Perhaps not the ending of Saturday night’s game, but disappointment is something fans of this program got used to some time ago. A lot went right for the Bulldogs in their bid to take out No. 13 Kentucky on Saturday night - the outcome? No, but lots of things that show that this program can get people excited… if it does its part.
First, students lined up early in the morning and stayed through a few hours of rain to get seats to the game today. If you give students something to look at, watch and experience - like playing a highly-ranked team at home - they will come out by the thousands to be a part in the event.
They understand that Kentucky is a brand name. That game is always fun. Its always a sellout. It is an event - and experience. Its something not to miss. Again - I repeat - a Georgia basketball game is something not to miss.
The game was so live, in fact, that Richard LeCounte, De’Andre Walker and a few other footballers were there to take it in.
Second, because of the students and the rest of the crowd, Saturday felt much more like Stegeman used to feel - a scary, noisy place which much more resembles a snake pit than a comfortable place to take a nap.
Third, this team played one of the top programs in the country toe-to-toe for the entire game without its best player. It was an impressive show of fortitude and attention from a team that’s now 15-12 and will have to win four games in a row at the SEC Tournament to get into the NCAAs.
Still, in sports you win or you lose. I hate to be that blunt… this is no more going down as a win for the Dawgs as it is going down as a loss for the Cats. We have to live in reality, and that reality is that Georgia is 15-12 (14-12 in Division I games), with a 6-8 record and either the No. 8, 9 or 10 seed heading into Nashville. In all three of those seeding scenarios the Bulldogs will face a team, if they win their first game, that they have already lost to multiple times this season.
The path is a difficult one for Mark Fox and the Bulldogs. Folks are starting to feel like his job is on the line (I’m not really certainly that’s the case, but that’s me).
Perhaps that’s what led to the post-game defense of Fox and his SEC record this season by Kentucky coach John Calipari.
For about three minutes, Cal lectured the media about Fox being a good coach, UGA’s difficult late-game losses (Kentucky twice, the Gators, Texas A&M and the Chickens) and coaches like Mark Gottfried being fired midseason.
“We are firing coaches mid year,” Cal said. “Are you shitting me?”
Cal has never been an AD before - perhaps he’s auditioning.
Post-game Cal has always been fun, but its a little disingenuous to sing the praises of someone who hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game during his eight-year tenure; someone you have lost to twice in that time.
Besides, when is the last time we heard one coach badmouth another? Nick Saban’s defense of Mark Richt at the end of 2015 was the same thing… a chance for one of the best coaches in the country to defend something he wouldn’t stand for - losing the wrong games and not winning the big ones.
Also, Cal didn’t defend UGA’s double-digit losses to Clemson, Kansas, Marquette, Alabama or Florida. I’m not going to lie - I love Cal. His guys play hard; he recruits his ass off; and he’s a winner. But he’s done this several times now with other coaches in the SEC.
“Kentucky makes a great investment in winning,” Fox said after the game.
No, shit. And UGA should do the very same thing on an institution level. I’ve written about that extensively.
The fun of Cal’s post-game rant no withstanding, and the fact that UGA lost in a painful (as usual) way… this can be fun. It really can. Today proves it. We saw the old Stegosaurus rocking again like it hasn’t in a very, very long time.
But it can rock. We’ve seen it a few times.
You just have to give its old bones something to rock about… and that remains the challenge.