On the plus side, every game Georgia has left on the schedule will be televised, starting with their Wednesday night affair in the O'Connell Center on CSS. On the bad side, we'll get to see with our own two eyes (at least until we use grapefruit spoons to gouge them out) the ugly brand of basketball Mark Fox's club has played so far this season. With the pain of no football for about 9 months starting to sink in, why not join the masochist club that is the Georgia Hoop Hounds faithful?
For those that haven't noticed, we'll start with a review of what's gone on the last 2 months. Georgia started out the season horribly, winning 1 game out of 8 after the season opening victory against Jacksonville. But they've bounced back behind standout sophomore wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the contributions of several youngsters. But those early season struggles show in our stats, where we sit 305th in points per game (60.6), 205th in rebounding, and similarly poorly in most other measures. As said, the Greenville, GA native Caldwell-Pope has been the lone bright spot, leading the team with 17.5 points per game (more than double the next closest, Nemi Djurisic's 8.5) and rebounding (7.2, with junior Donte' Williams next in line at 4.8), as well as posting more assists than turnovers (2.1 to 1.9) with more than 2 steals and more than 2 3 pt makes per game.
In more positive news, the team's recent improved results has coincided with more playing time for freshman PG Charles Mann and fellow newcomer Brandon Morris at SF. So the hope remains that as the kids continue getting more time, they'll continue to improve, and so will Fox's squad. Also, looking around the SEC (we have no more remaining non-conference games), our competition has been going through severe struggles too.
We don't go to Rupp Arena this year because of the quirks of working 14 teams in to an 18 game SEC slate. But we do have home and home dates with the 9-2 Gators, as well as Texas A&M (10-3), South Carolina (10-3), Tennessee (8-4), and Alabama (8-5). We host Mississippi St (5-7) on Saturday in a winnable game. Also coming to Athens will be LSU (9-2) a week from Saturday, while Auburn (6-7) and Kentucky (9-4) make their way to the Classic City later on. That means we have to travel to #12 Missouri (11-2) next week, with trips to Ole Miss (11-2), Arkansas (9-4), and Vanderbilt (6-6) coming in February.
With the SEC being as down as it appears to be, there are several winnable games on that list. Florida and Missouri look to clearly be the class of the conference, with Kentucky supremely talented so long as John Calipari is calling the shots. But the Wildcats aren't as dominant as they were a year ago. And bad losses abound across the conference. The Rebels have ridden a weak non-conference slate to their impressive record, but their losses have come to Middle Tennesse St and the Indiana St Sycamores. LSU dropped a game to Boise St (which is much worse than it would be in football). South Carolina has improved of late under new coach Frank Martin, but let one slip to Elon in November. The Aggies let one slip to Southern just before Christmas; Alabama has Ls against Tulane and Mercer; while Vanderbilt also lost to MTSU in addition to Davidson and Marist (not the Atlanta high school) earlier on. Mississippi St has gone down against Alabama A&M, Loyola (IL), and Troy. Murray St and Winthrop have defeated Auburn.
So our struggles don't look so bad when you look around the conference. As Calvin once said, "Nothing helps a bad mood like spreading it around." Whether Georgia can somehow double their win total in their remaining 18 games seems pretty doubtful, but it's not impossible when you look at who those games will come against. The rough start has led to a strong return of the long-standing apathy that plagues the program, as many fans are coming in their empty seat costumes. It also led to some questioning Mark Fox's future. Well, we've got two months to get something done. And it's not like we haven't had miracles before.