UK Notebook: Adams proud of UGA seniors

March 12, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

ATLANTA - Dr. Michael Adams compares what Georgia's four seniors have done this season to what a former group of Kentucky players once did.

Adams, the president at Georgia and former president of Centre College, remembers when Richie Farmer, John Pelphrey, Sean Woods and Deron Feldhaus helped resurrect Kentucky's program when it was on the brink of collapse because of NCAA sanctions.

He thinks what Georgia's four seniors have done this season has been comparable.

"I had a real lump in my throat at our Senior Night last week because of what these kids have done," Adams said Thursday during the Southeastern Conference Tournament. "These kids gave the same type of effort that the Kentucky people will remember their kids did that year after Kentucky had all its trouble. Just like those kids did for Kentucky, these kids have given us a base for our future."

Those four Georgia seniors - Jonas Hayes, Chris Daniels, Rashad Wright and Damien Wilkins - all have a chance to give the Bulldogs a third win over Kentucky this season when the teams play today in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals. Georgia advanced with a 73-59 win over Auburn in Thursday's tourney opener while Kentucky received a first-round bye.


Georgia gave Kentucky two of its three SEC losses.

"We are amazed that with only three losses in the conference, two of Kentucky's losses were to us," Adams said. "We are pleased by what has happened, but we know what can happen on any given day in this conference. Still, the thought that Georgia basketball might have caused a little panic at times to Kentucky basketball this year gives me a little encouragement."

A year ago the Bulldogs had no reason to be encouraged about anything. Because of violations that then-coach Jim Harrick was alleged to have committed, Adams pulled the Bulldogs out of last year's SEC and NCAA Tournaments.

He then helped persuade Dennis Felton to leave Western Kentucky to become Georgia's new head coach.

"We will be back, but it is going to take two or three years to get our program where we want," Adams said. "I am so emotionally attached to these four seniors. A year ago this week they were about as mad at me as four players possibly could be. We had to make a tough decision to pull out of the tournaments.

"But time gives everyone perspective. I have really enjoyed this season because of those four kids. It was very hard then, but these kids have learned a lot from coach Felton and they have become not only better players, but better people."

He also said he stills has ties to Danville and Centre College.

"I pull up the newspaper on the web and we get phone calls and e-mails from a lot of friends," Adams said. "We loved our time there. No one has ever treated us better. If not for something like this, we would still be there."

Lucky seven: Former UK athletics director C.M. Newton, a former chairman of the NCAA Tournament selection committee, thinks seven SEC teams could merit bids to this year's NCAA tourney.

He says Kentucky and Mississippi State could both easily be No. 1 seeds if each advances to Sunday's SEC title game.

He also thinks Alabama has to be a lock for the tourney.

"Alabama has done what the committee asked because I was the messenger the year they won 21 games and had to go to the NIT because of their weak non-conference schedule," Newton said. "This year they beat Wisconsin, Charlotte and Oregon. They had a close loss to Pitt. Their strength of schedule is the toughest in the country

"I also think Florida is in. When (Christian) Drejer went pro, it hurt Florida. It disrupted the team not so much after he left, but before he left. But they've only had one bad game since he left and that was more because Kentucky just dominated them. Vanderbilt is also good enough and should be in."

That leaves South Carolina and LSU, two former top 25 teams limping to the finish because of injuries to a key player.

"You still have to look and reward kids for the season they had," Newton said. "They are both good enough to be in. Maybe they are not as good as Kentucky or Mississippi State, but they should be in."

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