I spent Christmas Eve and much of Christmas day stuck at airports because of snow in Dallas.
My trip home last Saturday was delayed because of immense snow in the Northeast.
My trip to Syracuse was cancelled completely because of more immense snow just four days later.
And then, to top it all off, my drive back from the Northeast on Friday took 16 hours, thanks to snow in the Carolinas and Georgia.
I'm convinced that Al Gore knows how to use Power Point as well as anyone in America. Beyond that, I'm remaining skeptical.
(And if you're out of state and didn't get to see the snow in Athens, Dancing in the End Zone has some great photos. Of course, I think this one from Central Park in New York might have been my favorite snow design.)
Anyway, back to work today (sort of), and we certainly have lots to catch up on:
-- I got a bunch of questions from you guys while I was away, but I'm going to save most of them for a mailbag this week.
-- I missed one hoops game (a disastrous loss) and covered last night's win over South Carolina at home.
I'm constantly amazed at the difference in how this team plays at home and on the road, and I'm struggling to really understand it. It's not a matter of talent -- Georgia has proven it has the talent to compete, particularly with a team like Auburn. It really seems like it's completely about attitude. How can the Dawgs finish so strong last night after absolutely folding against the same team on the road just a couple weeks ago?
And it's a shame, because if you give Georgia back that awful loss to Auburn, the one-point choke job against South Carolina in Columbia and the loss to Mississippi State in which the Dawgs had a double-digit lead midway through the second half, and we're talking about an NCAA tournament team right now. Georgia has wins over Illinois, Tennessee, Vandy, South Carolina and Georgia Tech... how many other teams would kill for that resume at this point?
A lot of credit, obviously, needs to go to Mark Fox. As I watched Georgia hit so many huge free throws down the stretch and come up with so many big rebounds after the Gamecocks launched one absurd 3 after another, I couldn't help but be struck by how far this team had come from the Dennis Felton era just one year earlier.
Of course, the flip side of that is that Fox probably deserves some of the blame for the failures on the road, too. Again, the Auburn game underscores just how much psychology is involved in this rather than a deficiency of talent. That's something coaching needs to overcome. I'm certain it's something at the forefront of Fox's concerns right now, too.
But for all the credit (and potential blame) Fox has earned this season, I think what the 2009-10 Georgia basketball season has come down to is two distinct issues:
1.) Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie are much better than they were a year ago. How many other teams in the SEC have two legitimate NBA players in their starting five? Neither Thompkins nor Leslie are ready to enter the draft this year, but they both have that level of ability, which makes the notion that Georgia lacks talent absurd. What Georgia lacks is depth of talent. These two guys have taken big steps forward and they are the biggest reason the Bulldogs are competitive sooner than most people expected.
2.) The guard play is not where it needs to be. Dustin Ware hasn't progressed like many hoped. He showed so many signs of improvement as the year went on last season, but his growth seems to have flattened. Ricky McPhee is a nice shooter, and a necessary component of a good team, but he lacks the athleticism and defensive ability for Georgia to play at a championship level. The problematic guard play is probably most evident on the road, too.
Fox said last week that if Gerald Robinson, Jr. -- a transfer who is sitting out this season -- had been able to play, the Bulldogs would easily have won between three and five more games. He's probably right. A bit more depth and a bit better play at the guard position, and we're talking about a team that could do some serious damage -- not just in the SEC tourney, but in the Field of 65, too.
-- I missed episode 2 of "Lost," but I watched it on DVR yesterday (a day which involved a ton of DVR watching). So here are a few (*spoiler alert*) thoughts:
Last season was completely about playing with the element of time, and I think we need to be careful not to ignore that this season. The producers have always been very careful about sort of telling us when things are happening without being obvious about it. (My favorite being when The Others showed Jack the footage of the Red Sox 2004 World Series.) I think we got some clues in this episode, too.
The theory goes that the LA X flight was simply a continuation of the original flight the castaways were on... way back in 2004. So it stands to reason that our parallel universe is occurring then. I think most of us assumed that what was happening back on the island was going on in 2007 (or '08?)... essentially a few days after the second plane crash that brought Sun and Ben and Locke's body back to the island. And, of course, we assumed that when the bomb went off, our parallel dimension Jack, Kate, et al are now living in that same time.
But are those things true?
First, we know that there are lots of differences between LA originally and LA X. Desmond on the plane, Hurley's lucky, etc. I read a post elsewhere that said (and I had forgotten this) that Claire was 32 weeks pregnant in Season 1, and in this week's episode, she was 36 weeks. So... what's to say that we're still talking about 2004? When they detonated the bomb, it clearly changed life off the island. So perhaps the same flight happens... but later?
And on the island, there was the reference to the French woman who "died years ago." But as we remember it, she would have only died a couple of years before the time the Losties are currently living in. It seemed an odd bit of language to use for it not to have had any meaning.
Add that to the confusing bit of seeming recognition of the LA X group (Jack with Desmond, Kate with Jack, Claire and Kate with the name Aaron) and I can't help but think that much of our assumptions about the timeline of both universes is not what we suspect.
A few other things:
I thought this episode was more like Season 1 than perhaps any in the last three years. That part, I really liked.
The Jack-Sawyer-Kate love triangle thing was interesting for a while, but now it almost seems cliched. I'm tired of it.
I actually thought Jack's character was rather likable in this episode. Perhaps he's grown from the experience of detonating the bomb and having it "not work."
Ethan was off the island and working as a doctor, using the last name "Goodspeed." This doesn't make much sense because we know that young Ethan was living on the island when the bomb went off. So if the explosion is what caused the slit between the two universes, are we to assume then that not only did the time traveling Losties get split off into the X universe, but everyone else who was on the island at that time did, too?
Another interesting thing I read afterward: Remember last season when Sawyer killed some of The Others to protect the Dharma folks, and the big rift that occurred afterward was that The Others wanted the bodies back? Seems that leaving a dead body on the island is bad news... as we might soon learn with Claire and Sayid.
I've never been the type that gets frustrated over a lack of answers or because a story doesn't unfold like I wanted it to. But there aren't many episodes left, and my list of questions is far longer now than it was two weeks ago.
Anyway, what did you guys think?
Oh, and if you want a far more insightful recap, check out the fine work over at Stuff of Legend.
And for anyone who just read that and wishes they had the last four minutes of their life back, here are some links to make up for it...
-- First off, a bit of commercial advertising: The Legends Poll is holding a contest for fans who follow them on Twitter or Facebook in which you can win a football autographed by one of the legends, including former Georgia coach Vince Dooley. No strings attached, no purchases necessary... just keep up with the goings on at the poll and you have a chance to win.
-- Wrapping up some hoops discussion, I wish I could tell you more on the Albert Jackson situation, but Mark Fox emphatically shot down any attempts to extract information yesterday, saying he has already commented on the situation -- referring to his "no comment" the day before.
Coaches have a right to handle things however they want, but this reminds me a bit of the Rennie Curran situation in Shreveport. By saying nothing, you don't keep the story from getting out there. You simply lose any control over how it is portrayed.
Curran's infraction was minor, but since Richt never commented on it until after the game, the TV audience for the Indy Bowl was left wondering just how bad it was. It looked bad for Rennie.
The initial reports said Jackson had been arrested for a hit-and-run. That sounds pretty bad. The real story isn't nearly as damning, and Jackson (and Georgia) would probably benefit from a more forthcoming approach to the situation.
Again, I can't tell anyone how to do their job, but I think there's a notion that controlling the message means stopping the message. That's just not how the world works now. The media is too big, and fans have a bigger voice than ever. If you say nothing, people will automatically fill in the blanks for you.
I think coaches -- Fox and Richt included -- could do themselves a big favor by simply making themselves a bit more available when it comes to information, and in doing so, ensure that the right information is getting out there.
-- Matthew Stafford isn't exactly doing his part to boost the local economy in Detroit.
-- Speaking of Stafford, Team Speed Kills looks at how this year could look a lot like 2006 on offense, which means the standard for success at the QB position might not need to be as lofty as you'd think for Georgia to win nine or 10 games (and maybe more).
-- Bill King wonders whether it's the QB position or the defensive questions that are of bigger concern to Georgia heading into spring ball.
-- And in other ex-Dawg news... The Super Bowl is over, and it's back to business for some of the Saints, including former Georgia player Charles Grant, who may find himself out of a job if he doesn't take a hefty pay cut. (h/t Jim F)
-- Get the Picture looks at the big money flowing in from football programs around the SEC.
-- And speaking of money, that's all the NCAA (and SEC) seem to care about. Because after completely jobbing Georgia last year because of the league's BS rules on excessive celebration, they now want to make the rules even more strict. I'm at a loss.
-- Psychology Today breaks down why people watch "How I Met Your Mother." (I thought this week's episode wasn't great, but the "Perfect Week" episode two weeks ago was my favorite of the year.)
-- Next season could be the last for "Friday Night Lights," but producers aren't confirming anything just yet.
-- The Wrap takes a look at which TV shows are on the bubble for renewal next season. Of the ones listed, I have a few thoughts:
I'm ready to say goodbye to "Scrubs." In truth, they should have pulled the plug after last year's excellent finale.
I'm enjoying the remodeled version of "Chuck" and I hope it sticks around. The show isn't perfect, but it's fun and not utterly insulting to people with functioning brain cells.
I'm extremely hopeful that NBC keeps "Community" alive. The show started slowly, but I think it's really started to find its voice in the last few weeks. I think last week's episode was probably my favorite half-hour of TV all week. I'm a sucker for a good '80s montage.
"Heroes" needs to be put out of its misery. I'm also ready for "24" to end its run... particularly with a rumored movie version in the works. I've always thought "24" was a good show that could have been great on a network like HBO, where the limits of traditional programming could be removed.
I've never seen an episode of "Mercy," but I've really enjoyed sarcastically making fun of the commercials all year.
Good riddance to "Flash Forward," but I hope "V" gets a little more time to develop.