Saturday, July 5, 2008

IU takes two scholarships from Crean

The comparisons to UGA 5 years ago are amazing.

New coach is hired and takes over after the last coach leaves under a cloud. Some of the new players depart or are encouraged to go. The best player goes to the NBA. Sanctions from the NCAA are looming.

The new coach looks down his bench and doesn't see much. Few if any scholarship players. Walk-on tryouts are announced, and it is made clear that the guys who make the team will have the opportunity to compete for serious minutes.

To make matters tougher on the new coach, the school announces self-imposed penalties. Georgia took itself out of the SEC Tournament and any postseason tournament consideration. Indiana took away two scholarships in anticipation of the same penalty being imposed by the NCAA for Indiana's failure to meet the requirements of the NCAA's Academic Progress Report.

Crean has been a cheerleader for his team, and he insists that IU basketball will be competitive, despite the overwhelming circumstances. However, the practical reality is that Crean will have to use his highest powers of persuasion and some creative scholarship management to see any level of success.

Can he do it? Can IU bear up under an NCAA investigation, media scorn, and scholarship limits? Can Crean work with players on athletics and academics? It can be done. Felton reached the NCAA's in 5 years. The Indiana alumni will have to pull together during the first few years while the IU basketball team rebuilds itself. Expectations will have to be tempered. The process will not be pretty. But it can be done. Good luck, Tom Crean.

Dustin Ware's Play

Dustin Ware's performance this year will be absolutely critical to UGA's hoops success.

We have a sophomore point guard in Zac Swansey, and then there's Dustin Ware. No one else is currently on the horizon as a point guard. Since Billy Humphrey will not be available for spot duty, UGA is really thin at the most critical position on the court. What had been UGA's strength, with Sundiata Gaines, is now the team's most glaring weakness.

Now, if Brandon Boykin comes over from the football team, that's another matter, but the realistic scenario is that UGA will be relying on a sophomore and a freshman to man the point. I posted previously on what I would consider as Zac Swansey's strengths and weaknesses, and now I turn to his competition for playing time, Dustin Ware. How well can Dustin Ware perform?

Hard to say, since Dustin Ware has not played a minute of college ball. However, I decided to look again at Dustin Ware's stats for his last season at North Cobb Christian, and glean whatever information I could.

I am concerned with the number of three-pointers that Ware shoots. Granted, he shoots over 35% on threes, which is an impressive percentage. But he still shoots too many of them, in my opinion. His three-point attempts to two-point attempts is about even. I also don't like the fact that he gets to the line only about 3 times per game. That's not enough. UGA will need Ware to penetrate and dish, but also to take it to the hoop enough to get fouled and get to the line on a consistent basis.

With my concerns duly stated, I have to admit that I am optimistic that Ware will end up playing a lot of minutes for Georgia. Looking at the MaxPreps stats, there's a bunch to like here. Ware averaged 20 pts and 8 assists per game. He shot right at 90% from the free throw line, and had an almost 4 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He averaged 4 steals a game and had no technical fouls on the year.

And you have to like North Cobb's undefeated record. NCC went 35 and 0 on the year. Since the competition level in the GISA is not as high as the other classifications in the state, the best way to assess Ware's performance is in looking at the games during the year in which NCC played against the more elite teams.

Going head to head against Cashmere Wright and James Fields, two really talented guards (Wright had offers from a ton of fantastic programs before eventually signing a scholarship with the University of Cincinnati), Ware scored 24 points. As I remember, Veritas and United Faith were two talented teams in North Carolina, with at least one Division One signee on each team (Clemson and Auburn, respectively). In three games against those two teams, Ware scored 25, 28 and 30 points.

In the GISA championship game, playing against Andre Young and an undefeated Deerfield Windsor team, Ware notched 24 pts, 12 assists and 6 rebounds. Then after winning the state championship, North Cobb kept playing, competing in the NACA national tournament.

NCC reached the finals to face Riverdale Baptist. Riverdale, which featured 4-star forward Thomas Robinson, as well as a number of other talented players was ranked in the top 10 teams in Maryland, and in the top 20 in the entire D.C. metropolitan area.

After scoring 33 points with 10 assists in the semi-finals, Dustin Ware scored 27 pts with 10 assists to lead NCC to the victory over Riverdale. Dustin Ware was named the MVP of the NACA Tournament.

On balance, I'm optimistic that Ware can do the things that we need a point guard to do in the SEC. Ware is a leader, comes from a great program, and has the fundamentals to perform well. I'll be pulling for him this year.

Friday, July 4, 2008

If Jeremy Jacob goes to Chipola,

he'll play alongside Mitchell.

Mitchell may have NBA potential. We'll see how he turns out when he gets to UAB.

Tennessee will still be very good

Even with the loss of Crews and Lofton, they still have lots of old and new talent.

I wish Georgia could have gotten Cameron Tatum last year. From what I understand, he is a good kid, and at 6' 6" he will likely lock down their wing position. Combine him with Hopson at the shooting guard, and UT will be tough to stop.

Happy July Fourth, America

I have heard it said that every country is like a man. There are some sad and even shameful chapters, and there are some times in the life of which to be very, very proud.

I am grateful to live in the U.S.A. America, America, God shed His grace on thee. And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Does Georgia still have a shot at Udofia?

I know that we have only one scholarship open as it stands today.

I know that we would love to snag Derrick Favors with that slot. And if he wants to attend UGA, you have to find a way to have room for Favors.

I know there are a lot of talented guys in the 2009 class, including Terrance Shannon and Ari Stewart.

But I also know that Mfon Udofia is a talent.

Dave Bliss Helping Kids

Posted a few articles about Damien Wilkins giving back. Well, here's one about a more recent Georgia player.

Dave Bliss has been in Savannah, helping kids to learn fundamentals.

Met Dave and his parents at a hoops event back before his junior year. Dave had a terrific career, and I am so glad that his willingness to come to Georgia from Wausau, Wisconsin, resulted in the SEC Tournament championship for Dave, Sundiata Gaines and the rest of the team.

Maybe Dave will stay in basketball, play overseas or coach.

Jeremy Jacob to transfer?

Sounds crazy. I don't put too much stock in these message board rumors. Besides that, I hope it's not true.

But I could understand Jacob's reasoning if he has decided to leave.

Georgia, for once, is loaded at the 4 position. These guys can play. Jeremy Price, Chris Barnes, Howard Thompkins.

Likewise, the 3 position has plenty of competition for minutes. Drazen Zlovaric, Travis Leslie, Terrance Woodbury. Perhaps Thompkins.

As sort of a "tweener," a guy who is not necessarily big like a typical power forward, nor sleek like a small forward, Jacob might fear that he wouldn't get substantial minutes at either position.

I always like to see guys compete for minutes and prove to the coaches that they deserve maximum playing time. I was thinking that Jacob was ready to do just that.

Since he's a guy that played a fifth year at the high school level before coming to Georgia, and he had a red-shirt year last year, if he were to transfer to a Division 1 school, he'd have to sit out yet another year. The rumor is that in order to avoid that situation, Jacob will transfer to a junior college.

We'll see what happens. I am hoping for the best for all involved.

Terrance Woodbury out of the Pro Am

Sorry. Not Sorry.

I always wonder about these Pro Am events during the summer. It seems to me that there have been issues before with Woodbury's participation. Wasn't he suspended two years ago because he played in this same Pro Am event?

Now, the NCAA does not want any competition. That much seems apparent. Insurance is important, and it is the sponsor's fault that he didn't get this issue taken care of. However, I am unconvinced that the NCAA couldn't have worked with the Pro Am sponsor in this instance.

At any rate, although Woodbury could conceivably have kept his skills up by playing, he could also could have gotten injured. Or there could be some other arcane rule that the sponsor missed, and Woodbury could end up suspended again. With Billy Humphrey's dismissal, and the schedule getting more difficult, we need all hands on deck, ready to play at the first tip-off. I just am not sorry that Woodbury will have to sit this Pro Am out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Line-up Look: Two-Guard

Well, the team has lost Billy Humphrey. Scratch a sure starter and insert...

That's it. I don't know. Who plays significant minutes at the 2-guard position?

Prospects are Drazen Zlovaric, Troy Brewer, Corey Butler, Ebuka Anyaorah, Ricky McPhee and Terrance Woodbury.

Woodbury did a nice job this year. He was somewhat of a question mark in certain games, but he really came on late. But I don't think he's the answer at the two-guard. If you have inexperienced point guards, you need someone who can help bring the ball up the floor at the shooting guard position.

Troy Brewer can shoot the three. I'd like to see him drive the ball for the entire off-season. Whenever he gets it in practice, drive the ball. No threes allowed. Work on jab steps, cross-over dribbles, jump-stops in the paint, dunks off one foot and dunks off of two feet. He's a 90 percent free-throw shooter, so if he can get to the paint and get fouled, it's easy money. If he can't beat people with foot speed, then at least develop a Paul Pierce, herky-jerky driving style, and force the refs to call a bumping foul.

Ricky McPhee is an unknown. For what it's worth, I'd have him take the same medicine as Troy.

Corey Butler is a solid defender. Put up a ton of points at Cross Keys. He had a huge drive and dish to Dave Bliss during the SEC tournament. For the '08 season, I'd challenge him to score the basketball.

Ebuka Anyaorah had some games with big numbers over at North Gwinnett. If he can dribble it and defend, I'd probably start him. Or maybe give him minutes behind Corey Butler and see what he can do.

Drazen Zlovaric. I think he gets minutes at the three position, rather than the two.

My best guess is Corey Butler to start, Ebuka Anyaorah to back him up, and Troy Brewer to play if he drives the ball.

Jarvis Hayes, a coveted free agent?

Really is amazing to me. Guy can play. No doubt about it. Remember the game against Florida?

But his pro career has been more about the games he has not played, than the ones he has. Hayes has been injured a bunch, but he did make it back into action last year. He put up 29 points with seven 3-pointers against one team.

Now he is an available free agent, and there are several teams that are interested in him. We'll see how this all turns out.

Darrin Horn has got his work cut out for him.

Sounds a lot like Dennis Felton's situation when he first arrived.

The difference is significant nonetheless. Horn has somewhat of a bench, whereas Harrick left Felton with an empty one. Horn's team is not under the cloud of tons of negative publicity and upcoming NCAA sanctions. The 5/8 rule, which limited the number of players that could come in at any one time, is no longer in effect.

With that ssid, if Horn makes it to the NCAA's in five years, I will be very impressed.

Damien Wilkins still giving back.

Very proud of Damien. He's back in Washington, North Carolina, giving back to the community via his presence and his basketball camp. I'm posting links to three articles from his hometown newspaper. Each article gives a little different picture of the impact Wilkins is having.

I wish him well this upcoming season.

It's not basketball against football

in some kind of ugly race to the bottom, but a little fairness is in order.

Many people call for Felton's head if one of his guys has a problem. A recent example was Billy Humphrey's DUI arrest. I wonder if people will do the same for Richt now that multiple players have been arrested, such as Lemon in the attached article, and Sturdivant and Anderson in an unrelated incident during the same week.

I love Coach Richt, and am a devoted fan of UGA football. I just want the guys on some of the message boards to realize that coaches can't be with players all the time. If a player gets in trouble, you deal with it. Both Richt and Felton run as tight a ship as you will find in big-time college athletics, and am proud of both coaches and both programs.

Jay McAuley to Wofford

Congrats to Jay McAuley!

Jay McAuley, who had been a graduate manager for UGA's basketball team, has joined the staff at Wofford.

McAuley was a 4-year player for the basketball team, initially joining the team because of the walk-on tryouts that Coach Felton initiated back in 2002. McAuley was named co-captain of the team in 2006.

The Dawg nation congratulates McAuley and cheers him on in his new responsibilities.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Julian Royal

Georgia figures to have some room to sign talent in the 2011 class, and it's not too early to be focusing on Julian Royal.

He had a short interview while he was at the NBPA's development camp.

A better link is to the article on that gave a recap on Royal's first season.

And Georgia is currently in Royal's top five.

So, how does our line-up look? Point Guard

Zac Swansey and Dustin Ware.

Boy. We will really miss Sundiata Gaines. Wish he had just one more year as a Dawg. But I am so proud of what he did for the team. Kept his nose clean, played hard every night, got his degree, and led the team to the SEC Tournament championship. Good Career.

Now, back to Swansey and Ware.

Swansey did a really nice job in some games. He sees the floor very well, and he can make the pin-point passes that a lot of other guards don't even see. Of course, the huge late three-pointer to beat Kentucky will be a UGA highlight forever.

With that said, Swansey needs to work really hard this summer. He shot less than 40% from the field, only 25% from behind the arc, and less than 60% from the foul line. He scored less than 4 points per game, while averaging over 16 minutes per game. His assist to turnover ratio was just about even. And he's not going to get you many rebounds.

Swansey needs to tighten up his handle and get faster. Xavier put their little guard on Swansey, and he couldn't get away from the pressure. Swansey will need to pick up Gaines' role as the most important defender on the floor.

If Swansey does work hard, I think he will be in a position to hold his own.

Ware. Dustin Ware played in the GISA last year. He led North Cobb Christian to back-to-back championships.

The question remains about how Ware will perform in the SEC.

The good point is that Ware is a real athlete. He shoots the three well. Shot close to 90%, if memory serves me, from the free throw line.

The key for Ware, in my opinion, will be getting to the basket and setting up other guys.

How do we look at point guard? Unproven. I'm guardedly optimistic. With the loss of Gaines, however, we have gone from a solid A- to an expected C+.

Kudos to Felton

Lost in the mix of the news about Billy Humphrey is the fact that Felton has, by and large, rebuilt the program.

He won the SEC Tournament last year. Some may say it's luck, but no one would have attributed it to bad luck if the team had lost. Besides that, it takes real effort to play college basketball. Guys train all season to win tournaments. Lifting weights. Running 220's and suicide drills. Going over plays. Working on foul shots and outlet passes and post moves. Taking charges.

Luck? I doubt it. Hard work, dedication? You bet.

And Felton went to the NCAA Tournament. That's the goal that so many wanted. I watched the game against Xavier. I'm biased, but the officiating left a lot to be desired.

The last bit of bad news about Humphrey is unwelcome. But looking at the situation in a positive way, we are now at the point in bench strength and in recruiting, in which we can weather the storm. We have 12 scholarship players and Corey Butler, who has shown he can play important minutes.

Felton deserves real credit for winning the SEC Tournament, making the NCAA Tournament, and building depth.

Billy Humphrey off the team.

Billy Humphrey is no longer on Felton's squad. I really, really hate that things turned out so badly for Billy. It's his fault, no doubt. And Felton had to make a decision. It's just that there is no joy in seeing a guy with his whole life ahead of him end his playing career at Georgia this way.

The positive of it all is that making this mistake and suffering the consequences for it now might hopefully turn Billy around. Bad things happen when you drive drunk. Getting arrested for it and losing your scholarship is way down the list of negative outcomes.

Back in Black

What's black and white and read all over? Well obviously not my blog.

Okay. Bad joke. But the point is that it's hard to read something that hasn't been written. In other words, I haven't been posting much, and I want to get back in black. Start writing down my thoughts again about UGA's basketball team and the prospects for the season.

I'll try to be somewhat more regular, eat my oatmeal and what-all. I'll even start posting periodically.