UGA players react to decision to dump Felton

The idea of whether or not Dennis Felton should be fired has been a lingering question around the University of Georgia Athletics Department for nearly two years.

But when UGA basketball players were told of Athletics Director Damon Evans' decision to relieve Felton of his duties today, the news still came as a surprise to many.

"This is very shocking," senior captain Corey Butler said. "I was actually quite disappointed, but I knew if the season continued this way that it would come to this. I was hoping that Coach would be kept on till the end of the season, but this is the nature of the business. It's really disappointing."

Just hours after returning home from a 26-point defeat at the hands of SEC-rival Florida, the Georgia players were informed by Associate Athletics Director Arthur Johnson of a team meeting.

The loss was Georgia's seventh consecutive defeat, making the Bulldogs the only team in the SEC without an overall winning record.

"I knew that something was up when they called that meeting," Butler said. "To have Arthur Johnson tell you that there's a meeting at 7:30 in the morning isn't a normal occurrence. When I heard about the meeting, I pretty much knew what we were meeting about."

Before making an improbable run in last year's SEC Tournament, it was widely speculated that Felton would not return for the 2008-2009 campaign.

After capturing the tournament title, however, along with bringing in highly touted recruits Trey Thompkins and Dustin Ware, the level of pre-season expectation surrounding the Bulldogs began to rise.

Georgia, however, was never able to live up to the hype.

Despite winning nine of its first 13 games, once SEC play began, UGA was unable to maintain its early season form.

Losing by an average of 12.1 points-per-game in its last seven contests, the Bulldogs' have yet to win a game in 2009.

"We were SEC Champions last year, but there's a lot of pressure that comes with that," senior Terrence Woodbury said. "Obviously, we just didn't get the job done on the court. The ball was in our hands and we didn't get it done."

Georgia will attempt to end its losing skid when it travels to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama on Saturday.

Similar to Georgia, the Crimson Tide will also be directed by an interim coach after Mark Gottfried resigned Monday, leaving the program in the middle of his 11th season.

Although UGA currently sits in last place in the SEC, Woodbury says the team goals are still achievable.

"We have a month and a half left, and we plan on reaching the goals that we set for ourselves at the beginning of the season," the Virginia Beach native said. "We've lost five straight SEC games and we're going to do everything we can to turn it around."

Long-time assistant Pete Herrmann will serve as Georgia's interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

"Coach Hermann is a great motivator," Butler said. "He's full of energy, and if we can get most of our players to play with Coach Herm's energy, we'll be a great team. I'm sure he'll do a tremendous job. I have no doubt in his ability."