Saturday, January 10, 2009

More Articles on Point Guard Play

Scout and Rival's each have an article on Georgia's point guard play.



I posted the article from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution last night.

So, since everyone else is getting into the act, I'll offer yet more opinions on the topic of Georgia's point guards. Here are my thoughts:

Both Zac and Dustin will get better. It will be frustrating to watch. Neither is a shut-down defender. And they aren't guys with incredible speed and leaping ability.

Given Zac and Dustin's relative physical weakness, Coach Felton did not give much helpful analysis by comparing them to Stephon Marbury. Sure, Marbury grew as a point guard, and Zac and Dustin will need to grow. But the difference is that Marbury could jump out of the gym when he got to Tech. And Marbury was a physically tough, New York player. So he started out way, way ahead of Swansey and Ware.

The better comparison is to another New York point guard. Georgia's own Sundiata Gaines. Not the Sundiata Gaines who played well as a senior and led the team to the SEC Tournament championship, but the Sundiata Gaines who had to learn the point guard position as a freshman, and struggled mightily while doing so.

In his freshman year, Gaines shot 37% from the floor, 27% from behind the arc, 54% from the free throw line, and his assist to turnover ratio was barely even. However, Gaines excelled at effort. He wasn't a typical point guard, and he wasn't tall, but at 6' 1", he learned to battle, and he began to lead the team with his work ethic.

So with Gaines as a model, Zac and Dustin will have to learn to help Georgia, playing as smart, high-effort guys. Zac is 6' 1", and Dustin is 5' 11". They will always be under the rim players. The two will need to contribute by scoring when they can, hitting clutch shots and free throws, taking care of the ball, and distributing it to the right players in the right spots.

Dustin has the tighter handles and the most upside. In order for Dustin to achieve his potential, he'll need to hit the weights pretty hard and get used to driving the ball to the hole. When he played at North Cobb Christian, from what I could tell, there were other short guys on the floor who could give pressure defense and advance the ball on offense. Dustin seemed to have the role of designated shooter. He shot about as many 3-pointers as 2-pointers. Well, UGA needs him to be point guard, not a short 2-guard. And he can make the transition. It will just take some time.

Zac's free throw problems seem to be mechanical, rather than confidence. He shot a 1 and 1 against Tech, and the ball barely glanced the rim. My take is that he has the ball up on his fingertips too much when he releases it. His more natural shooting rhythm is for the ball to be placed back more in his palm. Let's bring in Mark Price, now that we have finished playing Georgia Tech for the year and don't have to worry about sabotage, and have him work with Zac until he gets it right.

I have also noticed that Zac seems to watch the ball when he shoots. He needs to focus on the basket, not the ball. If the ball spins just right, but lands nowhere near the rim, you're not going to score. Zac needs to keep his eyes on the basket and practice using the right mechanics time after time, so that in game situations his shooting stroke will be more reliable.

With college basketball's "win now" philosophy, Ware and Swansey don't have much time. They will need to start playing better right away, and somehow shorten the learning curve. What they can control is their effort, their attention to detail, their commitment to playing smart basketball. So I look forward to them leading the team in hustle and in focus, and letting the results take care of themselves.

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