Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ten Requests

I know Fox doesn't read my blog, but if he did, I would have some requests of him:

1) If teams press us, then get your ball-handlers out on the floor.

2) Don't make the first pass to the corner. Too easy to double team.

3) Do not let Nemi take the ball out of bounds. The guy who takes it out of bounds is the first recipient of the pass out of a trap. Therefore that guy needs to be able to advance the ball on the dribble.

4) Use Brandon Morris to take the ball out of bounds. Brandon has both the height and the ball-handling ability to play that role.

5) Have a big man in the middle of the floor who can catch a lob pass, then turn and distribute the ball.

6) Since both John Cannon and Donte Williams have good hands, make either one of those guys the man in the middle.

7) Please play John Cannon, Kenny Gaines, Donte Williams and Brandon Morris more. I don't understand why Gaines gets only 5 minutes and John Cannon didn't get any.

8) Work with Charles Mann on his mid-range game. He can use that floater more often, and he would avoid having offensive fouls called against him.

9) Somehow let Tony Parker know that he'd have gotten a lot more than three minutes of playing time tonight if he were at Georgia.

10) Please, please, no more "O My Heart".

That has to be the worst written theme song I have ever heard. We can surely do better.

Dawgs Beat LSU!

Feels good to win one.  We hit our free throws and had some good defensive stops when we needed 'em.  Final score:  UGA 67, LSU 58.

We're not an elite team, but maybe we'll improve during the year.  Good to see Donte Williams show some signs of life out there.  If he can get us 14 and 5 every night, UGA can beat some of the teams on our schedule. 

KCP filled up the box score with 22 points, 5 assists, 6 steals and 3 rebounds.

Sounds like we'd better beat LSU while we can.  They'll be a lot better next year.  Tough to hear that LSU is bringing in three top-100 players next year, when we don't have any.   

Speaking of LSU players, I hope the guy for LSU that got injured there at the end turns out to be okay.

We're 7 and 10 on the year.  We need to go on some type of win streak.  Let's practice this week against the press because teams will be using that against us all year.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dave Bliss

I was informed that one of the basketball message boards responded to my mentioning of Dave Bliss as part of a good haul of big men for UGA during the Felton years.  Bear in mind that I said that Dave was part of the mix.  In any case, a more detailed look at Dave's individual production may help explain my reasoning. 

It's been a while, given that Bliss graduated five years ago.  Let's review the stats to refresh our memories.

In his senior year Dave averaged 8 points and 6 boards, shooting 54 percent from the field and 71 percent from the line.

Bliss vs. UGA Current Posts

Sad to say, but UGA's current team doesn't have a big man anywhere near Dave's stats.  Here are the averages, scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage, for our post players.  I include this year's partial season and full season production from last year to capture the impact of SEC competition.

Dave Bliss:  8 and 6 (54 percent)

John Florveus:  3 and 3 (57 percent).  2 and 2 last year (43 percent).
Tim Dixon:  2 and 2.  0 and 1 last year (43 percent).
Donte Williams:  5 and 5 (47 percent).  40 percent from the line.  8 and 5 last year (47 percent).
John Cannon:  4 and 2 this year.  1 and 1 last year (38 percent).
Nemanja Djurisic:  8 and 4 (37 percent).  7 and 4 last year (40 percent).
Marcus Thornton:  4 and 4 (36 percent).  3 and 5 last year (28 percent).

Out of our six post players, the guy wirh production closest to Dave's is Nemi.  Keep in mind that Nemi shoots a lot poorer percentage and and does not defend as well.  For example, Nemi had 7 blocks for the full year last year.  Dave had five times as many (34).

Bliss vs. Today's SEC Bigs

To not make the post too long, I'll spare readers the details, but suffice it to say that if you examined Dave's production against the 25 or so other post players in the SEC today, Dave would arguably be somewhere near the top five.  He would trail Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky), Robert Chubb (Auburn), Reginald Buckner (Ole Miss) and Patric Young (Florida),-- but not by much. 

For example, compare Patric Young, starting center for an elite Florida team.  Young gets 11.5 and 6 so far in this young season.  He averaged 10 and 6 for the full season last year.  That's just one bucket more per game than Dave. 

Bottom Line

Was Dave as skilled as Trey Thompkins?  No. Thompkins would get you 17 points and 8 rebounds a game, while shooting close to 50 percent.  Thompkins not only scored twice as much, he also was more versatile.  Trey hit 79 3-pointers in three years, shooting 36 percent from behind the arc.  Dave didn't shoot any.  Thompkins and Jeremy Price were better finishers and rebounders.  Was Bliss the best post player that Felton recruited?  The answer is obviously, no.

However, when you look at Dave's production and compare it to the other guys on our team now and around the league this season, it's clear that Dave was a quality big.  Especially so when you add in the fact that Dave achieved his production while battling chronic back issues (herniated disc) that limited him to around 20 minutes a night.  Throw in the intangibles (co-captain, graduated with honors in three years) and his leadership when UGA was coming off of NCAA sanctions, hitting key buckets to help UGA win the SEC Tournament championship, and you have yourself one heck of a player.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Where is the UGA Basketball Program Headed?

I thought I understood during the Felton years.  Seemed like we were building something.  We weren't great, mind you, but considering the trash dump of the NCAA investigation and the self-imposed sanctions, at some point during Felton's tenure I was starting to feel good about the program again. 

Over his five full seasons, Felton's SEC win loss record was

7 and 9
2 and 14
5 and 11
8 and 8
4 and 12, not counting four wins in SEC Tournament championship run

That next year, Felton was fired after going 9 and 11 overall and 0 and 5 in the SEC.  Felton won a total of 26 regular season SEC games.  He lost 61.  Felton got us to the NCAA's and Dawg fans enjoyed winning the SEC Tournament.  Considering what he had to start with, Felton performed admirably, but a 30 percent record in the SEC is not good enough.

Mark Fox came in and his teams went

5 and 11
9 and 7
5 and 11
0 and 3

Of course there's still a lot of basketball to be played this year.  But if Fox could somehow match Felton's last full year mark of 4 and 12, that would be a huge accomplishment.  I seriously doubt that even if we win 4 games, we would follow that up by winning the SEC Tournament. 


Felton hit the ground with tough issues to face.  Coach Harrick could get guys committed, but getting them into school was another matter (ex., Julius Lamptey, Larry Turner, Alexander Johnson, etc.).  In his last class, Harrick had a marginal class of signees, all of whom asked to be released when the NCAA investigation hit, and none of whom did anything much in college basketball. 

Therefore, when Harrick was fired, Felton had seniors, but no freshmen and just a couple of scholarship sophomores and juniors.  Battling scholarship limitations and the clould of NCAA sanctions, Felton beat the bushes, brought in some low-ranked guys and took a chance on some others.

Over time Felton was able to generate some recruiting momentum.  Starting with Levi Stukes and Steve Newman, Felton started to hit his stride by bringing in Sundiata Gaines and Dave Bliss.  Things got better from there.  UGA basketball had some really important misses, too.  5-star recruit Lou Williams went to the NBA instead of suiting up for the Dawgs (a huge, huge loss).  Felton rebounded by replacing Williams with Billy Humphrey, a talented shooter, but he had no stand-in when Derrick Favors decided to go to Tech instead of UGA.

By and large, however, Felton brought in some pretty good players-- guards like Sundiata Gaines, Levi Stukes, Mike Mercer, Billy Humphrey, Ricky McPhee, Dustin Ware and Travis Leslie.  We got an even better haul of big men:  Trey Thompkins, Jeremy Price, Dave Bliss, Takais Brown, Chris Barnes, Ajax. 

Wins and Losses

Felton got the team to perform in his first year, going 16 and 14 overall, 7 and 9 in the SEC, and making the NIT.  The second year, in which Felton had just seven scholarship players, the overall record was 8 and 20.  Note:  There was a significant drop-off in year two, the year when a new coach generally lives and dies with his predecessor's players.

Thereafter, however, performance was trending up.  The team went from the SEC basement to the top of the SEC tourney field, from NCAA sanctions to the NCAA Tournament.  Felton couldn't sustain it, however, and he was fired mid-season.  My point is that although we weren't ever great in basketball, we were respectable and reasonably competitive.  In five full years under Felton we went to three post-season tournaments (two NIT's and one NCAA).

Comparison to 2013

We're definitely not trending up. 


Recruiting is in trouble, in my opinion.  I look up and down the roster and wonder, where's the beef?  There's no low post scorer.  I thought Donte Williams was going to have a great year, but now that he has been slow out of the gate, we don't have anyone who can finish reliably.  Nobody with a big butt  and good hands.  No Trey Thompkins, no Jeremy Price, no Chris Barnes.  Not even a troubled but talented guy like Takais Brown.

Hate to say this, but we don't have makers on the perimeter either.  A Ricky McPhee, Levi Stukes or Billy Humphrey sure would make a huge difference to this team.  KCP is a great all-around player and Vincent Williams had a nice game against Missouri.  Maybe the guys coming in next year will help, but it's the combination that we lack.  We need a low post guy who can score and a consistent three-point threat when defenses collapse.

Wins and Losses

Fox has an overall winning percentage in the SEC of 37 percent.  The high-point for Fox was in year two, in which he had the benefit of Felton's recruits.  Now that Fox is in year four with a roster full of his own players, we are definitely struggling.  It's hard for me to watch a game and see us barely show up at Florida, and end up losing by 33 points.  Our pre-conference record included defeats at home to teams I had hardly ever heard of.

Even counting the extremely challenged 2004/05 team, Felton went 22 and 42 in the SEC in his first four years.  Fox will have to go 3 and 10 in the SEC from this point forward just to match Felton's record.  Fox can do it, but if your current coach can hardly match the record of the last coach who was fired, that's a bad sign.  Especially so when the current coach makes over twice the salary of the last guy.

Where are we headed?  I hope Tony Parker comes to town, or we get a big-time JUCO low post scorer somehow for next year.  Otherwise, looks like given our downward trajectory, a change is in the wind.  30 percent wasn't good enough in 2009 and it's certainly not good enough now.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sundiata Gaines for the Win!

Great video.  Very well put together.

Sports lovers will want to see some of the others, too, so when you have time, just let the other videos load up and run.


We sure could use Sundiata or someone like him on this year's Dawgs team.