It’s not always easy being a Georgia basketball fan. Actually it’s rarely ever easy. Most of the time it’s kind of like rooting for Kentucky’s football team. That’s the best comparison I can come up with, but I think it sums up the feel of caring about something that the vast majority of your friends and acquaintances do not.
Basketball season in Bulldog Nation is vastly different from football season. Everyone knows how football season is going; even people who don’t really watch football. But most Georgia fans don’t keep up with the basketball team; much less the casual observer.
Not that it comes as any surprise. Basketball has never been big here. I couldn’t count the number of morning commutes to work I’ve spent trying to think of someone to talk to about the previous night’s game. Usually the person I end up mentioning it to doesn’t even know that there was a game.
The way I see it, there are two reasons for this ambivalence. The first is, of course, our region’s aforementioned football passion. Let me be the first to say that I share in this obsession. There is nothing I love more in sports than a Saturday between the hedges. But when the last bowl game has come to close, I turn my attention to the hardwood. Not many of my fellow fans do the same.
The second reason is simple: Georgia men’s basketball has never won. I mean consistently. Sure, there have been good seasons: 1983, 1990, 1997; but they have been, for the most part, few and far between. Let me put it this way, the NCAA tournament has been held for nearly 75 years; Georgia has been invited to the tournament just 11 times, and two of those appearances, 1985 and 2002, were later vacated by the NCAA.
What does this all mean? That for every 2007-2008 (and even that incredible SEC tourney run followed a below average regular season), there have been several 2004-2005 type seasons (8-20, 2-14 in the SEC).
I’ve had the opportunity to attend several games this season, and you just never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes you get games like Georgia-Vanderbilt, when the Dawgs shot 27% for the floor and barely broke 50 points. These games are frustrating! Especially when you know that there is talent on this team, and even more talent coming out of Georgia every single year, if we could just keep a few of the top players here.
But then, every once in awhile, you get a game like the one on Thursday night vs LSU; a game where the Dawgs actually come out and take control of the game. A game where Marcus Thornton has a double-double, and freshman J.J. Frazier knocks down a pair of late three point shots. A game where Georgia wins going away. At these moments, you see what our basketball program could become.
You just wonder if it ever actually will.