Thursday, October 16, 2008

News from Felton's Press Conference

Lots to like about Coach Felton's recent press conference. A lot of the good news had to do with players recovering from injury.

Jeremy Price. I had heard previously that he has lost a good bit of weight. That's great. He was too heavy last year. It wasn't just the matter of the total weight, but where it was located. He needed, in my opinion, to build up his upper body, while trimming down his trunk.

Price will never be skinny. In that sense, he is almost an ideal player for power forward in the SEC. You need enough beef to wrestle down in the post. But you still need to be athletic.

So, as welcomed as the news was that he has improved his conditioning, I appreciated even more the chance to learn from the press conference that Price played last year with a good bit of ankle pain or weakness, stemming from injuries suffered in high school. Basketball lends itself to a lot of ankle punishment. Coming down on someone else's foot is the usual cause. No surprise there. But the fact that Price's injuries were significant enough to require surgery, sheds some light on why Price did not move as well last year as he could have.

It is the combination, then, of Price's weight loss and the off-season surgery that increases my hopes that he will be more explosive this year. He already dunks with authority. Has good hands. He could do so much more, though, if he could run a little faster, elevate a few inches higher.

Chris Barnes. The good news on Barnes is that Coach Felton said that he might be the most improved player on the team. Barnes has big-time athleticism. I more than once have mentioned that Barnes could give Georgia contributions like Trevor Booker does at Clemson. Unfortunately, injuries never allowed Barnes to play much last year.

Well, Barnes' knee is now healed. And other problems with his wrist were cleared up by surgery. Felton added that the surgery caused Barnes to have to use his left hand exclusively during individual work-outs.

Being forced to use the left hand, and growing in skill because of it, reminded me of Greg Oden's situation. Oden got much better at his off-hand while injured. Ohio State never got the full benefit of Oden's improved talent, since he opted for the pro's. I look forward to Barnes going around and over guys with either hand this year, and two more years after that.

Albert Jackson. Felton sounded really pleased with the development of Albert Jackson. I did not know that Jackson had dislocated his shoulder three times. Multiple injuries can definitely slow a player's progression.

Jackson will have to be the man in the middle this year. He will not be stuck behind Dave Bliss or Rashaad Singleton. There are no other upper classman big men. As the junior, he has to lead. There is plenty of playing time. Jackson, show us your improvement.

There wasn't much in the press conference on Travis Leslie or Drazen Zlovaric. I wish that there had been more questions. I wanted much more information on the team. Judging from what Albert Jackson and Corey Butler said during the player interviews, Dustin Ware seems to be a really good athlete. I am a lot more optimistic on Travis Leslie than others who have posted on UGA-related message boards. I think he will be a huge addition to the team.

Basketball season is upon us and I am psyched.

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