Back To 1983
By: JJ Lanier
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
In most years the first weekend in April means one thing, Final Four.
Even though that’s obviously not taking place this year, it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the Final Four in some capacity.
So, in that spirit I thought I’d hop inside the DeLorean in my mind and travel back to 1983, the one and only year the Georgia Bulldog basketball team made it to the Final Four.
Now, before I start, I should let you know I was only two years old at the time this was taking place, so there’s no firsthand knowledge on my part about what transpired. However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few things that stood out while reading up on that team and that season.
The team most people remember from that year’s tournament is N.C. State; their improbable run, the team they beat to win it all (Houston), and definitely the way they won.
What I imagine is most people outside of Athens don’t remember, or like me, were completely unaware of, was how improbable Georgia’s tournament run was compared to State’s.
Back then 52 teams made the tournament, which produced a bracket of preliminary games and abbreviated first round games (5-12 seeds only), in order to arrive at the Round of 32. Luckily for Georgia, they were a four seed and got to move directly past go, to the second round.
After squeaking by fifth seeded VCU, they defeated one-seeded (#3 overall) St Johns, and a second seeded (# 8 overall) North Carolina team, whose roster was made up of players like Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, and Brad Dougherty, before losing to NC State in the Final Four.
NC State, by comparison, was a six seed, had to win one more game than Georgia to advance to the Final Four, but did not face the same level of competition to get there.
Since I was watching “Sesame Street” and “He-Man” at this point in my life, I can’t accurately judge the talent on the ‘83 roster, outside of the fact the only name I recognized was Vern Fleming.
As far as I can tell the former Georgia and NBA guard is the only player from that team to make it to the NBA. Based on that, I imagine they were a good college team that had a player or two get hot in the tournament, and probably had a little luck in what looks like fairly competitive games.
The other thing that stands out, and this has to do with the regular season as opposed to the tournament, was how balanced the SEC was that year.
Of the ten teams that made up the SEC, only Kentucky (13-5) and Florida (5-13) didn’t finish somewhere between 8-10 and 10-8. In fact, Florida was also the only team that finished below .500 on the season.
Just for the fun of it, this year’s SEC consisted of fourteen teams, ten different conference records ranging from 5-13 to 13-5 and four teams that finished either at or below .500 for the season.
With sports on an indefinite hiatus, it doesn’t mean we can’t go back and watch highlights of the teams we enjoyed watching while we grew up, or in some cases, before we became sports fans.
If you happen to be a Georgia basketball fan and are jonesing for a fix, the ‘83 team is a great to start.