Landmark Season Full of SurprisesThe 2002 season for Georgia went far beyond the hopes and expectations of even head coach Jim Harrick. At the annual Southeastern Conference Basketball Media Day last October, the Bulldogs were picked to finish fifth in the Eastern Division, ahead of only Vanderbilt and well behind early favorite Kentucky.
Prognosticators had good reason to hold Georgia in such low esteem. The attrition from the 16-15 team of 2001 was simply too great to expect the Bulldogs to recover. Gone from that team were three starters and five of their top seven scorers, including All-SEC guard D.A. Layne.
Despite a perilously thin bench, Georgia in 2002 got improvement from all its incumbent players - and embraced the addition of the Hayes twins, All-SEC forward Jarvis and capable reserve Jonas - to assemble one surprise after another this year.
Foremost among them included:the first-ever SEC Eastern Division championship in UGA history, the program's best start in 71 years, the 10th 20-win season in school history, the program's 9th NCAA Tournament bid, the school's highest AP Top 25 ranking (15th) in six years, the first regular-season sweep of SEC hoops kingpin Kentucky in 17 years. and a win over the highest-ranked opponent in UGA history (then-No. 2 Florida). Dogs Take 1st-Ever SEC East Title
It came down to the regular-season's final day - and Georgia didn't
exactly grab it with gusto - but the Bulldogs claimed a one-third share of the 2002 SEC Eastern Division title. They did it with great help from Kentucky, whose win over Florida earlier in the day on March 2 prevented the Gators from taking the title outright. Two hours later Tennessee stopped Georgia's bid for sole possession with an overtime win.
For Georgia, the 2002 East co-crown was the program's first since the SEC expanded and was pared into East and West divisions. It was also the first time Georgia enjoyed the status of #1 seed at the SEC Tournament since 1990, when it won the school's only regular-season championship.
Attendance Records Fall in '02Georgia in 2002 certainly proved that winning is the best medicine in basketball. Because of that, the Bulldogs enjoyed a banner year at the Stegeman Coliseum box office. In the 8 SEC home games, they had 82,684 fans pass through the turnstiles for an average of 10,336. That factors out to 98 percent of Stegeman's capacity for those eight conference home games. Include the five pre-SEC games in the total, and Georgia's home attendance was 85 percent of capacity.
With six sellouts during the SEC season, the overall average home attendance for 2001-02 was 9,064, a school record, with a total cumulative attendance of 117,834.
Here are are the top five-ranking attendance years in Stegeman Coliseum's history:
Hayes, Williams Take All-Star HonorsJarvis Hayes and Ezra Williams reaped the rewards of the outstanding individual season that each enjoyed in 2002. Hayes was named to both the Associated Press and Coaches' All-SEC 1st team. He was also selected as the AP's Newcomer of the Year. Williams, meanwhile, was an AP 2nd-team All-SEC pick, a 3rd-team pick by the Coaches.
Forty-three all-time Georgia players have won All-SEC honors a total of 71 times. Hayes became the eighth UGA player to win consensus 1st-team All-SEC honors and the first since Jumaine Jones in 1999.
Harrick Reaches Milestone VictoryIn defeating South Carolina on Feb. 27, head coach Jim Harrick reached a significant personal milestone: his 450th career victory. He now has an overall record of 451-227 (.666). Among all active Division I coaches, Harrick began the season 28th on the list of career victories, also 28th when ranked by pct.
Other Noteworthy Items from '02Sophomore point guard Rashad Wright became just the 2nd player in UGA history to hand out at least 100 assists in both of his first two seasons. His 153 assists were the 2nd-highest single-season total in the history of UGA basketball. No mention of the 2002 season could omit the team's most versatile player, 6-7 forward Chris Daniels. The Albany native led Georgia in rebounding (8.0/game), blocked shots, steals, FTs made and FTs attempted, and he ranked second in assists and third in scoring (11.3/game).
2001-02 Individual HonoreesAll-Southeastern Conference
(AP, Coaches' 1st team)
(AP Newcomer of the Year)
(AP 2nd team, Coaches' 3rd team)
SEC Academic Honor Roll
SEC Player of the Week
(Weeks of Nov. 26 and Jan. 14)
SEC "Good Works" Team
Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic MVP
Rainbow Classic All-Tourney Team
CNNSI National Newcomer of the Year
NABC District 6 Co-Coach of the Year