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Monday, March 15, 2010

Georgia vs. The Field

Unless you were under a rock yesterday, you're well aware that the tournament brackets for the NCAA tournament and the NIT were both announced. Not at all surprisingly, Georgia didn't make either field -- but that doesn't mean the announcements were without impact in Athens.

As it turns out, Georgia's schedule was no simple task this season. The Dawgs made strides this season on the court despite playing 12 games against NCAA tourney foes and six more against teams invited to the NIT. (That's up three from last year overall, for what it's worth, but nearly double the total against NCAA teams.)

Seven of Georgia's non-conference foes made either the NIT or NCAA this year, too -- so it wasn't just a boost in competition within the SEC. Georgia challenged itself early and often, and that was probably a good thing -- even if the results weren't fully realized in their 14-17 overall record.

But speaking of records, the Dawgs' improvements certainly weren't just about beating the weakest of their opponents.

Last season, Georgia faced seven NCAA tourney teams and lost all seven of those games.

This season, Georgia played 12 games against NCAA tourney teams and finished with a respectable 4-8 record.

Of course, you might say, "Come on, Hale, 4-8 isn't exactly respectable." And that'd be true if we were talking about Duke or North Carolina or Kansas. But for Georgia, it's real progress. (And in truth, I saw plenty of arguments for teams to be included in the tourney when they boasted records worse than 4-8 against RPI Top 100 teams.)

But let's look beyond the records, too. For Georgia, step 1 wasn't winning games. Step 1 was simply being competitive -- and that's where the Dawgs really progressed this year.

In the 2008-09 season, not only did Georgia finish winless against tourney teams, it wasn't even close. The average score of the Dawgs' games against NCAA tourney foes last season was 79-61 -- i.e. the Dawgs didn't just lose those games, but instead were blown out by an average of 18 points.

This season, they won four more games against tourney teams, but that, too, doesn't tell the whole story. The average score against NCAA tourney foes this season was 74-71 -- turning those blowout losses into close calls.

(Note: Even if we look at games vs. NIT opponents, where the Dawgs were 3-5 last season and 1-5 this year, the margins still improved. On average, Georgia was outscored by 10 points per game against NIT foes last year, and that number dropped to seven this season, despite winning two fewer games. It's also worth noting, the majority of the NIT opponents were non-conference games early in the season, before Fox's plan had much time to develop.)

Much as Mark Fox said all season, this wasn't just about how things shook out in the standings. It was about earning respect.

By that measure, it's hard to consider the 2009-10 season anything but a rousing success.

And in case you're curious, here's Georgia's record vs. tourney opponents this year and last...


Miss St - 60-79
Tenn - 48-79
LSU - 62-80
Tenn - 77-86
WKU - 63-67
Missouri - 76-83
Illinois - 42-76

Record: 0-7
Score: 428-550


S Carolina - 68-79
S Carolina - 51-68
Kentucky - 45-68
Kentucky - 90-85
Virginia Tech - 67-66
Auburn - 59-71
Florida - 57-83
Florida - 88-86

Record: 3-5
Score: 525-606


Wofford - 57-60
Missouri - 68-76
GT - 73-66
Kentucky - 68-76
Kentucky - 68-80
Vandy - 66-78
Vandy - 72-58
Tenn - 60-69
Vandy - 94-96
Tenn - 78-63
Florida - 71-87
Florida - 78-76

Record: 4-8
Score: 853-885

UAB - 56-72
Virginia Tech - 62-74
Miss State - 69-72
Illinois - 70-67
St Johns - 56-66
Ole Miss - 76-80

Record: 1-5
Score: 389-431

SIDE NOTE: My early look through my brackets keeps leading me to pick three Big East teams in the Final Four. That can't be right, but I just don't trust Kentucky.


Jayna said...

The only dawg fans that were not impressed with the progress of CMF's first year, and the improvements these young men made on the court had to have their head in the sand or someplace else! I think CMF is creating something special in Athens and the fun is just getting started! Thanks for putting it in perspective for everyone!

Anonymous said...

Let's face it Hale, the overwhelming majority of people that support UGA don't give a s#!t about basketball.I could even take it a step further and say that statement is pretty much true across the state for the most part. It's pretty much, and always will be a sideshow in Athens. I, along with 98% of my friends who own UGA football season tickets would rather watch baseball, girls soccer, or golf than basketball. Face it, it's the truth.

Anonymous said...

@Anon: conveniently you picked sports that Georgia done well in in the past, so it's no surprise you'd prefer that to watching the Hoops team NOT succeed. You may as well throw gymnastics, men's and women's tennis, and the equestrian team in there as well.

The reason folks don't care about hoops is b/c hoops has been awful, and their awfulness has reflected on the entire athletic program. Even with the success (almost overwhelming) in the other sports, basketball has been a real hindrance to being seen as a top flight program across the country.

Until hoops becomes consistently competitive, this is something UGA will have to do deal. Even as someone who's not a huge basketball fan in general, I'm really happy to see what Fox is doing at UGA. Success at high levels in football AND basketball is great for the overall strength of the entire athletic department.


Schlagdawg said...

Golf without Tiger rather than Travis Leslie dunking on DeMarcus Cousins???
Count me out...

Anonymous said...

@ Ben,
I think you mis-understood my comment. I don't mean it from a "winning" or "losing" perspective. I support UGA, and have been to several different sporting events.The bottom line is that I'd rather watch a old Ford truck rust than watch basketball, and I am not alone in this statement in our state. I don't care if we win the NCAA tournament. I don't watch it either! The reason folks don't care about "hoops" as you call it, is b/c Georgia is a football state, and UGA is a football school. Always has been, always will be, period. For those that enjoy it, it's fine. I think that part of the issue is that you can never attract the quality of athletes to be a basketball power at a "football" school, as they want to go to a "basketball" school, or at least to a school where people care about it e.g. (Florida, b/c they have lots of yankees transplanted there who like basketball).

John P said...

David Hale

I was wondering if you had access to average home attendance @ Stegman last year and average home attendance this year. I'd like to know the difference, maybe even figure out, on average, how much more revenue the team brought in this year compared to last.

I enjoy your posts with stats so I figured this would be a good one. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Any word on when the renovations to Stegeman will begin?

Anonymous said...

They made great improvement. Bottom line is he is going to have to convice a couple of kids in this state and beyond to come to Athens. I also disagree with the guy who said nobody cares about basketball. The place was sold out for evry game when Tubby was there. You just gotta show we are committed to winning.

Anonymous said...

Dave, is my memory slipping? I thought we lost by 2 at vandy this year? Maybe I was still mad b/c we lost that game after being up 5 with 30 seconds to play???

Joeski said...

I have to echo the positive comments here, David. Thanks for introducing the statistics to the conversation: I'm very casual basketball fan, but I would watch college curling if one of the sides was my beloved Dawgs. Anything that helps to present my Alma Mater in a good light is worthy of my attention, and it's easier to understand if that attention is merited when you bring some hard facts to the table for discussion.