If you're like me, you have spent the past few Saturdays so absorbed with University of Georgia football that you've hardly noticed all the other things going on out there in the great wide world. For example, George Steinbrenner is still an egomaniac. Britney Spears is still a train wreck. And the girl who played Six on the TV show Blossom is apparently now a lingerie model.
Two of the other things that may have escaped your notice are the fact that the University of Georgia basketball team has begun practicing, and will open its season against Jacksonville St. in a mere 3 weeks. Now, you probably won't find a single sportswriter in the entire state hanging around the gym watching Dennis Felton's troops (except maybe to see which ones are not going to class). But basketball is right around the corner, I swear. And in honor of the tipoff of hoops season, I'm pleased to bring you 3 things you may not know about the University of Georgia basketball team.
1) They play the most incredibly schizophrenic schedule in D1-A history. OK, not true. But it is really weird. After opening with Jacksonville St., Grambling and Elon, they go on the road to perennial power Wisconsin. Sandwiched in between games against Delaware St. and Augusta State, a trip to Hawaii to play East Tennessee State and back to Athens to play Presbyterian is a home date with Wake Forest. It seems like a schedule that is designed to get lots of wins out of conference before beginning the murderer's row that is SEC play. I'm just glad I'm not a basketball season ticketholder, because it looks like pretty slim pickings.
2) And you thought the football team was young . . . 5 of the 15 Bulldogs are freshmen. There are only three seniors (Takais Brown, Sundiata Gaines and Dave Bliss). Only one of the freshmen is likely to be forced into the starting lineup, as someone will have to move into Takais Brown's forward spot. But there is a very real possibility that all will see some playing time. One guy to keep an eye on is 6'8, 230 pound freshman forward Jeremy Price. He already does a good job scoring inside at the high school level. If he can acclimate quickly to the physical rigors of the college game, he could really help fill the gap before Takais Brown returns from his season opening suspension.
3) They're deep. Not in the Kierkegaardian sense, either. 8 returning players saw significant time, and 6 started at least one game last year. And that's before you consider the best group of freshman big men we've brought in since, well, probably ever. Coach Felton has almost completed his project of turning us into a bigger more athletic team. This is the first year in which he's really had a full complement of scholarship basketball players. While a lot of UGA hoops fans have high expectations for this year (read: an NCAA Tournament bid), next year may be the year to look forward to. While we'll lose Takais Brown and Dave Bliss in the frontcourt and 'Data Gaines in the backcourt, Mercer should be back full strength and we'll have more talented and experienced forwards/centers than Kenny Bruner could shake a samurai sword at.
I'll be back tomorrow to take a quick look at recruiting. Until then, enjoy the offweek, and . . .