There are three postmortems out there right now concerning this Georgia Basketball season.
One would swear that the media would want to move past Basketball Season already and get back to Football, the postmortems that have come out prematurely are a sure sign of this. The postmortems are forced reflections upon a regular season that has not ended. The premature rush to summarize or make judgments about the 2015-16 Season and the Georgia Basketball program as a whole should be considered troubling.
The sentiments from the old media represented by Bill Shanks, Mark Bradley and Chip Towers reflect antiquated attitudes and prioritization of a major College Basketball program. It should be noted that none of these journalists cover Georgia Basketball full time and even full time coverage is more-or-less defined as covering the sport from the start of Fall Practice through the end of the season in March. The pre-game pressers come during SEC season when the Georgia Football season ends. Journalists that try to cover Georgia Football and Basketball during the non-conference slate have to balance out the scheduling and try to avoid the ire of the readership.
Shanks does not cover Georgia Basketball and he admittedly does not care to cover it as he has mentioned in a segment on 960 WRFC-AM in Athens. Mark Bradley swoops in to provide commentary on Georgia Basketball on a typically annual basis. Chip Towers does Basketball coverage once the Georgia Football regular season and conference championship season ends, he could not pronounce Derek Ogbeide’s name after Thanksgiving when the media had already been pronouncing his name correctly. Towers was late to the party because priorities.
The rush to the postmortems on the season reflect a laziness and desire to shake up the conversation on a season and a sport that fails to capture the imagination of the Georgia fan base. The best way to shake things up is to sensationalize even if it is for Men’s Basketball. Creating that element of controversy is clickbait during a time of the year that is rather dormant for Georgia Football. The opinions expressed are good enough to sway the casual, apathetic and the antipathetic fans. It is easy to be a demagogue when nobody pays attention. It is easy to use misleading statistics and make false comparisons between sports and cultures that could not be any more different.
There will not be a postmortem nor even a vote of confidence article here until the regular season is over. Others have done it and it is convenient to do it when the audience is comprised mostly of Football fans only. There is a desire for a change from those in the media because the prospect of a new coach and the coverage surrounding a coaching vacancy provides more views, clicks and money. None of the media sources discussed cover Georgia Basketball recruiting. Only one semi-major media source covers UGA Basketball recruiting full time, Rivals. That’s it, nobody else bothers because there is no money in covering Hoops. If given the choice of attending Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina or any AAU related events and covering Dawg Night or Friday Night Lights, the choice is rather clear and there will be a full court press in terms of coverage of the latter.
The Georgia Basketball base is a small subset of the Georgia fan base. Everyone is behind Georgia Football, but few of these individuals support Georgia Basketball. Trying to win much of this crowd over is a massive waste of time as most are too far away to attend a game or already hold negative views toward the sport altogether. To be relevant, Georgia Basketball’s support needs to be a mix of these constituent groups: Those that live in the Athens area, nearby alumni, young alumni and the student body. Expecting 55 year old Billy from Jesup who loves his Dawgs, but did not attend UGA nor any postsecondary institution, to support Georgia Basketball is completely unreasonable. This composite individual is representative of many that love Georgia Football, but have zero connection to the school and have zero interest in Hoops. However, the tune changes with 24 year old Kendall who is originally from Philadelphia (King of Prussia to be exact) by way of Alpharetta who graduated from UGA, lives in Metro Atlanta and stood in the student section for both Basketball and Football. Kendall is more willing to show up to weekend games, later weekday games and attend the Georgia-Georgia Tech game regardless of locale. She’ll give her tickets that she cannot use to her friends in the Athens area. This composite individual fits within the typical Georgia Basketball constituency and whether the UGA Athletic Association uses buyer personas is unknown.
Kendall’s opinion should matter more than Billy’s opinion as she is invested. Billy is not sold and is not even a lead. Pay attention to who is making the noise and responding to how the program is portrayed by media sources. These individuals that have recently joined the party have not really been paying attention and have no reason to have an opinion other than it being a “hot topic”. The vultures can swoop in and swoop out, but the main constituents still are there having to deal with the situation.
There was genuine concern during SEC play that the Georgia Offense, which has become “flowchart” basketball, was “exposed” by this publication. After examination of the site’s traffic and the network sources, it can be said with confidence that this publication did not do the game planning work for opposing assistants in advance. Yes, the sets were given away, but if a blogger can figure it out and explain every step to the audience and provide the known counters to it, then it is far too formulaic to be run. The offense is too predictable and scripted, which is Mark Fox and his staff’s responsibility.