UGA players ‘jumped around like 7-year-olds that just won a Little League championship’ after NCAA bid

(Updated 9:30 p.m.)

ATHENS — After days of debate about whether Georgia would reach the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the verdict came quickly Sunday night: The Bulldogs are in.

Georgia will open against Pac-10 tournament champion Washington on Friday in an East Region game in Charlotte.  Game time will be approximately 9:45 p.m.

Georgia’s selection was announced early in the hour-long, nationally televised bracket unveiling, and the Bulldogs’ No. 10 seed revealed that they were not as close of a call as many analysts had projected. The Georgia players got the news while watching the selection show in the team’s locker room.

“They jumped around like 7-year-olds that just won a Little League championship,” coach Mark Fox said.

“I don’t think I’ve been that happy in a long time,” forward Trey Thompkins said, “just seeing our whole team jump around and throw stuff in the locker room and hug each other as much as we did. That was a blessing, just to be able to see our name as in the tournament.”

Said guard Dustin Ware: “It was incredible. There is no other feeling like it, just knowing you’re in and all your hard work really paid off this year. . . . We went crazy. Some guys – I know I was one of them – were real emotional.”

Georgia is in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008, when the Bulldogs received an automatic bid after unexpectedly winning the SEC tournament, and for the first time as an at-large team since 2002.

The Bulldogs (21-11) drew an interesting opening opponent. Fox’s first assistant-coaching job was in 1991-93 at Washington, where he met his wife, Cindy, who worked at the time as the Huskies’ director of marketing and promotions.

Friday’s game will be the first-ever meeting in basketball between Georgia and Washington.

Washington, a No. 7 seed, has a 23-10 record and won the Pac-10 tournament with an overtime victory over Arizona. The Huskies’ best player is 5-foot-9 junior point guard Isaiah Thomas, whose dramatic last-second jumper won the title game. Thomas is averaging 16.8 points per game.

The Georgia-Washington winner will play again in Charlotte on Sunday against the winner of Friday’s North Carolina-Long Island game.

Debate had raged about Georgia’s NCAA prospects in the 48 hours following the team’s loss to Alabama in the SEC tournament quarterfinals, the Bulldogs’ second loss to the Crimson Tide in seven days. But as it turned out, Georgia made the NCAA field with room to spare and Alabama was left out.

On the selection show, committee chairman Gene Smith basically said head-to-head results are not the decisive determinant.

“A lot of people put head-to-head as a high priority in their criteria for different situations, [but] there were things with Alabama that didn’t stack up compared to the other teams,” said Smith, the Ohio State athletic director.

Fox was excited, but not surprised, by the Bulldogs’ selection. He had argued for a couple of weeks that the team’s season-long resume merited a bid.

“When you compared our body of work to some other teams that were supposedly on the bubble,” Fox said Sunday night, “I felt confident in our body of work. This is about a four-month marathon, not a four-day postseason tournament, and I think sometimes people forget that. I did have a good feeling, but you never know for sure.”

When the Bulldogs found out for sure, “the way we were jumping around, it seemed like we won the national championship,” guard Travis Leslie said. He and other players admitted to developing doubts about whether they’d get into the tournament as they listened to analysts debate the bubble over the weekend.

Among the factors in Georgia’s favor with the selection committee, though, were a solid RPI (although it slipped from 39 to 47 in the past few days), a 7-4 road record and only two losses against teams that rank below 35 in the RPI (both to No. 80 Alabama).

The selection ended a stressful wait for the Bulldogs and their fans and families.

“At four o’clock [Sunday] morning, my 8-year-old daughter woke me up, and she asked if we were in the Big Dance yet,” Fox said. “I said, ‘Honey, you need to go back to bed.’ She said, ‘Daddy, it’s Sunday. You said we’d know on Sunday if we’d be in the Big Dance.’”

Said Thompkins: “I was at home with my family [Saturday], and they were asking me, ‘Do you think we’ll be in?’ And I really had no answer for them. I lost a little sleep about it, but I can sleep real good tonight.”

282 comments Add your comment

Jeff

March 13th, 2011
6:19 pm

Way to go Dawgs!

Greg

March 13th, 2011
6:19 pm

Greg

March 13th, 2011
6:19 pm

Damn you jeff

Deanna

March 13th, 2011
6:20 pm

Go Dawgs! Congratulations!

Trainwreck

March 13th, 2011
6:22 pm

Nice!! We will be partyin in Athens… not that we need a reason…

Mike

March 13th, 2011
6:22 pm

How Bout them Jackets….

dawgnation

March 13th, 2011
6:23 pm

third!! I’ve seen washington play. We can definitely take them out. UNC is going to be tough. But, WE CAN HANG WITH ANYBODY!!!! Go dawgs. Sweet 16 here we come.

A Dawg In Minnesota

March 13th, 2011
6:23 pm

Screw Joe Lunardi…..he has nothing on the NCAA!!

GO DAWGS!!! :-)

BigDawg180

March 13th, 2011
6:23 pm

I told everyone Joe Lunardi didn’t have a clue!!! Go Dawgs and make some noise!!

KC

March 13th, 2011
6:23 pm

Congrats to Coach Fox! Thanks for the job you’ve done with our program! We want UNC in the 2nd round!

Pull My Finger

March 13th, 2011
6:24 pm

Dancing Dawgs!!

ERBYDAWG

March 13th, 2011
6:24 pm

LETS GO DAWGS!!!! CONGRATS COACH FOX!!!! LETS DO IT!!!!!

jonlanz

March 13th, 2011
6:24 pm

They will lose. Pitiful How they once again gave up a big lead. It will happen again

Raybud

March 13th, 2011
6:25 pm

BobDawg

March 13th, 2011
6:25 pm

Echo “A Dawg in Minn.” Screw Lunardi!!! Way to go Dawgs! and in Charlotte! No Pressure now!…just go up and play Hard!

oldschooldog

March 13th, 2011
6:25 pm

Yeah, what Tim Dawg said.

Verne Flemming

March 13th, 2011
6:25 pm

If we find a way to score with under 5 minutes to play, we will go far.

Katherine

March 13th, 2011
6:26 pm

jonlanz
March 13th, 2011
6:24 pm

They will lose. Pitiful How they once again gave up a big lead. It will happen again

Jealous much debbie downer?

suwaneedawg

March 13th, 2011
6:26 pm

SWEEEEEEEEET!!!!!!
Hate to admit it but, I hope Alabama makes it in. Don’t want to hear crap all week about them not making it and we did.
GOOOOOO DAWGS!!!!!!

Dawgfan2012

March 13th, 2011
6:26 pm

GOOOOO DAWGS!!!!! I am Glad we Fox as out coach

Raybud

March 13th, 2011
6:26 pm

Coach Fox deserves this….he’s a proven coach….lets see if he can make a little more “noise” in the tournament….lets go DAWGS!!!

Dawg Gone It

March 13th, 2011
6:27 pm

ViningsMike

March 13th, 2011
6:27 pm

Congrats Dawgs! It was never in question. They deserve it!

Katherine

March 13th, 2011
6:27 pm

woo hoo unlv is in too….

Big Dawg

March 13th, 2011
6:28 pm

Go Dawgs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ViningsMike

March 13th, 2011
6:28 pm

Thank you Coach Fox! We would not be there without you.

Big Bad Bob

March 13th, 2011
6:28 pm

I also knew the idiot from ESPN did not have a clue about basketball and what the heck he was talking about. GO DAWGS!!!!!

Homecoming King 1999

March 13th, 2011
6:29 pm

YESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!! Way to go!

Raybud

March 13th, 2011
6:29 pm

i am just as confused to why UAB made it in….i’m ready to see how will be getting screwed

Katherine

March 13th, 2011
6:30 pm

I think Alabama is going to get screwed…its not fair

dawgnation

March 13th, 2011
6:31 pm

W/o even having to have a play in game!! Can I have Lunardi’s job? I’d probably do just as well. Do we know what time on friday?

Brent

March 13th, 2011
6:31 pm

Another loss.

Jay

March 13th, 2011
6:32 pm

Start good, blown out by end of game

TennesseeDawg

March 13th, 2011
6:32 pm

Since Tech is a “basketball” school, I wonder what seed they will draw?

Wiz

March 13th, 2011
6:32 pm

Fox is 3-9 against top 50 rpi, UGA will lose.

Wes Dog

March 13th, 2011
6:33 pm

Congrats to Coach Fox and our basketball team! It’s been a tumultuous year, and they’ve been facing formidable odds. I wish them the best, and hope that we’ve yet to see the best of them. Go Dogs!

Grant

March 13th, 2011
6:33 pm

UGA will be the first one out.

Katherine

March 13th, 2011
6:33 pm

Keep talking all you haters…why are you even on this blog? Jealous your team didnt make it?

Scott

March 13th, 2011
6:33 pm

Fox didn’t deserve it.

The truth hurts

March 13th, 2011
6:34 pm

Georgia Tech NCAA tournament tickets- call 1-800-home watching

Paul

March 13th, 2011
6:34 pm

Next year, without 2 top 10 NBA picks, 15-15.

Katherine

March 13th, 2011
6:34 pm

Scott
March 13th, 2011
6:33 pm

Fox didn’t deserve it.

Apparently he did…but thanks for your opinion

Eddie

March 13th, 2011
6:34 pm

Been a Georgia fan all my life, won’t be watching this game, they’ll choke again.

Raybud

March 13th, 2011
6:34 pm

just saw the bracket on espn…..Alabama got screwed

TOOTRUE

March 13th, 2011
6:34 pm

let the sore losers post…….

Al

March 13th, 2011
6:35 pm

Scott, so true.

Al

March 13th, 2011
6:35 pm

Paul, try 10-20 with Leslie and Thompkins.

Verne Flemming

March 13th, 2011
6:35 pm

Who are the 2 top ten NBA picks on UGA? We don’t have a first rounder.

Wilson

March 13th, 2011
6:36 pm

Fox got lucky, couldn’t beat Alabama, BARELY got in, did not deserve it or earn it.

Won’t last long in the tournament.

Katherine

March 13th, 2011
6:37 pm

Eddie
March 13th, 2011
6:34 pm

Been a Georgia fan all my life, won’t be watching this game, they’ll choke again.

Good don’t watch…..that isn’t a fan at all…you should be ashamed you fair weather fan. It’s so funny how all these negative people are posting just because they are jealous. Congrats coach Fox….you totally deserve this and the committee thinks so too!