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March 15, 2012

UGA Basketball Bewilderment

On the whole, over the last several years,
UGA basketball has been at its worst since
Coach Guthrie's slacks were in style. 
As I watched Georgia get dismantled by Vanderbilt in the second half of the SEC Tournament's second round, painfully witnessing the Bulldogs' 2011-12 season come to an end, I had a couple recurring thoughts I've had over the last eight to ten years regarding UGA's men's basketball program:

Man, we hardly have any good players AND How is it that (we hardly have any good players)?!?

Georgia has now achieved just one winning season -- last year's NCAA Tournament team -- in its last five years, and just two winning campaigns in its last eight.  Folks, that's a dismal stretch that hasn't been endured by the program since the five losing seasons that were the Coach John Guthrie era during the 1970s.  In my last post, I poked a little fun at Auburn for its lack of success in recent years; however, the fact of the matter is Georgia hasn't fared much better than the Tigers. 

Listed is each SEC team's regular-season conference victory total over the last decade (2002-03 through 2011-12), along with the number of NCAA Tournament appearances during the same period:

Kentucky- 121, Nine
Florida- 105, Eight
Tennessee- 97, Six
Miss. State- 92, Five
Vanderbilt- 85, Six
Alabama- 83, Five
LSU- 78, Four
Arkansas- 63, Three
Ole Miss- 63, None
GEORGIA- 59, Two
S. Carolina- 58, One
Auburn- 57, One  

The Bulldogs' 59 conference victories rank 10th of 12, while they are one of only four teams in the SEC to appear in two or less NCAA Tournaments.

Around this time a year ago, I posted the obvious of how the addition of only one or two impact players can completely turn around a college basketball program.  Unfortunately for Georgia, while the Bulldogs may have added an impact player in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for this year, they lost TWO in Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie to the NBA Draft. 

Georgia basketball can ill afford to lose talented players since it has been repeatedly proven, for whatever the reason, the Bulldogs simply cannot recruit.  In fact, they have had a difficult time recruiting, particularly in-state prospects, since Coach Hugh Durham left more than 15 years ago.

It absolutely blows my mind that of the approximately 30 high school recipients of "Mr. Georgia Basketball" since the award's inception in 1983, only TWO signed with the Bulldogs.  The first -- Wayne Arnold from Berkmar High -- played in only 10 games during the 2002-03 season before being dismissed from the team.  The latest -- current player Marcus Thornton -- has averaged roughly two points and three rebounds per game while shooting 30 percent from the floor in his two seasons. 

In addition, of the 19 McDonald's All-Americans from the state of Georgia from 1993 through this year (excluding uncommitted Tony Parker of Lithonia, who is doubtful to become a Bulldog), only ONE -- Caldwell-Pope -- signed with UGA.  This poor stretch of recruiting first-rate talent comes on the heels of the aforementioned Durham remarkably signing 10 McDonald's All-Americans from 1979 to 1992.

According to Scout.com and its last seven years of team recruiting rankings (2005 to 2011), Georgia is the ONLY team from the SEC not to sign an upper-tier class; "upper-tier" being the top 25 or 35 recruiting classes (depending on the year) in the nation, and "not to sign" meaning not even once during the entire seven-year period.

Each SEC team is listed following its number of Scout "upper-tier" recruiting classes from 2005 to 2011:

7- Florida; 6- Kentucky; 4- Alabama; 3- Tennessee, Miss. State, Arkansas; 2- Vanderbilt, LSU, South Carolina, 1- Ole Miss, Auburn; NONE- Georgia.

If a program has had a difficult time recruiting like Georgia, Auburn, Ole Miss, etc., and vice versa (Kentucky, Florida, etc.), there is a direct correlation to their performances on the basketball court during roughly the same extended period of time.  This comes to no surprise and obviously makes sense. 

Over the last decade, Georgia's lack of recruiting, and thus sub-par on-court performance, can perhaps be blamed on a number of things, including Jim Harrick placing the program on probation and four different head coaches in a span of only eight seasons. 

Notably, I discovered another piece of information that perhaps has little relation, if any at all, to the performance of the Bulldogs' basketball team, but something I found somewhat intriguing.

According to the Office of Postsecondary Education, the program generated more than $42.2 million in revenue during the last six years of 2005-06 through 2010-11, while reporting $25.5 million in expenses over the same period, for a net profit of $16.7 million.

In looking at the net profits of all 12 SEC men's basketball programs during the same six-year period, the rankings from top to bottom are more or less similar to the results of the SEC's recruiting/performance rankings above.  However, two positions stand out: Florida's $9.1 million in net profit ranks next to last, or 11th in the conference, while Georgia's $16.7 million surprisingly ranks rather high at 6th.

Evidently, the Gators' men's basketball program has generated a lot of money over the last six years ($56.0 million), but it spends a lot of this revenue ($46.9 million in expenses).  On the other hand, only three basketball programs spent less money than UGA (LSU, Ole Miss, and Miss. State), and the Bulldogs "benefited" with a net profit that ranks in the upper half of the conference.  

This leads me to wonder why Georgia's men's basketball program, unlike Florida's, needs such a substantial profit, especially when Bulldog football was recently the second-most profitable program of any school in the country and in any sport.

Surely, I must be missing something... but this I do know: 

I'm not an economist (but I did obtain, barely, a degree in Finance from the Terry College of Business) but it seems a little odd to me when a product, or UGA's men's basketball program in this case, has been rather profitable compared to its competition, yet its performance has been one of the worst, if not the worst, in comparison to the same group.


RC said...

I'm with you, Patrick. It just makes no sense. Georgia absolutely should have a top half of the SEC program at the very least, and yet we don't. I like what I've seen of Mark Fox, and am really rooting for him, but part of me wonders if we shouldn't take a chance on some hotshot young recruiter, preferably one who knows exactly where the proverbial line is, and can stride right up against it without crossing it. That way, at least we can bring some talent in here and get a pipeline of sorts started, such that if said stud recruiter can't coach a lick, at least maybe he can stock the cupboard for the next guy who hopefully can (See Zook, Ron; Florida.)

I'm beyond frustrated by it, though.

You want to get really depressed? Think about where our program might be if Tubby had never left. He's not known as much of a recruiter, but his style of play and results sold themselves. I'm quite certain he wonders the same thing sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Curious how much personal capital you have invested into the program through BEF donations and such.

RC said...

Just curious- what's it to you?

J.R. Clark said...

Historically, Georgia's best basketball players have come from out of state, and the state's best basketball players tend to sign with out-of-state colleges.

Georgia is a football school and probably always will be.