They do this to me every time.
I have a love-hate relationship with the Georgia Bulldogs men’s basketball team, one that is best described using Al Pacino’s most famous line from "The Godfather, Part III." I get excited, then I get disappointed. I think the program has turned a corner, then I watch a basketball game so bad it produces a comment thread that makes Gator fans giggle. I think we can all agree that anything that makes the Florida faithful happy is, by its very nature, bad for America.
On Wednesday night, the Fox Hounds lost to the Auburn Tigers by eight, which is approximately as embarrassing as losing to a random assortment of short fat girls by nine. Our men’s basketball team plays offense like a bunch of first-grade boys who think the rim has cooties; Mark Fox doesn’t need to run the triangle offense, he needs to run the circle circle dot dot offense.
Meanwhile, on Thursday night, Andy Landers’s Lady Bulldogs found themselves in the midst of adversity, as a ten-point halftime lead evaporated and visiting Mississippi State forged an unlikely tie. The Georgia women’s basketball team responded by going on a dominant run to put the game away. I don’t remember the last time a Georgia men’s basketball team demonstrated the ability to overcome such struggles with anything even remotely resembling consistency, and this team, far from coming together, is regressing.
I didn’t expect a second straight NCAA Tournament bid, but I thought an NIT berth was a possibility, and I certainly didn’t anticipate that this team would be this atrocious this late in the campaign. The Bulldogs are losing to bad teams, which is something they didn’t do last season.
I’m not calling for Mark Fox to be fired or anything crazy like that. I just find this whole thing horribly frustrating. It was one thing when the only teams in our vicinity who were good at basketball were Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and all those ACC schools that were never serious about football. Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee have managed to establish respectable men’s basketball programs without sacrificing their focus on football. Those teams have no inherent natural advantages in basketball that Georgia does not have, and the Red and Black have the considerable advantage of being located an hour’s drive away from the region’s highest concentration of basketball talent.
Being a Georgia basketball fan today is like being a Florida football fan before 1990, and it stinks. There’s no reason we should be this bad. I’m ready for Greg McGarity to borrow a page from Jeremy Foley’s book and tell everyone involved with the Georgia men’s basketball program, from season ticket holders to players to coaches, to be good or be gone. Not in a nice way, either. I want him to go off on a rant like Eddie Albert teeing off on the prison guard captain for not winning a semi-pro football championship in “The Longest Yard.” The real “Longest Yard,” not that Adam Sandler crap.
1980 was a long time ago, but at least the Classic City Canines have had several very solid football seasons since winning it all in Herschel Walker’s freshman campaign. What has Georgia basketball done since 1983, though, and what had it done before then? Next season will mark the 30th anniversary of the Bulldogs’ lone experience with national basketball significance. Is it too much to ask that our men’s basketball program post consecutive encouraging seasons with frequency, or even that it do so occasionally without it serving as a prelude to getting our coach poached by Kentucky or getting our basketball program put on probation by the NCAA? Is relevance with regularity really such an unattainable goal?
The Georgia men’s basketball program is like the bad girlfriend you keep getting back together with, even though she keeps breaking your heart, except that, even on her best days, she’s still pretty plain-looking, and, most of the time, she’s downright ugly, so you keep wondering why you put up with her in the first place. The Hoop Dogs have given us all battered fan syndrome, and I’m sick and tired of it.