Monday, August 25, 2008

Final Results of the "Favorite Felton-Era Buzzer Beater" Poll

Well, the deadline for participating in the poll ran out. I had extended it already once, since this was just the second poll I've done, and I figured that it would be good to let the word get out about the Blog. But after a couple of days had passed and voting slowed down to barely a trickle, I thought it was time to allow the buzzer to sound on the poll itself.

I took the poll down today, but I wanted to record the results and make a few comments of my own.

Poll Results

There were 28 votes altogether, and Zac Swansey's shot to beat Kentucky took top place with 12 votes (42%).

There was a tie for second, between Steve Newman's long distance shot to beat Arkansas at Arkansas, and the three from Levi Stukes against LSU in the "Do it for Broph" game. Each got 6 votes (21%).

Levi Stukes's shot to beat South Carolina got 3 votes (10%).

And coming in last place, but very significant nonetheless, was the Bliss bankshot to win the first game of the SEC Tournament, Georgia over Ole Miss (3%).


We have had some moments of a lot of joy, haven't we? It was a great run, from the times of not having enough players to even practice, to building up little by little. Sure, we had our share of setbacks along the way. Just when we were on the cusp, it seemed like something else would happen to throw a wrench in things and dampen our spirits. Our highest profile recruit went to the pro's. We've had injuries to key players, sudden decisions to transfer, academic suspensions, law enforcement issues, and dismissals. We've known the tragedy of losing a student athlete, and the pride of honoring his memory.

"Snake-bit," some might call Georgia's program. And try as we might, it was hard to disagree. The cards did seem to be stacked against us, as if fate itself resisted Georgia in our efforts to build a successful basketball program.

But ah, the buzzer beaters. The buzzer beaters were "atta-boys" to give us hope along the way. Although it's true that there are some things that cannot be changed, the buzzer beaters were noisy reminders of another truth: Fate cannot trump our individual and collective efforts, the hard work of a team. Not in basketball. And not in life.

Each time the improbable happened, each time that Georgia stuck around long enough to win at the final horn, we started to change our opinion. Slowly at first, perhaps. But after a few giddy hugs and high fives, a quiet confidence emerged. We sensed that Georgia could do it. We can cobble together a team of gritty competitors. We can win. We can make our mark in the SEC. And in the most unlikely of ways, in the most unusual of times, when not just Fate, but Mother Nature, opposing teams and SEC Officials' decisions seemed to team up against us, Georgia went on a remarkable run to claim the SEC Tournament Championship.

So voting for one buzzer beater, when all were important, was difficult for me. In the end, the Zac Swansey 3-pointer got my vote. UGA so rarely beats UK that I had to acknowledge it. Bunch of 3-stars beating a team of 5-stars, especially after Gaines had fouled out? Unlikely as a tightly defended last second 360 degree three-pointer. Great moment seeing Swansey walk off the court with his fist raised. That, and the photograph of those three Kentucky fans who registered their shock with wide eyes and covered mouths.

The Bliss buzzer beater was an incredible moment- the court-length drive by Corey Butler, the beautiful bounce pass, and the "get it up quick as you can barely over the rim" bankshot by Dave Bliss. The aftermath was my favorite Jeremy Jacob memory. Even though he was still on medical redshirt, Jacob had enough hops in his stress fracture-repaired legs to leap up on the back of Dave Bliss for an impromptu piggy-back ride. Dave Bliss' shot started Georgia's run to last year's championship in the SEC Tournament.

The Steve Newman jumper was special, if for no other reason because of Scott Howard's "holy schmokes" call that accompanied it. It also cemented Newman's place in UGA's basketball special moments.

And the Kevin Brophy-related shots by Levi Stukes. The first, to beat South Carolina, with Brophy and Stukes at the bottom of a pile of Dawgs players, celebrating the moment. The second, without Brophy on the floor, but everywhere in the memories of the team and of the fans. How special was it for UGA to "Do it for Broph" over LSU with Kevin Brophy's family in the audience?

We've had tragedy, joy, disappointments, hope-restoring buzzer beaters, even a tornado and a true "two-a-day."

And we have an SEC Tournament Championship.

Snake-bit? Nah. We're tenacious. We're competitors. We're overcomers. We're champions.

Go Dawgs!

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