Big Changes to Program's Landscape
Year Three of the Dennis Felton era at Georgia will mark the continuation of his efforts to rebuild the program. For myriad reasons, last year's squad -- whose 8-20 record featured the fewest wins for a Georgia team in 30 years -- had just seven players on scholarship. The remaining roster spots were filled by walk-ons, most of whom were discovered through on-campus tryouts.
The 2006 team, however, will have more scholarshipped players (12) than any Georgia team since 1997. How? The abolition of the "5/8 rule," and the NCAA's restoration of three scholarships it had originally taken away, have paved the way for an influx of new talent.
Georgia vs. Old Dominion Georgia leads the all-time series, 2-0 Prior Meetings 12/7/68 in Athens UGA 95, ODU 85 3/11/81 in Athens* UGA 74, ODU 60 *National Invitation Tournament Worth Noting... The first-ever post-season game in the history of Georgia basketball was its 1981 matchup against the Monarchs in the NIT. Coached then by 3rd-year man Hugh Durham, Georgia advanced from that game but bowed at home to South Alabama in the second round. In 1982, essentially the same squad reached the NIT Final Four in New York. A year later, minus the great Dominique Wilkins, the Bulldogs cracked the NCAA Tournament field and advanced all the way to the Final Four in Albuquerque, N.M. Georgia vs. Paradise Jam Field
Georgia has played just two of the five other teams appearing at the 2005 Paradise Jam. It is 2-0 against both Old Dominion and Wisconsin.
Georgia Across the Pond
The Paradise Jam will mark the eighth time that a Georgia team has left the U.S. mainland to play basketball. The 1988 Bulldog squad set the standard for international travel when it first played in the Phenix NCAA Ball in Tokyo before going straight to the Chaminade Christmas Classic in HawaiÕi.
Following is a chronology of every Georgia trip outside the contiguous 48 states:
1988 Phenix NCAA Ball - Tokyo 1988 Chaminade Christmas Classic 1996 Rainbow Classic - Honolulu 1999 Great Alaska Shootout - Anchorage 2000 Puerto Rico Shootout 2001 Rainbow Classic - Honolulu 2004 Pre-Season Tour - Vancouver 2005 Paradise Jam
Of note: Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor was an assistant on the Stanford staff which faced Georgia in the championship game of the 2000-01 Puerto Rico Shootout in suburban San Juan. Dogs Still More Like Pups
Last season Georgia had by far the nation's youngest team, with a 16-man roster composed of 13 freshmen & sophomores, along with a walk-on trio of two seniors and a junior. To prove this fact, a late-season informal survey showed that Georgia did indeed rely on its freshmen more than any other team in the country.
Last year Georgia's freshmen played an average of 128 minutes per game, followed by Fordham (119), Fresno State (111), Dayton (104) and UCLA (102).
This season promises to be much more of the same scenario, with Georgia's 5-man freshman class playing vital roles throughout the team.
Schedule Ratchets Up in ‘06
The Georgia Bulldogs are wasting no time gauging their level of improvement over last season. Old Dominion is the first of 18 potential games against teams that played in the post-season in 2005.
"I'm extremely excited about our schedule, and it certainly starts out with a bang against a team as good as Old Dominion," coach Dennis Felton said. "This year's schedule will give our young team many incredible opportunities to grow and develop."
Especially impressive is the way in which Georgia will end the 2005 calendar year. The Bulldogs play Oregon State in Portland on Dec. 17, at Nevada on the 21st, and finally return home to host Clemson on Dec. 28 and Western Carolina on Dec. 31.
Dogs Win Only Exhibition
Sundiata Gaines led nine different scorers with 16 points as Georgia, playing without top returning scorer Levi Stukes, cruised to a relatively easy 82-60 win over Concordia in its only exhibition basketball game of the preseason on Nov. 5.
Five other Bulldogs, including three freshmen, scored in double figures against Concordia, a college of 31,000 students in Montreal. The Stingers were playing their fourth game in five days, a tour that included losses at Rhode Island, Duke and Davidson before the Georgia game.
Georgia never trailed in the contest but needed much of the first half before breaking free from Concordia. A short jumper by reserve Billy Humphrey gave the Bulldogs their first double-digit lead at 39-29 with 1:23 left before halftime.
A 9-2 run to open the second half enabled Georgia to turn the game into a blowout. Four different Bulldogs scored in the early spurt, capped by a fast-break layup by Younes Idrissi, pushing the Georgia lead to 49-33 just three minutes into the second period.
Despite playing just one exhibition, the Bulldogs also managed to squeeze in a scrimmage against fellow Division I member College of Charleston. In accordance with NCAA rules, the scrimmage took place last Sunday in the privacy of the two teams, and neither score nor official stats were kept. It was the first time Georgia had ever ventured into this relatively new practice among D1 schools.
Injuries Plague Dogs' Preseason
Injuries have prevented these Bulldogs from practicing at full strength except for only a few occasions this fall. As many as five Georgia players missed significant amounts of practice time with various injuries. They include:
> Dave Bliss. The Bulldogs' starting center has battled a herniated disc in his back throughout the summer and fall, but he appears able to withstand his discomfort to a certain degree.
> Rashaad Singleton. Tendinitis in his knee has forced the freshman reserve center to the sidelines several times this fall.
> Younes Idrissi. First, the lanky sophomore suffered varicose veins during the summer. Just before the start of pre-season practice, he sprained a ligament in his left knee, which caused him to miss the first nine days of workouts.
> Levi Stukes. The Bulldogs' top returning scorer suffered from a lower back strain, an injury that caused him to miss GeorgiaÕs only exhibition game. He has recovered to full strength, however.
> Kendrick Johnson. The freshman forward was thought to be lost for the season when it was determined that he needed surgery to repair chronic ankle problems. Just a couple of days into pre-season practice, however, Johnson decided to give it a go. He played six minutes in the Bulldogs' exhibition game and has practiced sporadically since.
Busy Off-Season for Travelers
To a certain pair of Bulldogs, packing a bag for St. Thomas this weekend seemed like a breeze, considering their travels last summer.
Guard Kevin Brophy, a sophomore from Melbourne, Australia, spent most of his summer in Athens. He finished it, however, playing basketball for his home country as part of the Australian team at the World University Games. The competition took place in Izmir, Turkey between August 12-21. Brophy played seven of the eight games of the tournament, averaging 3.1 points in 10-plus minutes.
Steve Newman, meanwhile, participated on a 12-man team of current and former collegians that toured East Asia during late June and early July. Sponsored by Athletes in Action, the squad played 10 games in a 12-day span, and it included a couple of players that Newman will see during this seasonÕs non-conference schedule: Lamar Hurd of Oregon State and Shawan Robinson of Clemson. The team was coached by Morris Michalski, basketball coach at Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn.