College Basketball

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Golden Future

By: Robert Craft news services

With the 2023-24 basketball season in the rear view, Florida coach Todd Golden and his assistants will now turn their attention to the transfer portal and adding more pieces to the roster for next year.

The Gators must replace graduate transfers Zyon Pullin and Tyrese Samuel and will have at least one more scholarship opening to fill. Here’s a look at UF’s returning roster and recruiting needs for 2024-25.

Priority No. 1 for Golden is recruiting Walter Clayton Jr. back to Florida for his senior year. He was the team’s top playmaker this season, hitting several clutch 3-pointers and leading the Gators in scoring at 17.6 points per game, ranked No. 5 in the SEC.

Clayton also had the fifth-best single-season scoring total (633 points) in Gator history. His return for 2024-25 would help maintain Florida’s high-powered offense and give Coach Golden a dynamic shooter to attract a top point guard in the portal.

Clayton plans to make a decision on his future after taking some time to weigh his options on declaring early for the 2024 NBA Draft or returning to UF.

Will Richard returns at the 3-spot as a senior, which will be his third year in the starting lineup for Florida. He averaged 11.4 points in 2023-24  up from 10.4 a year ago  and had a few standout performances, including a pair of 23-point games in home wins over Alabama and Mississippi State.

Florida’s backcourt could also bring back Denzel Aberdeen and Riley Kugel for their junior years and Kajus Kublickas as a sophomore. Kugel has decided to transfer, no surprise especially after Kugel was relegated from a starting job to a backup position.

The Gators lose one of their two starters in Samuel, but sophomore center Micah Handlogten has a long rehab process ahead of him. He will spend the offseason recovering from a fractured lower left leg in the SEC Tournament final.

Golden didn’t have a timetable on Handlogten’s return after his injury.

The 7-foot-1 Handlogten was one of the best rebounders in the country this season, ranking in the top five nationally for offensive rebounding percentage (17.8%). He had four double-doubles, including a 23-point, 17-rebound performance vs. Georgia, and averaged 3.5 points and 6.9 rebounds.

Florida’s frontcourt returns Alex Condon and Thomas Haugh. They outperformed their recruiting rankings (although On3 did rate Condon as a four-star and the nation’s No. 124 overall prospect).

Condon, an SEC-All Freshman selection, led the league’s freshmen in rebounding (6.4) and blocked shots (45). He also averaged twice as many points (7.7) as Handlogten and more minutes played (20.3). Haugh averaged 3.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 14.7 minutes.

.The Gators lose at least three scholarship players in seniors Pullin, Samuel and Julian Rishwain. One of those scholarships goes to 2024 signee Isaiah Brown, a four-star shooting guard.

Golden and the coaching staff will look to fill the other two roster openings with a point guard and big man from the portal. Finding a replacement for Pullin will be another top priority.

Given the uncertainty of Handlogten’s status and when he’ll be available, it’s also important for UF to land an impact power forward to join the frontcourt of Condon, Haugh and Szymczyk.

After Pullin posted one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the nation and Samuel led the SEC in field goal percentage, Florida will be able to sell point production on the transfer market.

The Gators also need to improve defensively, so it will be key for Golden and his staff to add some transfers who are strong defenders and can make a difference on that end of the court.

Coach Golden has built a culture that players like and a style of basketball fans enjoy watching. He has the Gators on the right path to be top program in the SEC and the country.

Gator Basketball fans: the future is Golden.

Final Four

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The college basketball season will be over by next week. The 2024 Final Four is this weekend in Glendale, Arizona and we are going to take a look at those matchups.

The first game is No. 11 NC State vs No. 1 Purdue. This is a matchup of a Cinderella team versus a dominant team that’s expected to be here.

The Wolfpack (26-14) are the lowest seed remaining and this is their first Final Four since 1983. They would not have advanced this far if they did not win the ACC Tournament.

They beat Duke 76-64 in the Elite Eight to get here.

The 6-foot-9, 275-pound DJ Burns scored a season-high 29 points on 13-of-19 shooting and DJ Horne had 20 points.

“These guys are so special,” head coach Kevin Keatts said. “Nine elimination games or you go home.”

“I’ll say like I’ve been saying the whole tournament. When I stop having fun with basketball, I’ll stop playing,” said Burns, who was voted the South Region’s most outstanding player. “There’s just been a total switch in our commitment. Nobody’s being late to things. Nobody’s being a problem on the court. Everybody’s come together.”

They head to Glendale with the most losses ever for a Final Four team. Now they will face 7-foot-4 All-American Zach Edey and the Boilermakers (33-4). He averages 25 points per game and 12.2 rebounds per game.

NC State is a great story but I believe their run will end in this game.

The game is No. 4 Alabama (25-11) against No. 1 UConn (35-3). This is the Crimson Tide’s first Final Four appearance in program history. This is very impressive because they beat top seed North Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen, 89-87.

They beat 6 seed Clemson 89-82 to get here. Mark Sears made seven 3-pointers in the game and the team made a total of 16 threes.

“Man, just feeling a lot of emotion,” said Sears, the only Alabama native on the team. “Being from the state of Alabama and to do it with this group of guys, it’s amazing.”

He finished with 23 points and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament’s West Region.

Freshman Jarin Stevenson airballed a couple of 3s in the first half and Alabama missed 12 of its first 13 from downtown. He ended up making a career-high five 3s and had 19 points off the bench.

“We don’t win this game without him,” Sears said. “Jarin hit 3 after 3 after 3 and kept us in this ballgame. He was huge.”

“I live for those moments. This is what March Madness is about,” Sears said. “When you’re a kid, you want to be in these moments. It feels like my dream came true today. My dream definitely came true today.”

The Huskies have been steamrolling through teams in the tournament and they have not lost a game since February 20.  The closest margin of victory was 17 points against No. 9 Northwestern.

UConn is looking to repeat as champions and the media has already crowned them. They are very good but any team can be defeated. With that said, I do expect the Huskies to win and advance to the championship game.





How Sweet It Is

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

We are moving to the second week of the NCAA Tournament and some questions have been answered.

The SEC and Big 12 had eight teams make it to the tournament. This has been considered a down year for the ACC, which has been the best basketball conference for several years. They only had five teams make it in.

Four of them have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. The league’s only loss was Virginia’s defeat by Colorado State in the First Four.

“So, I guess the narrative that the ACC was down should be revisited huh???” Danny Kanell asked.

NC State (24-14) is the only double-digit seed still remaining. The Wolfpack won the ACC Tournament to make it here. They finished 10th in the conference after the regular season.

They are the No. 11 seed in the South region. They beat No. 6 Texas Tech 80-67 in the first round. They faced off with No. 14 Oakland in the next round. Oakland got there by beating No. 3 Kentucky. The game went to overtime but they beat the Golden Grizzlies 79-73.

This is their first time advancing to the Sweet Sixteen since 2015.

Forward DJ Burns Jr. led the team with 24 points. He’s 6’9 and 275 pound big man.

“I think that’s what March is about,” Burns said. “Some teams got here by winning their conference just like us and that doesn’t mean they’re a bad team.”

The next game is against No. 2 Marquette.

North Carolina (29-7) is the top seed in the West and it’s no surprise that they got here. They beat 16 seed Wagner 90-62 in the first round. In the second round they trounced No. 9 Michigan State 85-69.

The Spartans started off with a 12-point lead.

“We came into the huddle and said, ‘Look, we can’t talk about any basketball stuff until we join the fight,'” Hubert Davis said. “Once that started, the level of play in terms of the energy and effort, the attention to detail rose. Then that’s when things started to change.”

Senior guard RJ Davis led the Tar Heels with 20 points. Fifth-year center Armando Bacot had 18 points and 7 rebounds.

The next game is against 4 seed Alabama.

Clemson (23-11) started the season 11-1. They struggled in conference play, finishing 11-9 in the ACC.

The Tigers beat No. 11 New Mexico in Round 1, 77-56. They next game was an upset of 3 seed Baylor, 72-64. The Bears average 80 points per game so Clemson did a good job of defending them and slowing down the pace.

Senior guard Chase Hunter had 20 points and 6 assists.

Clemson is playing No. 2 Arizona next.

Duke (26-8) is a blue blood program that is expected to be here. By their standards this has not been a great season prior to advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.

In the opening round No. 4 Duke beat No. 13 Vermont, 64-47. In the second round they dominated No. 12 James Madison, 93-55.

Freshman guard Jared McCain scored 30 points and made eight 3-pointers.

“I feel like every game, I’m always ready to see if I’m going to go off,” McCain said.

They play Houston next, the top seed in the South region.

I believe one of these teams will advance to the Final Four.

March Madness 24

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament starts this week.

Let’s take a look at the teams around the Southeast that have a chance to win a national championship.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels (27-7) are the No. 1 seed in the West region. They have an easy path to the Final Four as the top seed and the first round of games is in Charlotte.

They will play the winner of Wagner/Howard, which is a game they should win by at least 30. The next round they will play No. 8 Mississippi State or No. 9 Michigan State.

UNC is led by upperclassmen, which is a big advantage in March. They advanced to the national title game in 2022 so they know how to play in big games.

Senior guard RJ Davis leads the team with 21.4 points per game. Grad student center/forward Armando Bacot averages 14.1 ppg and 10.2 rebounds per game. Junior Harrison Ingram averages 12.1 ppg and grad student Cormac Ryan averages 11.2 ppg.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide (21-11) are the No. 4 seed in the West and they play No. 13 College of Charleston (27-7) in the first round. Bama was 13-5 in conference play but they lost their first game of the SEC Tournament to Florida, 102-88.

Their leading scorer is senior guard Mark Sears, with 21.1 ppg. I think the best case scenario for them is a Sweet Sixteen appearance.

Tennessee: The Vols (24-8) are the No. 2 seed in the Midwest region. They will play No. 15 Saint Peter’s (19-13). This should be an easy win. The second round they will face No. 7 Texas or No. 10 Virginia/Colorado.

UT was very good this year and they were 14-4 in the SEC. They were the best team in the conference and the top seed in the SEC Tournament. They lost their first game in the conference tournament to No. 9 Miss. State, 73-56.

Senior guard Dalton Knecht is their leading scorer with 21.1 ppg.

I’m not sure what to make of their early exit from the SEC Tournament. I think they have the talent to make a deep run but they have to focus and play great basketball.

Auburn: The Tigers (27-7) are the No. 4 seed in the East. They start the tournament against No. 13 Yale (22-9). I expect Auburn to beat the Ivy League champs.

They won the SEC Tournament Championship against Florida, 86-67. The next round they would face No. 5 San Diego State or No. 12 UAB. I think they could potentially get to the Sweet Sixteen.

Junior forward Johni Broome is the leading scorer with 16.2 ppg and 8.4 rpg.

Duke: This is considered a down year for the Blue Devils (24-8). They are the No. 4 seed in the South.

We are accustomed to seeing them as a top seed with a realistic chance to win a national championship. They are going to play No. 13 Vermont (28-6).

Sophomore center Kyle Filipowski leads them with 17.1 ppg and 8.2 rpg.

If they win they will face either No. 5 Wisconsin or No. 12 James Madison in the second round. I think they may advance to the Elite Eight.

            Kentucky: The Wildcats (23-9) are in the same category as Duke. We expect more from them with the talent they have on the roster. They are the No. 3 seed in the South and they play No. 14 Oakland (23-11).

If they win, they will face No. 6 Texas Tech or No. 11 NC State in the next round.


Barking Up The Right Tree?

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

We all know Georgia is a football school. The Bulldogs have had a tough time finding consistent success on the hardwood for men’s basketball. Let’s take a look at UGA and see if they can turn that around this season.

Mike White is in his second season as the head coach in Athens. He coached at archrival Florida previously from 2015 – 2022. He replaced Billy Donovan but he did not have the same level of success. His record for the Gators was 142 – 88 with four NCAA Tournament appearances.

Last season the Bulldogs went 16 – 16 in his first season. They are losing their top three scorers from last season but the team was 190th in offensive efficiency. Former four-star prospect Jabri Abdur-Rahim is the best returning player. He was the most efficient player for the Dawgs last year but he played the role of a non-creator.

Point guard Justin Hill transferred to UGA from Longwood last year. He started ten games but his offensive impact was inconsistent. He is expected to be better this season.

There are some new faces that are expected to make an impact. Senior guard Noah Thomasson played at Niagara the last two seasons. He averaged 19.5 points per game last year. We will see if he can make the jump from the MAAC to the SEC.

White brought in four freshman, all are four-star players. They are point guard Silas Demary Jr., wing Blue Cain, power forward Dylan James and wing Mari Jordan.

They also have four more transfers, headlined by seven foot senior center Russel Tchewa (South Florida).

The season opener was against Oregon in Las Vegas in the Naismith Hall of Fame Series tournament at T-Mobile Arena. The Ducks won 82 – 71. It is impressive that they fought to get this game within single digits.

“I loved the fight down the stretch,” coach Mike White said after the game. “The press was really effective for us, and this is really not a pressing team. But we fought to the bitter end. If we get the ‘pick 6′ at the end it could have been a little more respectable than that. But we fought to the end.”

Abdur-Rahim showed new-found offensive aggression and led the Bulldogs with 18 points, including three 3s. RJ Melendez overcame a slow first-half start to finish with 12 points and Cain scored 12 and had a pair of steals in his first collegiate game.

The Dawgs shot 30 three-pointers, only making ten of them.

“I liked our spacing and I like that this team got off 30 3s. That’s what this team needs to do. Sixteen turnovers was too many and we broke off our some of our execution on four or five possessions, which bled us a little,” White said.

The next two games are at home against Wake Forest and North Carolina Central.

After that they travel to the Bahamas for the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship. The first game is against No. 13 Miami. Depending on the outcome the next round is against Kansas State or Providence.

I think Georgia will have another .500 season. If they do better than that I would consider it a success.


A New Buzz

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The NBA season has started and college basketball is right around the corner.

We are going to take a look at Georgia Tech and see what we should expect this season.

Former head coach Josh Pastner was finally relieved of his duties after last season. He coached at Tech from 2016 – 2023 with a record of 109 – 114. He was replaced by Damon Stoudamire.

You might remember Mighty Mouse from his playing days. He was a point guard at Arizona and was a three-time First-team All-Pac-10 player (1993-1995). He was also Pac-10 Player of the Year (1995) and a consensus first-team All-American (1995). He was drafted No. 7 in the NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors and he was the first player drafted by that franchise. He was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1996.

Stoudamire played in the NBA from 1995 – 2008 for the Raptors, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies and Spurs. He has been coaching since he retired. He was an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics from 2021 – 2023. He was the head coach at the University of Pacific (2016 – 2021) and his record was 71 – 77.

I think he has done a good job of putting together a good coaching staff that consists of veteran and young coaches.

“I’m excited about the people we’ve been able to bring in to this program,” said Stoudamire. “This is a versatile group, and it’s a youthful group. I wanted some younger guys for the most part, but we do have some experience on the staff as well. I like the diversity, I like the different basketball minds that we have. We have a mixture of college and pro backgrounds that will serve us well.”

Karl Hobbs was a great hire. He was the associate head coach at Rutgers from 2016 – 2023. He was the head coach at George Washington (2001 – 2010) and he was an assistant at UConn for two separate stints.

Terry Parker, Pershin Williams and Nate Babcock were also hired. He also hired his former Portland teammate, Bonzi Wells.

The Yellow Jackets return their leading scorer, junior guard Miles Kelly. The 6’6 Stone Mountain native averaged 14.4 points per game last season. They also have returning players Dallan Coleman, Kyle Sturdivant and Lance Terry.

A transfer player expected to make a big impact is big man Tyzhaun Claude. Last season at Western Carolina he averaged 15.4 ppg and 8.6 rebounds per game. They also have transfer point guard Amaree Abram (Ole Miss) and small forward Kowacie Reeves (Florida), who have major upside.

Tech has only made the NCAA Tournament once since the 2009-10 season so the program is trying to change that.

At ACC media day Stoudamire was asked what his goals were this season:

“You know what, I haven’t made any goals. Honestly, I don’t know what a successful season looks like, but I do know this, I think this team is just going to keep getting better and better. I can see it. It’s probably the first team that I’ve ever been a part of where the offense is ahead of the defense.”

The season begins November 6, at home against Georgia Southern. They have two more home games after that, against Howard and UMass Lowell. They should get off to a fast start.

I do not expect them to make the NCAA Tournament this season but I think their record will be around .500.

Final Four

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The state of Florida is known for talented football players. It’s very surprising that two teams from Florida made an improbable run to the Final Four.

The teams in the Final Four are Florida Atlantic, U Conn, Miami and San Diego State. The highest remaining see, U Conn is a four seed.

For the first time since 1970, the Final Four will have three first-time participants. And though Connecticut is gunning for its fifth championship since 1999 (under its third different coach), the Huskies began their run with only one tournament victory since their last title in 2014.

No. 5 Miami (29 – 7) beat No. 2 Texas (29 – 9) 88 – 81 in the Elite Eight. The Hurricanes were down at halftime, 45 – 37. They outscored the Longhorns in the second half, 51 – 36. This is the first Final Four appearance in program history.

Jordan Miller finished with 27 points, going 7 of 7 from the field and 13 of 13 from the foul line, while Wong scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half against the Longhorns, who had been the top remaining seed in a topsy-turvy NCAA Tournament.

“How hard we fought to come back in this game, especially on a stage like this, it’s an amazing feeling,” said Nijel Pack, one of Miami’s newcomers. “I know how much these guys wanted to win this game, especially being here last year and losing the Elite Eight, and now being able to take it to the Final Four is something special.”

The Hurricanes are led by junior guard Isiah Wong, the ACC player of the year.

Miami plays No. 4 U Conn (29 – 8) in the night game Saturday, April 1 at NRG Stadium in Houston.

FAU (35 – 3) plays its home games in cozy 2,900-seat Baldwin Arena, a generously named gym. The Owls nickname is derived from their Boca Raton, Fla. campus being designated a burrowing owl sanctuary in 1971.

In the first round against Memphis, there was a tied-up ball after the Tigers were denied a timeout, which led to a floater by Nick Boyd with 2.5 seconds left that gave the Owls a 1-point victory. They then rallied late to beat Fairleigh Dickinson, Tennessee and Kansas State.

No. 9 Florida Atlantic beat No. 3 Kansas State (26 – 10) 79 – 76 to advance to their first Final Four. Alijah Martin set the tone early in the game with a hard one-handed dunk. This game was played at Madison Square Garden.

“They’re going to label us whatever, but we’re some pit bulls and Rottweilers,” Martin said.

This is Florida Atlantic’s second NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 2002. They are the first No. 9 seed to advance to the Final Four since Wichita State in 2013.

“I expect the prognosticators to pick us fifth in the Final Four,” fifth-year FAU coach Dusty May said.

The Owls play No. 5 San Diego State (31 – 6) in the first game of the Final Four. I think this will be a close game so I’m not sure who to pick. I do believe the U Conn Huskies will win the national championship though.

Fighting Owls

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The Kennesaw State Owls men’s basketball team made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history in 2023.

The Owls (26 – 9) were the No. 14 seed in the Midwest Region. They got there by winning the Atlantic Sun regular season and conference tournament. They faced No. 3 Xavier (26 – 9), who finished second in the Big East.

KSU played well early on, going into halftime with a 43 – 36 lead. They looked like they were to pull the upset. They led by as many as 13 points in the second half.

The Musketeers had a 68 – 67 lead in the final seconds of the game. Kennesaw State point guard Terrell Burden got a shoulder past his defender and drove to the paint. He stumbled and Xavier’s Jack Nunge blocked his shot.

The 7-footer’s block was part of the reason the Owls shot 2-for-15 over the final 9 1/2 minutes, reversing the momentum of the game.

Souley Boum hit four clinching free throws in the final 2.6 seconds for the Musketeers, who ran off 15 unanswered points as part of a game-ending 24-6 run. The final score was 72 – 67.

“In the timeout, we were supposed to switch everything,” Nunge said, adding: “He’s a really good driver at getting to the rim and I just came over and blocked it.”

Burden said everything with the play ran as designed until Nunge’s arrival.

“It was a great play by him to meet me at the rim,” Burden said.

Jerome Hunter scored a career-best 24 points to lead the Musketeers, while Boum had 17. Nunge had 10 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

Burden and Chris Youngblood each scored 14 points to lead Kennesaw State, which appeared on the verge of a signature March moment.

“We did some things early on both ends of the court that helped build that 13-point lead,” Kennesaw State coach Amir Abdur-Rahim said. “But if anybody in that building thought that was going to be how the game stayed, you hadn’t watched much basketball in March — and you probably haven’t watched much basketball in general.”

Amir is the younger brother of NBA All-Star Shareef Abdur-Rahim. They both attended Joseph Wheeler High School in Marietta Georgia.

Abdur-Rahim has been the head coach at KSU for four seasons. Things looked terrible in his first season (2019-20) when they went 1 – 28. They were also winless in conference play. Things gradually improved his second year with a 5 – 19 record. Last season they were 13 – 18.

This performance might propel Abdur-Rahim into the conversation for any head-coach openings this hiring cycle. This season was the Owls’ first winning season in the program’s 18-year history as a Division I school.

It looks like the Owls have a bright future. They did have three senior starters this season.

Playing in the NCAA Tournament should help raise the recruiting profile. I also believe higher profile players from the transfer portal will take a look at going to KSU.

I hope they can sustain the progress they made this season.


The Madness

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The NCAA basketball tournament begins this week. Let’s take a look at teams around the Southeast and predict how they will do.

Alabama (29 – 5) is the number one overall seed in the tournament. They are the top seed in the South region. They will play the winner of No. 16 Texas A&M CC and No. 16 SE Missouri State. They will steamroll whoever they face in the first round.

The Crimson Tide have been making headlines off the court, unfortunately. Star freshman small forward Brandon Miller is accused by police of giving now-former teammate Darius Miles the gun that was allegedly used by another man to kill a woman near the school’s campus in mid-January, according to multiple news reports.

He’s still currently playing but I think the pressure will grow the further they advance. Miller is a projected lottery pick.

The second-round matchup will either be No. 8 Maryland or No. 9 West Virginia. Expect Bama to get to the Sweet Sixteen with ease.

Virginia is the No. 4 team in the region and the first-round game is against No. 13 Furman. They will likely face No. 5 San Diego State in the second round, which will be tough.

Auburn is No. 9 in the Midwest region and they play against No. 8 Iowa. That’s a fairly even matchup. If the Tigers win the next round should be against No. 1 Houston.

No. 5 Miami faces No. 12 Drake. Upsets typically occur in the 12 versus 5 seed games so this should be interesting. The Hurricanes are a very solid team so I expect them to advance and play the winner of No. 4 Indiana or No. 13 Kent State. I think Miami has a real shot of getting to the Sweet Sixteen.

Kennesaw State (26 – 8) is the fourteenth seed in the Midwest. The Owls won the Atlantic Sun tournament and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. They face No. 3 Xavier in Greensboro, North Carolina. As a KSU alum I hope they can pull off the upset.

I think the East is a very interesting region because they have some lower seeds that are dangerous. No. 5 Duke will play No. 12 Oral Roberts in round one. The Blue Devils won the ACC Tournament, beating Virginia in the championship game. They will face the winner of No. 4 Tennessee or No. 13 Louisiana.

I think Duke is a Final Four team loaded with talent. They’re led by freshman power forward/center Kyle Filipowski. He’s a 7 footer that can handle the ball and he plays hard on both ends.

No. 6 Kentucky plays No. 11 Providence. The Wildcats are led by freshman guard Cason Wallace.

Kentucky recruits well so they have a lot of talent. They have underachieved all season though. If they win, they will more than likely play No. 3 Kansas State in the next round.

No. 8 Memphis (26 – 8) won the AAC Tournament. They upset No. 1 Houston in the championship game. I think the Tigers will beat No. 9 FAU and face No. 1 Purdue next.

Hardwood Shambles

By: Steve Norris news services

The date was March 16, 1996.

Tubby Smith, Georgia’s head basketball coach in his first year at the school, had just beaten Gene Keady’s number one seeded Purdue Boilermakers 76-69 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

This was rare air for the Bulldogs. They hadn’t been this far in the NCAA Tournament since their magical run to the Final Four in 1983.

Unfortunately for Dawg fans, Georgia would lose six days later in overtime to Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse Orangemen in one of the most exciting tournament games in history. At the time, the loss stung for Georgia fans, but we knew Tubby had the program on the right course.

Unfortunately, in May of 1997, the one school that could lure him away, Kentucky, came calling. Smith accepted the job and immediately led the Wildcats to the National Championship the following year.

As for Georgia, the long NCAA Tournament nightmare was just beginning. Little did Dawg fans know that the upset of Purdue would be the last Tournament victory for at least the next 27 years. A streak that is still active to this day.

Yes…you read that right. The University of Georgia, one of the most powerful schools, not only in the SEC, but in the nation for decades now, has a basketball program that hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since the previous century.

You’ve heard of the NCAA Tournament, right? The one that basically lets just about everyone in?

When other schools in the state of Georgia like Mercer University have more NCAA Tournament victories (2014 over Duke) in the last quarter century than UGA, there is a serious problem in Athens.

You know the University of Georgia, right? The one whose football program has won the last two football national championships, which means they’re basically printing money due to the influx of donations just from their big time donors alone?

You know, the one who’s also getting over $50 million dollars per year in TV rights money from the SEC right now? And that amount is expected to double to over $100 million per school by 2028.

How could a school this powerful, with this many resources, that is an hour down the road from Atlanta, which is one of the most talent-rich high school basketball cities in the nation, possibly be this mediocre at basketball for this long?

One can only come to one conclusion…

The powers-that-be at Butts-Mehre in Athens simply do not care about basketball.

Well, not for at least 20 years, anyway.

In 1999, then athletic director Vince Dooley hired Jim Harrick to be Georgia’s head basketball coach. Harrick came with major accolades, including leading UCLA to the 1995 national championship.

Unfortunately, Harrick, who had been fired from UCLA in 1996 for allegedly falsifying receipts and then covering it up, got in more trouble at Georgia in 2003 due to an academic scandal just before the NCAA Tournament.

Dooley was so incensed with the situation, that he pulled Georgia out of the tournament and vacated all of Georgia’s wins for the 2003 season. Harrick was subsequently fired five days later.

Since then, Georgia’s coaching hires have been underwhelming, at best: Dennis Felton, Mark Fox, Tom Crean, and now Mike White.

The only coach on that list with any real accomplishments coming in was Crean, who had taken Marquette to the Final Four in 2003 and was the Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2016 while at Indiana while winning the regular season championship. Even with those accolades, Crean went a very disappointing 47-75 over four seasons at Georgia and was fired a year ago.

Now we have Mike White, who just led Georgia to a 16-16 record in his first year, missing the NCAA Tournament yet again. Unfortunately for Georgia fans, this is considered a banner year! After all, the Dawgs only won six games last year, so a ten-game improvement should be seen as a good sign, right? Don’t bet on it.

According to Dawgs247, White’s first recruiting class (2022) was ranked 50th overall.

His 2023 class isn’t much better as it’s ranked 40th overall. So, unless White suddenly becomes Mike Krzyzewski overnight, I don’t see things improving on the hard court for Georgia anytime soon.

Oh, and speaking of the hard court…Georgia’s is falling apart. Literally.

In what can only be described as a perfect metaphor for Georgia’s basketball program, Stegeman Coliseum was closed down a couple of weeks ago because of hazardous conditions due to pieces of the ceiling breaking off and falling onto the court.

This is the same building that is going on 60-years-old and has been mocked by opposing fans for years for being outdated. While UGA did make improvements to Stegeman in 2017, it’s not the kind of stuff that’s going to impress recruits.

It basically amounted to putting lipstick on a pig. It’s far past time to knock Stegeman down and build a state-of-the-art facility.

Kirby Smart showed when he took over the UGA football program, that you have to be willing to spend a lot of money if you want to win championships. For Smart…mission accomplished.

If the powers-that-be at the University of Georgia are not going to step up and make basketball a priority right now, then when will they? What’s the right time if it’s not now?

I wonder if Kirby can coach basketball.


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