Photo by Dean Legge / Dawg Post
Georgia Basketball

The Three Things Tom Crean Should Try Soon

May 30, 2018

ATHENS - Kirby Smart challenged the norms of what was going on at UGA. He pushed the imagination of fans - 93,000 people for a spring game?

It’s no longer a concept. It’s becoming a UGA tradition at this point. 

Tom Crean, who seems to be bending over backwards to get the word out about his program (and take notes from Kirby at the same time), should very seriously consider these three things:

A scrimmage downtown in Athens, a home game at Sanford Stadium and figuring out how to take make an event out of the Georgia Tech-UGA basketball game on MLK Day in January. 

The scrimmage downtown isn’t anything new in the world of college basketball. Illinois has done it in the past, and I am sure that other schools do it as well. A Midnight Madness-style event on a Thursday, Friday or Sunday night in late October would a good way to market for the coming season. 

It would be popular, too. 

If Athenians will come out in droves for a bicycle race, they’ll come out for a Georgia sporting event downtown. 

The end of College Avenue, just before the Arch and the opening to campus, would provide an ideal location for the event. It means shutting down only one block of one-way traffic. It would be a great way to achieve positive movement for the town-gown arrangement that is UGA and Athens.

A home game at Sanford Stadium would be a first, and possibly a logistical challenge. But if college basketball teams can play outside on aircraft carriers, they can play at a football stadium… in fact, the already do that now for the Final Four. 

Invite North Carolina, Indiana (FUN!) or Syracuse to come down. If they say no, invite Mercer up, or Florida State or whoever to start the season Between the Hedges (or on the new bridge). 

Position the court in a corner of the end zone; sell tickets; or give them away first come first serve; get the game on ESPN or ESPN2 or SEC Network and soak in the publicity nationwide and the passion in Georgia. 

Finally, give Tech-UGA a yearly date on which it is played - MLK Day in January. This could be a difficult one to pull off because there are four entities involved (UGA, Tech, the SEC and ACC). Conference scheduling would make it complicated. 

But the game could spotlight one of the most important Georgians ever to live, and if it were played at the appropriate time, it would get national college basketball attention that day. I would continue to play the game in Athens and Atlanta - I wouldn’t agree to play the game in Atlanta only. Dr. King’s roots were certainly in Atlanta - at Ebenezer Baptist Church - but his actions took place around the South and the country. 

The NBA celebrates MLK Day with a blitz of games. Other sports leagues do the same with Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. 

Tech and Georgia should do the same with MLK Day. Its going to be difficult to figure out the logistics of the event, but that’s been challenging for the last 15 years as the game has jumped around all over the pre-conference schedule.

Tom Crean should dream big, and think about the value of these things to his young program. 

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