Future unclear for many Georgia players

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.

Some links:

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.

Georgia freshman Torrin Lawrence was named South region track athlete of year. Lawrence is one of four UGA sprinters competing in the NCAA indoor championships.

Kentucky’s win over Ole Miss aside, Big Blue fans are still grousing over coach Billy Gillispie.

68 comments Add your comment

JB

March 13th, 2009
6:41 am

when at the bottom, only one way to go.

AltamahaDawg

March 13th, 2009
7:21 am

Pretty fluffy article by “the spread”. Looks like he just lifted a couple of newspaper clippings.

Carlton Powell

March 13th, 2009
7:22 am

The biggest challenge DE will have is creating some sense of hope for the BB program. Currently, there is none. It pains me to make such a statement, as I am a “glass half full guy.” But, the realities I sense after many discussions with long time observers of the UGA BB program lead me to this conclusion. Fans should be ready for the long haul, if there is to be positive future for the BB ‘Dogs.
At these moments, I reflect upon the fact that Joel Eaves offered Dean Smith the HC job after the ‘64 season. Who knows how different things may have been over the years. But, not the time to contemplate the far past, but to focus upon getting the best possible canididate for the future. I wish them well.

gdawginkalamazoo

March 13th, 2009
8:32 am

Guess these kids need to sit tight and see who the new coach will be. 2 mil a year means that DE is taking a serious approach to the program. New attitude and all. Why would these kids hold a grudge against the new coach? Or the program for that matter?

DawgGirl32

March 13th, 2009
8:58 am

I actually wouldn’t care if they all quit and we started with a clean, fresh slate.

GeoffDawg

March 13th, 2009
9:32 am

The Georgia FB program does need to re-evaluate itself after last season just like all good programs should every year. I still have significant doubts that WM is the man to lead this defense but CMR has done more than enough to give himself a lot of flexibility on his approach to managing personnel so I’m content to let him get on with it. Also, I disagree with “The Spread” article that Georgia wasn’t the best team in the state last year. I congratulate tech on their victory but let’s be honest here – that would be like saying Ole Miss beating UF made them SEC champs.

Seriously

March 13th, 2009
9:36 am

Swansey wants to play for a program that wins, but with stats like a 1 to 1 assist to turnover ratio, 28% 3 pt shooting and 50% foul shooting, he’d be hard press to find a ‘winning program’ that will give him minutes. He needs to recognize that he probably isn’t an SEC caliber player. Sure his buzzer beater over UK last yr was all well and good, but his play this yr. has been horrific.

Dawg Fud

March 13th, 2009
9:42 am

If Swansey and Price want to transfer, then let them. Swansey is one of the worst ball handling point guards i have watched. he would be lucky to play D-III ball if Georgia had not offered. i think Price has tons of potential with the right coach.

not trying to throw arrows at zac — it’s just my assessment. he plays hard but his skill level and ability limits his production. he has way too many turnovers to play point guard.

reservoirDAWG

March 13th, 2009
9:47 am

Swansey can go as well as Price. Keep Trey and the rest are free to transfer to div II programs where they probably should have gone in the first place.

[...] are still wondering who Georgia’s coach will be next year, Chip Towers of the AJC wonders which current Bulldog players will be around to play for the new guy.UGA:  Tony Dungy will speak to Mark Richt’s football team next [...]

Too Easy

March 13th, 2009
10:09 am

These guys are teenagers and emotions are all over the board right now. It’s early yet; the season just ended yesterday. After some time, cooler heads will prevail and the right decisions will be made. Some of the coaches providing player assessments in these blogs may actually be true, but let’s not thrown the kids under the bus. Let’s see where Damon leads the program. Go Dawgs.

Too Easy

March 13th, 2009
10:10 am

‘throw’, not ‘thrown’.

Gen Neyland

March 13th, 2009
10:11 am

Georgia basketball aside for one moment, did anybody else stay up late and see the Syracuse-UConn slugfest..? THAT was tournament play. One other thing, Alabama looks to have hit it’s stride over their last two games. The Red Elephants really choked down Vandy’s inside game and pretty much did the same to Tennessee up in Knoxville last weekend. UT will have to get them running and keep them running, plus UT better make their free throws count tonight…All in all, the strongest survived Round One of the SEC Tourney. Now, back to the original theme of UGA Basketball.

TommyP

March 13th, 2009
10:26 am

Nothing worse than a player on a bad team saying he wants to go to a winning program when he himself is part of the problem.

AltamahaDawg

March 13th, 2009
10:29 am

Worth noting that none of these kids sought out this forum. Thier frustrations over what was certainly an emotional and disappointing past few months is understandable. Just understand that they have folks following them around asking, “what are you thinking, how are you feeling”. I didn’t see anything that wasn’t way more kind than the things that most of the fans have been saying about this for 2 years now.

Should they have been telling the fans “don’t let the door of the steg hit you on the way out” or go pull for some other school, earlier this year?

Chuckmonster

March 13th, 2009
10:47 am

Swansey rips UGA, huh? His comments are nothing compared to how badly his pathetic ball handling and decision making hurt them on the court. Don’t let the door hit you where God split you, Zac. You’ll be a whining punk in your next uniform, too, so I’m sure not sorry to see you leave.

Will

March 13th, 2009
10:59 am

The attitude

and comments of these players and parents says it all: Let’s just start completely over.

Huh?

March 13th, 2009
11:00 am

Love the headline:

“Mississippi State puts UGA out of its misery.”

I thought it was football season again there for a second. The AJC has such a flare for the dramatic.

AltamahaDawg

March 13th, 2009
11:16 am

and there it is, right on Cue………

DawgGirl32

March 13th, 2009
11:18 am

I take that back. Just give Swansey the boot.

Boston Williams

March 13th, 2009
11:26 am

Why not drop BB altogether at UGA, then UGA fans will be justified in talking about football year-round!

gdawginkalamazoo

March 13th, 2009
11:36 am

Boston, great idea. Then we could use that 2 mil a year to buy taxi service for all the football players from the bars. Of course we would have to find more revenue of that didn’t cover.

Maybe Swansey can just turn pro after this year?

Don’t fault the Thompkins, looks like they are just studying their options which any good parent would do.

NewnanDawg

March 13th, 2009
1:18 pm

I think a lot of the comments here so far border on disgraceful. At minimum, they are as well thought out as some of the 18 – 20 year old players comments have been. They just went through one of the toughest few months of their lives; what are your excuses?

I don’t want to fault anyone right now. Everyone from Evans to the coaches to the players have been put in an impossible situation this season. How quickly you all forget the heart and leadership Zac Swansey showed last year when Yata would foul out and ask him to lead the team as a freshman through the rest of the game. I think we all need to lay off and realize that these kids are having an emotional reaction to a tough situation.

I wish all of the players the best of luck, here or elsewhere, and hope that they can come together the way they did a few times this season. The coaching decision will have a huge effect on these guys lives, so I hope DE makes the right call.

Go Dawgs!

Atlanta Jackets

March 13th, 2009
1:27 pm

Swansey is just saying what all the mutt players are thinking. They wish they were in gold right now and still playing. LOL!

I hope we get to play Georgia again in the brackets. I’d love to end the mutts’ season once and for all!

hop

March 13th, 2009
1:36 pm

why is this process taking so long and even some national press people such has dickie v. are beginning to ask the same question.

maybe, it is the inexperience of our “figure head” AD.

DawgGirl32

March 13th, 2009
1:40 pm

Newnan Dog- I understand your point but Zac Swansey threw his coach and his teammates under the bus with that unnecessary comment. A lot of the other players are talking about moving forward next year. This, for example, is what Albert Jackson had to say:

“I’ve always been taught that in adverse situations, you don’t run,” Jackson said. “My mama never let me quit. I’m going to tell them that I feel like if you leave, you’re quitting. You came to Georgia for a reason, and the goal you were striving for, that’s not over. Some guys might have already decided they’re leaving, but I’m going to tell them I want them all back following me my senior year.”

It’s one thing to be really disappointed and think about transferring, but there was no need for him to talk about how he wants to be at a winning program and he doesn’t know if Georgia will be that. That took it too far for me and I don’t feel sorry for him. I can guarantee you that he’s going to regret that comment in the future, too, whether he stays or not.

Chief Nock A Homa

March 13th, 2009
1:40 pm

Zwansey ripping UGA and says he might transfer to a program committed to winning??

Wow – did he somehow become a legit DI player overnight because, other than living on the buzzer beater he hit last year, he hasn’t proven much at all… Where’s he going to transfer to?? DII or DIII??

Chief Nock A Homa

March 13th, 2009
1:43 pm

AtlantaJackets –

Just an FYI – UGA won’t match up “in the brackets” so y’all can put them out of their misery once and for all, as you said because their season is over with the loss – remember????

Hello McFly!

NewnanDawg

March 13th, 2009
1:48 pm

Hop – we want a coach that is going to the NCAA tourny – can’t make any official comments until that is over. Dicky V. just wants Bobby Knight and that’s it.

DawgGirl32 – Good post – I agree that Albert has shown a much better attitude and certainly more leadership; good thing since he is a rising senior. However, Swansey did a lot more than one shot last year. He seemed to get in a funk this year after he lost his starting job. A good coach teaches a player how to use that as motivation, not just get down. Swansey has not handled the adversity well, but I am willing to give him a chance to turn it around. If he consistently makes these comments, I’ll be over him, too, but I’m not going to close the book on him for a few irrational moments.

NewnanDawg

March 13th, 2009
1:54 pm

Oh, and the last thing these kids need is to think that their fans are just going to abandon them through this. We have no idea what has gone on in the locker room, at practice, etc. It was probably a lot worse than we know at times. Let the kids get a little time and distance from the season, find out who the coach will be, and then see how they react.

blufftondawg

March 13th, 2009
2:31 pm

Dennis went out of his way to run off all the quality players Harrick had recruited. Some were outstanding. Let’s hope our new coach can convince them that UGA is a good place for them.

Sometimes you gain a moral victory by running everybody off, but who will play in the games?

AltamahaDawg

March 13th, 2009
2:41 pm

dawggirl, unless I didn’t see something in the full interview, he in no way threw anyone under the bus.

Could he have said some rosy fluff about the future and how excited he is, Sure. What do you want to bet, that’s not at all how the question was posed to him?

Personally, I think the mistake he made was saying anything.

I want to play and win, and not sure I’m at the right place.

Given that he isn’t, and they haven’t, and nobody has any idea what is going to happen in his 2 yrs left here, I’d say that was a very fair and accurate statement.

AGSDWG

March 13th, 2009
3:10 pm

Where are these guys going to transfer to? Are there really a lot of top-25 programs in need of players who can’t even start for a 3 conference win team?
I hardly think so.

Brandon

March 13th, 2009
3:15 pm

What SEC team would want Zac Swansey? Zac needs to stay at Georgia and prove his self.

AltamahaDawg

March 13th, 2009
3:19 pm

The “national media” is questioning why UGA is not publically announcing what coaches they are talking to, in the midst of thier (current job) conference and NCAA tournament efforts?

Sounds to me that the “national media” is just letting thier obvious personal agenda of bashing Damon Evans with every cloud thier judgement.

Harry Ewing

March 13th, 2009
3:28 pm

I will say to the BB players exactly what I said to MS and NM, after they announced: What have you done for us lately? No March madness, just Bulldogs being mad in March. Dawg BB is a long,long way from the brass ring but it will be worth it IF we make the right hire. Wait and see. We would be good and competitive within two more years if they make the right hire.

If the kids all leave? It will not matter. Dominic Wilkins left UGA and we went straight to the Final Four the very next season. Enough said. Who needs those kids? Let em leave. Geez, they are getting a top flight college education.

Dawg Tired

March 13th, 2009
3:45 pm

No wonder they can’t win. With such poor attitudes, what do you expect? The fact that a player sits on the bench pouting indicates he ought not be on the court, on the bench, or on the team. He ought to be on the road.

Doyouknowshon

March 13th, 2009
4:16 pm

As many before me have already said, Swansey is just having trouble dealing with the fact that he is not good enough to be an SEC point guard. Ware obviously was willing to work hard to earn the starting job and continued to get better throughout the year, while Swansey did the exact opposite. Same with Price, got outworked by Barnes and instead of that motivating him to work harder, he decides to whine about it.

Chip Towers

March 13th, 2009
4:48 pm

Hop, others, re: coaching search:

If you think about it, it’s going to be a while before the coaching search gets going in earnest. Number one, Evans and Adams have both said they’d like a successful, established D-I coach. You’ve gotta think that means somebody that’s in the NCAA tournament. And they’re not going to be targeting just one guy. They’re casting a wide net and will probably settle on a top five or six to focus on. But if any one of those candidates coaches a team that has a chance to make a run all the way to the FF in Detroit, then Georgia needs to be careful about its timing. It can’t rush out and talk to somebody that might be available after week 1 of the tourney, then leave that person hanging until they talk to somebody that might be competing in the Elite Eight or Final Four. Timing is going to be very important here. Methinks everything will be closer to Easter than the first day of spring.

Chip Towers

March 13th, 2009
4:52 pm

And Zac’s a good kid. I really like him. He’s just frustrated like anybody in his situation would be. The fact is all these young men have tough decisions to make, as will their eventual coach.

SthrnSrvy

March 13th, 2009
6:52 pm

Go figure, get benched and THEN start ranting about the “gift” being wasted away. One can only know the answer as to WHY they were benched to begin with. Swansey can simply just move along, love/hate relationships don’t last.

Denver Dog

March 13th, 2009
7:42 pm

It is not easy, not winning. It says alot about these kids that they want to win. I don’t know what happened in the middle of the year to have DF fired, but I have a feeling it was more than we have been told or read about. There will be a new coach, and a good and decent team. We don’t need to get down on kids that lost direction in the middle of the year. I don’t like hearing what they say either, but they need to be able to say what they feel. Heck, they were put through the ringer, and obviously had no leadership. Give UGA and the kids a break. If they do as well on this hire, as they did on CMR, we will be fine.

thom

March 13th, 2009
8:08 pm

It can’t be said enough. What the hell was Dennis Felton doing for 6 1/2 years!

Tom

March 13th, 2009
9:21 pm

Being reported now that Swansey is very upset at Jensen’s story, that his quotes were totally taken out of context. He doesn’t want to transfer, wants UGA to be the winning program. Wonder if AJC blogs will report this since all they do is blog about other people’s blogs, rather than do any real reporting on their own? (Except for Chip, BTW, who does report the news).

Concerned

March 14th, 2009
12:20 am

The reason he regrets the comments is because when he sent feelers out to Shorter, Berry, & NGC, they told him he wasn’t good enough to play there.

Happy Dawg

March 14th, 2009
2:47 am

Chip, I’m glad to see that TotalUGA.com finally called out that other so-called media outlet. It’s about time.

http://totaluga.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1579

Brian Ragwoski

March 14th, 2009
9:44 am

Thanks Brett…I trust anything UGASports says WAY before anything I do Total….

Judith

March 14th, 2009
9:47 am

Dawgtime

March 14th, 2009
10:43 am

First of all, a great hire would dramatically improve the situation. We need to find a great recruiter mixed with a man of high character and coaching acumen mixed with a man with a gregarious personality that will unite the fan base. In terms of the GT fans, those clowns have nothing to celebrate, hence they make childish comments about UGA. In a recruiting blog, they are making fun of Coach Richt’s religious dedication. Totally classless. It is sad when they start a season listing defeating UGA as a major goal. That is pathetic. Facts, you were destroyed in the bowl game by LSU. Your scheme was exposed. UGA was the superior team when we played. We owned the first half. Our coaching staff made stupid adjustments on defense. That will all be rectified this season. Try power dives with Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens in the middle of the defense. Not going to happen. In terms of the future, we just signed a top 5 class. GT signed a top 50 class. You can make all the academic insults you want because you have no clue what you are talking about. I read that a GT graduate questioned how a UGA signee could have a G.P.A. above a 4.0. That admission revealed that the person had no idea about quality points for honor students or accelerated programs. Wow, I thought GT was the academic geniuses. Not. In terms of the basketball program, I am excited about the future. I like a lineup of with Dustin Ware, Trey Thompkins, Travis Leslie, Chris Barnes, and the kid that is redshirting. I read that some people questioned Felton’s ability to recruit. Louis Williams, Mike Mercer, and Trey Thompkins were all highly ranked kids. It is time to move ahead and UGA will be fine. We have the number 1 baseball team, a top football program, and a developing basketball program. The future is bright. I could careless what GT fans say because they are all lack class and masculinity. Go DAWGS.

Brian Ragwoski

March 14th, 2009
11:12 am

Just looked at TotalUGa…headline said Bama comes to town….I thought Georgia was at Alabama this weekend?