TAMPA — And now the maneuvering begins.
Not on a new basketball coach, mind you. It’ll still be a while before Georgia can get in front of viable candidates for its open position. But you can be sure the Bulldogs’ players are getting busy thinking about their futures. And as uncertainties go, their futures couldn’t be more uncertain.
Georgia is a young team of nine freshmen and sophomores. But that doesn’t mean they will all be back. Some will likely leave on their own. Some might not have the opportunity to stay.
Lost in all the warm-and-fuzzy talk about Georgia’s basketball season coming to a courageous and amicable end here in the SEC Tournament is some rather ugly realities taking place on the bench. Not all of the Bulldogs are happy campers and it goes beyond the fact that the coach that recruited them was fired six weeks ago.
Brett Jensen of TotalUGA.com followed Zac Swansey out to the bus after Thursday’s game where Swansey preceded to rip Georgia and say he was considering transferring. “I want to play and I want to be with a program that wins,” said Swansey, who lost his job as starting point guard to freshman Dustin Ware the weekend before Felton was fired. “I’m not sure Georgia is that program.”
Meanwhile, after starting 15 games as a freshman, sophomore Jeremy Price started only 10 this year. He sat and pouted on the bench for most of the last month, not playing at all in three games and playing eight or fewer minutes in all but one since Feb. 4. He, too, said he’ll consider a transfer.
But based on their playing times and contributions the last third of the season, there is no guarantee that the new coach will want them to stay anyway. Certainly these players feel wronged and perhaps they were. Who knows? But some of their feelings may have to do with seeing the writing on the wall.
Price played less because freshman Trey Thompkins and sophomore Chris Barnes played more. That was ultimately the decision of interim coach Pete Herrmann and his staff. And, with no promise of being around next year, the thinking here is they were merely trying to win games.
Then you have players like freshman forward Drazen Zlovaric, who didn’t play in half of Georgia’s 32 games and then for only 5 minutes per. Sophomore guard Troy Brewer disappeared for long stretches. Travis Leslie had academic issues late in the season. Ebuka Anyaorah had to redshirt due to a leg injury.
Even Thompkins, a key piece for whomever might be the new coach, is not sure what he’ll do. His father, Howard Thompkins Jr., who closely oversees his son’s career, told me after the Thursday’s game, “we’ll have to wait and see who they get as coach.”
The more you think about it, the next move for athletics director Damon Evans might not be to get in front of a coaching candidate. It may be to get in front of these players and convince them to hang around long enough to see who he hires.
The Lane Kiffin Saga continues. Now the Tennessee coach is being deposed by the Oakland Raiders for allegedly lying and cheating while he was an NFL head coach. . . .
Georgia football coach Mark Richt and retired NFL coach Tony Dungy and joining forces with a program called “All-Pro Dads.”
Here’s a story on the Bulldogs’ 2009 football team by some outfit known as “The Spread.” I have no idea who actually authored but I know you guys can’t read enough about Georgia football.
Kentucky’s win over Ole Miss aside, Big Blue fans are still grousing over coach Billy Gillispie.