So you think just because you’re a Georgia fan you have no interest at all in the NCAA Basketball Tournament? Think again!
The fact is, this tournament has everything to do with the Bulldogs. It’s their stated goal to land an established, experienced coach who has had NCAA tournament success. What better place to find one than in the Big Dance?
There are several coaches scattered throughout the bracket who, whether they realize it or not, are on Georgia’s radar screen for its vacant men’s basketball job. And in a “Bowfinger” kind of way (obscure reference to an obscure Steve Martin movie) they’re being screened for that position. Georgia AD Damon Evans is going to be watching their games with the utmost interest and scrutiny. Same goes for Alabama’s Mal Moore and the ADs at Virginia and Arizona and wherever else there may be or may soon be a head coaching opening.
As for Georgia, there are at least eight opening-round games to which all Bulldogs should pay close attention. If things break just right, a couple of these guys could end up going head-to-head in subsequent rounds. Consider this your Bulldog Programing Guide for the tournament:
SOUTH REGIONAL — Here you can get a look at Oklahoma’s Jeff Capel (2 seed, 27-5), Clemson’s Oliver Purnell (7 seed, 23-8) and Butler’s Brad Stevens (9 seed, 26-5). Both Purnell and Capel are in Kansas City and, if the seedings hold true Thursday, they should meet in the second round on Saturday. Stevens, one of the youngest and brightest coaches in America, matches wits with LSU’s Trent Johnson in Greensboro, N.C. If he wins that battle he’ll get to take on Roy Williams’ top-seeded Tar Heels.
EAST REGIONAL — Cast your eyes up toward Philadelphia and you’re liable to get a glimpse of VCU’s Anthony Grant. His 11th-seeded Rams (24-9) draw sixth-seeded (and quite beatable) UCLA (6 seed, 25-8) on Thursday. Further down the bracket (and the coast) in Greensboro Minnesota’s Tubby Smith (10 seed, 22-10) will be doing battle with Texas. He’s not going to come to Georgia but every Bulldog I know still loves Tubby and likes to think he might.
MIDWEST REGIONAL — Though they’re in the same bracket they couldn’t be any farther apart geographically. Wake Forest’s Dino Gaudio (4 seed, 24-6) opens in Miami against Cleveland State (13 seed, 25-10) while Dayton’s Brian Gregory (11 seed, 26-7) gets West Virginia (6 seed, 23-11) in Minneapolis. All it would take is three wins each and they face off in the regional finals in Indianapolis.
WEST REGIONAL — Way up in Boise, Idaho, you’ll Missouri’s Mike Anderson (3 seed, 28-6), whose reputation has been growing with every passing season. His Tigers take on Cornell (14, 21-9).
And who knows? There may be other potential candidates that are either on the periphery of Georgia’s search or possibly just out of reach. Know that Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton (5 seed in East) probably wouldn’t mind hearing from the Bulldogs and that the Bulldogs probably would love to hear from the agent of somebody Pitt’s Jamie Dixon (1 seed East).
So there, doesn’t that make the field a little more compelling from a Bulldogs point of view?
Another school has entered the competition for coaches. Virginia fired Dave Leitao. Already pundits are saying Capel and/or Grant could be targets. . . .
The Macon Telegraph’s David Hale breaks down Georgia’s spring football practice with a Top 10 list of players with the most to prove. . . .
Here’s a national rundown of spring football practice scenarios by CBSsports.com’s Dennis Dodd.