Posted: 10:17 am Monday, February 17th, 2014

REWIND: Tough start for Diamond Dogs, tough finish for men’s hoops 

By Chip Towers

MONDAY MORNING REWIND

ATHENS – Tough start to the Scott Stricklin’s career as Georgia baseball coach. The Bulldogs were trounced for a second time Sunday by Georgia Southern, 18-4. That gave the Eagles a 2-1 victory in the season-opening, three-game series and disappointed a goodly crowd of people who came out to welcome in the new era, Stricklin among them.

“It was great to see the crowds we had Saturday and (Sunday),” Stricklin said. “Georgia fans love their baseball, and we’re going to keep working. … This is a big bump in the road, but it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

It was a particularly rough weekend for Georgia’s pitching staff. They gave up a four-run second inning on Saturday and an 11-run third on Sunday. They came out of it with a 6.67 collective ERA and opponents hitting .356 against it.

“I know our pitching is better than what we showed this weekend,” Stricklin said.

it’s important to keep in mind that these Bulldogs are far from full strength at this point. UGA is without arguably its best player, pitcher/first baseman/DH Jared Walsh is now a third of a way through his nine-game suspension for breaking team rules. And freshman Mike Bell, who is slated to be the starting shortstop, is out for at least two more weeks with a broken hand.

But it’s going to be a rebuilding year for the Bulldogs, and there will likely be many more bumps in the road this season. A trip to Florida State awaits before they’ll get back to full strength. Responding to Stricklin’s tireless promotion in the offseason, fans came to Foley Field in record numbers this weekend. But they should be advised to bring patience with them to the ballpark this first season.

Fox’s Hounds fighting to finish

Speaking of packed houses, Georgia men’s basketball recorded its second sellout of the season Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum for its thrilling 61-60 win over Ole Miss. The Bulldogs only other sellout came way back in November in a losing cause against Georgia Tech.

This was a decidedly more upbeat occasion as the Georgia fell behind by 11, went ahead by 11, then withstood a furious charge from the Rebels’ and their villainous shooting star Marshall Henderson. Henderson got 24 points and the drama he so longs for with another Oscar-worthy acting performance when he fouled Marcus Thornton with his face but drew a flagrant foul. That could have left the Bulldogs unhinged, but they gathered their wits after the controversial moment and Charles Mann calmly jarred the winning foul shot with a tick and a half on the clock to score a fourth victory in a row and sole possession of third place in the SEC.

Now what, you ask?

Not to put any more pressure on them than there already is, but the Bulldogs’ postseason fate will likely be decided this week, in my opinion. And they’re still playing for the NIT at this point.

With the win over the No. 62 Rebels, Georgia’s RPI crept up to 85 from 100. An extremely challenging task awaits Tuesday night when the Bulldogs visit Tennessee (15-10, 6-6), then they go to South Carolina (10-15, 3-9) on Saturday. They’ll be expected to win one and not the other, but they need to take both to really give the college basketball world something to talk about.

To date, Georgia’s position among the top four in the SEC is given only to playing in a weak conference. Take these two games and the Bulldogs go from being thought of as an anomaly to being one of the stories of the year in the conference.

“We’re starting to toughen up,” Fox said Saturday. “We’re starting to develop some toughness about us. It has allowed us to get through some adversity on the road and allowed us to get through some adversity (against Ole Miss). And that’s important in competition. You have to have some toughness about you because you’re going to be challenged.”

Football coaches’ salaries set

UGA this past week released the salary figure of the Bulldogs’ last assistant coach hired, Mike Ekeler, at $250,000. Since January, coach Mark Richt also hired defensive coordinator/secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt ($850,000), outside linebackers/nickelbacks coach Kevin Sherrer ($200,000) and defensive line coach Tracy Rocker ($300,000).

That puts the Bulldogs almost exactly where they were last season in terms of football payroll. It’s important to note that, with the exception of Pruitt, those figures represent only the base salary portion of these coaches’ compensation. There will be some supplemental income when their actual contracts are completed in the coming weeks. But it’s not expected to drastically increase the numbers.

So effectively, the Bulldogs’ coaching staff payroll — $6.4 million last year — has remained the same despite all the off-season turnover on defense. Including Richt’s $3.2 million deal, it will likely go up slightly when expected new deals for running backs coach Bryan McClendon and tight ends coach John Lilly are announced. Each added coordinator responsibilities to their titles earlier this month.

Short-handed netters fall short

Competing with only four players, the Georgia men’s tennis team nearly pulled off an incredible comeback over Mississippi State on Sunday in ITA Indoor Championships in Houston.

No. 1 singles player Austin Smith came down with a stomach illness, the squad’s No. 3 player Ben Wagland was suspended and No. 4 Garrett Brasseaux was out with injury. That meant the Bulldogs had to forfeit No. 3 doubles and Nos. 5 and 6 singles before the match even began. After dropping the double point, Georgia needed to win each of the four contested singles points, but managed only three in the loss.

“Unfortunately, we had some tough luck with Austin’s illness today,” coach Manual Diaz said. “Going down to five players is already a travesty, but we were basically competing with only four, and really were so close to winning today against a very good Mississippi State team. I’m really proud of the guys and what they gave us. We had match point for the doubles, but MSU beat us there with two great returns. Eric [Diaz] is gaining great experience these last couple days, and had a tough third set against a very good player. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Bubba gets Victory No. 5

It took a while, but Bubba Watson finally notched his fifth PGA Tour victory.

Watson went 64-64 over the weekend and birdied his final hole to win the Northern Trust Open by two shots on Sunday in Los Angeles. It had been nearly two years and 41 tournaments since his last victory — The Masters.

“When I won the Masters, it was just me,” Watson said. “Family members were there, but not my wife and not my son, who was just adopted at that point, and now is two weeks away from being 2 years old. What a thrill. We’ll have some pictures with him and my wife and the trophy, so it’s nice.”

Bubba and Angie Watson’s adopted son Caleb is 2 years old now and was romping around the 18th green as Watson seal the vitory. It was Watson’s fifth PGA Tour win, the highest total among all the former Bulldogs

35 comments
GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

UGA men's basketball is beyond perplexing.  It's been plenty long enough for the Dawgs to recover from Tubby's jilting and Harrick's adolesence yet they continue to trot out mediocre to poor teams year after year.  All the while, UGA brass continues to tout the men's basketball program and it's importance to the success of UGA's athletic dept.  It doesn't take a genius to see the major disconnect between what is said and the failing results.   It boggles my mind how a major D1 program like UGA can accept such poor teams for 10 going on 11 years now without making wholesale changes several times to turn things around?  If the football program had gone through the same 10 year stretch, I feel certain saying the urgency to change would have be far greater as well as the number of changes made. 

Dawg350
Dawg350

Ga southern sucks....but they are better than tech!!! Lmao!

HotDawg
HotDawg

3 Bulldogs in top 5 fedex cup standings. Not something you see often, with that many alumni from one school.

Early, but still something to be proud of nonetheless.

See them all at the Masters in April.

LowcountryBulldawg
LowcountryBulldawg

Driving up 75 tomorrow to Thompson Boling to support the Dawgs. CMF has the teaming playing well. Tennessee is in a tailspin this could be the time to steal one.

ChipTowers
ChipTowers

Didn't mean any disrespect to Georgia Southern. Great school, beautiful campus. Just meant UGA's not supposed to lose often to those guys. Eliminated "little ol" from story.  Apologies.

reddawg
reddawg

I watched the game against Ole Miss and I thought the flagrant foul was a good call.  You could see Marshall on the bench holding a towel up to his lip that turned blood red.  Of course he is a good player, no doubt a drama queen too!

Vespidie
Vespidie

It's still funny when folks are 'shocked' when a "little" school defeats the bigger school in baseball.  People don't realize that the main difference between these schools is pitching depth, measureables and  allotted budgets.  The so-called  "little guys" have the players and they can play the game well. 

peachstealth
peachstealth

Take a trip down to Statesboro sometimes." Little" Georgia Southern has as many students as Ole Miss or Miss State and more than Vanderbilt, Duke or even  Notre Dame..

Dingus10
Dingus10

Nice job by Lil Ol Georgia Southern! Nice excuse as well in regards to two starters being out.  Unless they were going to pitch don't see where they would have helped UGA this weekend. GS played good clean baseball with the exception of the second game Saturday. They also deserve the respect that this program has earned over the years.Looking forward to playing Tech Wed.  HailSouthern!!

1991UGA
1991UGA

Come on Chip.  GS has frequently competed with UGA in Baseball over the years.  Give them credit.  They put it to UGA.  In recent years they have beaten Yech, UF, and competed with Clemson in games with them.  The Southern Conference is not weak in baseball. It is not like they are the dreaded Gamecocks, Yellow Jackets or Florida.  UGA gave up those runs because GS earned them.  UGA will get there with the new coach.  They have a lot of learning how to win after the last several years.  They will get there.

GSUMensBBFan
GSUMensBBFan

Seriously, "little ol' Georgia Southern?"  That's quite a snide remark coming from a newspaper journalist.  That's something I would expect to read on a fan site or something.


rwjohns
rwjohns

Georgia Southern isn't so little anymore.  Time to start showing our program more respect.

Lejit
Lejit

The Tech game in Nov. was a sellout?! I was there and there a LOT of fans disguised as empty red seat backs. It was half-filled at best. Granted it was a drippy Friday evening and Atlanta traffic was miserable getting up there.

peachstealth
peachstealth

Way to go Georgia Southern!!

GATA Eagles!!!

HotDawg
HotDawg

Don't be a space cadet, Jetson.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@GSUMensBBFan  

It's a UGA blog aimed at UGA fans. Ken Sugiura does a similar one for GT.

POAD2013
POAD2013

@GSUMensBBFan  you know the arrogance of UGa fans and reporters. UGa is god and every other team in the state doesn't matter even if other teams are winning championships.

Dawg350
Dawg350

GT card

The truth hurts doesn't it? Lmao!

peachstealth
peachstealth

@HotDawg  Actually I'm here because the AJC chooses to ignore Ga Southern, even though we have more students from metro Atlanta than anywhere else and more graduates in Metro Atlanta than any where else. 

Therefor, to get news from the AJC on GSOU,  we have to read our opponents blog

DawgNole
DawgNole

@GSUMensBBFan @DawgNole  

You're "aware" of Sugiura's blog but spell his name incorrectly? And you're whining about a lack of professionalism?

It appears that Towers has addressed your concerns with more than adequate professionalism.

Again, the Towers blog IS "a fan site"--aimed at UGA fans.

HotDawg
HotDawg

We are specifically here for UGA news from the UGA beat reporter.

No, we don't care about, nor expect, any gsu, gt, etc. news in a UGA blog.

If we cared, we would read those specific blogs.

If you don't care about UGA, yet are here, you are a troll.

POAD2013
POAD2013

@GSUMensBBFan Doug didn't really takeover the GaState blog. he as moved there because DOUG likes Soccer more than football and the TECh fans wanted BETTER than the crap Doug did with his crappy coverage, knowledge and dedication. Doug is a UGa grad that doesn't even care much about UGa football. he likes English Premier League Soccer.