Believe it or not, Georgia not far off from being a postseason presence

Sixty-six-point-six percent of the SEC’s men’s basketball teams will be involved postseason play this year. The Georgia Bulldogs won’t be among them.

That’s no revelation. Nobody was expecting the Dogs to receive some kind of miraculous at-large invitation. They didn’t deserve one. I’m just bringing it up as a point of mathematical illustration.

Four of its SEC brethren is all that Georgia needed to be better than to be involved in some sort of madness this March. Four SEC teams were selected for the NCAA Tournament and four are headed to the NIT in what would have to be considered a relatively down year in the league.

For comparisons sake, four other conferences placed more teams into the NCAA tournament: the Big East (9), Big Ten (6), Big 12 (6) and ACC (5). The Atlantic 10 and Mountain West also received four bids each.

SEC regular-season champion Kentucky (32-2) is the overall top seed in the Big Dance despite its loss to Vanderbilt on Sunday in the SEC tournament championship. The Commodores (24-10), which opened the season as a consensus Top 10 team, earned the fifth seed in the East Region after beating the Wildcats 71-64 Sunday in New Orleans. The victory gave Vandy its first SEC tourney title since 1951 when it also beat Kentucky (it should be noted that UK went on to win the NCAA championship that year). Florida (23-10, 7 seed in West) and Alabama (21-11, 9 seed Midwest) round out the SEC’s dancers.

Four SEC teams were also invited to the NIT, which starts Tuesday. Tennessee (18-14), which was the No. 2 seed SEC tourney but knocked out by Ole Miss, earned the top seed in its bracket and will play Savannah State Tuesday in Knoxville. The Rebels (20-13), Mississippi State (21-11) and LSU (18-14)  round out the SEC’s representation in the NIT.

My point? Actually, there are two.

One, Georgia (15-17) really wasn’t very far off from reaching postseason play this season. And, two, it’s really not this incredibly stupendous accomplishment to get there. Some postseason somewhere should be the minimal expectation for any program that gives a hoot about basketball (and UGA emphatically claims that it does).

Yes, the Bulldogs were an incredibly young assemblage as a result of a couple of unexpected departures (though Kentucky was younger). They started two freshmen and two sophomores in the SEC tournament quarterfinals will return 10 players overall next season.

But a closer look back through the season demonstrates how very close Georgia was to being in postion to still be playing right now:

  • COLORADO, 11/28/11: The first blip on Georgia’s resume’ came when it lost on the road to Colorado 70-68. The Buffaloes (23-11) are the real deal and ended up an 11 seed in the South Regional. But the Bulldogs had them on the ropes, leading by as many as 12 before a second-half collapse and still having a shot to win at the end.
  • CINCINNATI, 12/2/11: The Bulldogs had the Bearcats (24-10) on their heels in Athens, leading by nine at halftime and being tied with five minutes to play. But the Big East runners-up were helped by another second-half, shooting freeze by Georgia and pulled it out 57-51.
  • GEORGIA TECH, 12/7/11: Retrospectively, this one remains a real stinger for the Bulldogs. The Yellow Jackets (11-20) brought one of its poorest teams in years to Athens, yet won there for the first time since 1976 (or 15 meetings), 68-56.
  • OLE MISS, 1/21/12: The Bulldogs played terribly for the first 30 minutes or so but were within two points with 12 seconds remaining and missed two 3-pointers just ahead of the final buzzer to fall 66-63.
  • AUBURN, 2/1/12: Georgia played awfully, shooting a season-low 25 percent, sending Auburn to the line 31 times and having two players foul out. Varez Ward, who is now suspended and being investigated by the FBI and NCAA for points-shaving, went 12-for-12 from the foul line and scored 17 points to ice the victory for the Tigers.
  • SOUTH CAROLINA2/15/12: Again, Georgia had no business losing to one of the Gamecocks’ worst teams in years (10-21), even if it was on the road. The loss prevented the Bulldogs from winning three in a row in the SEC for the first time since 2008.

Say the Bulldogs win just half of those games, they’re sitting there with 18 wins against the nation’s No. 15 strength of schedule when the selection committees started comparing notes on Sunday. It says here they would’ve been hard to pass up by the NIT.

I know: Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve. It’s a game many teams can play and reach a similar conclusion. As always, these things tend to equal out over the long haul.

Mississippi State is certainly bemoaning its two losses to UGA, which effectively knocked it out of the Big Dance. And Georgia’s wins over Notre Dame, Tennessee and Florida look as good in retrospect as some of those losses look ugly. As coaches always say, in the end, you are what your record says you are.

But as bad of a season as it was, Georgia certainly was not far off from being a postseason participant. And its fans should expect nothing less than the Bulldogs always being one.

LAST CALL FOR HOOPS:

– Chip Towers, The UGA Blog

57 comments Add your comment

Top Dawg

March 12th, 2012
6:47 am

Coach Fox will get it back on track. They were just too green this year.

Mountain Dawg

March 12th, 2012
6:55 am

Time to see what kind of recruiter Fox is.

Maconga

March 12th, 2012
7:09 am

Really need a big man to round out the roster.

msudawg

March 12th, 2012
7:33 am

Congratulations to UGA Dawgs for your good wins. You will be even better next year. You gave me a lot of frustration this past Thursday.

Rusty

March 12th, 2012
7:45 am

Fingers are crossed and I hope I’m wrong, but really don’t see next year being much better w/ the loss of Robinson and Ware…..

Rabun Dawg

March 12th, 2012
7:55 am

This edition was very “green” for sure. If not for some 2nd half meltdowns, they surely could have made the NIT. Coach Fox needs to get more of the good talent in the State to Athens, and also the lack of a dominant post man needs to be addressed. Like Chip said, losing to USC, Auburn, Tech, and a very mediocre LSU really hurt this team. That along with very poor shooting in a lot of games really killed them. It appears that CMF can “coach”, just needs to step up the recruiting!

ozzfest

March 12th, 2012
7:56 am

…thus proving my point about “KING WIMP” Greg McGarrity.

Georgia played an extremely weak non-conference schedule….and did not make a tournament.
I suppose McGarrity will spin this as “think of the economic impact on Athens”.

Hey Greg,
Just how big were the crowds at these games? Did your new glass house “pack them in”….10,000 per night?

No.

How about some ACC teams on the basketball schedule, and BIG 10 on football?

Oh, I forgot…..you are a WIMP.

Gator On The Loose

March 12th, 2012
7:56 am

UGA basketball continues to be irrelevant

Rebounding Dawg

March 12th, 2012
8:04 am

I agree that Georgia should be a consistent tourney team. To do that, the fans and McGarity must demand success and must truly have high expectations for the program. I know this flies against history, but OK can no longer be good enough for men’s basketball.

Gator On The Loose

March 12th, 2012
8:06 am

“”"”"”"”"Any news on the Brandon Smith arrest for marijuana possession?”"”"”"”"”"”

I’m gonna go out on a limb here, but my guess is CMR will get tough and have him sit out the opener against Buffalo.

Dale

March 12th, 2012
8:09 am

It’s not just this year, it’s every year. Why is that? Georgia is perpetually stuck in 2nd gear. Why can’t a school with the athletic budget of UGA field a dominant, top 5 team once every 10 years? Is it a matter of a coach or is it the “football school” mentality?

BobDawg

March 12th, 2012
8:14 am

OZZFEST, read the article, slowly this time… we had the #15 strength of schedule. I went to school and played tennis with McGarity and he has trained mostly at UF. He knows what he is doing….

JB

March 12th, 2012
8:14 am

Georgia ( the state) will continue to produce 2-3 of the best basketball players in the country every year. They will not end up in Athens. If you are THAT good, you can’t TAKE A CHANCE of playing ball in Athens when Coach K, Roy Williams or Kentucky come calling….and they do. You just can’t risk it, Thus Georgia will always be kind of second tier , always. Just a fact.

BobDawg

March 12th, 2012
8:19 am

MSUDOG, thanks for the kind words and Dickie V is doing his postseason rant and now can go away for good. Our Dawgs have 3 studs coming in this year to go with all our young-uns. We will be fine.

BobDawg

March 12th, 2012
8:22 am

JB, we are still in the hunt for Parker. and I love the Jurisic kid he picked up from the Northeast. Great BBall instincts… Our upside is really good especially with the 3 kids coming in this summer. Fox has them going overseas this summer on a tour which is huge and very smart on his part. You can only do this once every 4 years. Fox knows what he is doing and building a quality program.

[...] Chip Towers has, what I think, a very fair and reasonable article about the 2011-2012 Fox Hounds.  Read for yourself.  [...]

Sloan

March 12th, 2012
8:28 am

Mark Fox can change the future of the UGA men’s basketball program by recruiting the top talent from this state and convincing them to stay home and play for UGA. That sounds simple enough, but history tells us that is much more difficult than it sounds. UGA has had some very good basketball coaches come and go and none of them were able to change the perception among Georgia’s top high school basketball talent that UGA is a second rate basketball school. Hugh Durham came the closest but lost momentum after taking the school to its only Final Four appearance. Tubby just simply didn’t hang around long enough deciding himself that he’d rather coach at Kentucky. And Jim Harrick …. well anyway, I think you see my point. Good luck to Coach Fox!

Dale

March 12th, 2012
8:36 am

Did the original post on Brandon Smith’s arrest, the one that Gator on the Loose referenced, get yanked?

CoonRollins

March 12th, 2012
8:39 am

They are always not far off from the post season every year. What else is new?

Coastal Dog SSI

March 12th, 2012
8:41 am

Is there any logical reason that the hardcourt dogs aren’t competitive every year, given that GA is loaded with talent, facilities are at least ‘ok’, coaching is right? If our school can’t get 10 to 15 smart, experienced high school bballers to come play together at the state university, then we shouldn’t even field a team.

flo-ri-duh

March 12th, 2012
9:31 am

Miles to go before we sleep. Dawgs aren’t anywhere near average. Two years away at best if they get someone that can rebound.

Pope UGA XXIII

March 12th, 2012
9:39 am

Let’s also enter the point that our top two frontcourt players, Trey
Thompkins & Travis Leslie went to the NBA. Thompkins may be a
starter one day while Leslie has just been sent to the development
league. If they had stayed, we would be in the dance and that’s a
fact. However, every year, it’s if, if, if, and if.
It takes a lot of success to overcome the poor history at UGA, but
when Fox scores a couple of top tier recruits, UGA will be a strong
program every year. I feel his game day coaching is very good, but
there comes a point in time where talent will overcome all of the “ifs
noted in your article.
Probably the funniest point of the season is that several of my Tech
friends said “we are so bad, it’s no fun to rag you about our win !” That
does make another mediocre season a bit easier to swallow .

Lakedawg

March 12th, 2012
9:46 am

See possibly an NIT team next season with the current 3 coming in to replace Ware and Robinson. Still need a good big man (Parker) to go with Williams, Djurisic, Thorton, and the 3 other 2 star big men.

Following year could be looking even better.

P_The_Ricker

March 12th, 2012
9:56 am

I’m hoping mann can step right in and learn on the fly w/ minimal learning curve, b/c the prospect of v. williams running the point doesn’t exactly stimulate a lot of confidence.

i’m definitely curious to see what kind of off-season conditioning program fox places several of the “bigs” under going into next season.

BulldogBen

March 12th, 2012
10:00 am

So the NIT is now the bar we should strive to? There is something just off with Mark Fox teams. Chip, you keep mentioning “2nd half collapses” in those bad losses. I also look at the conference record on the road. It’s abysmal. Only ONE win this year down from four last year. When the talent level is close to equal, it’s about mental toughness on the road. This is simply not being getting through to the team from Fox.

Also, Alabama only has 1 senior starting and the rest are freshmen and sophomores. They have an RPI 60 points higher than UGA’s and the talent level is relatively equal in my opinion. I don’t hear these excuses coming out of Tuscaloosa. So far, Grant>>>>>>>>>>>Fox

I see teams like FSU and Vandy who are Senior laden teams and can only hope that we can get there once Fox’s recruits mature but in today’s game, you can’t count on that (I’d be SHOCKED in Caldwell-Pope stayed 3 years much less 4). If there isn’t significant improvement next season, I may be off the Fox bandwagon.

Tom

March 12th, 2012
10:31 am

Apparenly, Chip closed the comments on the new Branden Smiff arrest blog. Wow…never saw that coming. [/sarcasm]

AceDawg

March 12th, 2012
10:37 am

It’s NCAA tourney or bust. NIT would be nice for a young team, but if UGA can only muster an NIT next year, it’ll be a failure. I hope the recruiting works out well enough for the Dawgs because I’m confident Mark Fox can coach as well as his best competition. He just needs to overcome the UGA fanbase that does little to help him recruit when it does not show up for games consistently and does not show enthusiasm surrounding the program like the schools that steal Georgia high school talent.

bucket

March 12th, 2012
10:48 am

@ ozzfest – “Georgia played an extremely weak non-conference schedule….and did not make a tournament.” Uh, read the freaking article dude!!! UGA played Colorado, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, GTech, and USC (not mentioned). I realize GTech and USC were not great this year, but they are both usually pretty good and they come from a power conference. UGA was ranked #15 in SOS this year in the nation with a team that lost it’s two best players to the NBA. Think before you hate dude!!!

bucket

March 12th, 2012
10:52 am

The 3 in-state players that Fox has already signed for next year are all good players who played on state championship teams this past weekend. If nothing else the Vandy game proved there were already a couple of big guys on the bench who can play if given more minutes and development. If Fox can get one more good player to go with the other 3 in this class I think they could be pretty good next year if Pope, D. Wiliams, and Djurisic become more consistent next year.

BornADawg

March 12th, 2012
11:02 am

BobDawg, ozzfest qualifies as “too slow’ to read “too slow”.

P_The_Ricker

March 12th, 2012
11:19 am

djurisic is UGA’s version of vladi divac. i understand that he’s been playing in the states for the last several years, but he definitely plays a similar style to divac and sbonis. play like that (no look passes around the paint) requires familiarity and chemistry. keep these kids together along w/ the incoming guards and there good be some solid play to see.

no one can argue that fox is at least getting kids to play to his system. how many times did we see felton recruit the best player he could and then it was a complete wreck out on the court.

ozzfest

March 12th, 2012
11:26 am

Colorado….Cinnci….USC….You just defended those as top-flight BASKETBALL programs?

You bleed a different color RED & BLACk than I do.

Bobo 4 PREZ-DENT

March 12th, 2012
11:57 am

anybody know where B. Smith buys his hash? I lookin to get crunked tomorrow night!

Bobo 4 PREZ-DENT

March 12th, 2012
12:00 pm

another soft boi trying to play gangsta by being smoke heavy

bucket

March 12th, 2012
12:12 pm

@ ozzfest – so just how much tougher a schedule were you hoping for than #15 national SOS? Colorado is in the Dance, Cinncinati is in the Dance, Notre Dame is in the Dance, Xavier is in the Dance, GT, USC, and California are all from power conferences and they are generally pretty good. And that is just some of the OOC games and not taking into account playing other NCAA tourney teams like Kentucky (twice), Vanderbilt (three times), Florida (twice), and Alabama (once). I’m guessing you are bleeding a different color than red & black altogether.

cbbfan

March 12th, 2012
12:33 pm

The difference between the poor seasons for UGA and GT is that:

1) UGA was in year 3 under Mark Richt and expected to perform much better then .500. GT was in year 1 under Gregory and expected to be about where they finished.

2) UGA doesn’t have much talent coming in to help next season. GT signed a top 20 class and has a UK transfer coming in ‘12 as well. Not to mention the close ties they have with ‘13/’14 players (’13 PF Jarquez Smith, ‘13 PG Solomon Poole, ‘13 Wing Quinton Stephens, ‘14 C Trayvon Reed).

GT looks to be setting themselves up for relevancy in the revamped ACC again while UGA looks to be making up reasons to be proud of a sub .500 season.

Statick

March 12th, 2012
12:35 pm

I’m sorry, but unless Mark Fox can recruit better than what he does, I can’t see UGA doing anything in basketball.

realist

March 12th, 2012
12:44 pm

LSU lost two qb’s and some defensive players, Bama lost their RB and Two wide receivers and some key defensive players. UGA lost a CB and a TE that they didnt use and that’s it. They have literally their whole team coming back. No position on the field for them is young with exception to the OL, but even the OL may be an upgrade from last year. With the weak schedule that they have, they should win the entire SEC, not just the East, and play for a NC. If they dont make it to the NC game this year, they never will, and UGA needs to really consider finding them a new HC. There are no excuses this year, and dont start saying your missing CB’s because that shouldnt stop you. This is their year or never

Tech Troll 13

March 12th, 2012
1:23 pm

Fox is a good Xs & Os coach, but other than Caldwell-Pope I haven’t seen any tournament quality talent recruited. Not to mention he didn’t want Daniel Miller, who is going to be a solid ACC player.

bucket

March 12th, 2012
1:33 pm

@ cbbfan – UGA was expected to finish much better than .500? Huh? So they had to replace 2 NBA players and their 2 best post players, but they were expected to finish much better than .500? That’s crazy talk! As Chip pointed out in the article they could have finished much better, but that would have been performing above expectations and not below. UGA has 3 really good state championship caliber players coming in and they have one more scholarship to fill. UGA should be much better next year and Fox should start largely shouldering the load of expectations next year in my opinion.

News | MrSEC

March 12th, 2012
1:49 pm

[...] Georgia has hired the former strength coach for Joe Paterno at Penn State.4.  This writer says UGA’s basketball team was close to being a tournament team.5.  There are potential story lines galore in Kentucky’s South Region…6.  But this [...]

Top Row Dog

March 12th, 2012
2:52 pm

Jim Harrick’s 4 year record at Georgia was 37-53 (12-30 SEC) with all the vacated games.

Mark Fox is 50-46 overall.

We need a big man

March 12th, 2012
2:58 pm

Coach Fox is the real deal, and a good man to boot. Another nice recruiting class or two and we’ll be in the hunt most years, if not every year. Calipari seems to recruit at a different level than most….not saying anything wrong is being done, just sayin’.

Snoop Dawg

March 12th, 2012
4:51 pm

You started your article with …”Believe it or not…”

Well, this dog has heard it too many times from the hallucingenic Bulldog Nation koolaid kings. No more. The entire athletics program is a sham these days. Yes, the second most profitable program in the entire NCAA (behind only Texas) cannot display sufficient professional judgement to hire the best coaches. Richt, Fox, Landrum, etc. are all losers, documented losers. They just gave Richt a big extension! Unbelievable. There is so much athletic HS talent in Georgia that almost every BCS-aspiring coach comes here for recruiting. The vast majority play everywhere except UGA. Why? That’s because their HS coaches know the good coaches from the imposters. UGA gets the most loyal Georgians anyway, and that is how these inferior coaches and ADs can get the big bucks in unearned income given to them each year.

Think about it. 2/3s of all SEC school mens basketball programs made it to the NCAA tournament. Nope, not UGA though. As usual…

The big problem is a lethargic drunken fan base that values Bible-belt credentials higher than coaching competence. There’s also a destructive UGA insider mafia constantly at work playing favorites.

It’s enough to make a true alumnus and fan downright sick.

BulldogBen

March 12th, 2012
4:51 pm

Just curious We need a big man, “Fox is the real deal…”, based on what?

We had 2 NBA players on our team last year and some argue Bama should’ve gotten into the tourney over us (they beat us head to head twice). We were one and done.

We’ve missed the tourney 2 of his 3 years. I know it sounds like I’m piling on. I just want to hear what the actual positives are to hang my hat on with Fox. I WANT him to be the real deal but I’m just not seeing where he is that yet.

Snoop Dawg

March 12th, 2012
4:53 pm

The next time I hear some UGA zombie say about a loser incompetent coach, “He’s a good man…” I am going to go high order!

Snoop Dawg

March 12th, 2012
4:57 pm

I’m sure that this was just Brandon Smith ’s way of celebrating da Preacha Man’s five year extension… He knows that now the players can continue to be Playahs anytime they please…

Snoop Dawg

March 12th, 2012
4:59 pm

Brandon Smith was smoking some sort of killer weed from Honduras.

this dawg want hunt!!

March 12th, 2012
6:11 pm

UGA will be no better next year, and probably worse. There is no point guard or shooting guard on the team, and these 2 freshmen coming in aren’t SEC talent. Pope is not shooter, so where will UGA get it’s offense? The offense this season was the worst in the SEC, and without 2 sr. guards with experience this team will not be able to score. There is no presence in the paint for offense,averaging 60 points per game again next year want get it done. This coach has this program going nowhere, and he has had 2 out of 3 losing seasons, and after next year, having one winning season in his first 4 is a joke. Hell at least Felton could do that, and Fox would not have had a winning season without felton’s players. At least Felton could recruit, something Fox can’t, and that will be his downfall. How many years will guitless Mcgarity give another mediocre coach at UGA. So far Mcgarity has proven he accepts mediocrity, something his boss at Florida never did. After UGA has another 14 win season next year, will McGarity give this guy another year? If he does, that is all that you need to know about UGA and it’s basketball program and it’s A.D. McGarity=mediocrity. A great hire by Adams, but again what should UGA fans have expected from Adams

bucket

March 12th, 2012
6:27 pm

I see the children showed up after I left. I’m glad that I had a busy evening.