Georgia in the NCAA: A good team that still might get it right

The bright lights of the Big Dance shine on the Bulldogs. (Photo by M. Bradley)

The bright lights of the Big Dance shine on the Bulldogs' media session. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Charlotte — Sometimes I feel I’m the lone ranger. I watch Georgia and I see good players, a good coach and a good team. Others wonder why this team made the NCAA tournament field. So I asked Lorenzo Romar about the Bulldogs, and now I don’t feel so all alone.

Said Romar, whose Washington Huskies will play Georgia on Friday: “I definitely don’t see a team that shouldn’t be here. They’re physical. In the paint they’re more than capable of playing well and competing against any team. They’re well-coached. They have a system that you can see they’re disciplined in. They have great quickness, and they really do a good job defending.”

Then, regarding Mark Fox: “You can see he has them playing the right right way. I’m really impressed with how he goes about handling his business.”

Then, regarding Trey Thompkins, the Georgia forward Romar coached this summer as part the USA Select team: “He was good … I loved his attitude, his mobility, his versatility. Just a nice stroke. Has great hands.”

Then, regarding the other Bulldogs: “Travis Leslie is a phenomenal athlete … He can run like a gazelle. And their guard play is good as well. They have good quickness on the perimeter. They have a real good blend.”

About here, I nearly jumped up and said, “Exactly!” I managed to restrain myself, but it’s always nice to hear a learned basketball man say pretty much what you’ve thought for four months: That these Bulldogs have it within them to be a big-time basketball team.

I admit they haven’t always behaved that way. That’s how they came to lose 11 games and nearly play themselves out of the Big Dance. But there’s not much Georgia can’t do: They can shoot it and they can score down low and they can defend and they’re seasoned. (They start four juniors and a senior.) That said …

I expected more. I expected Georgia to win more close games along the SEC trail than it has. I didn’t expect the Bulldogs to blow a 14-point lead inside the final seven minutes against Alabama last week. I can understand why outsiders don’t expect much from this team in this tournament — at 5 1/2 points, Washington is the biggest favorite by far among the No. 7 seeds — but I also keep thinking there’s more to this team than we’ve seen.

Either we’ll see it Friday or we’ll spend the summer wondering why we didn’t. Washington can be beaten. (The Huskies have lost 10 games and finished third in the not-very-hot Pac-10.) This stands to be one of those fast-versus-slow deals, as they say in NASCAR: Washington runs and presses and averages 83.5 points; Georgia prefers to settle into its half-court triangle and averages 69.8.

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Whichever team can make the game move at its speed figures to win, and in the NCAA tournament, with its heightened tension and longer timeouts, it’s easier for a deliberate team to slow a faster opponent than for the quicker side to mash on the gas. Although Romar did say: “As the season has evolved, we’ve learned from our mistakes. We have better patience.”

As for Georgia, Fox said: “We’ve always tried to play as fast as we can play well, and we’ll have to try to find that balance.”

This one seems simple: Either the 5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas flits through Georgia’s defense and the Huskies score big, or the Bulldogs hunker down and clog the lane and guard the perimeter — doing both isn’t easy — and the underdog carries the day.

I’ve waited all year to see Georgia win big games, and it has won a couple. It’s probably wrong to expect this team to win a couple more this weekend in the crucible of the NCAA tournament, but that’s why I’m the lone ranger. After all their near-misses, I still expect the Bulldogs to get it right. I expect them to frustrate the Huskies. I expect the team that wasn’t sure it would make the field to be playing Sunday.

By Mark Bradley

159 comments Add your comment

BW

March 17th, 2011
7:11 pm

BW

March 17th, 2011
7:12 pm

Mark, does Vandy losing make the SEC East look not as tough?

BW

March 17th, 2011
7:14 pm

Enter your comments here

BW

March 17th, 2011
7:16 pm

Ok, one more question since I’m the only one at work….after reading that great article in the AJC on coaching fundamentals, is Mark Fox a good fundamentals coach?

Paul in RDU

March 17th, 2011
7:17 pm

Mark,
I don’t doubt that UGA has good talent and a good coach, but doesn’t the opposing coach always say good things about the opponent before the game? I remember how Vince Dooley would make the Little Sisters of the Poor sound like a cross between the 85 Bears (on D) and the 84 49ers (on O)

2BT

March 17th, 2011
7:18 pm

Vandy goes down – Kentucky barely beats 5 stiffs from the Ivy league. Quick exit for the SEC East!

Beast from the East

March 17th, 2011
7:23 pm

Got the Huskies in the pool but I’m pulling for the Dawgs!

Mark Bradley

March 17th, 2011
7:24 pm

Well, yes, Paul. But I’m not sure Lorenzo Romar is on the level of Vince Dooley — the unchallenged master — when it comes to gushing.

Worm

March 17th, 2011
7:26 pm

Let’s hope Fox coaches better than Stallings..And 2bt-How’d Klempson fare?..Louisville?

Uga'91

March 17th, 2011
7:27 pm

Hey Mark do you think our guards are quick enough to cover Thomas?

Mark Bradley

March 17th, 2011
7:27 pm

I don’t know why Kevin Stallings bombs out in the tournament every year. He’s a good coach.

Mark Bradley

March 17th, 2011
7:28 pm

I don’t think Ware or Robinson is as a quick as Thomas, but I think they’d better slow him somehow.

DawgFan

March 17th, 2011
7:30 pm

UW Dawg fan here … Mark is right, UW can be beaten if their outside shooting goes cold, and they get rattled. Team is explosive though, and have 4+ guys who can consistently hit the 3, plus a first team all conference PF, and a gritty PG who can dish & score, inside or out. Having watched a lot of Pac-10 ball this year, the conference is not as bad as it appears to be (despite USC’s choke job in the play-in game.) This year’s Pac is better than last year, and UW won their first 2 tourney games last year as an 11 seed and have a lot of that team back. Georgia will need to keep it low scoring to win, and will need to capitalize on open/timely 3s to win. If UW starts running it’s going to be a 10+ point win for the NW Dawgs. Good luck and enjoy.

JSS

March 17th, 2011
7:30 pm

You’re underestimating U-W’s depth, that is not a swipe at UGA. They are fierce when focused….

Uga'91

March 17th, 2011
7:32 pm

I wish this was a football matchup. We need to play teams like UW, And USC every now and then for national exposure. Particurlarly since they are on the rebound like we are.

Beast from the East

March 17th, 2011
7:32 pm

Gators up by 23 and diving after loose balls. That’s Billy D!

JSS

March 17th, 2011
7:33 pm

If you are depending on Ware or Robinson to stop Thomas, you might as well book the tickets home…

todd grantham

March 17th, 2011
7:35 pm

what lorenzo went without saying is Georgia has no depth and the secret to winning is to wear them down.

Delta Stewardess

March 17th, 2011
7:36 pm

The FLYING thing is not OVER-RATED, but these DAWGS have not displayed a Killer instinct of the Legs to win a second half of a close game.

Delta Stewardess

March 17th, 2011
7:37 pm

UCSB look real bad.

todd grantham

March 17th, 2011
7:38 pm

Mark Fox has done an excellent coaching job this year with some front line talent. Next year that talent is gone and he will have one heck of a challenge getting back to the tourney.

Beast from the East

March 17th, 2011
7:39 pm

Delta,
They do and UF is shooting lights out. Not a great combo for UCSB.

UGASlobberknocker

March 17th, 2011
7:39 pm

Vandy gets me every year. I have decided that they depend too much on the three to win a big game. Next yr I’m taking their opponent ,I don;t care who it is. Now Kansas will lose and my bracket will explode as usual.

But my Fiasco Final 4 is still alive!!! That might end soon, though, since my road map for UGA is this 1/Beat Wash 2/beat UNC 3/beat Xavier who we have already played close 4/beat Ohio State..we can match up to their big guys..so UGA in the Final 4. Cant miss winning the Fiasco! Im gonna love that ipad.

Seriously, if my Final 4 actually makes it there should be an investigation

Georgia/Duke/No Dame/Florida

JSS

March 17th, 2011
7:42 pm

I never get sucked in by Vandy, Ole Miss, or most Kansas teams….

todd grantham

March 17th, 2011
7:44 pm

The old story is Vince, as a good Catholic, had to go to confession after many an interview about the week’s upcoming patsy.

Delta Stewardess

March 17th, 2011
7:44 pm

Slobberknocker
You should bet on if VANDY will graduate more Student Athletes than our Dawgs. I know you will get good ODDS against, but you might guess as right as our football players do on their final exams. Alwasy take the SURE bet.

JSS

March 17th, 2011
7:46 pm

If you can play the wings and handle pressure in the half court, then you can beat Vandy! What don’t most SEC teams do well?

todd grantham

March 17th, 2011
7:47 pm

Delta, i thought all were flight attendents these days.

Terry Funk

March 17th, 2011
7:47 pm

watching Wisconsin is horrible….2morrow nite I have no clue… the dawgs could lose by 10 or win by 10..but I love the dawgs +5.5

Paul in RDU

March 17th, 2011
7:47 pm

Mark,
I agree with you about Vince Dooley – the anti-Rex Ryan.

UGASlobberknocker

March 17th, 2011
7:47 pm

I’m on the March Madness online streaming site. It’s great and you can hop from game to game, but I cant find where I can get all 4 screens up simultaneously (like you can do on ESPN3 ). I know my limitations..Do any of you Techies know how to do that?

todd grantham

March 17th, 2011
7:49 pm

i hate to show my ignorance, but where does the moniker u-dub come from?

BW

March 17th, 2011
7:50 pm

Dub stands for the first sound of W of Washington I guess.

Terry Funk

March 17th, 2011
7:52 pm

Why has Vandy gone out in the 1st round the last 3yrs..?? they screw me evey year on my bracket…

UGASlobberknocker

March 17th, 2011
7:52 pm

Wow. I just wish I had that Vandy advice before I filled out my bracket..Oh wait, I was talking about basketball. Is there a graduation tournament and bracket that I am not aware of? If so, forget Vandy, I’m taking Harvard.

Or Tech if one of their fine fans tells me how to get that split screen going.

JSS

March 17th, 2011
7:53 pm

A Mormon rap artist! Life never cease to amaze!

BW

March 17th, 2011
7:54 pm

UW is on a street called the Ave. I’ve always related the two names in my head. As in since the Ave, then the UDub.

Great city by the way. I miss it. Though not as much as I missed the South when I lived there.

[...] Read the original: NCAA News:Georgia in the NCAA: A good team that still might get it right – Atlanta Journal Constitut… [...]

JSS

March 17th, 2011
7:54 pm

“My baby gots a haircut like friar tuck!”

todd grantham

March 17th, 2011
7:55 pm

thanks BW. phoenoics was never my strong suit.

Paul in RDU

March 17th, 2011
7:57 pm

UGASlobbernocker
If you are using IE (like pretty much the rest of the world) try opening several tabs and have different games up in each tab. You won’t be seeing screen in screen, but you will be able to jump from one tab to the other without having to reload (kind of like using the remote for your TV)

todd grantham

March 17th, 2011
7:57 pm

terry, how is dory, jr these days?

todd grantham

March 17th, 2011
7:58 pm

someone keep us up to date on big happenings. got law and order on right now.

JSS

March 17th, 2011
7:59 pm

Jimmer is like a time bomb…

JSS

March 17th, 2011
8:04 pm

How does a Mormon kid get a T? Gee gosh oh golly!

Delta Stewardess

March 17th, 2011
8:08 pm

Can JIMMER win enough games to get to the FINAL FOUR? That young man can lit any shot he takes. The Mormon women need to be scared at his ability to score(LOL).

Delta Stewardess

March 17th, 2011
8:10 pm

JSS I think the young man got a T for Telling the Truth on Tapping That Thing.

Terry Funk @ todd

March 17th, 2011
8:11 pm

I whip his assss on a daily basis…

Skeezix

March 17th, 2011
8:11 pm

Meanwhile the Bravos’ hitters are feasting on Nats’ pitchers.

Terry Funk

March 17th, 2011
8:12 pm

them Mormons actually give 10%….unlike the folks on this blog…just sayin….