But the lesson has yet to be learned – for this team, at least, it will not be learned.
Five days after falling behind big only to see a comeback attempt failed at Alabama, Georgia tried the same exact formula Thursday. To no one’s surprise it didn’t work.
Instead of capping the season with something to build on for the future, Georgia found itself down 20 points at the half to a team it beat by 11 in January. For all of the progress forward after the 1-4 start to the season, Mark Fox’s bunch moved backwards Thursday – it lost the same way for the second game in a row and lost for the fifth time in a row away from Athens.
Basketball is about tournament play – and this was not good tournament play. Put aside that all tournaments are played on neutral floors, and that Georgia has yet to win on a neutral floor this season and has only won three times away from Stegeman Coliseum all year. Put aside that the SEC Tournament was this program’s only chance to reach post-season play. Put aside that that this could be KCP's final game with the Bulldogs.
With all that aside, Georgia came out as flat as it has been all season at the exact moment it could not stand to be flat. It was not the way to close the season and has put pressure on the Bulldogs’ head coach.
Now the facts are piling up against Fox. For the third time in four seasons Fox’s team has failed to end the season with a winning record. It has failed to get to the post-season for the third time in four years.
That’s not progress – that’s what Georgia basketball has been its entire history… irrelevant on the national scene in March and about a game above or below .500 for the season. Yes, the team gave a valiant effort to come back from a huge deficit in the second half, but the outcome of the game didn’t change – and that’s the problem… things are not changing.
The worst kept secret in the SEC is that Fox has a recruiting problem, and it needs to be addressed. And it doesn’t need to be said that Fox is a good coach – if I had a dollar for every time I have heard a TV commentator (or anyone for that matter) talk about how good a coach a college coach is I wouldn’t bother giving you my opinion – I’d be counting my money. They are coaches – they are supposed to know how to coach.
There is more to coaching than, well, coaching. There’s also recruiting, which Georgia is deficient at. Coaching is not necessarily recruiting; recruiting is certainly not coaching, but both have massive correlations to the other. It’s hard to be good at one without the help of the other in the SEC.
No one knows what 2013-14 will be like for Fox and his Bulldogs. Will Kentavious Caldwell-Pope return for his junior season? Is there a game-changing recruit who can provide support to KCP should he return?
Actually, Caldwell-Pope's decision to return or not is a false argument for what I am saying. He will be gone one way or the other in another season anyway. KCP, really, has nothing to do with the long-term success of the Georgia Bulldogs at this point as the problem is more widespread than his decision to stay or go for one year.
Instead, the 40,000-foot view question is this: Can Georgia achieve its goals (and to be clear the last two seasons have not accomplished the goal of getting to post-season play) without Fox making some sort of change?