I have some bad news, everybody.
I don’t think March Madness is in the cards this season. Don’t get me wrong, Georgia basketball has shocked the world before. But barring a tornado and a whirlwind of clutch play, this Bulldog basketball team is likely wrapping things up in the next couple of days at the SEC Tournament.
Which begs the question: what kind of season was it?
There’s a case to be made that the campaign was a bit of a disappointment. Sure, it began with promise. Tom Crean signed the #11 classs in the country, including arguably the nation’s top prospect in Anthony Edwards. After running off four early victories, including a fifth straight series victory over Georgia Tech, the Red and Black dropped a pair of competitive games against top ten squads from Dayton and Michigan State. A furious comeback in the Michigan State game in particular seemed to portend a team capable of going off at any moment and playing with anybody.
And now the Bulldogs sit at 15-16 overall, 5-13 in the SEC. Life comes at you fast.
What went wrong? Obviously the inability to hold a lead was a major problem. The Bulldogs surrendered 20+ point leads on three occasions. They also struggled against teams with more size inside, against whom Crean’s fast, slashing attack often couldn’t penetrate.
And so a season that began with much hope looks set to end not with a bang but a whimper. Is it fair to label this year a disappointment though?
One could easily make the argument that this was the first season in which Tom Crean had a roster of players he actually selected. The 2018-19 roster built for Mark Fox’s methodical, ball possession offense was ill-equipped from the get-go to run Crean’s system. Their 11-21 record (an abysmal 2-16 in conference play) reflected that mismatch.
The flipside of turning over the roster with more system-friendly players was a team this season featuring a total of nine freshmen, surely a recent UGA record. Among those freshmen was Anthony Edwards, who will likely leave Athens for the NBA without having played in the Big Dance (assuming there’s one to be played in this season at all).
But that batch of freshmen also includes Sahvir Wheeler, who looks more and more like the point guard who could quarterback the Bulldog attack for the next three years. His 8.8 points per game and 4.4 assists per contest have established “Free” Wheeler as a key contributor, and a fun player to watch. I’d love to see what happens if he can play more disciplined basketball as a sophomore.
Fellow freshman Toumani Camara has chipped in 6.5 points and 4.4 points a game and seen action in all 31 contests. In all six of the UGA frosh have played in at least 20 games. There’s every reason to think that experience will be a positive thing for the future, no matter where Edwards is playing.
This season won’t end where Georgia fans began the year hoping it would. But it also will end well ahead of where last season did, raising the question: Was this season a success if it ends today?
Feel free to leave your thoughts on the subject in the comments, and....