Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Opportunity for HIT Vendors to Do Good

Yesterday, I found an email from Health and Human Services (HHS) in my inbox highlighting a new initiative where the “Obama Administration and Text4Baby join forces to connect pregnant women and children to health coverage and information”. The goal of this partnership is “to promote enrollment in both Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)”. Having more babies and children obtain insurance coverage is obviously a worthy endeavor, and if it can be accomplished by simply sending informative text messages to pregnant women, even better. Of course having insurance coverage doesn’t always translate into having access to an actual doctor, particularly for Medicaid enrollees.

In an unrelated coincidental turn of events, it just so happened that I have had the recent opportunity to spend time with large numbers of Pediatric practices, most of which were small independent practices in middle-class suburban areas. The main goal of these conversations was to elicit doctors’ opinions on Electronic Health Records (EHR). As expected, only a small fraction of independent Pediatricians are currently using fully certified EHRs, and amongst those there is an even distribution of happy customers and disillusioned ones. A significant portion is actively engaged in purchasing EHRs, but the vast majority is pondering on what to do next. It turns out that one cannot have any discussions about EHR without sooner or later digressing to costs and precarious financial situations. Yes, EHR usability, or lack thereof, comes up in casual conversation, but by far most doctors understand that paper is over and computers are here to stay whether they are perfect or not. The barrier to jumping on the EHR bandwagon is always financial. Pediatrics in particular is not a very lucrative specialty and cash reserves are practically nonexistent in these small practices. 

And here is where I observed a very interesting and very positive trend. These suburban practices are considering opening their doors to Medicaid kids in larger and larger numbers. Both the recession and the possibility of obtaining enough government incentives to cover technology purchases are responsible for this trend, which I observed locally, but may very well be larger in scope. Pediatricians (and pediatric sub-specialists) are only eligible for Medicaid incentives and only eligible for the full incentive if at least 30% of their patients are covered by Medicaid. Meaningful Use incentives were aimed at providing a partial solution to the cost conundrum, of course, but there is a chicken and egg dilemma here. You can’t get the incentives unless you buy the EHR and you can’t buy the EHR unless you get the incentives, or take a loan, which is a very frightening alternative for most small practices and for many independent physicians whose personal wealth has been decimated in the last few years.

For illustration purposes, the total first year cost of an average EHR purchase, including training, implementation and hardware is around $100,000 for a practice of 5 physicians. Medicaid first year incentives for such a practice would almost to the penny cover the initial EHR costs. More importantly, Medicaid first year incentives are based on the administrative activities of buying the EHR and NOT on achievement of Meaningful Use. It doesn’t make sense to ask Medicaid to advance doctors $100,000 based on a promise to buy an EHR, and it would be unwise to have Medicaid send incentive checks to EHR vendors, but there is a third option, which provides EHR vendors with an opportunity to do well by doing good, for a change.

Here is how I would structure this transaction:
  • EHR vendor in partnership with hardware vendor creates a bundled offering not to exceed the $21,000 per provider which is equal to the Medicaid first year incentive.
  • Practice submits proof of eligibility for Medicaid maximum incentive to vendor
  • Practice submits proof of registration with CMS and State Medicaid program
  • Practice contractually obligates itself to attest to State Medicaid and submit proof of attestation to vendor within an agreed upon timeframe from contract signing (10 working days should be fine)
  • Practice contractually obligates itself to remit full payment to vendor upon receipt of Medicaid incentives and no later than 6 months from contract signing
The value proposition to EHR (and hardware) vendors should be obvious considering that most of those who had the cash, already bought an EHR and the bulk of the remaining market is going to take its sweet good old time to “make a decision”. I do understand the implications of such arrangements to cash flow and balance sheets of technology vendors, but the competitive advantage to those larger vendors who can afford to make this offer would be big enough to warrant the costs, and the risk to the vendor is truly minimal. Yes, this would be similar to extending credit to the practice for six months, but psychologically this is very different, since there is much unwarranted mistrust amongst physicians that Medicaid will actually send them a check. Seeing that the vendor is willing to participate in taking the “risk” will generate significant and quantifiable good will.

The value proposition for society and the moms reached by Text4Baby is that the brand new coverage they are obtaining will actually come with a doctor happy to take care of their babies. Priceless.

SEC Hoops Power Poll - Week of February 26th

Read it in all its glory here.

Or just look at the list below. Whatevs.

1. Kentucky Wildcats 72
2. Vanderbilt Commodores 64
3. Florida Gators 62
4. Alabama Crimson Tide 52
5. Tennessee Volunteers 46
6. LSU Tigers 39
7. Mississippi St. Bulldogs 36
8. Mississippi Rebels 31
9. Arkansas Razorbacks 30
10. Georgia Bulldogs 17
11. Auburn Tigers 14
12. South Carolina Gamecocks 6

No surprises. Kentucky is unanimously number 1. South Carolina is unanimously voted off the island.


Extra Day of Hate

Today is February 29th.  We get an extra day this year to rub running the state with our 3rd and 4th team tailbacks, and our cornerback, in Tech's nose.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bubba Watson, Guest Coach

Bubba Watson, Guest Coach (Photo: AJC)
If you were at the victory over Florida on Saturday, you saw Bubba Watson and his wife Angie, a former Lady Dawg basketball player, featured on the insidious kisscam in the second half. I just noticed the above picture of Bubba calling a time out for the Lady Dawgs in their win over LSU this weekend.

Cool stuff while Bubba and Angie get some Athens time in.

UPDATE: Apparently this was a bet between Bubba and Coach Landers:

I think Landers should have bet him he couldn't hit it out of the state from Sanford, personally.

SEC Hoops Power Poll Ballot - Week of February 26th

Interesting week.
  1. Kentucky - The Cats are looking stronger and stronger. Anything short of losing in the championship of the SEC tourney before the Final Four will be a huge downer for Kentucky.
  2. Vandy - Probably could put them 3rd, but until Florida shows improvement in their new line up, Vandy is better.
  3. Florida - Not sure what the new lineup will do after playing together a few games, but they have some work to do to get back to where it was.
  4. Alabama - Quite a turnaround from two weeks ago. Three straight wins and now we are looking at a solid lock for the NCAA tournament.
  5. Tennessee - Not sure how, but the Vols are threatening to make the NCAA tournament.
  6. Mississippi State - No truth to the rumor that Houston Nutt will succeed Stansbury as the basketball coach.
  7. Ole Miss - Is there a worse 16-12 team in the nation?
  8. LSU - Five wins in a row go out the window with that flaming pile of poo they left on the floor in Oxford.
  9. Arkansas - I was prepared to put them 10th until they pulled out the road win at Auburn.
  10. Georgia - Huge win for the Dawgs over Florida, but it just illustrates the maddening inconsistency with which this team plays.
  11. Auburn - Hey, I heard Cam Newton was in town last week. At least they've got that.
  12. South Carolina - Yay! It is baseball season!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

EHR Certification 2014 Edition

As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released their proposal for Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released its updated requirements for EHR vendors intending to support Meaningful Use Stage 2. The document is chockfull of technical specifications and details which are probably more than any physician cares to know. There are, however, a couple of good reasons why you should have a general understanding of what your vendor, or soon to be vendor, is required to do because it will affect your finances and workflow and may also present some presumably unintended legal implications to your practice.

The ONC proposal introduces several new terms that you should be aware of in order to avoid confusion, particularly if you are contemplating the purchase of an EHR in the next couple of years. A great slide deck from ONC can be viewed here.
  • ONC HIT Certification Program – The EHR certification program has been renamed, so presumably any software you buy should state that it is ONC HIT Certified.
  • CEHRT – Certified EHR Technology – This refers to any software product that has received any type of certification under the ONC HIT Certification Program. It could be a Complete EHR or a just a Module or a collection of Modules. Note that the “C” does not imply Complete. Any given CEHRT may or may not be enough to satisfy Meaningful Use (see below).
  • 2011 Edition and 2014 Edition – ONC introduces the concept of Edition, since the certification criteria are different for 2011 and for 2014 and since it is expected that both versions could be available on the market concurrently. The Edition could be applied to a Complete EHR or an EHR Module.
  • Base EHR – ONC is defining a Base EHR as a CEHRT that has several capabilities considered mandatory for Meaningful Use. Your software package must include a Base EHR even if you can exclude some of its functionality from attestation. It is not clear if software vendors will be required to clearly state if their offering includes a Base EHR, or if it will be left to the buyer to validate that it is so.
In an attempt to provide some flexibility, mainly to hospitals and specialists, it will no longer be necessary to purchase or assemble a Complete EHR in order to qualify for Meaningful Use. Instead one only needs a Base EHR, plus whatever Modules necessary to satisfy Core measures that you cannot exclude, and the particular Menu measures you choose. You can, of course still purchase a Complete EHR, and most primary care physicians will need to do just that, but if you don’t, you should exercise extra caution and read the labels very carefully.

If you are a proud recipient of a Meaningful Use incentive check, or soon to be one, you will have to advance to Stage 2 starting January 1st of 2014. Since the measures for Stage 2 are a bit more difficult and the data collection, particularly for Clinical Quality Measures (CQM), is a bit more extensive, it is imperative that you have your 2014 Edition installed and ready to learn and test sometime in the third quarter of 2013 at the very latest. Remember how long it took you to start your reporting period for Stage 1, and give yourself enough time to prepare for Stage 2, since you will be learning the ropes of Stage 2 while maintaining performance of Stage 1. There is no down time between Stages and there is no margin of error in consecutive 12 months reporting periods. If your EHR vendor has a sign-up list for Stage 2 upgrades, get on that list as soon as possible.

Features & Functionality
The proposed EHR certification criteria for a 2014 Edition require significant retooling of existing certified EHRs. For those with fond memories of the additional charges levied by many EHR vendors for Meaningful Use additions in 2011, this is a cautionary tale to be repeated in 2013. You should expect various Meaningful Use Stage 2 packages to be offered by your vendor and charged separately above and beyond your yearly maintenance or subscription fees. Below are just a few highlights and by no means a comprehensive list of proposed big ticket items.

CQM Reporting – If you had to pay separately for this in Stage 1, you should expect a requirement to upgrade to a more expensive version in Stage 2, since the computational requirements are much larger in scope now. If your current software does not have a registry capable of submitting CQM electronically to CMS, one will have to be provided to you for Stage 2, and this will also cost you more money. There will be an additional time burden imposed on you or your staff for collecting various data elements which were not required for Stage 1.

Referrals – Just having your referrals going out electronically and containing the required data elements will not be enough for Stage 2. ONC proposes that at least 10% of your referrals are sent outside your organization to entities that do not happen to have the same EHR brand as you do. I trust that large health systems will be successful in lobbying ONC to loosely define the term organization and/or for exclusions to this measure for their members. If this requirement remains in effect for independent private practice, you will have to add a technology profile to your clinical and patient preference considerations before you refer someone. Since your referral choices now carry clear financial implications for your practice (Meaningful Use incentives), where there were none before, a conflict of interest between you and your patient may have just been created. [Note: For those of you who have been skeptical and dismissive of my incessant warnings that an EHR will become the cost of doing business and its absence may exclude you from the health care marketplace, this is how it starts.] Considering the obvious issues with this requirement, I am very hopeful that it will be reworded in the final rule.

Patient controlled information transmittal – Obviously patients should have the right to send their medical records to whomever they wish, and obviously (to me) patients should have full access to their medical records to view and copy or download. Most practices are using web-based patient portals for exactly this purpose, and also to realize other administrative efficiencies. Meaningful Use Stage 2 adds a requirement that your patients have the ability, and actually exercise it, to transmit this information to a third party of their choice. This means that your EHR vendor will have to provide HIPAA compliant, Direct Project compliant, information exchange capabilities for all your patients. It is likely that large EHR vendors will undertake the entire task, while the surviving small vendors will contract this out.
Without boring you to death with public/private encryption keys and security certificates details, you need to know that this is going to cost you a pretty penny and that there may be legal implications for your practice. Allowing patients to download their information and be on their own from that point on, as in your current Portal, or the various Blue Button implementations, can be handled with proper disclaimers and warnings. This new Stage 2 feature proposes that your patients use your software tools, at your behest (need them to do this in order to get incentives) to send protected health information out to recipients you have no control over. If anything goes wrong, and many things can go wrong, are you, as the secure platform provider, legally responsible for any unfortunate outcomes? If a patient (who may not even be your patient) sends you unsolicited information via this mechanism, what are your legal obligations?
In addition, and exhibiting a perplexing misunderstanding of an NIH funded project to allow patients to grant and revoke provider credentials to imaging studies, ONC is also proposing to incorporate transmittal of large imaging studies by patients to third parties through the same mechanism. Hopefully, I don’t need to elaborate on the consequences to your network and software performance once DICOM images start flowing in and out freely through your Patient Portal.

I sincerely hope that enough public comments are submitted to ONC to change their well-intended, but fraught with unintended consequences, proposals for Meaningful Use Stage 2. I would also like to urge you to get involved, read the regulations and find the time to submit your comments, because whether you have an EHR right now or not, these regulations will sooner or later affect you personally. The time to sit on the sidelines moping and groaning, while hoping that this will all go away, has long since passed.

Note: Public comments can be made here.

Georgia takes Florida Behind the Woodshed

After a long night celebrating the pwning Georgia put on Florida, I have arrived bask in the rightness of calling the shot. I had a feeling that this game would be a tough one for Florida, as they have shown a propensity for let downs (see both losses to Tennessee).  I also knew Georgia had to have a good day and play smart basketball. They did.

Yesterday, we saw the Georgia team that we'd hope we would see all season. Tough under the basket on both ends. Not afraid to get physical with the other team. Taking smart shots instead of aimlessly dribbling around or engaging in the halfassed passing offense until there are 10 seconds on the shot clock. KCP and Gerald had strong games. Ware had a huge game, too.

Also, mad props to the crowd. There were a lot of Gator fans in The Steg. At one point they started chanting some non-sense. Georgia fans drowned them out...and never got quiet after that. It was a good day. A very good day.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fox's Hounds Take on Gators at 4pm

Florida is the second best team in the conference. We are the second worst. Should be a blow out, right?

One important thing, Florida lost their best inside defender when Will Yuguete broke a bone in his foot half way through the second half in Florida's blow out win over Auburn. What does that mean for Georgia? The Gators will be trying out a new line up, likely going with a 4 guard look during long stretches of the game. The Gators size and physicality advantage down low will be negated. They will rely on zone defenses to help keep the size differences, especially down low, out of play.

What we need are big games from KCP and/or Gerald. We also need some combination of Marcus and Neme to go off on the boards. If Neme has his pull up J going early, the Gators will be forced figure out how to stop him, especially if KCP is hot from outside or Gerald is getting penetration looks.

If we come out and are lackadaisical, they'll mop the floor with us.


Friday, February 24, 2012

If the Human Body is Moderately Complex, What They are Doing at S&C is Confusing

They are here to pump you up.
Am I missing something?

I noticed this posted at UGA's HR site this afternoon. Now, I am not sure what this is for, but unless they are planning on giving someone a new title and need a quick turnaround job posting to do this, it looks like the S&C program is going to be adding someone else.

Like Paul, I'm thrilled.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Moving Up the Escalator to Stage 2

The eagerly awaited Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on Meaningful Use Stage 2 has been finally released in a sprawling 455 pages document. If you followed the discussions of the Federal Advisory Committees over the last year or so, you would know that Meaningful Use Stage 2 is just another small step towards an overarching goal of utilizing health information technology to support current policies aimed at providing better care for individuals, better health for populations and lower the costs of health care. We can agree or disagree on the wisdom of those policies, but if you are using electronic health records or just contemplating a move to computerized records, and have an interest in obtaining Meaningful Use incentives or avoiding penalties, you should have a basic understanding of what the next step on the technology escalator consists of.

Meaningful Use Stage 2 distinguishes itself from Stage 1 mainly by proposing a major push to health information exchange. It also brings a new level of complexity to the assembly of various data sets that are intended to be exchanged with other care providers and/or patients. It would probably be a bit simpler to define one superset of information and use it for all information exchange measures. The other notable feature of Stage 2 is that a couple of measures are completely dependent on patients’ willingness and ability to engage in Internet based communications.

Basically everything that was required for Stage 1 is also required for Stage 2, although some measures have higher thresholds, and others have been consolidated in one measure, or are just implied in other measures. For physicians, Meaningful Use Stage 1 had 25 measures, of which 20 needed to be met. Stage 2 has 22 measures, of which 20 need to be fulfilled in order to qualify for incentives starting in 2014 (yes, 2014). There is still a bit of wiggle room, but not as much as in the past. Finally, just like in Stage 1, there are several exclusions available for measures that do not apply to your practice.
The following is an (almost) objective summary of the newly proposed measures.

The Departed
The following Stage 1 measures have been removed from the Stage 2 list for various reasons as described below,
  • Maintain problem lists – incorporated into summary of care measure
  • Maintain medication lists  – incorporated into summary of care measure
  • Maintain drug allergy lists – incorporated into summary of care measure
  • Perform drug formulary checks – incorporated into the electronic prescribing measure
  • Drug-drug and drug-allergy interaction alerts – incorporated into the Clinical Decision Support measure
Golden Oldies
The following measures have not changed from Stage 1 to Stage 2, but those that were optional are now mandatory.
  • Generate one list of patients with a specific condition
  • Send reminders to 10% of patients (slight change: patients of all ages not seen in over two years)
  • Provide patient education materials to patients stays at 10%
Wee Bit Harder
  • Recording patient demographics increased to 80%
  • Recording vitals increased to 80%
  • Recording smoking status increased to 80%
  • Electronic prescribing threshold up to 65% for ambulatory practice and newly added for hospital discharge medications at 10%
  • Incorporate structured lab results into the EHR is up to 55%
  • Medications reconciliation upon transition of care increased to 65%
  • Recording existence of Advanced Directives has increased to more than 50% for hospitals only.
Full Step up the Escalator
  • Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) is now required for 60% of Medication orders, Laboratory orders and Radiology orders. Just to clarify, this is NOT a requirement to send orders out electronically. It is only a requirement to document the orders in the EHR.
  • Clinical Decision Support (CDS) is increased to the implementation of 5 distinct rules, related to 5 or more CQM. This should not be a major problem for most EHRs, unless the final CQM are very different than what was offered in Stage 1. Enabling drug-drug and drug-allergy alerts are in addition to the above.
  • Clinical summaries need to be made available to more than 50% of patients within 24 hours now, down from 3 days in Stage 1. Huge problem for those who don’t finish their charts on the same day. Clinical summaries should include at least the following items:
    • Patient Name.
    • Provider's name and office contact information.
    • Date and location of the visit.
    • Reason for the office visit.
    • Current problem list and any updates to it.
    • Current medication list and any updates to it.
    • Current medication allergy list and any updates to it.
    • Procedures performed during the visit.
    • Immunizations or medications administered during the visit.
    • Vital signs and any updates.
    • Laboratory test results.
    • List of diagnostic tests pending.
    • Clinical instructions.
    • Future appointments.
    • Referrals to other providers.
    • Future scheduled tests.
    • Demographics (gender, race, ethnicity, date of birth, preferred language). (New requirement for Stage 2.)
    • Smoking status (New requirement for Stage 2.)
    • Care plan field, including goals and instructions. (New requirement for Stage 2.)
    • Recommended patient decision aids (if applicable to the visit). (New requirement for Stage 2.)
  • Submission of data to immunizations registries is no longer just a test. Stage 2 requires ongoing submission to a registry. Hopefully by Stage 2 the current mess, where hundreds of fully certified EHRs are incapable of connecting to registries in reality, will be resolved.
  • Hospitals also need to have a working interface for lab results to public health entities, instead of just performing a test.
  • Menu Item (ambulatory): Syndromic Surveillance interfaces need to be operational for Stage 2. For hospitals this is mandatory.
  • Perform security risk assessment and remediation of deficiencies has not changed, but there is an explicit requirement to address “the encryption/security of data at rest”. So if you have your EHR server in your office, you will need your IT guy to pitch in a few hours here.
  • Reporting clinical quality measures to CMS increased from 6 to 12 for ambulatory physicians and is up to 24 for hospitals. There are extensive lists of measures and a couple of choices on how to pick them. Note that there are several new measures and that CMS is expecting to be able to receive these reports electronically by 2014 and therefore CQM reporting will be separate from Meaningful Use attestation for Stage 2. Unlike Stage 1, physicians would be able to elect group reporting for CQM.
New and Noteworthy
  • Hospitals must attest that 10% of medications are automatically tracked via an electronic medication administration record (eMAR).
  • View/Download/Transmit – First, more than 50% of patients must have timely online access to their health information 4 days after it is received by physicians (36 hours after discharge for hospitals). Second, over 10% of your patients must view or download or transmit their information to a third party. This will require a Patient Portal that can log visits and an upgrade to most portals to allow transmission of records to somewhere. You will need to have over half of your patients registered for the Portal, which may be a problem if most of your patients don’t have email accounts, since most EHR supplied Patient Portals require an email for registration. Note that you must somehow ensure that 1 in 10 patients actually logs into their Patient Portal account and looks at the records. The Portal must make available the following items at the very least:
    • Patient name.
    • Provider's name and office contact information.
    • Problem list.
    • Procedures.
    • Laboratory test results.
    • Medication list.
    • Medication allergy list.
    • Vital signs (height, weight, blood pressure, BMI, growth charts).
    • Smoking status.
    • Demographic information (preferred language, gender, race, ethnicity, date of birth).
    • Care plan field, including goals and instructions, and any additional known care team members beyond the referring or transitioning provider and the receiving provider.
  • Secure messaging with over 10% of patients online is another new measure that can be satisfied by having a Patient Portal. The language for this new measure indicates that the secure messages must be sent by the patients, so as with the above measure, you will have to somehow ensure that your patients send you online messages.
  • Summaries of care need to be transmitted for more than 65% of transitions or referrals. Of those over 10% must be transmitted electronically to someone not organizationally affiliated with you, AND that someone must use an EHR that is different than the one you are using. Choose your referrals wisely and make sure you inquire in advance about the EHR situation at the receiving end. You will probably have to type it in your EHR for record keeping purposes. If you work for a Kaiser-like organization, you may have a serious problem here.  Required data elements for these summaries are as follows (not sure why Meds and Allergies are excluded):
    • Patient name.
    • Referring or transitioning provider's name and office contact information (ambulatory only).
    • Procedures.
    • Relevant past diagnoses.
    • Laboratory test results.
    • Vital signs (height, weight, blood pressure, BMI, growth charts).
    • Smoking status.
    • Demographic information (preferred language, gender, race, ethnicity, date of birth).
    • Care plan field, including goals and instructions, and any additional known care team members beyond the referring or transitioning provider and the receiving provider.
    • Discharge instructions for hospitals.
  • Menu Item: Availability of images in the EHR is required for over 40% of orders for all scans and tests whose result is an image. Many EHRs will need some retooling for this and you will need some expensive interfaces to hit the 40% threshold, particularly if you order imaging tests at multiple facilities, assuming those facilities have the ability (and willingness) to provide you access to their systems. The last thing you want to do here is to have those images travel over the network. It will kill your bandwidth and your server.
  • Menu Item: Record Family History as structured data for over 20% of patients. This one is a walk in the park for practically all EHRs. Be sure to pick this one.
  • Menu Item (ambulatory): Reporting to a Cancer Registry. This will require an operational interface for the entire reporting period.
  • Menu Item (ambulatory): Reporting to a Specialized Registry (other than cancer). Here too a fully operational interface is needed. This is probably not much of a choice in most states.
If you managed to read to this point without falling asleep or suffering an anxiety attack, please note that this is just an NPRM and public comment is requested. Go ahead and make your opinions heard. CMS and ONC have listened to comments in the past and showed willingness to adjust. I would suspect that just like Meaningful Use Stage 1, these regulations will be much relaxed by the time the final rule is issued later this year, and further accommodations will be made as work in the field actually begins.

Note: Public comments can be posted here.

The Human Body is at Least Moderately Complex

UPDATE: Anthony Dasher says apparently Armstrong jumped the gun on this announcement. It isn't a done deal yet. I assume Dash is headed to the airport to find out.

Georgia has apparently hired Sherman Armstrong as the new Speed Coach to support Coach T and the UGA strength program. He's a qualified and proven expert in his field, and the owner of his own training business. He has trained over 40 pro football players and 60+ NCAA athletes including Reggie Bush. Prior to his work as an trainer, he was an All-American track star.

I am THRILLED with this development.

-- More about Sherman Armstrong
-- About VAST Performance
-- Pro Athletes Trained

For the past year or so, I have loudly complained about the lack of expertise in Human Performance Optimization in our Strength program. My basic beef has centered around UGA's painfully slow recognition that the human body is at least moderately complex, and it requires expertise (as well as dedication and effort) to get maximum return from our investment in our athletes.

Basically, we re-staffed the strength function last year with guys who were committed to bringing accountability, hard work and focus to the S&C program at UGA. The result was a harder working, stronger and more in shape Bulldog squad (Note: Groo used the term "tougher" and I prefer that to my description). Their efforts generated meaningful improvement, and it was good enough to get the proverbial ox out of the ditch. Coach T deserves a tremendous amount of credit for that improvement.

However, leap frogging Bama and LSU requires more than just hard work. It requires working smarter.

Last year, we welcomed our athletic department to the late 1990s by hiring an actual nutritionist to address the fuel for our players' bodies. Last year, we also welcomed the athletic department to the mid-2000s by opening a high end rehab facility for our athletes inside the renovated Butts-Mehre building. The facility now includes submersible running pools and other facilities that most of CUSA had installed years earlier.

Better late than never I guess. Regardless of my bitching about the past, I am glad to see the program rebuilding the infrastructure it needs to go forward. We have come a long, long way in the past 18 months.

Anyway...back to the Speed Coach. Do I think he's going to make our players inherently "run faster." Nah. But he can improve their change of direction, flexibility and endurance. Those are factors that will make them PLAY faster.

See Also:
-- The Future of Georgia's Strength Program - DawgsOnline
-- Team Speed Kills - Blutarsky


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

SEC Hoops Power Poll Ballot - Week of February 19th

  1. Kentucky - A conference loss might help the Wildcats, or their coach, going into the NCAAs.
  2. Florida - Are we to the point of buying Florida's ability to make a tourney run? At least they won't face the Vols there.
  3. Vanderbilt - Kevin Stallings re-ups his hair club for men subscription after getting the road monkey off his back this week.
  4. Alabama - Not sure why, but I think the suspensions might actually help Grant's team.
  5. Mississippi State - I have them too high, but no one below them has me convinced they are better.
  6. Mississippi - Did not compete, at all, last week. Seriously, did they send anyone to those games?
  7. LSU - Might go 10-6, might go 8-8, might go 6-10. Hard to tell with this group.
  8. Tennessee - They might be the best .500 team in the nation.
  9. Arkansas - I've got nothing, much like Arkansas does on the road.
  10. Auburn - Auburn might actually make the NIT, which is change I can believe in.
  11. Georgia - Youth + no inside offense=SEC fail.
  12. South Carolina - I know they beat Georgia. I know they beat Georgia. I know they beat Georgia. They are still worse. (See RPI, bad losses, no good wins).
I took all the 6-6 teams and went straight by the RPI. I am sure I saved plenty of brain cells and my reasoning is as sound as any. Also, I know South Carolina beat Georgia. I just couldn't find myself putting Georgia back at the bottom (I did so two weeks ago), considering the body of work between the two. I had Georgia last until I looked at the RPI and the wins vs. losses.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Trust in the Machine

Enigma Machine
We talk about trust a lot these days. Trust is one of those things that the scarcer it becomes, the more you find yourself thinking and talking about it. Trust is also a very fragile entity and it comes in a continuum of shades and magnitudes, from trusting your alarm clock, to implicitly trusting your mom, to trusting in God. Trust can be based on exact understanding (the alarm clock), reinforced by repeated experience (mom), or a result of pure faith (God). Trust that needs to be verified is no trust at all. Trust usually comes into play when one willingly relinquishes control over certain outcomes to a trusted entity. The amount of trust involved is in direct proportion to the importance of expected outcomes, thus “I trust you with my life” is very different than “I trust you to deliver my mail”.

For a while now, I have been following ONC’s efforts to build public trust in health information exchange and electronic health records, summarized in this appeal to patients: “If your health information is sent or used electronically, it's important that you trust the systems that protect it.” Yes, it is important and it is also not much different than trusting the United States Postal Service (USPS) to deliver your mail. You trust that your letter will be delivered in a timely manner to the intended recipient and nobody else. You trust that it will reach its destination in one piece, that nobody will open and read your letter in transit to “provide you with better service” and that the USPS will not make copies of your letters and otherwise use them or sell them to the highest bidder. Tampering with other people’s mail is a Federal offense subject to fines and jail time. Pretty good start, if you ask me.

When we advanced from paper letters to email, we paid a price for the associated convenience and instant delivery. Regular electronic mail has no envelope. Your email service providers reserves the right to read all your emails and use the content any way they see fit. Unless you take special precautions, anyone could intercept your mail and derive some joy from reading it too. Interestingly enough, most people became impervious to the loss of privacy. Now we are contemplating the exchange of health information through similar mechanisms, and we are being told that we should really use envelopes for exchanging health care information.

Our health care providers have been exchanging information about us for quite some time and much of this is done over the Internet now, but instead of using a public postal service, they established private networks and secured those as best they can, thus obviating the need for envelopes. This is very much like the diplomatic pouch system, where the channel itself is secured, but each secret document inside it is not necessarily locked down.  To be fair, the amount of data exchanged between health care providers (prescriptions, lab results, claims, radiology images, etc.) is so massive that it would be rather inefficient and expensive to start putting each message in its own separate envelope. The individual envelope system does make sense for exchanging small pieces of information with patients, and even for some small health care providers when they communicate amongst themselves and with larger ones infrequently.

But this is not just about envelopes. It is also about making sure that our messages go to the intended recipient and that we are certain that the sender is who he said he is. The last part is a bit tricky and the USPS, for example, never purported to verify the sender’s identity, maybe because mail fraud is punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment.  In lieu of similar laws for health information exchange over the Internet, we are being told that technology exists to protect us just as well. These technologies consist of software tools for proper authentication, non-repudiation, integrity, availability, confidentiality and the associated paraphernalia of cryptography, ciphers, encryption, public keys infrastructure, passwords, biometrics, tokens and networks of machines to support this mathematical infrastructure.

There may be value in explaining the technology to people, but even the most technology-challenged folks amongst us know enough to trust the machine, just like we know enough to trust that the alarm clock will go off in the morning, or that the TV will turn on when we push the power button. And we do understand that a certain rate of failure is to be expected. But, and there is always a “but”, we are not the ones pushing the buttons here. All these wondrous technologies are applied by an intermediary. Basically, we are delegating the stuffing and opening of envelopes to someone else and that someone else is not your trusted secretary of 25 years. It is a complete stranger, and if we are to comfortably exchange our secrets over the Internet, we must somehow trust that those intermediary folks are not reading our messages for entertainment in the lunch room, or making copies to read later or to sell to interested parties. It’s not about technology. It’s not about trust in the machine. It’s about trust in the operators, and we know next to nothing about those operators and their interests other than that they are called Health Internet Service Providers (HISP) and could be large clearinghouses like Surescripts, or your own EHR vendor, or a local health information exchange organization, or an independent technology firm, or anybody else selling electronic envelope stuffing and opening services.

There is of course HIPAA, and there are all the new regulations specifying what needs to be encrypted, how and when it should be exchanged, who gets to be the keeper of the keys, and the process by which we choose to participate or not. People have an expectation of privacy when seeing a doctor, although with the advent of health insurance, those expectations have been greatly diminished. We have come to accept that certain data about us is not private, but we are still holding on to the notion that other, very personal, things need not be shared outside the exam room. Doctors don’t usually report to insurers how much alcohol we consume, whether we are sexually active and in what manner, what we eat, which illegal drugs we use, how we sleep and all other intimate fears or dilemmas shared with a doctor. Your doctor is entering all this information in a computer now, giving it a life of its own, and since sooner or later this information will be leaving the doctor’s computer, it may end up in unexpected places, not because the system was breached, but because the “system” sent it there. Will it end up on Google? This is the trust issue that needs to be addressed. Or perhaps it doesn’t.

In a world where most folks are just fine with seeing targeted adds on every browser page based on the contents of their gmail messages, maybe it makes no difference to us if Google “knows” that our last A1c was >9 and a flurry of diabetic adds are unleashed when we browse the Internet. In a world unperturbed by having every smart phone equipped with what amounts to a keylogger, where the Internet Service Provider and the phone manufacturer, along with the keylogger vendor, read every text message you send, perhaps sharing your overactive bladder issues with these folks is also a nonevent. And if that’s the case, why would we even bother with triple DES or AES or Blowfish or Twofish encryption and PKI and certificates? Let’s just cut through the chase, do me and Google a favor and post the stuff to my Facebook page and maybe Tweet a quick clinical summary for my 5000 most trusted friends.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Commings Suspension

There has been some speculation that Sanders would be facing far worse than suspensions, since you know, you DON'T HIT GIRLS. The reports out last week were that he might be facing more from the University for violation of the school's conduct code.  Now with word out that he has been suspended for two games, it is safe to assume there is less to the story than has been made.

Before you go all YOU DON'T HIT GIRLS on me, I am very aware of the delicate situation Coach Richt is in here. However, every story has two sides, especially stories that involve 'he said, she said' that take place downtown after midnight. I am sure a few Pimm's Cup and Zima were ingested by the relevant parties, including the witnesses. That certainly doesn't give anyone the right to go hitting on someone, but it does call into question the validity of the stories of all parties, witnesses included. Likely, the truth lies between a mere push and a roundhouse MMA punch. Coach Richt would not have issued any suspension now unless he was pretty confident that Sanders is facing, at worse, misdemeanor domestic violence charges.

You can also bet part of his stipulation is that Sanders not have contact with that particular lady, or, at the minimum, engage in some sort of counseling to help avoid this happening again.  Hopefully, he'll abide by these terms.


Dawgs Lose to South Carolina

When you lose to a team that is as bad as South Carolina, you would think you could look at the box score and have something just jump off the page at you. Disparity in turnovers or shots taken or free throws. Something.  But...there isn't. Georgia just showed up and didn't play like it mattered if they won or loss.

We can blame poor ball management in the last minute for the loss, but it was an entire game of not being smart. We had two 7 point leads, yet still didn't do anything to stem runs by a team that isn't geared to make runs or score much for that matter. We again switched from an offense that was creating problems for them handle to one that they disrupted easily or we couldn't run (insert your own Bobo joke here). There is a stunning lack of outward care in Georgia basketball. I have no doubt these losses gnaw at the coaches and players, but from the outside, it looks like all anyone is saying is 'one of those basketball deals' [shrugs shoulders and walks away from the mic].

The last week was nothing but fools gold. Fools Gold, y'all. 

PS. I feel for KCP, as he is shouldering the blame with the big turnovers in the last SC run and the cold day shooting, but he was hustling on defense the whole game. He took some ill advised shots, but often he was the only one that wanted to actually take open looks instead of passing the ball.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

SEC Hoops Power Poll - Week of February 12th

Georgia gets out of the basement. Kentucky is unanimous number 1. South Carolina is unanimous number 12. Besides that Vandy and Florida are close and 5-9 are close.  Looks like everyone else had the same issues ranking the four of them that I did. Oh, and Tennessee at 6. Interesting.

1. Kentucky Wildcats 96
2. Florida Gators 84
3. Vanderbilt Commodores 82
4. Mississippi St. Bulldogs 73
5. Alabama Crimson Tide 53
6. Tennessee Volunteers 52
7. Arkansas Razorbacks 50
8. Mississippi Rebels 46
9. LSU Tigers 37
10. Georgia Bulldogs 25
11. Auburn Tigers 18
12. South Carolina Gamecocks 8

The full poll and comments are here.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Caldwell-Pope Not Considering NBA Draft

He's very talented, but the NBA can wait for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.  There is some hope for next season.

KCP wants to work on conditioning, defense and some ball handling skills.  Very mature move for a talented young player.

Mustaches Rule

Many thanks to the Anon commentor in the previous post. This was too awesomes to not get its own post.  God, I wish Willie had fantastic hair, too.


9 Game Schedules in the SEC: Baby and the Bathwater?

I realize I am treading into Blutarsky's territory by quoting Michael Elkon, but Elkon hit on something this morning at Braves and Birds that I have been thinking about for nearly a year:
I seriously wonder about Georgia fans who would normally pay thousands of dollars for season tickets looking at their athletic director and saying “you sacrificed the Auburn game, which is often the best game on the home schedule, in order to preserve a glorified scrimmage.  Screw you, I’ll buy tickets to the games that I really want to attend on Stubhub.” 
Greg McGarity and his colleagues shouldn't be in panic mode yet, but it does beg the point: if the TV money comes in big early, do the ADs really care if the stadiums aren't full for the Noon kickoffs against Troy?

Putting aside the Hartman contributions required to get to the purchase threshold (and assuming the student tickets net the same price as the other tickets), there is around $3.25M in ticket revenue from the regular tickets for a game in Sanford. Will the drop off in ticket sales be enough to matter?

For schools like Georgia, read: any SEC school that collects a substantial amount of money as 'buy in' to be able to purchase tickets, that is where the ADs have to worry. For a number of years, the ebb and flow of Hartman money has been dictated by the quality of the team Georgia has fielded in the immediately preceding years. Signs are pointing to a phase were that the ebb and flow will be based as much on what teams are playing  in Athens as anything. If the home slate is Georgia State, FAU, Kentucky, South Carolina, Missouri, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State, do you get excited enough to bump your contribution to ensure you get tickets? If the TV money is good enough, do the ADs care?

The one thing Elkon isn't figuring in is the intrinsic, and subjective, value of contributing to the Hartman Funds of the conference (belonging to an 'exclusive' group, helping the student athletes at a place you love, tax shelters) and being able to sit in the same place year in and year out.  What he likely figures, though, is the same people I complained about yesterday, the students, are next year's new Hartman Fund donors. If they aren't excited about seeing a noon kickoffs against a slate of Coastal Carolinas now, why would they be when the tickets are more expensive to come by?

I'm not talking about just Georgia/Auburn and Alabama/Tennessee. The LSU/Florida game and the Arkansas/South Carolina games have been very big draws for those fan bases, something I would expect of the Texas A&M/Missouri game. Same could be said for the value of the match up for television.

Paul mentioned it the other day, and I think he's right. Follow the money. What we see as throwing the baby out with the bathwater, Slive and the ADs see as simply cleaning the wash tub out to hold more money. In the end, if the money is right, the stadium is merely a prop for the show happening on the field. The NFL learned that a long time ago (think the 70's when nearly half of all games were blacked out in home markets, but the national product was sold and broadcast to great success). No one really cares that the Steelers/Bengals game is sold out, at least outside of Southern Ohio/Western Pennsylvania, we just want to see Hines Ward and AJ Green play catch, or Ben Roethlisberger prisonshowered sacked.

And to answer Elkon's question, I don't know what it'll mean to ticket sales over the long term, but it probably won't matter either way.


Who Has Two Thumbs and Wears Blue and Orange?

(h/t @bassindawg)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Virgin Media Deploys Online Talent Networking Solution

Market leading companies are embracing enterprise talent networking practices -- to gain a competitive advantage within their industry. While Online collaboration tools have been readily available for some time, few IT managers proactively combine them into a cohesive strategy to advance their organization's productivity.

That being said, it's been the tech-savvy forward-thinking executives that have led the cause to date -- enabling their organization to join the ranks of the early-adopters, and paving the way for others to follow.

Cisco announced that Virgin Media, the UK's top entertainment and digital communications company, is deploying the powerful combination of Cisco Quad, Cisco WebEx and Cisco Unified Communications to its eager employee base.

The solutions are part of the Virgin Media progressive "Flexible Working Initiative" that will enable thousands of employees to collaborate and work remotely -- utilizing video calls and shared documents, all easily accessible via notebook PCs, business tablets and mobile smartphones.

Sharing Tacit Knowledge Across the Enterprise

Cisco Quad will become a virtual knowledge bank that helps support online communities of practice, bringing together talent with common skills and interests. The platform enables the sharing of files or videos with co-workers across projects and workstreams -- offering instant WebEx conferencing sessions or instant messaging chat sessions -- all possible via the browser-based solution.

Quad allows users to quickly find resources or skills, prioritize work and team activities more easily. This platform will incorporate real-time decision making within WebEx conferencing sessions, through communities, activity feeds and watch lists -- all accessible via any browser or through mobile apps.

Finding and Connecting the Unique Talent Assets

Quad essentially allows Virgin Media employees to discover and participate in discussions with relevant internal groups that may have been previously unknown to them. This new capability will support their vision for a truly collaborative and flexible working environment.

"The ability of social media to actively engage audiences is proven, and we're making the most of Cisco's collaboration software to bring new ways of working to Virgin Media," said Elisa Nardi, chief people and services officer at Virgin Media.

Virgin Media will soon roll out the solution to its managers and staff that are working across teams and on company-wide projects.

Highlights of the deployment include:
  • Collaboration applications will offer greater flexibility to co-work from a variety of Virgin Media office locations and from participating employee homes.
  • The rich media capabilities extended through WebEx high-definition video help engage workers with a more face-to-face online experience.
  • Cisco WebEx can help shorten the time to make key business decisions -- just in time -- via quick and easy video chat conversations.
  • Cisco Quad can providing rapid access to information and people through its enterprise search capability -- which helps employees find relevant subject matter experts, content and active communities.

    Interesting Things You Learn

    Saw a tidbit on Texas A&M's growing pains that caught my eye that also shed some light on the shift of the student section into the corner and end zone at Sanford.  It seems there is a mini-brouhaha in College Station about moving the Texas Aggie Band to another place at Kyle Field. As we will come to find out, you don't screw with anything aTm does, as it is a tradition. Screwing with those things will lead to stern words and such.

    Seems like they'll fit in fine. Unlike South Carolina, the folks in Aggieland understand what tradition means.

    For the longest time I thought it was some combination of capturing the prime seats for the donors and the increasingly casual attitude about arrival at kickoff we see from students that resulted in the student section at UGA being moved further into the corner.  Now I see it is an SEC rule.


    SEC Hoops Power Poll Ballot - Week of February 12th

    Honestly, I don't know how to do this anymore. Beside clearly moving Georgia up from the bottom and leaving Kentucky at the top, it is a very jumbled group.

    1. Kentucky - It is hard to imagine this team losing a contest in the league now.
    2. Vandy - Second by default after the turds Florida and Mississippi State laid this week.
    3. Florida - Glad to see the Curse of Pearl lives on, at least for the Gators.
    4. Mississippi State - Sidney showed he is the biggest drama queen not on reality TV and lost the Georgia game for State, but luckily Bama lost to LSU, so they are still 4th.
    5. Alabama - Really didn't want to put them this high, and I expect them to fall with the suspensions, but the others just keep doing enough to stay below them.
    6. Mississippi - Just don't see the Rebels doing anything more to make it into the NCAA tournament.
    7. Arkansas - 40 minutes of hell, my ass.
    8. LSU - Nice little season the Tigers are putting together. It isn't a stretch to say they are the feel good story of the conference.
    9. Tennessee - Vols always seem ready to face the Gators. Too bad they don't play Florida every game.
    10. Georgia - First winning streak of the conference slate for the Bulldogs. Can they keep the rebounding up enough to make a post season run?
    11. Auburn - Auburn is back to being Auburn after putting up big offensive numbers for a couple of games.
    12. South Carolina - The Gamecocks are literally hoping for a first round loss in the SEC tournament so they can get back to Columbia for the Princeton baseball games.\

    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    Dawgs Beat Bizzaro Dawgs

    If you say Gerald Robinson only scores five points in 40 minutes, you have to assume Georgia loses any basketball game they are playing in. In the same week he goes off against Arkansas for 27, Mississippi State kept him off balance to the point he only managed five points in 40 minutes.  KCP has something to say about that now, though.

    Kentavious goes off on both ends of the court, Georgia out rebounds an opponent again, this time an opponent that is very good at rebounding (3rd in the conference at nearly +4 margin on the season) and Georgia forces Mississippi State into overtime, where the Gerald Robinson show began.  Gerald comes up big with 8 of Georgia's 11 points.  The other three? KCP's long distance dagger to win it.

    Importantly, Georgia played another full (or full+5 minutes) of solid basketball. We are hustling and everyone is playing tough and aggressive defense.  Yes, some shots are falling, but yesterday, we took nearly 20 more shots than Mississippi State and had nearly our same % of shots fall. We have to keep out rebounding teams to have a chance at winning these games.

    Right now, all Georgia has is playing to ruin other team's post season plans. Keep this up and it could be more than that. As I said the other day, I don't know what Coach Fox told them after the double tech in Knoxville, but he needs to write it down and make posters.


    Friday, February 10, 2012

    Explain the Franklin/Vandy Love to Me

    The non-sense around James Franklin's "men of honor" quotes (or misquote, if you have any reason to believe him) continues.  We all know it was Kiffin level douchebaggery when he said it. Also, he knew exactly what he was saying, when he said it, and that he did so intentionally.  We all thought it interesting on the day he said it, since he had gotten one of those men to leave North Carolina after the kid began orientation.

    Yeah, Larry Fedora isn't impressed:
    “What does [Franklin] say about the kids that were committed elsewhere and de-committed from their places to go to his place? That’s my comment. What is his comment on those people? He’s got someone in his recruiting class that did that very thing. He’s saying those guys are not men of honor? Basically, he’s saying he has got kids in his own recruiting class that are not men of honor. He said that, and I didn’t.”
    Hey, I love me a good pissing contest.  My money is on the guy who is named after a hat, as opposed to an asshat. Blutarsky, as per usual, has a good take on that side of it.

    My question is this: What about Franklin's actions suddenly make him some cult hero or actually make Vanderbilt a force to be reckoned with? Just talking to the casual Georgia (or SEC, for that matter) fan, you would think he signed a Top 10 class.  He did...Top 10 in the conference. Yes, they were more competitive than normal, but they beat no team with a winning record.  The closest they came was their game against Georgia.

    Someone is going to have to explain to me why Franklin isn't Lane Kiffin, but with a lesser coaching pedigree. Is it because of his 'We aren't going to take it' attitude and the fact he wanted to fight Todd Grantham?

    What I saw was a team that was undisciplined to the point of danger and that had the inability to close. Definitely sounds like Kiffin to me.


    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    Who is McGarity Talking to?

    The buzz today mostly centers around McGarity's comments last night which alluded to the possibility that Georgia might not play Auburn every year going forward.  My question...who is that message really aimed at?  McGarity doesn't make that comment on the record to the Athletic Board without having a bigger audience in mind.

    There are really only two possibilities:
    1.  ESPN/CBS as the Target -- The SEC wants a major bump in revenues from ESPN/CBS in broadcasting rights.  To get that bump, given that we expanded without a specific monetary promise of greater revenue* from our TV partners, they need some sort of leverage.  The idea that the SEC desperately wants to avoid a 9 game schedule could be little more than a negotiating ploy.  "We're so willing to avoid an 9 game schedule, that we would be willing to give up UGA vs. AU and Bama vs. UT to stay where we are....unless you made us one hell of an offer." leak our fear that the AU series would be lost due to the emphasis we're placing on the 8 game schedule.

    2.  The Fans -- This could be McGarity's way of bracing us for the worst in hopes that whatever solution we ultimately end up with is better than the tradition killing loss of the yearly AU series.

    Personally, I think the ADs and Presidents care more about money than:
    -- Making fans happy
    -- Making coaches happy
    -- Making players happy
    -- Making faculty happy
    -- Making TV partners happy

    And there is more money in a 9 game SEC schedule than an 8 game SEC schedule.  A better inventory of TV games means more dollars from TV.  Plus, this is a competitive market. The ACC and Big XII both have a 9 game league schedule going forward while the Big Ten and Pac 14 have scheduled a cross conference competition every year to act as a defacto 9th league game for the Big Ten and potentially the same for the Pac 14.

    Therefore, my thought is to follow the money on this one.  If we're not going "all in" with greed vs. the best interest of the fan, coaches or players, then no one is going to be happy and no objective will be met fully.  So...assume we're all in with greed.  Everything else suggests that is the case.


    *I think we can all agree that it was dumb to make such a move without a greater revenue guarantee on the front end.

    In Other News

    Men's Golf and baseball just got a little less deep:
    • Closer Tyler Maloof will be out for at least a month with a muscle strain in his arm. Maloof tied the single season save record last year, but had a big ERA. We were looking to have him get stronger in close situations. Now we might not have him available until well into the SEC schedule. Blake Dieterich and Bryan Benzor are the top candidates to get the ball for now.
    • Bryden Macpherson has decided to withdraw from school and take up golf as a profession. Macpherson qualified for The Masters with a win in last year's British Amateur Open. Macpherson was the SEC Freshman of the year and a big part of our National Championship runner up finish last year. I expect to hear some muffled 'Go Dawgs' when he tees it up in Augusta.

    Well, That Happened: Georgia Dominates Arkansas

    Gerald Robinson doing his thing
    (AP Photo/The Athens Banner-Herald, AJ Reynolds)
    You know, after getting my hopes up and having them dashed against the rocks of cruel realism, last night was salve for my basketball soul.  Georgia so thoroughly dominated Arkansas that it felt like we were winning by more than 20 the entire second half.

    We've been down this road before: play well in the first half, come out flat in the second half.  Didn't happen this time. I'm not sure what Mark Fox said to his team after getting the very quick double technical in Knoxville, but he needs to write it down. Make some posters and sell them to Successories.

    The technical details? Robinson played with the confidence he has shown at time, but hasn't captured for a whole game. The front court dominated the boards and didn't play weak when the ball was shot.  Our offense was consistent and well run. We out rebounded Arkansas, we out hustled Arkansas, we out defended Arkansas. Marcus Thornton showed the promise of the strong front court player we signed. Neme showed his defensive performance against Alabama wasn't a mirage (plus he drained two beautiful threes, hello European basketball). It was 40 minutes of hell, but for the wrong reasons for the Hogs.

    The Hogs are a middle of the road SEC team. Until last night, they were a tournament bubble team. Last night put them squarely in next four out territory. You don't lose to a team that has played such bad basketball by 20 and make the NCAA tournament.

    For one night, one glorious night, Georgia played a full game of good basketball. It might have been fools gold, but it sure glitters right now.

    SEC Hoops Power Poll - Week of February 5th

    1. Kentucky Wildcats 96
    2. Florida Gators 88
    3. Mississippi St. Bulldogs 76
    4. Vanderbilt Commodores 75
    5. Alabama Crimson Tide 62
    6. Arkansas Razorbacks 55
    7. Mississippi Rebels 49
    8. LSU Tigers 37
    9. Tennessee Volunteers 37
    10. Auburn Tigers 24
    11. South Carolina Gamecocks 13
    12. Georgia Bulldogs 11

    No surprise Georgia is at the bottom (we voted Monday night before last night's pwning of Arkansas).


    Monday, February 6, 2012

    SEC Hoops Power Poll Ballot - Week of February 5th

    Yeah, we have a new bottom team.

    1. Kentucky - Game of the season looming with Florida going to Lexington. 'Cats are going to be challenged in this one.
    2. Florida - We are about to see just how big the boys from Gainesville are with the trip to Lexington looming.
    3. Vandy - Good news, Vandy gets to play two at home this week. Bad news, Kentucky is one of those two games.
    4. Alabama - Strong RPI+bad losses+a winning streak=bubble talk.
    5. Mississippi State - I probably penalized Mississippi State too much for the loss to Florida and the uninspired win over Auburn. 
    6. Arkansas - The Hogs are winless on the road. Much like was for the Spartans, the trip to Athens will cure that.
    7. Ole Miss - The best team you've never heard of or the worse team you keep hearing about?
    8. LSU - Can the Tigers make the NIT? Their remaining schedule sets up well for them to make a run at the postseason.
    9. Tennessee - Still struggling. The Vols get a break with Georgia-South Carolina back to back at home, which is the metaphorical equivalent of having access to a beach house and a morally casual friend in town.
    10. Auburn - Auburn is playing its best basketball of the season right now. Of course, that bar isn't set too high.
    11. South Carolina - Movin' on default. They still suck, but Georgia sucks more.
    12. Georgia - Not a hard choice after the worse game of basketball played by Georgia in four seasons at Auburn. The Dawgs are a team going the wrong direction fast. Just like their offense.
    Vandy, Mississippi State, Alabama and Arkansas are very close right now.  I gave Vandy the nod due to RPI being nearly 30 points higher than Mississippi State's, even though the Bulldogs beat them. Honestly, I spent more time on these four than I have all season on any one ballot.  


    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Lest We Forget Those That Do Well

    I know it is the fashionable thing to do, but don't get so caught up in what happened with the three that are now gone that you forget those that are still representing the Dawgs well.

    Brandon beat out Arkansas' Joe Adams, Oregon's LaMichael James and Toledo's Eric Page for the award.

    Congrats Brandon. You are a DGD.

    Thursday, February 2, 2012

    Georgia and Auburn Set Basketball Back 65 Years

    I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Georgia basketball is not far removed from the Felton days right now. We have more talent. Regretfully, the team is playing like it doesn't have more coaching than it did.

    Last night, I wanted to do a very long rundown of all that went wrong. Now, suffice it to say that list is depressingly long. If we win any more, beyond South Carolina, it'll be a surprise. Losing to South Carolina won't be a surprise.


    Joshua Harvey-Clemons Can Be Commented On

    Kipp Adams continuing the great coverage:

    Or maybe wait on commenting:

    And it is in.

    NSD Review

    Nothing really to talk about? Another top 10 class. Big gets on defense. Punter and kicker of the future. Some offensive line help. We could have signed a couple of more, but over all the 2013 class looks deeper, especially in state, than the 2012 class does. As long as we take care of business in 2013, a smaller class this year isn't that big of a deal.

    So, anything else blog worthy going on about signing day? Oh, Joshua Harvey-Clemons.  My take: Give the kid...and his family...a break. Before you start with the 'you don't want to win' and 'be a Florida fan you f$*@$*g,' understand this: They are making a decision about where their family member will always be associated with.

    As a Bulldog fan, I am mad that his grandfather would hold him up from his dream. As a parent, I understand. I believe Josh when he says he is 100% Dawg and is coming to Athens. I believe he is coming to Athens. His family will understand that his desire to succeed at the place of his choosing will, and should, win over any concerns of distance (or whatever it is that the Clemons are concerned about). Plus, his family can't keep him from enrolling at Georgia, so even if the LOI never gets signed, he can show up on time and play on scholarship.

    Finally, I am not calling shenanigans, but why would the family want him at Florida with Coach Boom MF over Georgia with Coach Richt? Any ideas, other than the distance thing?


    PS. Yes, I know the mystery recruit never materialized. I have thought all along the mystery recruit was someone who hadn't really mentioned UGA, so if he'd have decided to come to Georgia, it would have been beyond a shock.

    PSS. Blutarsky has art.

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    National Signing Day

    Over night there were a couple of interesting developments:

    1. Josh Harvey-Clemons didn't narrow his choices to two. Does it mean anything? Not sure. Some say it has to do with his cell phone being left on Nevin Shapiro's boat in Miami. If I had to guess, it makes me think Georgia and FSU aren't the slam dunk top two.
    2. Eligwe narrows to two. UGA ain't one. Swing and a miss.
    Follow Bernie or Hedges to Hardwood's live blogs.  Should be an interesting day.