Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.

Monday December 18, 2006

Dennis Felton has had several big wins at Georgia. He has beaten Georgia Tech twice. He’s beaten Kentucky in Rupp Arena. Last season’s win against an Alabama team that went deep into the NCAA Tournament is very underrated. So to immediately label Saturday’s win over Gonzaga as the biggest in Felton’s four years at Georgia or to claim it as a sign that Georgia has arrived might be getting ahead of things. The thing about those other impressive wins was that they stood out in seasons of frustration. Nice wins were followed by puzzling losses or even slumps that went on for weeks. We even got so impressed with ourselves early last year that a trip to the postseason seemed a foregone conclusion. Oops.

That’s not to downplay Saturday’s win. It was magnificent. Gonzaga didn’t play poorly. Georgia did so many things well – the biggest of which was keeping up the intensity. Scoring droughts have killed many a promising Georgia game, and the Dawgs more or less avoided them in this game. A Gaines layup in the midst of a Gonzaga run ended the Zags’ biggest push of the second half, and the Dawgs didn’t let them get on another run the rest of the way. It’s possible that we might not have even seen Georgia’s upper limit on Saturday – the three-point shooting wasn’t that good – but at the very least we know that Georgia is capable of some very good basketball against quality opponents.

The story is as it has been for a couple of years now. Georgia will play as its guards play. The three top guards combined for 65 of Georgia’s 96 points. Stukes ruled the first half, Gaines took over in the second, and Mercer was…well, just watch this:

The difference this year is that the rest of the team isn’t a liability. Whether it’s Jackson’s incredibly clutch back-to-back baskets down the stretch, Newman’s five assists, or Brown and Bliss playing strong under the basket, other players are finding roles and not killing the team with mistakes. Make no mistake – the Dawgs still need those three guards to play at that kind of level to have much success this year. The guards just won’t have to do everything.

The question the team has to face is, "now what?" It’s great that we’re not sitting here on Monday knowing that Georgia can’t compete with good teams and hoping they can salvage something from the season. Georgia can play. Now with games coming up against Tech, Clemson, and Wisconsin, we’ll see if the Dawgs use the opportunities opened up by this win to go into SEC play with a head of steam and take a real step forward on the program’s path back.

Otherwise, it was just another isolated upset win.

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