December 8, 2008

Time to come together

It appears that the Georgia football team isn't the only one able to call team meetings.

Following Saturday's 76-42 loss to Illinois, the Bulldog basketball squad did, too.

But unlike the chat football players had prior to the game against Auburn, the one called by captains Corey Butler, Albert Jackson and Terrance Woodbury was a bit more impromptu.

Actually, after the game head coach [/db]Dennis Felton told his Bulldogs to shower and wait inside their lockerroom at Chicago's United Center until he tended to his media responsibilities, including his post-game radio show.

But the players didn't wait on their coach to get the conversation started.

Jackson certainly had a lot on his mind after the Illini outscored the Bulldogs 46-19 in the second half to finish with the 34-point win.

"I don't like to say that, but as a team we gave up and let them pull away," said Jackson, who along with the rest of his teammates hopes to snap their two-game losing streak Tuesday night against visiting Virginia Tech.

"What should have been a 13, 14-point loss turned into a 30-something point loss," Jackson said. "We just talked about how we had to have more pride."

Apparently, that wasn't all.

Jackson said the second-half against Illinois saw a lot of back-biting between players, verbal sniping at one another that the junior forward said can't be tolerated.

"We were going back and forth with each other and we can't have that. When the other team and crowd is going against you, you've got to stick together," Jackson said. "I really felt we did a poor job of supporting each other and that's something we're definitely working on, both individually and collectively."

Felton said he was proud of the players for addressing the issue themselves.

"That's a good thing. It's always a good thing when the guys take the initiative to talk," he said. "Communication is a great thing."

But was it a lesson learned?

Woodbury says he's not sure, and won't know until the Bulldogs (5-3) tip off against the ACC Hokes (5-3) Tuesday night at 7:30.

"You never know what you say is going t take hold until you play that next game," Woodbury said. "I hope everyone got the message. We need to be a team instead of just a bunch of individuals."

Win or lose, Woodbury said he wants to see on thing.

"I just want to see 13 competitive people. I felt like we played real soft (against Illinois) and we didn't have anybody step up and play like we needed to play or show the type of leadership that they needed to have," Woodbury said. "Most of that is under me, Albert and Corey, but there' are 13 of us and we all need to listen to each other. The best thing we can do is just play hard and be competitive and not falter like we did. I'm not sure if we'll get the win but we can at least do those things and play hard."

Leadership wasn't a problem for last year's team. Sundiata Gaines and Dave Bliss were each wore the badge of leader extremely well, and helped keep the team focused through even the most trying of times.

"Those guys were on us each night and we really got our energy from them," Woodbury said. "We've got to find people on this team who we can gain energy from ourselves."

Like Woodbury, Jackson is anxious to see how his teammate respond in Tuesday's final game before the Bulldogs take the next 10 days off for final exams.

"A lot of people might say this is a must win, but I really don't feel that way. We've got to show improvement every game. We're a young team and we've got to show the heart we've got, and execute, playing together as a team in order to get a win," he said. "Win or lose, I feel we have to show improvement. That's the biggest thing. We just have to improve."

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