Georgia Basketball a Program Without a Foundation

Georgia Basketball was a program that expected to make the postseason before Tom Crean took over. Now the Bulldogs are at risk of missing the postseason for the fourth straight year.
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Just when you think Georgia Basketball couldn't sink any lower.

Sophomore guard K.D. Johnson joined a long list of other Georgia players in the transfer portal Tuesday afternoon. Jaxon Etter, P.J. Horne, Jonathan Ned, Tyron McMillan and Josh Taylor are the last players left from the 2020-21 roster, but would anyone be surprised if they entered the portal tomorrow?

Georgia basketball has sunk so low that it's safe to say the program no longer has a foundation to build on. Yes, Georgia has four incoming transfers, but can any of them replace Johnson, Sahvir Wheeler, Toumani Camara or Tye Fagan? The incoming players either come from a small conference, or they're power conference players who seldom played at their last school.

Without a couple of home-run transfers, Georgia is doomed to a terrible season in 2021-22. That means Georgia will fail to earn a postseason birth for the fourth consecutive season, something that hasn't happened in Athens since the late 1970s.

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Hugh Durham led Georgia to its first post-season appearance in 1981 when his 18-11 squad earned a spot in the National Invitation Tournament. The Bulldogs returned to the NIT in 1982 and made it all the way to the semifinals. And in 1983, Durham brought Georgia to the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever. The Bulldogs defeated No. 5 VCU, No. 1 St. John's and No. 2 North Carolina en route to the Final Four.

Those three seasons early in Durham's 17-year tenure formed the foundation of the Georgia Basketball program. The Bulldogs earned four more NCAA Tournament and five more NIT appearances before Durham retired after the 1994-95 season.

Every coach since Durham has either built on or preserved the foundation laid by Durham. 

Tubby Smith claimed the head coaching job after Durham and he led the Bulldogs to two NCAA Tournaments before leaving to take the same job at Kentucky. Ron Jirsa couldn't live up to Smith's success, but Georgia still reached the NIT in each of his two seasons.

Jim Harrick took over in 1999 and after a disappointing first season, Georgia reached the NCAA Tournament in 2001 and 2002, and was on its way to another berth in 2003 before the team pulled out of the postseason because of an academic fraud controversy. 

The NCAA placed the Bulldogs on four-year probation and fired Harrick. Georgia tasked Dennis Felton with running the program while the program endured the probation. It only made the NCAA Tournament once under Felton by way of its miracle SEC Championship run in 2008. However, the program did reach the NIT in 2004 and 2007.

Mark Fox proved to be an improvement over Felton. In nine years, Georgia made the NCAA Tournament twice and the NIT four times, though the team rejected its invitation in 2018.

For 40 years, Georgia Basketball expected to make the postseason. When Georgia didn't reach the NIT or the NCAA Tournament, it was always just a player or two away.

After an offseason in which nine players, including the core of the 2020-21  team, entered the transfer portal, it's safe to say the Bulldogs will be more than just a player or two away this season. 

Georgia has sunk so low in Crean's three seasons that the foundation has crumbled. This is no longer the program Hugh Durham built.