Those of you expecting commentary in advance of yesterday's historic victory by the F-Bomb and his team were probably surprised to get here and find nothing. But quite honestly, there was little productive commentary that either of us could have added. What words really could capture what happened? Let's face it, since the SEC went to divisional play in 1992, no #6 seed had ever won the tournament. This team won as many conference games in 3 days as they won in nearly 4 months. They beat three at-large teams in a row (Kentucky, Mississippi State and Arkansas) to do it. Preach on, blackertai, Coach Felton truly is the bomb. The F-Bomb.
And while you can't drop the other f-bomb (lower case) on this weblog, I don't think anyone will mind if you sing the praises of The F-Bomb (upper case, respect intended) in the comments section. I would encourage it as a form of atonement for the bad energy most of us (yours truly included) were sending in his direction before the tournament. Dennis Felton has probably not only assured that he will be back next season, but may well be in line for a pay raise. How's that for a turn of events?
Win or lose on Thursday, this much is certain: Coach Felton has seized some momentum going into next season. While the loss of Bliss and Gaines will be tough, several younger guys (principally Jackson, Woodbury and Swansey) really stepped up and showed they belonged. If they continue to improve, well, good things could happen. I'll just leave it at that because my tortured psyche can't really process anything better than what we experienced yesterday. As a lifelong Georgia basketball fan, yesterday was probably as good as it's been. It has truly been a long time since a Georgia basketball squad overachieved. It was a wonderful, wonderful feeling.
And speaking of Bliss and Gaines, it is a wonderful thing that they'll finish their collegiate careers in the NCAA Tourament, having lead perhaps the most surprising campaign in SEC Tournament history. Paul Westerdawg's proctologist thanks you for the business, gentlemen. To put it in perspective, this team has seen so much attrition in the past eight months that there were only nine players available. We were about 4 fouls away from finishing the Mississippi State game playing four against five, with no one on the court taller than Terrance Woodbury. Yet duct tape, bailing wire and all, they pulled out that game. And then beat an Arkansas team coming off a win against #1 seeded Tennessee. "Improbable" really doesn't even begin to describe it.
I personally enjoyed the look of disbelief on MSU coach Rick Stansbury's face as time wound down in that game. It had disappointment and dejection as its foundation, but was glazed over with a thin layer of pure, shocked disbelief. It was as if he'd just witnessed a troupe of capuchin monkeys not only trot onto the court in Atlanta dressed in little sailor suits, but also somehow learn to launch Hellfire missiles from the rafters. It was the face that prehistoric Rick Stansbury would have made upon seeing fire employed during the bronze age to forge the first cowbell. And I can't say I blame him. Because anybody who said prior to Saturday afternoon that the University of Georgia basketball team would be cutting down the nets in Atlanta was either lying or off his medication. Probably both.
It's not that the team wasn't trying throughout the SEC schedule. It was that they looked completely incapable of finishing anyone off. Of doing the right things at the most important times. Some of that was youth, but I think a lot of it was rightfully thrown at the feet of Coach Felton. What was so improbable during this three day run was that the 'Dawgs did most everything they had not done for the past 90 plus days. They hit clutch shots. They got tons of rebounds down the stretch, when Bliss, Jackson and Price are usually some combination of totally gassed, fouled out, or hurt. It was as if up was down and left was right inside Alexander Memorial for one glorious weekend.
Speaking of which, did anyone else enjoy the spectacle of watching our team celebrate the most improbable trip to the Big Dance this season on the Yellow Jackets' home court? Schadenfreude is just so much more fun when it is geographically appropriate. The only thing that would have made it more amusing would have been for Paul Hewitt and his charges to be holding their end of the season debriefing meetings in the basement at the time.
I'll be back later with a good bit of information on Xavier, the 'Dawgs first round opponent in the NCAA Tournament. And a list of the things I like about Mike Greenberg. And Steve Spurrier. Because Georgia is playing in the NCAA Tournament. I simply cannot believe I just typed that.