Dawgs Interested in Knight?

TUSCALOOSA – If Georgia was hoping for sympathy on the opposing sideline following the dismissal of former head coach Dennis Felton on Thursday, Alabama was the wrong team to play.

Interim coach Pete Herrmann led Georgia onto the court for the first time Saturday, but the Crimson Tide spoiled his debut and earned win No. 1, 75-70, for their own interim coach, Philip Pearson.

"I thought the game was a really good game for two interim coaches," Herrmann said.

The task for the Bulldogs seemed like a monumental one, playing on the road just two days after Felton was fired, while still mired in a seven-game losing streak.

All Herrmann asked of his team, however, was to have a little fun – something that had been hard to do for the past few weeks as the losses mounted and the rumors of Felton's impending termination grew.

"I don't think there was anything much different, but Coach Herrmann just wanted us to get back to having fun playing basketball, sharing the basketball and playing together," center Albert Jackson said. "I can say we had fun out there. Losing wasn't fun, but being on the court and the energy we had, that was definitely improved and hopefully we can keep building on it."

The building blocks seem miniscule at best for the struggling Bulldogs, who are now 0-6 in SEC play and have yet to win at an opponent's arena this season.

The losses cost Felton his job after five-and-a-half seasons, but the task of finding a long-term solution is just beginning – meaning even more turmoil for the team.

University president Michael Adams was sitting front row for the game Saturday, a move he said he and several board of trustees members deemed necessary following the week of chaos in the Bulldogs' locker room.

"I thought it was important for several of us to be here and support the team," Adams said. "They've been through a lot this week and I think they handled it in a very mature way. I'm proud of them, and I'm proud of the effort (Saturday)."

Herrmann was proud of the team's effort, too,

"It's always going to be on your mind because you're worried about the future and what's going to happen next year and all that, but at the same time, we are really getting to the point of just making the best out of what we've got," Jackson said.

Still, the discussions of where the program might be headed heated up even before tip off, and the distractions proved hard to ignore for the Bulldogs.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Saturday that former Indiana and Texas Tech head coach Bobby Knight would be interested in taking over the Georgia program if the job was offered, according to a source close to Knight. Adams said the school was nowhere close to identifying any leading candidates yet, but did indicate that experience was the top consideration.

The potential of bringing the fiery Knight on board was enough to spark some interest from freshman Trey Thompkins, who said he would love to learn from college basketball's all-time winningest coach – assuming Knight was on his best behavior.

"I'd like to play for Coach Knight as long as he doesn't hit me," Thompkins said before assuring reporters he was only joking. "Coach Knight is a legend. I'd love to have him coach here, and I feel like he'd make me even better than I am now. That would honestly be a tremendous thing to me. I'd be really happy."

Rather than landing a new head coach, however, Thompkins said the team's biggest concern is landing its first SEC win of the year.

The Bulldogs were close at times against Alabama – leading by as much as three with 6:43 to play in the first half, but never led in the second half.

Just days after allowing Florida to shoot 45.8 percent from 3, the Tide managed an even better success rate from behind the arc – connecting on 6-of-13 3-pointers. Add to that 20 Georgia turnovers, and the recipe for the Bulldogs' eight consecutive loss didn't look much different from the performances that earned Felton his pink slip.

"We had 20 (turnovers) and scored 70 points," Herrmann said. "If you cut that in half, you're going to win the game."

Alabama's Senario Hillman, who played high school ball at Wilkinson County, racked up 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, while Alonzo Gee added another 20 for the Tide.

"They are a team full of drivers, and we weren't expecting them to really shoot the 3-pointer at all," Butler said. "They were knocking down 3s and threw off our game plan a little bit, and we adjusted a little bit too late. You don't expect a guy like Senario Hillman to knock down the shots that he made, but he had a great shooting night."

The surprise shooting from Hillman was simply salt in the wound after a week of disappointments for Georgia. The healing process began by simply getting back on the court Saturday, Herrmann said, even if the result wasn't much different from the final seven games of Felton's tenure.

"It's been a tough week," Herrmann said. "I'd have liked to have gotten the win for Coach Felton."

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