Five Reasons Georgia Bulldogs Basketball Will Rise from the Ashes of 2008-09

Robert HollandCorrespondent IMarch 28, 2009

ATLANTA - MARCH 16:  Jeremy Price #50 and other members of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrate after defeating the Arkansas Razorbacks 66-57 during the championship game of the SEC Men's Basketball tournament on March 16, 2008 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, on the campus of Georgia Tech, in Atlanta Georia.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The men's basketball program at The University of Georgia is ready to rise from the ashes of last year.

Below are five reasons you're going to see Georgia's basketball program heading to conference and national championships in the very near future, perhaps even as soon as next year.

We all know of the challenges that faced the men's basketball program at Georgia last year.  It's no secret that coach Dennis Felton was fired after being routed by Florida.  And that certain confusion and distraction entered into the player's hearts and minds that could not be shaken.

I can't even imagine what that early Thursday morning was like for Coach Felton and team, after landing in Athens around midnight back from being hammered by Florida, and then by 7 am losing your head coach right in the middle of the season.

Here's what Georgia senior forward Terrance Woodbury had to say about the effect of the mid-season firing of coach Felton:

“It kind of seemed like it was downhill from there. We tried our best to keep our enthusiasm, but it’s kind of hard once you lose your head coach and you’re losing a lot of games on top of that.”

But Damon Evans (Georgia's athletic director) simply had enough, and rightly so!  Damon Evans has a big vision for Georgia basketball.  He's quoted as saying his plans with the Georgia Basketball program include winning “conference championships and national championships.”  And then also, “Our commitment and my commitment to build Georgia basketball is strong, and when I say that, I’d say very strong.”

Another very strong statement from Damon Evans, and one that shows his commitment to seeing national championships for Georgia basketball is this:

“basketball is not a red-headed stepchild here,” noting that the press conference when he made these statements was being held in a $30 million practice facility. “This building was built for a reason. We wanted to make a commitment to our basketball programs. I’m going to go out and get the best possible coach we can get. And I’m not going to let anything hold us back from doing that.”

The Bulldogs lost their first 11 games of the new year, including 9 games within the SEC.  And what team of players wouldn't, at that point, be looking ahead with dismal hope to the rest of the year?

I agree with Damon Evans on his firing of Coach Felton.  I'm sure at that point (the loss to Florida), Evans believed that the season was already shot and he had to make a strong statement to the Bulldog fan base that losing is not acceptable. 

I also believe Damon Evans was broadcasting a message to the rest of the college coaching prospects that Georgia now has a job opening!

It's without question that the NCAA championships are being watched closely by Damon Evans and his staff.  They should be looking at the potential coaches from which to chose the next leader in Georgia's basketball program. 

It's already been stated that Evans is ready to spare no cost at bringing in the absolute best that the program needs to be successful.

One strong point on the resume of the next head coach needs to be a strong and successful recruiting strategy.  If Georgia can bring in a high profile coach with national level fame, then recruiting top players from within the state of Georgia will be much easier.


Why Georgia Basketball Will Rise from the Ashes

Here are five reasons why Georgia's basketball program will rise from the ashes of last year, and begin building a foundation of success and leadership that will carry them to conference and national level championships:

1. Damon Evan is fed up with Georgia basketball not being an elite program, and that being in the shadows of the successful football program is not acceptable.

2. Damon Evans (and the University of Georgia) has the resources, and now the ambition, to spend whatever it takes to get a top notch, nationally recognized coach to replace coach Felton.

3. The team is very young—nine of the players are freshmen and sophomores, and seven players with starting experience are due to return including Trey Thompkins, one of only two Bulldogs who averaged in double figures in scoring.  And also two freshmen, including a 6'11" center, Daniel Miller of Loganville, and 6'4" guard DeMario Mayfield of Carnsville, Georgia.

4. The season ended on a strong note with the Bulldogs winning three of their last four games, including wins over Kentucky (on the road) and Florida.

5. When situations are dismal and bleak, great things can be achieved with strong leaders in place that have a lot of drive, determination, and resources to turn things around—and that is exactly what Georgia basketball has working in its favor next year.

Bring all five of the factors above together, and the stage is set in Georgia for the men's basketball team to see an SEC championship, and even a national title, in the very near future!

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