Durham returns to be honored

ATHENS – Georgia's basketball team is going back in time today. So far back that Hugh Durham will be on the court when the Bulldogs take on Vanderbilt at 8 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum.

Durham, who coached the Bulldogs for 1979-'95, will be recognized at halftime of today's game, during which the Bulldogs will wear throwback jerseys from the Durham era.

"I know I talked to (UGA director of promotions) John Bateman, he said, ‘Coach, we're going to wear uniforms like the ones y'all wore except we can't get the guys to wear those shorts,'" Durham said.

Georgia and the rest of the teams in the Southeastern Conference will wear retro uniforms today and in games next week as well as at the conference tournament in Nashville, Tenn.

The Bulldogs were known for more than short shorts during Durham's time. He is still the school's all-time winningest coach with a record of 298-216, and he took Georgia to its only Final Four in 1983.

"I really enjoyed most of the time I was at Georgia," said Durham, who was last in Athens in 2003 for the 20-year anniversary of the 1983 Final Four. "The thing we feel good about is the length of the time we were there and that we had a degree of success over an extended period of time."

Georgia had never been to an NCAA Tournament game prior to Durham's arrival. He was fired by then-athletics director Vince Dooley in 1995 following seasons in which he had gone 14-16 and 18-10.

"I would be less than honest to say I enjoyed the last two years," Durham said. "That wasn't something that you want to put down in your memory banks and go through again."

Durham coached at Jacksonville University for eight seasons before retiring in March of 2005.

He retired with 633 career wins, good for 25th on the all-time list at the time. Now his days are spent watching basketball and playing golf, he said.

There's no secret to what the Bulldogs to return to a period of sustained quality, he said.

"The answer to your question is you just have to get good players," he said. "Georgia has good coaching. They get good players, and they're going to be there."

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