Wizards

Coach Richt remains confident in No. 14 Georgia

201210062243818060210-p2.jpeg

Coach Richt remains confident in No. 14 Georgia

ATLANTA (AP) Mark Richt insists his confidence in his Georgia players and assistants remains firm after a lopsided loss to South Carolina left the Bulldogs in a hole in the SEC East.

Georgia has an open week before it plays at Kentucky on Oct. 20. The No. 14 Bulldogs (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) trail two undefeated teams, No. 3 South Carolina and No. 4 Florida, in the Eastern Division after their 35-7 loss to the Gamecocks on Saturday night.

The loss was complete in all phases. South Carolina took a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, and the rout was on.

Georgia scored more than 40 points in five straight wins before being shut down by South Carolina. The defense couldn't stop Connor Shaw, who passed for two touchdowns, or Marcus Lattimore, who ran for 109 yards and a touchdown.

Richt conceded South Carolina ``just physically whipped us.'' He said that's no reason to panic.

``I'm definitely not losing confidence in this team at all or our coaching staff or anything like that,'' Richt said Sunday. ``That's the worst thing you can do and that's what teams do when they panic, they tend to fall apart. Georgia is not going to fall apart. We're going to go ahead and get back to work and just get better at what we do and if we've got to make changes, we'll do that.''

Richt said his players can look back to the 2011 season for a lesson on remaining confident. Georgia opened last season with back-to-back losses to Boise State and South Carolina before winning 10 straight games to earn a trip to the SEC championship game.

``A year ago we were 0-2 and everybody wants to decide the sky has fallen and it's over for Georgia,'' Richt said. ``What did we do? We stayed firm. We believed in each other. We began to bang away and before we know it we won the Eastern Division.''

The 2011 team finished 10-4.

The loss to South Carolina was devastating, but Richt said ``It's one day, it's one game.''

``It's unfortunate it came out the way it did with so much at stake, but there's still a lot at stake as the season comes along,'' he said. ``The sun did come up and we've got to get back to work.''

Last year's 10-game winning streak ended with a 42-10 loss to LSU in the SEC championship game. Richt said South Carolina might compare with recent SEC championship teams.

``You know what, they looked that way,'' Richt said. ``It will be interesting to see. They've got a couple games away from home where they will have to see if they can continue that type of momentum and that type of emotion and that type of execution. I think time will tell. There are still some mighty big tests for them as there are for all of us in our league.''

It was difficult to find a bright spot for Georgia in the ugly loss.

Quarterback Aaron Murray completed only 11 of 39 passes for a career-low 109 yards.

Freshman tailback Todd Gurley, who rushed for more than 100 yards in four of his first five games, had only 39 yards on 13 carries. Keith Marshall, the team's other freshman, had only 37 yards.

Ken Malcome led Georgia with 45 yards rushing. He scored the team's only touchdown with less than 2 minutes remaining.

``After watching the film, some of it we just flat-out weren't blocking well enough, but I think a couple of times we could have gotten a couple big runs if we had hit it just right,'' Richt said. ``I think we missed a couple here and there.''

Murray learned after the game his father, Denny Murray, was to have surgery on Monday in Tampa for thyroid cancer. Murray tweeted Monday the surgery was successful.

Murray and his roommate, senior linebacker Christian Robinson, returned to Athens late Saturday night to discover their home had been egged and littered with toilet paper.

``Probably the worst 12 hours of my life,'' Murray said on his Twitter account Sunday.

Quick Links

Marcin Gortat's emotional return ends with a loss and personal vindication

Marcin Gortat's emotional return ends with a loss and personal vindication

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- The “Polish Machine” who now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers didn’t quite land the Hollywood movie script ending in his return to Washington.

Don’t fret for Marcin Gortat. Sure, the Wizards, his former team, fought back from a 24-point deficit for a 125-118 win. He’s good with his new scene. Gortat also has thoughts on his former situation and the turmoil brewing.

Gortat made his first appearance in the arena he called home for five seasons Tuesday night since a June 26 trade sent him to Los Angeles for Austin Rivers. He wasn’t sure of how the local fans would react. His journey in Washington ended bumpily, but the overall ride coincided with a positive turn for the franchise. The Wizards reached the playoffs in four of his five seasons.

“Well, obviously a very emotional moment,” Gortat said of his return. “Bottom line is that we came here to get a win. Unfortunately, we lost today. …It was great to be here.”

His arrival in 2013 following a trade with Phoenix led to the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2008. Three more postseason trips followed as did Mohawks and fabulous quotes. Gortat provided the power just before the NBA veered away from hulking frontcourts. His fame and fortune increased in Washington. His affable and oversized personality attracted fans.

Fans that watched the 6-foot-11 screen-setting center consistently provide double-doubles graciously applauded for the ex-Wizard during pre-game introductions. Gortat, who started 400 of 402 games played in Washington, appreciated the gesture.

“It was weird to sit on that side of the court and play against your guys,” Gortat said. “It was tough, very emotional and weird, but it’s business.”

Gortat wasn’t immune to criticism from fans and teammates during his time in Washington. Part of the reason he now plays for the Clippers is that the relationship with former pick-and-roll partner John Wall soured. When disapproval only went so far up the Wizards’ player hierarchy, it often stopped with the man in the middle.

The Wizards entered Tuesday’s game flailing. Many of the same players from prior seasons remained. Not Gortat, meaning any blame must land elsewhere. With drama engulfing the Wizards, Gortat proudly felt vindicated. He waited for the pack of reporters to clear before expressing such thoughts.

“Listen, the way I was traded out of that team, it looked like I was the cancer of the locker room,” Gortat told NBC Sports Washington. “I think that thing was verified and it was complete [expletive]. It is what it is now.”

Pregame Gortat wondered if the Wizards would join the ranks of teams creating tribute videos for returning players. He would be left wanting.

Rivers, the son of the Clippers head coach, received one in October upon his first arrival back with the team he played for over four seasons. Gortat remembered.

As the formal postgame scrum ended, the ex-Wizard made it clear he had thoughts to share and asked to be asked about the lack of a video tribute.

“Well, what do I think about that? A lot of guys around the league are getting tributes. It ’s obviously up to the organization, but I guess Austin Rivers did enough to get his tribute, but I didn’t do enough to get a tribute here,” Gortat said to NBC Sports Washington. “A few guys around the team understand. It was kind of weird.”

Taking the court with his former teammates was more different than weird, but ultimately cordial and competitive.

“Brad (Beal) fouled me a few times. He admitted he fouled me, but I didn’t get a call,” a chuckling Gortat told NBC Sports Washington. “John, yeah, we had our ups and downs, but at the end of the day, there’s no bad blood. We spoke at the end of the game, said good luck, stay healthy.”

Ultimately, Gortat made peace with his time in Washington. The fond memories outweighed the knocks. Members of the Wizards organization stopped by the Clippers locker room for a chat and a laugh. Gortat bear hugged Wizards equipment manager Jerry Walter to the ground.

The loss stung. Los Angeles does the stinging most nights. The Clippers entered with a five-game winning streak. Their 11-6 record puts them among the Western Conference elite. Gortat’s minutes are down (18 per game). Such limits would have bothered him in Washington. 

At 34 and knowing his NBA life could be fleeting with his contract expiring this summer, Gortat is cool with his new world.

“I’m great. I’m great where I am,” the 12-year veteran said. “I get to play and help the team as much as I can either on the court, off the court, in the locker room. I’m going to try to help my team and lead us as much as I can. We have great chemistry and a great team.”

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Former Raven Ed Reed takes step closer to Hall of Fame enshrinement

Former Raven Ed Reed takes step closer to Hall of Fame enshrinement

To the surprise of no one, former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed is one step closer to Hall of Fame enshrinement.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Tuesday that Reed was named one of the 25 semifinalist for the 2019 class. Reed, cornerback Champ Bailey and tight end Tony Gonzalez are the only first-year eligible players that made the cut.

An obvious first-year ballot Hall of Famer, the next step in the selection process for Reed will take place on Thursday, January 3 when the semifinalist are cut down to 15 Modern-Era Finalist.

Finalist then must receive 80% positive vote from the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee on "Selection Saturday," one day prior to Super Bowl LIII. No more than five Modern-Era Finalist can be elected in a given year. The finalist will be formally enshrined Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 in Canton, Ohio.

The Ravens selected Reed in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft, and he would go on to play 11 seasons with the organization. During those 11 seasons, he was voted to the Pro Bowl nine times, was a five-time First-Team All-Pro and started 159 of 160 games. 

On the field, Reed had 61 interceptions for 1,541 yards and seven touchdowns. In addition, the safety raked up 11 forced fumbles and 13 fumbles recovered for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Not to forget a Super Bowl XLVII championship.

Reed's enshrinement would make him the third Raven in the history of the organization to be enshrined in his first-year of eligibility alongside linebacker Ray Lewis and offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden. 

MORE RAVENS NEWS: