Plenty to talk about in college basketball

dshirley@macon.comMarch 14, 2014 

SEC Missouri Florida Basketball

Forward Will Yeguete, right, and the Florida Gators should be a lock for a spot in the NCAA tournament.


In case you missed it, and if you live in Macon, you probably did -- at least on television -- the SEC basketball tournament is being played this week in Atlanta.

Yes, the SEC tournament is being played in our state, and our state team -- Georgia -- is right in the mix after a strong regular season. But no Macon TV stations saw it important enough to broadcast the early round games.

That is stunning. It’s laughable, actually.

Certainly, it’s not football, which is the SEC’s bread and butter; it would be hard to imagine SEC football games not being televised. But you would think that if the nation’s most high-profile conference was playing its tournament in the state that TV stations in the middle of the state (about an hour-and-a-half away from the arena) would want to televise those games.

The first two days were not televised at all in our area. Then, Friday’s games were broadcast by ESPNU, with the digital channel picking up the two night games after originally having Big 12 games on the schedule.

Saturday’s semifinals and Sunday’s championship game will be televised locally. But that’s not good enough.

The ACC tournament, by the way, has been on ESPN and ESPN2 all week, and a local channel picked up coverage Friday, as well.

Bears making a run?

Luckily we don’t have to worry about the local stations making the decision about whether to broadcast Mercer’s game or games in the NCAA tournament next week. Those games will all be broadcast nationally.

I was asked this week if Mercer could make a run in the tournament, and my answer was that I don’t see why not.

The Bears have everything a team could want to get hot in the NCAA tournament. They have a terrific leader, who also happens to be a terrific point guard, in Langston Hall. They have plenty of size with Daniel Coursey, Monty Brown and T.J. Hallice, size that a lot of teams -- even in power conferences -- don’t have. They also have a talented group of scorers/role players in Bud Thomas, Jake Gollon, Anthony White Jr., Darious Moten, Jibri Bryan, Kevin Canevari and Ike Nwamu.

And they have a ­terrific head in Bob Hoffman, who has turned around a program that was scuffling along at an average pace before he took over. The Bears are anything but average now, and there’s no reason to think they can’t win a game or two the next couple of weeks.

Also, don’t think this is a one-and-done deal for Mercer this season. Yes, the Bears lose a great senior class, a class that has made a remarkably large mark on this program. But there is enough talent behind those players to make Mercer a contender next year as it moves to the Southern Conference, which is a much weaker basketball conference than the A-Sun.

Early success

Reco Dawson is just in his second season running the Central Georgia Tech men’s basketball program, but he already has the Titans among the national junior college elite.

The Titans headed to Hutchinson, Kan., on Friday for next week’s NJCAA national tournament and will play a team from Tennessee on Monday in the first round. That’s a remarkable achievement in the program’s third season of existence, and Dawson has raised the program’s profile in a short amount of time.


How many teams from the SEC will get into the NCAA tournament? That’s a question I have been asked several times the past few days.

Two teams -- Florida and Kentucky -- are locks, but after that, the rest of the conference is pretty average. The perfect example of that is Georgia, which finished tied for second in the conference during the regular season. The Bulldogs won’t be in the NCAA tournament field without an SEC title Sunday (depending on what happened in their late game Friday night).

Tennessee might squeeze in as the third team, but after that, there isn’t a team in the conference that deserves an at-large berth.

That says a lot about this conference. It’s terrific in sports like football and baseball, but for years, the SEC has been average, at best, in basketball.

Maybe that’s why the local stations decided to not broadcast the tournament.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or

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