has me interested in UGA basketball like I hadn’t been since Hugh Durham and Tubby Smith.

Headley Lamar

January 24th, 2011
8:31 pm

Was impressed to see the dogs come out and play great against Miss St.

They were clearly focused after the Tenn game.

Thats coaching.

F-105 Thunderchief

January 24th, 2011
8:33 pm

By the way, the only “game” I’ve seen at the Stegasaurus was the Harlem Globetrotters, circa 1982-ish.

harold

January 24th, 2011
8:33 pm

GEORGIA IS NOT A BASKETBALL SCHOOL. GEORGIA DROPS BOTH OF THESE GAMES. THE LADY DAWGS ARE MORE EXCITING THAN THESE GUYS. HECK, THEY CAN’T EVEN BEAT TENNESSEE.

will

January 24th, 2011
8:34 pm

barnes was not fouled! Just was not tough enough, perhaps did not want to committ a foul himself once Williams had the ball. Biggest question for this team is not outside shooting, we run our offense as effeciently as any collegiate team in the country, and although we may not be considered a great outside shooting team, we take better shots than most any great outside shooting team! UGA works the ball “inside out” and gets better shots for doing so! I also liked the new wrinkle agains Miss States Zone defense last Sat… Trey T played out on the wing, and looked good too!!!

The biggest question mark for these dawgs is defense!!! We get lazy on defense way too much! When it comes down to getting a stop on the last possesion of a game, we may get it, we may not???? But when it comes down to getting a stop the last 5 minutes in a game, we can’t do it enough to win a championship! That being said, I sure like watching this team Play!!!!!!!!!

JAC

January 24th, 2011
8:38 pm

28th!

And GATA Hoop Dawgs.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, SCORE Atlanta. SCORE Atlanta said: RT @MarkBradleyAJC: Why this is a huge week for #UGA hoops. (Gators first, then Kentucky.) http://bit.ly/h6kOZM [...]

DawgFan

January 24th, 2011
8:46 pm

Mark, I really respect your basketball knowledge, but Tompkins is not as good a player as you credit him. Granted he is good on OFFENSE. He is a SCORER, and a good FT shooter, but his game is lacking in several areas. He is what coaches call an “area rebounder.” If the ball bounces in his area, he will get it, but he does NOT go after the ball on the glass at either end. If you ever take the time to watch his screening, you will see he is the worst on the team at that. No one expects him to be a great defender, but he is the weakest defender on and off the ball on the entire team. I am sure he is a really nice kid, but he is typical of what our current AAU system produces too much of today–Players who have been coddled and judged on athleticism and scoring. Yes, I am glad he stayed at UGa, for his sake and ours, but I yearn to see him become a more complete player. We will be good this year in large part due to his ability to score, but he is in for a rude awakening at the “next level” as the AAU pimps like to say. Selah. ( a touch of Bisher I thought you might like)

brandon

January 24th, 2011
8:50 pm

this all just sounds kind of absurd that we could even think this way about Georgia’s basketball program.

D A Double U G

January 24th, 2011
9:13 pm

How many days til’ Football season??

Jut kidding, just kidding.

I have really enjoyed watching Fox and the Hounds. I am excited for the game tomorrow night. While it is not football, it will still be nice to see ANY team beat a Gator.

GO DAWGS!!!!

Coffee Bluff DAWG

January 24th, 2011
9:24 pm

I was at the UGA-UK game and UGA just wanted the game more down the stretch. They out hustled and and rebounded UK in the last 5.

Can they win the SEC? I don’t know, but unlike recent years, at least they have a good chance and even if they don’t they should be a good NCAA tourney team.

AltamahaDawg

January 24th, 2011
9:25 pm

So Williams (the player), made a big time play……… while Georgia (the fans), stood around and griped? That is a very puzzling comment.

davidinloganville

January 24th, 2011
9:33 pm

Hey Mark I like the name Stegasaurus but with John Calipari now coaching at UK i say they are playing at “Corrupt Arena”

Uga-Grad

January 24th, 2011
9:46 pm

I live in Korea but am in town for two weeks… going to this florida game was at the top of my list, and I will be there!

GW

January 24th, 2011
10:03 pm

Bradley=Corso=JINX

Jeff Garner

January 24th, 2011
10:23 pm

Way to go VOLS !

Whopper Dawg

January 24th, 2011
10:40 pm

f they do that, I may weep.

Dawg in China

January 24th, 2011
10:52 pm

Uga-Grad, Are you teaching in Korea?

Hoops Dawg

January 24th, 2011
11:17 pm

I agree somewhat with Dawgfan’s criticisms of Trey and have often thought that he’d be a strong POY candidate if he had the love of defending/rebounding that Terry Fair displayed. Nonetheless, I am darned happy to be able to run Trey out on the floor and don’t look forward to playing without him in the future (although I’m confident that CMF will figure something out).

the sham

January 24th, 2011
11:20 pm

@Mark Bradley – If you won’t quit calling it the Steg…s, will you at least stop writing about how the Dawgs will win. Your pitiful record for prognosticating is concerning me…

@Johns Creek – I think our inability to consistently shoot free throws may be more undoing than the 3pt shooting. Ware is too good to run dry too long. Besides, we have the low post play needed to carry us in a drought.

@Harold – go back under your bridge…

Give Richt some credit!

January 24th, 2011
11:23 pm

Hey Mark, you wrote an article about how Mark Richt can’t coach or recruit because UGA lost ONE player. When are you going to give Richt some credit for the apparent good job they are doing overall on recruiting?

Herschel Talker is a girly man

January 24th, 2011
11:23 pm

Heath and Harold. Heath take two aspirins and go to bed. Your ignorance is showing.. HAROLD You sound like my kind of man if you know what I mean. Will be watching the game at my house with a couple of guys (one for me and one fo you) so if you post again then I will know that I am right about you and that you will be here. Bring your pjs for the sleepover. Hee Hee

bjohndawg

January 25th, 2011
12:09 am

Like this team. Need to learn not to overpass, and take some of the outside shots they are given.
Also, still some passive play on defense. Soft on the double team down low, cost them some points against Vandy, Miss State, and Ole Miss.

Also , wish Fox would let the guys push the ball even on a opponents made bucket. I heard he has a team rule on that….as punishment for not stopping opponent on defense he makes them play a half court game on opponent’s made points versus fast break. If so, lets just let these Dawgs run.

Go Dawgs!

Ted Striker

January 25th, 2011
12:17 am

Good article. Good analysis.

p.s. But could have done without the kiss of death. Ha!

[...] The Bulldogs can evolve into a contender with success this week [...]

Mark Bradley`s Booster

January 25th, 2011
4:35 am

Nice positive article about the UGA teams Mark. Hope you are right.