Georgia Coach Upset About Dirty Play Charges

The Morning News/Razorback Central
Posted Feb 9, 2005

FAYETTEVILLE -- Georgia coach Dennis Felton is mad as hell, and he's not going to take it anymore.

After his hopelessly outmanned team was accused twice in a week of dirty play, Felton took on South Carolina senior Carlos Powell and Alabama coach Mark Gottfried on Monday.

Felton called Gottfried's implications after their Jan. 30 game "absolutely false and inaccurate" and accused Powell of "theatrics" during the Bulldogs' 60-53 loss to South Carolina on Saturday.

In his second year taking over for disgraced and dismissed coach Jim Harrick, Felton has felt the crunch with seven scholarship players, one junior and no seniors.

The Bulldogs (5-12, 1-8 Southeastern Conference) are losing by 13 points per game and getting hammered by nearly 10 boards each time out.

Felton said his team is "physically weak" and incapable of the roughhouse tactics others are accusing it of.

"I find myself all of a sudden lately answering a lot of questions and a lot of charges about us being a very overly physical team and dirty team and all that sort of thing," Felton said. "I'm disappointed because it's being sparked by disparaging remarks from around the conference recently, from opposing coaches and players and that sort of thing.

"I'm really disappointed in that behavior. I'm disappointed that it's going unchecked. It's basically building a perception that just flat out isn't true."

Felton said Powell's comments after getting poked in the eye twice against Georgia created a false perception about the game for people who didn't see it and he offered to send video of the game on DVD or VHS to anyone who wanted to see it for themselves.

"That game was not physical at all," Felton said. "It was very lightly played. All of a sudden everyone is perceiving it to be a physical game because one of their players (Powell) went through all kinds of theatrics during the game on the court and after the game made disparaging remarks about our players.

"You can watch for yourself. You can see that player throwing himself around the court and being very dramatic and theatrical about plays that flat out didn't occur."

After Georgia committed 42 fouls and all five starters fouled out in Alabama's 75-47 win against the Bulldogs, Gottfried questioned Felton's style of play.

"Everyone can choose a certain style to play," Gottfried said. "To me, that's not basketball."

Gottfried stood by that comment on Monday but said he "wouldn't comment on" if he thought Georgia crossed the line into dirty play.

Arkansas coach Stan Heath, whose Razorbacks (15-7, 3-6) host Georgia this Wednesday, said all he's seen on tape from Georgia is aggressive play.

"They have to play hard," Heath said. "We have to play hard. Everybody has to play hard. I think sometimes teams probably have 'no layup rules' where you have to foul a guy instead of giving up a layup," Heath said. "That's what I've seen. I haven't seen anything that indicates they're trying to hurt players on the court.

"I don't think Dennis is condoning that (dirty play). It's hard, aggressive play. You have to do things to give yourself a chance to win. Being aggressive is a part of that."

Felton said Gottfried's comments and South Carolina coach Dave Odom using Georgia's physical play as a motivation for his team is creating an "unfair" perception and playing environment.

"(South Carolina) players went flailing and falling on to the court acting like we shot them," Felton said. "Watch it on tape and you'll see that absolutely nothing of the sort happened. A lot of acting. A lot of drama.

"But I felt it impacted the game and it's impacted the way our games are being viewed and officiated.

"It's manipulative and it's unfair."

LSU coach John Brady, whose Tigers won 95-79 against Georgia on Feb. 2, said any coach who thinks Felton coaches dirty play is "on Pluto."

"If I'm Dennis Felton, I get upset, too," Brady said. "Because you're attacking what kind of person he is and what he allows his players to do."

Felton said other coaches may be expecting the understaffed Bulldogs to not pose a challenge, but their aggressive play will continue.

"There's plenty of folks around here that would like pitiful old Georgia to just lay down and quit and not compete and just do what we're supposed to do, and that's get beat," Felton said. "That's not going to happen."

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