Sunday, March 2, 2003

Georgia seeks to refocus after latest charges


Harrick Jr. barred from game vs. UK

ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia handled its off-court problems well enough last season, overcoming the suspensions of three players to win the Southeastern Conference East Division title.

Now, the Bulldogs have their hands full again.

Assistant coach Jim Harrick Jr., the son of coach Jim Harrick, was suspended indefinitely Friday after a former player accused him of paying his expenses and committing academic fraud.

He won't be on the sidelines today when No. 21 Georgia faces No. 2 Kentucky.

"I think it can be very distracting," Wildcats guard Keith Bogans said. "It takes a lot of focus off the game, but they still have a ballgame to play, and I'm sure they'll be ready to play."

In 2001-02, Tony Cole, the former player who made the charges against Harrick Jr., was suspended after 16 games after he was charged with rape.

When the charges were dropped, he wasn't reinstated, and he left the program.

In an interview with ESPN, Cole said the younger Harrick paid $300 for a phone bill that Cole ran up while staying with the mother of a friend during the summer of 2001.

Cole also said Harrick Jr. took, or arranged for someone else to take, two correspondence courses for him from Lincoln Trail College. Harrick Jr. also taught a coaching class at Georgia and gave Cole an "A" even though the player never attended the class, Cole said.

Cole added to his allegations Saturday, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

• He bought a 28-inch color television from Circuit City in Athens with the personal credit card of Jim Harrick Sr.

• Mike Young, a Georgia basketball booster, has given him as much as $900 in cash over the last couple of years, including $300 for a one-day shopping spree.

• Other players currently on the team have received improper benefits through Young and others.

The older Harrick closed practice Friday after making a brief statement regarding the accusations.

"Despite the many issues we've had in the past with Tony Cole, we take these things seriously," Harrick said. "To attack our program is something that I really take very seriously.

"I'm very, very confident that we'll come to a swift and positive answer to all of these questions."

Kentucky (23-3, 13-0 SEC) has the nation's longest winning streak at 17 games, and a victory over the Bulldogs (17-7, 9-4) would assure the Wildcats of a tie for the division title with Florida.

"I expect us to ... stay focused on the task at hand," UK coach Tubby Smith said.

"As we've prepared, I think this team has shown that type of maturity, that they're not easily distracted, and that they do have the ability to not forget what got them here."

Georgia has won four straight after it lost 87-67 at Kentucky Feb. 11. Jarvis Hayes appears fully recovered from a hip flexor, averaging 27 points in the past three games, and he had a season-high 32 in a victory over Mississippi on Wednesday night.

"He's a little more energized, I can see," Smith said of Hayes. "He's playing with a real high energy level. He's elevating on his shot better, and he's rebounding and going to the boards hard; he's doing a lot of things smoother."

No. 2 Kentucky at No. 21 Georgia

Tipoff: 4 p.m. today, Stegeman Coliseum (10,523), Athens, Ga.

Records: UK 23-3 (13-0 SEC), Georgia 17-7 (9-4).

Radio: WSAI-AM (1530).

TV: Channel 12.

Series: UK leads 100-19.

Line: Kentucky by 1.

KENTUCKY

PlayerYr.Ht.PPG
Chuck HayesSo.6-68.9
Erik DanielsJr.6-89.8
Marquis EstillSr.6-910.7
Keith BogansSr.6-516.3
Gerald FitchJr.6-312.4
Coach: Tubby Smith (155-46, 6th season; 279-108 overall).

GEORGIA

PlayerYr.Ht.PPG
Jarvis HayesJr.6-718.4
Chris DanielsJr.6-710.3
Steve ThomasJr.6-89.4
Ezra WilliamsSr.6-416.9
Rashad WrightJr.6-37.7
Coach: Jim Harrick (65-52, 4th season; 468-234 overall).




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