How Long Will The UGA Basketball Rebuild Take

How Long Will The UGA Basketball Rebuild Take

How long will it take before UGA basketball joins the upper echelon of the SEC basketball ranks.

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For many years, basketball has been the one major sport at the University of Georgia that has been overlooked and sometimes not cared about. Football has clearly been the main sport at UGA, followed by baseball that has seen success in the past 20 years, but basketball seems to always take a backseat to the other major sports. Things seemed to take a turn this past spring when the Dawgs hired one of the best coaches in college basketball, Tom Crean. This generated instant buzz throughout the university and for the first time since the Domonique Wilkins days, but how long will it be before UGA actually performs with the upper echelon of the SEC and the rest of the country.

Before I get completely roasted for seeming to say that Tom Crean is not the guy, he is the guy. He is clearly the right hire for a basketball program that has needed an identity for many years. However, after getting blowout by SEC power Kentucky, who is not having their best year in the Calapari era, many fans are questioning how long will it take before UGA basketball makes some noise in the college basketball world.

There is no clear answer as to when UGA will finally become a contender for the SEC title, due to many reasons that we cannot predict at this moment (recruiting, injuries to key players, etc.) but we can look at Crean's history to see when his new teams finally broke through. Let's start with Marquette. After spending many seasons as the associate head coach at Michigan State under coaching legend Tom Izzo, Crean took over Marquette who were coming off an under .500 season under previous coach Mike Deanne. Crean was a great hire for Marquette considering Michigan State was coming off a 33-5 season and won the national championship the following season in which Crean recruited most of the players who were on that team.

Marquette continued to play .500 basketball for the first two seasons before finally winning 26 games in 2002 and making the NCAA tournament for the first time in several years. Crean's best season as the Golden Eagles head coach came the next season when the team won 27 games and made the Final Four with future NBA great Dwyane Wade. The Golden Eagles would never see the Final Four during the final 5 seasons under Crean but made the tournament three out of the five seasons before he took the head coaching job at Indiana. So in review, it took Crean three seasons before Marquette finally found success and only four seasons to make the Final Four. He also produced an NBA legend in his time at Marquette, and also produced three other NBA products, leading to a successful first head coaching job. He also finished with almost 200 wins in 9 seasons for a .656 winning percentage.

Now onto his most recent head coaching stint, the Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana is one of the most prestigious college basketball programs and their success has made it widely known that Indiana is a basketball state. However, Indiana had struggled for much of the 2000s and that continued for the first three seasons under Crean. The team won a total of 28 games in three seasons, and never finished higher than 9th in the Big Ten. However, Indiana came out of nowhere in 2012 when they won 27 games, 15 more from the previous seasons, and finished in the Sweet Sixteen. This set the stage for another Crean title run, as Indiana came out as the #1 ranked team in the country in the preseasons polls the next year. They won 29 games in 2013 and again finished in the Sweet Sixteen, but produced Indiana's best player since Isiah Thomas, Victor Oladipo. The team also won the Big Ten title for the first time since 2002. Indiana would win one more Big Ten title during Crean's final four seasons, but would never make it past the Sweet Sixteen during his tenure when they lost in that round in 2016. This would lead to Georgia offering Crean the head coaching job following a subpar 18 win season in 2017 after Indiana released him after a nine-year run with the team. He would end up with 166 wins with the Hoosiers and didn't find success until his fourth season as head coach. Crean produced several NBA guys in addition to Oladipo, including Eric Gordon, Cody Zeller, and Noah Vonleh.

Georgia's rebuild, on paper, could end up being the biggest challenge in Crean's history and one that could take several years to finally complete. However, with the success the football team has found and with the overall athletic program being the best it's been in many years, this could lead to many recruits wanting to join the Dawgs basketball program. Currently, UGA ranks 44th in the country for basketball recruiting numbers, 8th in the SEC, but has not reached the national signing day that could bring in a few key pieces for next season. Many high school basketball players have considered UGA as a top choice, more than in recent history under former coach Mark Fox. If recruiting goes as well as it has for Crean during his former coaching stints, UGA will not have a hard time finding success in that department.

As far as the team's style of play goes, it will be a big change from former coaches. Many of UGA's former coaches like to run plays and keep the tempo slow and steady, looking for the best shot. This is not how college basketball's best programs typically play basketball, as they typically like to run an up-tempo offense and spread the floor, exactly how Crean likes his team to play. Once his style of plays becomes implemented with his players and other coaches, UGA will be playing like the best teams in the country.

With everything that has been mentioned in this article, it seems as if UGA will have a few more years of .500, maybe under .500 play before the breakthrough happens. So even though Georgia isn't quite on the level on an underperforming Kentucky team, UGA will be competing with the Wildcats in only a matter of time. Both Marquette and Indiana didn't find success until the third or fourth season under Crean and that can be expected at Georgia as well, but when it happens, UGA should have a program that will be contending for SEC titles for years to come.

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Everything The Student Athlete Loses When They Move On From Sports

Enjoy it while it lasts.

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We used to call it "flipping the switch." You would go through eight hours of school (somehow) and then your mentality would automatically change. The worries and stress from the school day would dwindle as you put on your cleats and begin to warm up. Anything that was going on in your life didn't matter when you hit the dirt. You create lifelong friendships with the girls you spent every day with for months at a time. Teammates who see you susceptible after a bad game and on cloud nine after one of your bests.

You develop a routine and superstitions. Hitting your bat on the inside of your cleat before you hit, chewing a certain type of gum on the volleyball court, how many times you spin the ball before you shoot a free throw, whatever your quirk was, you 100% believed it would make you play better. You practice in your free time with your dad, devote three to five months of your school year to a team, and play all summer long with your travel team as you live off hotel breakfast. Then one day, it's all over.

It is a feeling that nobody can prepare you for. They say enjoy it while it lasts but you never really understand what you'll be walking away from when you play your last game and hang it up for good. You lose a part of yourself when you're no longer an athlete. I forgot what it feels like to be competitive and be a part of something that is bigger than myself. It has been two years since I've played my last softball game and not a day goes by when I don't miss it. I didn't play because I wanted to go pro or even to the collegiate level, but I played because it was an escape and helped me become who I am.

You begin to forget what it felt like to hit the sweet spot on a bat, what it sounded like to have an audience cheer for you as you stand alone on second base and see your family in the stands, to hear the metal spikes of your cleats on concrete when walking in the dugout. It's simple things about the game you love that brought you pure joy and an escape from the world and the thoughts in your head. Batting practice was always mine. Focusing on nothing but the next pitch and how hard I could hit it.

When you have to watch the game from the other side of the fence, you realize how much pressure you put on yourself when you played. It's just a game. Make as many memories as you can and enjoy every inning because when you leave sports behind you have to find your inner athlete in other things. Create a workout routine, joining a club sport or intramurals, or even becoming a coach. As much as I miss the sport, I am thankful for everything it brought me. It taught me how to be a good friend, respect others around me, and to push myself to discover what I was capable of.

So, enjoy it while it lasts.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo And Christian Yelich Have Put Milwaukee Back On The Map

Two small market teams making sure the world knows who they are

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"MVP" is currently being chanted around the city of Milwaukee and the people of Milwaukee aren't just talking about one person. Giannis Antetokounmpo, a forward for the Milwaukee Bucks and Christian Yelich, an outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers. Giannis is on the path to winning this year's NBA MVP and Yelich, who happened to win the NL MVP last year, is showing no doubts on potentially becoming this year's MVP as well.

Both the Bucks and the Brewers have struggled in the past few years. The Bucks finished their 2013-2014 season with a record of 15-67. On top of that, they have been playing in the BMO Harris Bradley Center for the past couple of decades. The Bradley Center was intentionally built for hockey and not basketball so attending games for the Bucks sometimes had you in the nosebleeds barely seeing what was going on on the court. The Bucks struggled after their 2013-2014 season with records of 41-41 (2014-2015) and 33-49 (2015-2016). Now, the Bucks have recently finished their regular season and moved to the playoffs. From 15-67 just five years ago, to now 60-22 which gave them the best record in the NBA, the number one seed in the East and home-court advantage, Giannis has proved himself as potentially one of the greatest players the NBA and the Bucks franchise will ever see.

The Bucks now have a new arena that opened this season, Fiserv Forum, which is built specifically for the Bucks (and Marquette) instead of hockey. Looking back on the Bucks in their previous years compared to now, the Bucks have sold out every single game this season. Something Milwaukee never thought they would see from being a small market team. From my experience, while working for the Bucks, you can see the difference in the crowd and feel their enthusiasm and excitement radiating off of the fans. And this is all thanks to Mr. Antetokounmpo who is making his mark here in Milwaukee. Giannis has won Eastern Conference Player of the Month for October/November, December, February and March/April and even earned his spot as Eastern Conference captain for the All-Star game this year. Giannis may be considered in his prime right now, but he is only 24-years-old which means he has plenty of time to only make himself better.

The Brewers had won the NL Central Divison back in 2011 but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. After that, they struggled a bit and haven't won the title since until last year in 2018. He brought the Brewers to the NLCS last season, but unfortunately, they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yelich had 36 home runs last season and already has eight (as of 4/16/19) this season. He happens to be a great right fielder as well. In last night's (4/15/19) game against the Cardinals, Yelich alone scored three home runs.

Miller Park has been filling up more and more each game of Brewers fans. Being a small market team like their cross-city friends, the Bucks, bringing home an MVP title as well as a division title, it makes everyone aware of their greatness and dedication. The season may have just started back up again, but there is no doubt, if Yelich and his teammates keep playing like they are right now, they will have another shot of making it to the World Series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Christian Yelich have brought and will continue to bring excitement and greatness to Milwaukee which is something the city hasn't seen in a while. This era of sports will surely be remembered for a long time by the people of Milwaukee and Wisconsin.

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