Thursday, July 17, 2008

Felton's Still Optimistic

So says the article from the Athens Banner Herald.

Me? Not so much. It isn't the fact that Jeremy Jacob left or that Billy Humphrey got dismissed. It's the combination of those things, the loss of Sundiata Gaines, and the reality that UGA's main competitors will be much, much better.

SEC East in 08/09

1. Vanderbilt

Vandy lost Shan Foster. True. And although you can't dismiss the impact of a player of his caliber, I expect Vandy to be better this coming year. They had a monster recruiting class. These guys can play. Add their new big guys to Ogilvy, and they're not your father's old immobile team. Pun intended/attempted. Oh well. Vandy might not shoot as many deep threes next year, but they won't have to. They can run their motion offense in that weird gym of theirs and punish you inside.

2. Kentucky

Kentucky is better. At least, I think they will be better. Crawford and Bradley were huge for them in carrying the scoring load. They're gone. But if Patterson and Meeks come back healthy and Kentucky gets into school a couple of the kids that they have recruited, UK will be tough as nails.

3. Florida

Florida will be better. Donovan always has them prepared to play. And they won a bunch of games last year, in what should have been a rebuilding year for them. Speights went to the pro's, but the freshmen coming in have a ton of promise. Donovan needed big guys and he went out and got them.

4. South Carolina

South Carolina will not be an easy game. They have no new recruits, but they are likely to play to their strengths under their new coach.

5. Tennessee

Hard for UT to get better. They won the SEC in convincing fashion. But despite the fact that Chris Lofton is gone, and that Duke Crews and Ramar Smith have moved on, UT is arguably at least as good. They still have Tyler Smith, JuJuan Smith, and a stable of big guys. And they add Cameron Tatum and Scotty Hopson, two elite scorers. Ouch.

The SEC was not as competitive, top to bottom, last year as in the years immediately prior. I'm predicting that the SEC will be back in a major way in 2008/2009.

Optimism is good. I like that in a coach. But in a year in which every team in the SEC will be better, Georgia better combine that optimism with some good old fashioned hard work during the off-season.

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