I'm hitting the road for Nashville where I'll be soaking in all of the enjoyment of the SEC basketball tournament and, perhaps, a few sweet potato pancakes at Pancake Pantry, too.
Talked to Mark Fox and a few of the UGA players yesterday, and here's some of the highlights...
-- Fox said he thinks this team has a good mentality for a tournament setting.“We’ve been a feisty, resilient group, and we’ve had to be," Fox said. "I think they recognized early that there might be a lot of nights when we’re out-talented, but we can overcome that if we play hard enough. In a tournament setting, if we can maintain that level of intensity and play mistake-free basketball, we’ve got just as good a chance as a lot of teams.”
-- Both Fox and players called the loss against LSU one of the team's worst performances of the year. Hard to argue, but Fox said a big part of the problem was simply how worn down a lot of the players are at this point. He said Ricky McPhee, who was just 1-of-5 from 3, was "absolutely exhausted."
-- Both Fox and players said the key to beating Arkansas on Thursday would be consistency. Given what Courtney Fortson did against the Dawgs in Athens, I'd argue they might want to begin that consistency by consistantly slowing him down.
-- I'm sure you've heard that Trey Thompkins was a unanimous choice for first-team All-SEC by the league's coaches. That's a well deserved honor for Thompkins, but Fox was a bit confused at why Travis Lelie failed to earn a second-team nod, given his ranking in scoring and rebounding in the league.
-- And speaking of Thompkins and Leslie, Fox and Albert Jackson both spoke enthusiastically about what those two will offer next year. That's a good sign for anyone concerned that one or both wouldn't be around next year.
-- Obviously if UGA can pull out a miracle run as it did two years ago, there's still a glimmer of hope for the NCAA tournament. But more likely might be a berth in the CBI or CollegeInsider.com tournament if the Bulldogs can pull out a win or two more. But that's to be determined, Fox said. "I think some of those people maybe have contacted the school, but I'm not sure," Fox said. "I haven't had deep discussions with Damon Evans about that yet and won't until we get to Nashville."
And how open would Fox be to playing in one of those tournaments?
"I think if we play well in the tournament, these kids might deserve that chance. Am I going to base my position solely off how they play in the tournament? No, but that's something Damon and I will have to discuss."
OK, a few quick links before I hit the road...
-- Tim Tucker checks the record book and comes up with Georgia's road record over the past seven years. I'll let you check the link to unveil the surprise, but needless to say, it's not pretty.
-- I had a story in yesterday's Telegraph on how Richard Samuel's teammates and coaches view his position change to linebacker.
-- Dawg Stephen offers his take on the Zach Mettenberger situation. A couple of things I wanted to clear up, too:
* I take no joy in reporting this stuff, but make no mistake, it is news. It bothers me to no end when people say we shouldn't be writing these stories because college kids get arrested for underage consumption all the time and we don't write stories about them. That's true, but they aren't in a competition for the starting quarterback position for a team that brings in millions of dollars a year. They aren't getting an all-expense paid education at Georgia. And their decisions aren't impacting on-field issues with the team. I wish this wasn't news, but it absolutely is.
* In my post Monday about the impact this will have on the QB competition, I insinuated that the fallout could resonate with Mettenberger for a while by alluding to the quotes from Mike Bobo about how much criticism of his footwork has been an obstacle to Mett's development.
I did not mean to say that this will happen or that Mettenberger is too mentally weak to overcome this. But I do think it's a note worth mentioning and something to keep an eye on. The best-case scenario is that this is a bump in the road for Mett, and an obstacle he'll overcome in the not-too-distant future. But to have an off-field issue draw a ton of attention and potentially cost him his best shot at landing the starting QB job -- it's not unreasonable to think that's something that is tough to get past. We shall see.
* I also had a few people mention Mike Bobo's arrest in 1997 as an example of how unimportant these things can be in the long run. Again, I concur. This is something Mettenberger can clearly overcome. But the other side of that coin is that, a.) Bobo was a veteran QB at that point, not a freshman fighting like mad to move up the depth chart, and b.) the fact that we still remember that about Bobo 13 years later tells me that these things do have a way of sticking with people for a long time.
-- The Sporting News thinks Jeff Owens has a chance to sneak into the bottom of the first round in their most recent draft projection.
-- I'm not quite sure why this story from 2008 was linked on The Dawgbone this morning, but I actually was happy I got to read it. It's from the Tampa newspaper about Aaron Murray's visit to Florida before deciding he was headed to Georgia. From the conversations I've had with Murray since, it sounds like he didn't have that hard of a time deciding, but this piece tells a different story.
-- Matthew Stafford is auctioning off a signed jersey for a good cause.
-- The Georgia contingent in the locker room of my Philadelphia Eagles got a lot smaller in the last 24 hours, as Reggie Brown was dealt to Tampa and Will Witherspoon signed a three-year deal with Tennessee.
-- You'd like to think yesterday marked rock bottom for the Diamond Dogs but... the way this season is going, it's hard to tell.
-- And given the problems with the baseball team, the hoops team's dismal finish against LSU, the 8-5 football season, etc., etc. -- T Kyle King wants to take the pulse of Bulldog Nation, and the results are a bit surprising.
-- The Senator has more on Hearst's decision to start using content from Bleacher Report in its sports sections. To all those folks who think that the role of the mainstream journalist is outdated and bias, I submit to you that we're what's standing between you and Bleacher Report content in your newspapers, too.
-- The AV Club talks to one of my favorite underrated comic actors, Jay Baruchel. If you're bored this summer, pick up "Undeclared" on DVD. The show was created by Judd Apatow, but FOX never really gave it a chance. It's fantastic though and stars Baruchel, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel.
-- It looks like time may have finally run out for Jack Bauer.
-- I love this video that remakes the intro to "Lost" to reflect its true beach sensibilities.
-- Stuff of Legend has some interesting thoughts on last night's episode. I agree about the CGI submarine (seriously, it's the last season, we can't get James Cameron to come in and work on this for a few days?), really agree on Jack (it was riveting to see the new Jack in the Black Rock) and disagree on Ben's grave digging (I think Ben always draws things out because he's always plotting how to get out of the predicament he's in).
-- Alan Sepinwall has a good recap of last night's episode, which featured a well-executed use of the alternate dimension timeline and a whole lot of grave digging by Ben.
I thought this was probably the best episode of the season. Although I also enjoyed "The Substitute" which focused on Locke, it lacked the punch of last night's episode because it lacked the same parallel structure due to the "real" Locke being, you know, dead-ish.
I mentioned my theory on Ben a couple days ago, and obviously I was way off. Part of me would have liked for my theory to have been true because I like Evil Ben, but I thought last night's episode did a nice job of providing a redemptive story both on and off the island.
During the H1N1 scare last year, I got to talking with a friend about how the early news stories seemed like something out of "The Stand" by Stephen King. The conversation piqued my interest because I hadn't read the book in so long, so I cracked it open and finished it up a few months ago.
The more I think about this season of "Lost" -- and Locke's recruitment of followers, in particular -- the more the story structure seems similar. It's good vs. evil, and while so much of the show has been about determinism to this point, with the pieces being moved on the chess board seemingly without their input, this season really does seem to come down to choices. There's much we still don't know -- and in turn, much the characters still don't know -- but while the plane crash and much of what happened afterward remained clouded in vagaries, and the implications of the decisions the characters made couldn't possibly have been understood at the time, things seem so much clearer now. The choices they are making are quite literally between good and evil, which the more I think about it, really does show the steps forward that have been taken this season.
So, yes, I'm still a bit of a pessimist about Season 6 thus far, but last night's episode renewed some of my spirit. I guess a good Michael Emerson episode will do that.
(Oh, and one last thing... Did you notice that last night's episode was directed by none other than "New Jack City" director Mario Van Peebles? Too bad there wasn't a random Chris Rock cameo.)
-- And finally, I suppose this shouldn't be at all surprising, but R.I.P Corey Haim. I might have to watch "The Lost Boys" tonight in tribute.