Crean Not Rising
By: Kenneth Harrison
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Georgia is riding high after winning the national championship in 2021.
They had a historically great defense that helped deliver their first football national championship since 1980. The question is can that inspire some of the other teams in the athletic department?
The UGA men’s basketball team needs some help. They currently sit alone in last place in the SEC. Their overall record is 6 – 15 and 1 – 7 in conference play.
The most recent game was an 85 – 77 loss to Vanderbilt (11 – 9), led by Scottie Pippen Jr. The younger Pippen scored 23 points and dished a season-high 9 assists and Vanderbilt snapped a three-game losing streak, leading from the opening tip. This was the first time the Commodores swept an SEC opponent since 2017.
Aaron Cook led four Bulldogs into double-digit scoring, finishing with 18 points. Kario Oquendo and Noah Baumann each scored 15 points and Braelen Bridges contributed 14 points. Baumann led Georgia (6-15, 1-7) with nine rebounds.
Vanderbilt led by as many as 15 points in the second half after a Pippen layup with less than five minutes to play. The Commodores hit 7 of 11 from 3-point range in the first half and knocked down 12 of 23 overall. Vandy shot 63% from the floor in the first half, hitting 28 of 55 (50.9%) for the game.
Last season the Bulldogs were 14 – 12. Not great but at least they were over .500. They had one returning starter from the 2020-21 team, P.J. Horne. The 6’6 forward from Tifton, GA suffered a season ending knee injury in October.
Head coach Tom Crean had to know then that season would be tough.
“This is such a major blow to us because (Horne) was playing so well and showing great leadership as our leading returning player,” Crean said on Twitter. “But more so because he is such a great person and one of the finest people I’ve ever coached. He cares about his teammates deeply.”
In May, 9 players entered the transfer portal. This is happening to every team but to have that many players enter at once is still shocking.
No team has been hit more squarely in the mouth by player free agency than Georgia. They have been picked nearly down to the bone. From a raw numbers’ standpoint, the Bulldogs have lost 83.4% of their scoring (1,680 points), 72.5% of their rebounding (701) and 72.1% of their 3-point field goals made (119).
One of their best players, K.D. Johnson transferred to Auburn. The Tigers are currently the number one team in the nation. The Bulldogs had the 4-star recruit for all of 16 games, with Johnson missing the first 10 because of NCAA academic eligibility issues. He averaged 13.5 points a game, second on the team.
Another notable name to leave was graduate transfer Andrew Garcia, who transferred to Kent State.
The Bulldogs appear to have done reasonably well with the six transfers they’re bringing in, led by sophomore guard Jabri Abdur-Rahim, who’s coming from Virginia.
Crean has been in Georgia for four seasons and last year was his only winning record. He did go 16 – 16 in 2019-20. The finished 10th in the SEC that year which was the best they have done in his tenure. He has a 47 – 64 record in Athens.
It might be a good time to move on from Crean after this season and rebuild.