Friday, December 12, 2008

Crazy Hair

Late in the basketball season of 2007/2008, Coach Felton pledged that he would shave off his moustache if the Dawgs made it to the NCAA Tournament.

Well, against all odds, the Dawgs played four games, in three days, with two overtimes, and one tornado. And they won the SEC Tournament, automatically advancing to the NCAA Tournament's coveted field of 64.

True to his word, Coach Felton came out to the Tate Center during the spring, and before a group of cheering students, had his barber make him completely clean-shaven.

Fast-forward to fall, 2008. Coach Felton has grown back his moustache. And the team is struggling. They stumbled out of the gate and lost a couple of games that they should have won. Then came the embarassing loss to Illinois.

After that game, the seniors called a team-only meeting.

I'm not sure what was said, but I will say this: Georgia looked like a new team out there in the Dawgs' next game against Virginia Tech.

Georgia was much more patient offensively. They shared the ball. Cut down on turnovers. Played with more purpose, defensively. There was no second-half let-down. Everybody scored. And the Dawgs pulled out a game down the stretch against a quality opponent.

But it was more than that. Not just the way they played. The team looked different.

Corey Butler, the player nick-named, "the Senator", apparently decided to dispense with some of his statesman-like bearing, and ran out onto the floor sporting a Mohawk. Drazen Zlovaric had the same style. If Drazen's parents caught any of the highlights of the game on the Serbian version of ESPN, they must be there fraught with worry over how American life has totally corrupted their son.

As strange as the Mohawks were, the other hair-cuts had them beat. Travis Leslie, Dustin Ware and perhaps a couple of others had designs in their hair. I thought that aliens might have landed and put their characteristic crop circles on the scalps of our players. But it was weirder than that. Nothing geometric that I could see. No pattern that would suggest the visit of a race of highly advanced extra-terrestials.

No, this appeared to be pure whimsy.

Well, I'm all for fun. Coach Felton started this hair thing just before last season's successful tournament run, and we might just need some kind of extra magic again if the Dawgs are going to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2009.

Whatever the case, I definitely liked the team returning to its winning ways. I say, keep the crazy hair until we lose.

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