Friday, December 30, 2016

Recruiting (Derrick Walker and Teshaun Hightower)

Teshaun Hightower and Derrick Walker are visiting Athens in January.

Hightower will come to Athens next week.  Georgia should have a good shot at securing Teshaun's commitment, since Hightower is from the Atlanta area and prior to his prep year at Mt. Zion, played high school ball at Collins Hill.  Our competition at this point is Middle Tennessee, La Salle, and Western Kentucky.

Walker will be on an unofficial on January 28th.  He was reported as having a final three of Tennessee, St. John's, and UGA.  Maybe Jonas and crew can get him committed.  Of the three finalists, Georgia may be the only school with definite scholarship room.  Besides, UGA is scheduled for his last visit, and Walker will have Yante Maten's big scoring outputs as examples.

Walker is a guy that could be a cross between Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes, power forwards recruited back in the Dennis Felton era.  Derrick impresses me as someone who is not super-athletic, but has good hands, is a willing rebounder, and has developing post moves.  There's a lot to work with, and he could end up as being a skilled big like Yante Maten.

If Yante stays for his senior year, we could have a starting front court of Maten, Derek Ogbeide, and Rayshaun Hammonds.  The second unit front court would be Nicolas Claxton, Mike Edwards, and Derrick Walker.  That rotation would be fun to watch, and Coach Fox would be able to substitute to his heart's content without huge drop-offs in talent.

As for the back-court, Georgia is not in as good shape.  We will lose J.J. Frazier to graduation this year.  That's huge.  Frazier is our primary ball-handler and scoring guard.

So, we'd have Turtle Jackson and Jordan Harris as the likely starters at the point guard and shooting guard positions.  Fox won't be able to keep Tyree Crump on the bench next year.  Unless Turtle improves his shooting, we probably need Crump to improve his point guard skills so that Turtle can continue to come in as a back-up point guard.

I suppose Juwan Parker will stay for his second medical red-shirt year.  That makes four guards who can be counted on as a reasonable rotation.  Pape Diatta is more of a small forward, in my mind.  I am focused on guys who can be counted on to bring the ball up the floor.

Per the Prep Showcase article above, Teshaun Hightower sees himself as a big point guard.  One site has Hightower at 6' 4".  Although Prep Showcase says he's 6' 6", I think the shorter of the two measurements is closer to reality.  Either way, Georgia has recent history with a big point guard, Charles Mann, and that experience should be a selling point to Hightower.

Teshaun looks to have a pretty good handle and shoots the ball with confidence and arc.  Don't know if he could run the point guard at the college level, but I'm satisfied enough that he can contribute and a give us a fifth quality guard.  Hightower scored 31 against a pretty talented Norcross High team last year.

The good news is that Walker and Hightower are enough under the radar that Georgia can potentially sign them.  They would likely stay all four years, too.  Kind of guys we need.

Recruiting seems to be on an upswing.  Jordan Harris, Tyree Crump and Pape Diatta were good additions for 2016, and I like the addition of Rayshaun Hammonds and Nicolas Claxton, the two signees for next year.  Although Hammonds would be the only highly ranked guy, if we add Hightower and Walker, to Hammonds and Claxton, the 2017 class would arguably be the best ever for Coach Fox.

Let's get it done.

Georgia Beats Auburn (Seven Lessons Learned)

Great job by the Dawgs.

1.  Bruce Pearl ain't all that

Lots of people love Bruce Pearl, and think that he's a terrific coach.  If Georgia had lost the game, fans would have rushed to praise him.

Pearl has his merits, but he's not the kind of coach I would look for to coach up my team.  His system, drive and kick basketball on offense and the press on defense, works when he has the players.  He will eventually get players.  With that said, I wouldn't trade him for Fox.  He's just not the right guy.

2.  Maten and Frazier

Enough said.  When those two guys are on, Georgia is a tough out for anybody.  Tonight, they were definitely on.

3.  Use the Chuck Mann Strategy

Charles Mann used to keep Georgia in games by getting to the free throw line.  He wasn't a great foul shooter, however, and he sometimes had too many turnovers.

The point still remains.  Drive the ball to the basket and good things happen.  Maten, J.J. and Jordan were terrific.

4.  J.J. is one tough hombre

He got bowled over a couple of times tonight.  He got back up and finished the drill.  Plus, he had five steals.  His defense was the catalyst that led the Dawgs to victory.

5.  Juwan is knocking the rust off

Hit a couple of key baskets tonight.

6.  Supporting cast came up big

We were one point shy of having all of our starters score in double figures.  Derek Ogbeide scored nine for the game.  We had five guys shoot 50 percent or better from the field.

Proud of KPG and Kessler for hitting two key baskets.

Turtle was off for the game.  See point 3, above.  I have mentioned his shooting form before, so I won't post anything about it now.

Turtle will contribute for us in future games.  With that said, I'd love to see Tyree Crump get some minutes, just to see what he has.

7.  The zone and press are tools

We might not want to be Syracuse, constantly in the zone, or Arkansas, trying to press all game.  But these tools help us win.  Fox went into the shed tonight and brought out the right equipment.  He needs to do it more

Again, great game for the Dawgs.  May have to watch that one again.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Lost in all the Commotion

over the poor substitution patterns was this fact:

The Dawgs starters and key reserves had a pretty good outing against Oakland.  I was particularly pleased that Juwan Parker seems to have his springs back.  He shot 5 for 11 from the field, and 5 of 5 from the line, for 15 points, which was by far his best performance of the year.

J.J. had 18 points in the first half, if memory serves me.  He was on target until Fox pulled him.  When Oakland took the lead in the second half, he went iso-J.J., and started missing from long distance.  The point is that J.J. found his touch, at least for a half.

Yante Maten didn't score much, and fouled out without hitting double figures, but Dawgs fans already know what he can do.

Derek Ogbeide is on a bit of a roll.  Had a double-double for the game, 13 points on 6 of 8 shooting, and 12 rebounds.  Will be a bit harder as he is matched with bigger players during the conference portion of the season, but Ogbeide is a force in the paint.

Turtle Jackson did a good job at the point.  He looked fantastic, in fact, except for that air-ball three-pointer he shot when the Dawgs were trying to catch up late in the game.  Still think he needs to work on his mechanics and focus on locking his elbow in tight and going straight up with his shot.  Firing across his body will lead to bad misses to the left or the right.

In any case, Jackson had 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting.  He was 2 of 4 from behind the arc, and had zero turnovers.  That's great work for a back-up point guard.

Jordan Harris scored 9 points.  Still turns the ball over too much.  He needs to focus on scoring when he drives the ball.  He is still getting used to added muscle, so as the season goes on, he will get better and better.

Mike Edwards had 4 points and 6 boards.  Tyree Crump was only given one minute of PT.

Diatta, KPG, Kessler, and Wilridge did not play well.  Thirty minutes between them, and zero points.

Bottom line:  If J.J. follows the Oakland game with regained scoring ability, Yante has his normal outing, and Jordan, Derek, Juwan, Mike and Turtle keep giving solid contributions, Georgia may overcome the Fox crazy substitutions and still win its share of SEC games.    


Friday, December 23, 2016

Ten Commandments for Mark Fox

1.  If J.J. Frazier has been off, but finds his stroke, thou shalt not take him out.

2.  If J.J. Frazier has 18 points in the first half, thou shalt not take him out,

3.  Thou shalt never play Kenny Paul Geno and Houston Kessler at the same time.

4.  Thou shalt never, nay never ever play KPG, HK and Mike Edwards at the same time.

5.  Thou shalt give Tyree Crump some minutes (plural) in each game, yea, even five to ten minutes.

6.  Thou shalt never subbeth out Ogbeide before the ten minute mark in the first half.

7.  If Yante Maten shall start to have foul trouble, thou shalt play him with Ogbeide, and put Maten in the high post and Ogbeide down low.

8.  Thou shalt always press teams which hath played three games in four days.

9.  Thou shalt play zone, especially if the manneth to manneth is in trouble.

10.  Thou shalt always play your best players unless UGA is in foul trouble, or we are up 20 and there are less than 2 minutes left in the game.

If through thy disobedience to these commandments, thou faileth to take the people to the Promised Land of the NCAA Tournament, thou shalt turn over the reins to young Joshua (Jonas Hayes).


Rayshaun Hammonds Interview


Hammonds had 33 points and 14 rebounds in one of the recent City of Palms Classic games, a Norcross win over Mae Jemison.

Rayshaun also notched 22 points and 15 boards against Pace, and 16 and 8 in a Norcross game against Brentwood.

Giving Due Credit

I have made a couple of points in Blog posts earlier this season:

1)  More minutes for Jordan Harris

2)  Extended time in the first half for Derek Ogbeide

So, just as I have criticized Coach Fox for his substitution patterns and talent utilization, it it appropriate now to give due credit.

Coach Fox replaced Turtle Jackson with Jordan Harris in the starting line-up.  Great move.  I think it will benefit both players.  Jordan will have more minutes and get acclimated to playing in college, and Turtle will come in fairly early, either to replace J.J., or to spell Jordan, but not feel pressured to score.

In another positive trend, Coach Fox has resisted the urge to pull Derek Ogbeide for Houston Kessler.  Nothing against Houston, but Derek is a more physical presence around the basket.  Teams are less likely to double Yante Maten if that means that Derek will be open underneath the bucket.

Derek scored 10 first-half points on 5 of 5 shooting against Tech, and he can have similar production in the future if allowed to play extended minutes early.

Houston Kessler may be needed later in the year, and I'm not totally against him getting some time on the floor.  Just not at the 2 or 3-minute mark of the first half like Coach Fox was doing.

In addition to the player utilization points, I also wanted Fox to come up with a game plan that takes away what the other team likes to do.  I saw just that scenario in the Georgia Tech game.  We knew where the ball was going, and we disrupted Tech's offensive plays.

Now, Tech is not a talented offensive team.  That much is clear.  But our scouting and defensive strategies had a good bit to do with our 17-point win.

Bravo, Coach Fox.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Can't Figure Out Fox

You mean to tell me that Crump and Harris shot lights out last game, and can hardly get on the court at all this one?  We all know that Morehouse is not an elite defensive team, but your freshmen surely showed you something!  

Parker shoots 0 percent (0 for 5) from the floor, and Kenny Paul Geno shoots 20 percent (1 for 5)--  and still just 2 minutes for Harris and 0 for Crump?

The Marquette defenders were hardly even sticking Kenny Paul Geno or Juwan Parker.  They played token defense on Turtle Jackson.  None of those three can create off the dribble.  

Sure, I was disappointed that Jordan Harris had two turnovers.  But you've got to let him play through those.  Juwan Parker also had two turnovers.  He played for 22 minutes.  And he was largely ineffective.  

To take away a good three-point shooting team's consistency, you have to make them work.  As their legs get tired, their shooting percentage will go down.  

As long as Kenny Paul Geno and Juwan Parker stand around and don't have to be guarded, Marquette could double-team J.J. and Yante.  

Fox, please play your talent.  We can't figure out what you're doing, what you're seeing.  

If you play your best players and we still lose--  If you effectively game-plan and we still lose--  Well, we did our best.  The other guys are sometimes just better.  But until you play your best players, until you show a game plan that attempts to take away the other team's strengths--  fans will conclude that UGA's coaching is the problem.

And if enough fans come to that conclusion, they will demand change. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Substitution Patterns ("Redicalice", Part Deux)

I still don't care for the Mark Fox substitution patterns.

My concern isn't that Mark Fox believes in substitutions.  All good teams rely on their bench.  Happens all the time in the NBA, and subbing is totally appropriate in college for a coach trying to build his bench by giving reserves some playing time.

The biggest issue for me is the timing.

Let the starters play at least the first quarter (the first half of the first half), unless there is some clear reason not to do so, such as foul trouble.

I particularly dislike the Fox excuses.  Last year against Vanderbilt, he said that the gym was hot.

The contest at Vandy was definitely a winnable game.  However, we needed both of our 6' 8" twin towers (Ogbeide and Maten) to offset their close to seven-foot ones (Kornet and Jones).  The way Derek Ogbeide started off the game, UGA had a good chance at success.  He muscled their guys and got UGA going early.

However, when Houston Kessler came in (and when Fox subbed out Charles Mann for Kenny Paul Geno), our offensive effectiveness went down, and Damian Jones went into "beast mode", ripping down rebounds and scoring around the basket.  Houston Kessler can be an okay match-up for some players, but whatever advantage Georgia had initially, rapidly evaporated when Kessler faced the Vandy bigs.

In a February 2016 article entitled, "Substitution Strategy Backfires on Mark Fox", the ABH reported:

"Freshman Derek Ogbeide did everything right to start Georgia's game at Vanderbilt Saturday. 
He won the opening tip, scored a basket and blocked a shot. It was a breakout moment in what could have been a signature game. 
But the great start abruptly ended. 
Georgia coach Mark Fox said after the game he thought Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium felt hot and worry crept in about fatigue.
So Fox subbed Ogbeide out less than two minutes into the game.
Vandy went on a 10-0 run with Ogbeide on the bench and Georgia (14-11, 7-7) never led again. Fox’s flurry of early substitutions backfired.
“I wanted our team to be fresh," Fox said. "I thought it was hot in the gym and we wanted to keep our team as fresh as we could."

Some Blog readers may remember my "Redicalice" post from last year.  In that article, I argued that to say the gym was hot didn't make sense at all, especially since the Vandy players stayed in for long stretches.  Besides, Fox subbed Ogbeide out for Kessler after about two minutes in nearly EVERY game.
Had nothing to do with heat.  
Without the heat excuse, however, basketball fans would then wonder why in the world Fox kept using an Ogbeide-for-Kessler substitution pattern, given the talent drop-off defensively.  
If Fox just likes having Houston Kessler as a sort of "co-starter" with Ogbeide, then he should admit it, and say it is his prerogative as the head coach.  Wouldn't make any sense, but Fox is the coach.
Well, we're a deeper team this season, and in a way, I actually want Fox to substitute more.  Again, not at the very beginning of the game.  However, if Turtle Jackson and Juwan Parker are the starters at the point guard and on the wing, I think Fox should use his bench strategically so that freshmen Tyree Crump and Jordan Harris, who are more talented offensively, get more playing time.  
As for Ogbeide, leave him alone.  Fox should let him stay in for more than 2 or 3 minutes to begin the game.
To fail to do so would be redicalice (part deux). 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

More on Recruiting (Isaiah Miller)

Since we have more scholarships to fill and at least one should go to a point guard, UGA should bring on Isaiah Miller.

Sure, as I said in my last post, I would have loved to successfully recruit a 5-star guard like Collin Sexton.  But if Sexton is bound and determined to go to Alabama, Georgia has to move on.  And if we land with Isaiah Miller, I say, "great recovery!"

Miller is a right-handed J.J. Frazier with bounce.  Fastest guy on the court, willing defender (averaged 25 points with 4 steals and 1 block per game last year), and someone who can surprise with scoring ability.  Has some "Allen Iverson" to his game.

Saw somewhere that Miller is 6' 2".  A tad generous, perhaps, but whatever his height, he is definitely an above-the-rim athlete.  Guy had 15 points with 5 dunks in Covington's season-opening victory over AAAA #1-ranked Henry County.  Miller scored 29 points with 7 rebounds in a104 to 71 blowout win over last year's AAAA state champ, Liberty County (including their D-1 ranked backcourt of Will Richardson and Auburn signee Davion Mitchell), and notched 22 against Berkmar.

At the present time, Miller is not ranked nationally by any of the recruiting services.  I suppose that the various evaluation teams consider him under-sized.  Well, my eyes say that he's a player.

Jonas, if the guy has the grades to be recruited, get him committed now before everyone else catches on.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Recruiting Frustrations

How in the world does Avery Johnson come in and assemble a top 5 recruiting class?  How does he invade the state of Georgia and recruit away Collin Sexton, a 5-star guard?  Keep in mind that Johnson has been at Alabama a little more than a year.

I guess I don't mind it so much if Duke or Kentucky out-recruits UGA, but when Alabama does it, there's big-time cause for concern.  Alabama had the same needs as UGA, about the same number of scholarships available for the 2017 class, and is a football school located in a small college town.

Very, very frustrating, especially since SEC foes Kentucky, Alabama, and Auburn have classes ranked numbers 1, 4 and 7, respectively.  Kentucky, I suppose, is a special case.  If so, what do Auburn and Alabama have that UGA doesn't?  We can say that Johnson is a former NBA coach, and therefore has an advantage over Georgia.  However, there are 6 SEC teams in the top 30 recruiting classes for next year.  What do any of them have that we don't?

At some point, we've got to start recruiting better.  The old excuses that "everybody else cheats", or that "they accept students that UGA never would", or worse, that "UGA has never recruited well"--  those arguments sound pathetic after a while.

Georgia Tech, still finding its way after the firing of Brian Gregory and the hiring of Josh Pastner, drew a blank.  They didn't get any of the top-ranked players in Georgia for 2017.  Perfect time for UGA to capitalize with a dream team of four or five studs.  Didn't happen.  Make no mistake, Pastner is an elite recruiter.  He'll get his share of the top players in future classes.

My frustration with Georgia recruiting rose as I saw Collin Sexton pour in 39 points against IMG Academy, which has to be one of the top three or four basketball programs in the country.  Sexton showed off an amazing all-around game.  Takes it strong to the basket, shoots well off the bounce, automatic from the free throw line.

Given that J.J. Frazier is graduating this year, Sexton is just what a scoring-challenged team like Georgia needs.  Instead of successfully recruiting him to the home state flagship university, our coaches lose Sexton to Alabama.  Ughh.

Georgia can still recover and bring in some talented players.  We have two, and possibly, three more scholarships to offer.  There are still a number of the top 150-ranked players who have not committed.
How many fans believe that Georgia will get any of the top-ranked guys?  I hope that Coach Fox proves me wrong, but as far as I know, Georgia is not in the running for any of them.

The early signing period is done, and while I'm fairly pleased with Hammonds and Claxton, I would love for UGA to assemble a complete class early in the year.  Unfortunately, UGA will once again have to see who is available in the spring.

Of course, we might strike gold like we did with Yante Maten.  But the truth is that we can also strike out, like we have done more than once in the Fox tenure.

Finding a diamond in the rough is a whole lot harder than finding one in the jewelry store.  Unfortunately, Georgia went to Zales, Shane Company, Jared's, and Kay, and while other SEC teams have their designs and ensembles complete, with bling to show off at the holiday parties, spring will once again find UGA out prospecting.

Can't we do better?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Watched the game again

Boy, did we have our chances.  Missed free throws, errant passes, bad shots.

Well, our guards won't always play that poorly.  By the way, clarification from my last post.  Jordan Harris did not dribble the ball off his foot.  Diatta gave him a bounce pass at his feet.

All the same, to go into their home state and knock off a top-five team, we really needed clutch play from our perimeter guys.  We didn't get it.  Our guards shot 6 for 31 from the field, 16 percent from behind the arc, and had 9 turnovers against 5 assists.

Another scoring option off the bench sure would have been great to have.

That's one of the reasons why I felt we should have brought in Tookie Brown, the point guard from the Athens area, in 2015.  Sure, he's a sub-six-footer, and we already had J.J. Frazier.  However, when Mississippi State fired Rick Ray and Tookie Brown re-opened his recruitment, I thought sure Fox was going to jump on him right away.  Brown led his team to the state championship, was a 3,000 point scorer, and was available again.  However, Brown's major suitors at the time were Tennessee and Georgia State.

Brown ended up at Georgia Southern, where he has shown that he can create and score the basketball.  Although he didn't have his best shooting day, this week he put up 26 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, with 0 turnovers against Dennis Smith and the rest of the vaunted N.C. State backcourt.

Likewise, for the 2016 class, I wanted us to go hard after Athens area player, Kamar Baldwin.  Happy with Crump, especially if getting him brought us Jordan Harris, too.  However, if we passed on Baldwin, shame on us.

Butler is very happy with Baldwin.  Besides being an elite defender, Baldwin is shooting 65 percent from the floor on the year, and 55 percent from three.  Against Vanderbilt, he was 5 of 7 from the floor, and 2 of 3 from behind the arc.  Production like that would have won us the game against Kansas.

Hope we can pick up another guard in this recruiting class.  In the meantime, let's go out and beat Gardner Webb.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Legend of Yatta

Sundiata Gaines is back in the States after signing a D-League contract on November 12, 2016, with the Salt Lake Stars.  The Deseret News has a great story on Yatta, along with the legend he created in Utah by hitting the last-second 3-pointer to beat Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In case the Deseret News decides to remove the article later, here's the well written first paragraph:

"The shot had gone down, cream smooth and sugar sweet.  Sundiata Gaines was on his back looking up, first being mobbed by Jazz teammates, then leaping onto the scorer's table, arms extended.  Ronnie Price was gabbling to anyone who would listen, 'Now you know his name!'"

Although Lebron James wondered who was the point guard who summarily dispatched his team, Georgia fans certainly know about Gaines.  He was the heart and soul of the team during the Dennis Felton years, averaging 12 points, 6 boards, and 2 steals per game during his collegiate career (2004/5 to 2007/8).

For more info on Gaines, click on his name in the hyper-text below.

Almost There

Well, I've wanted Georgia to be able to compete against the "big boys", and we have the team to do it now.  Georgia gave Kansas a run, but we aren't quite there yet.  Dawgs lose by 11,  Final score, 65 to 54.

This game was right there for the taking.  Yante Maten played an incredible game.  He dominated their big men for 30 points and 13 rebounds.  Shot 11 for 23 from the floor, which isn't great, but it was more than enough.  He missed a few in the second half because the Kansas zone collapsed on him.

Meanwhile, their three big guys, Udoka Azubuike, Landon Lucas, and Dwight Coleby, went 1 for 2 from the field, for a combined two points and seven rebounds.

Georgia out-rebounded Kansas, 39 to 36.  We had their big guys in foul trouble all night.

Georgia would have won easily had we gotten any scoring from our 1, 2, and 3 positions.  Let's face it:  if J.J. Frazier goes 1 for 10 from the field, we're in trouble.

And tonight, no one else picked him up.  Juwan Parker shot 2 for 9.  He needs to change his release point and make it a split-second earlier.  Right now, he is trying to guide the ball in.

Jordan Harris was 1 for 4.  Tyree Crump was 0 for 1.  Turtle Jackson was 2 for 5, making two three-pointers.  However, Jackson shoots across his body, which results in some very bad misses.  I think on two of his shots, he didn't even hit the rim.

It's not even that their defense was that great.  We just couldn't put it in.  Our perimeter players went 6 for 31.  If our guards can't reach 20 percent shooting, we will lose a ton of games.

Jordan Harris played plenty of minutes.  I have argued for more playing time for him.  Well, in the key sequence of the game, Georgia was down 8 and we battled for an offensive rebound.  Jordan had the ball with a chance to reset the offense, and he dribbled the ball off his foot out of bounds.

As readers know, as a general rule, I don't criticize the players.  But Jordan can play better, and he has to get it done.  The game will slow down for him, and he will score a bunch of points for Georgia in his career.

Well, we played hard on defense, our zone was effective enough.  The good news is that J.J. won't always shoot poorly.  The other guards will have better games.

Georgia is improving.  We competed, and if we start getting complete games from our guards and bigs, we're going to make some noise.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Giving Credit

where credit is due.

I have written more than once about Coach Fox and his use of talent.  All too often we have had talented freshmen on the bench, when they could have done so much more on the floor.

I wanted, for example, Kenny Gaines to play with Kentavious.  Not back him up, but rather, be on the court at the same time--  go to a three-guard line-up to make the best use of the talent we had on hand.  I had hoped that Yante Maten would have gotten much more time as a freshman.  Sure, we had Marcus and Nemi, but I wanted Coach Fox to find a way to play all three at once, or at least sub Nemi out more often.

This year, I have argued that we have to have Jordan Harris on the floor.

Well, Coach Fox actually gave Jordan right at 15 minutes of playing time in the last game.  Although Coach cautioned that he did so because of match-ups, Jordan deserves minutes.  He can defend and score and take his man off the dribble, something we need in the absence of Charles Mann.

Just as I complain when talent remains on the bench, I will encourage when our line-ups make more sense.  I see the progress.  More of the same, please, with additional minutes for Tyree Crump.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Already seen enough

We really need Wendell Carter.  Doubt we get him, but I can always hope.

If we don't get Carter, why go through another year of this?


Does Mark Fox want to win basketball games?

I mean, really?

You can absolutely not start Parker and KPG!  Please get a clue.  Seniority has its place.  That's on union jobs, not on the basketball court.

I assume that Jordan Harris has been skipping class to go beat up his girlfriend.  Otherwise, for him to not get any playing time is a travesty.

We only have two guys on the roster who can create their own shot off the dribble--  J.J. Frazier and Jordan Harris.

Fox, you had the trip to Spain and the whole Fall.  You should have figured it out by now.  Get Harris on the floor.  I know he's shorter than Kenny Paul Geno, but train Harris at the three-spot anyway.

KPG can get you some minutes during the course of the game.  But not at the beginning.  Because he can't drive to the basket, guys are going to overplay him all night.  Believe he went 0 of 1 from the field with 1 rebound in almost 20 minutes.

Likewise, Parker will defend and rebound.  But he's an offensive liability.  Start Harris at the two or the three.  Doesn't matter which (although I would prefer him at the three), because he's an upgrade over Geno or Parker.

To see Georgia have a chance to beat a Clemson team that we match up with pretty well, but not get close due to line-up mess-ups is hugely frustrating.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Guiding Greatness: Interview with Mark Fox

Coach Fox recounts the impact his family, Coach Bill Parcells and others have had on him.

Fox is particularly proud of Jeremy Price.

Good interview.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Season Ends

Congrats to the guys, particularly Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines.  You represented us well.  

I know that Juwan is frustrated that his bad wheel wouldn't let him get on the court this year.  If he has to hang up the sneakers and move on due to his injury, he's got a bright future.  

1.  Basketball when played well, is a fantastic sport

Not just to play, but to watch.  As Georgia gets better, the crowds will show up.  Jordan Harris plays an exciting brand.  So does J.J. Frazier.  

2.  UGA will be a better squad next year

Yante Maten will only get better.  This year's freshmen will mature and improve over the summer, and next year's freshmen are SEC-ready athletes.

3.    Still don't understand the sub patterns

Didn't watch the game, but from all I could tell, Derek Ogbeide was doing great.  Predictably, he was yanked right at what seemed to me to be the three-minute mark.  I don't think he scored another point all game.  Fort those of you who watched the game, let me know if I'm wrong.  I think we were leading or tied with St. Mary's when he was pulled.  We had an advantage with Ogbeide and the substitution broke his rhythm.  

4.  Yante Maten

Sad that he had to close out the season with a poor performance.  If he shoots under 30 percent for the game, Georgia will lose nine times out of ten.

5.  Wacky Gyms

Unfair advantage for the home team.  Hopefully, UGA will make the NCAA Tournament next year and it won't be as big an issue.  Still is a bit of one every time we go play at Vandy.  

6.  Recruiting

Hopeful UGA can pick up another Derek Ogbeide or Mike Edwards in the spring recruiting cycle.  

As I have posted previously, I would like to see us bring in Bruno Fernando, Harold Baruti or Deshaun Corprew.  It's frustrating to not see Georgia mentioned prominently by any of the top remaining recruits.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Coach Hayes: Andre Wesson Might Be Worth a Look

UGA will soon finish the 2015/2016 season.  Hopefully, not too soon.  Would be nice for them to finish the year with an NIT championship.

Whenever the basketball playing ends, the basketball recruiting will need to pick up right away if UGA is to be a winner in the spring.  After watching Yante Maten score a career-high 33 points last night, I wondered if UGA could pick up another overlooked spring recruit (shudder to think what things would be like if Michigan State recognized Maten's potential-- they don't need any help).

The more I thought about the way Maten's recruitment developed, the more I thought about Andre Wesson.  Wesson's Dad was a 6' 9" post player for Ohio State back in the day.  Andre's younger brother Kaleb is an Ohio State commit.  Andre, however, is unsigned senior.

Is Ohio State this year's Michigan State?  Don't have room to sign a guy who grew up in their backyard?

Andre is now 6' 7" and he seems to be blossoming as a wing.  He averages 17 points and 6 rebounds, and shoots 54 percent from the field and 43 percent from behind the arc.

Wesson's potential is the intriguing point.  He's still growing into his body.  I think he could end up being 6' 9" like his Dad, but maintain his shooting touch and be a pretty good all-around guy.  Maybe even like Yante Maten.  Might be worth a look.


Pretty good foot-work.  Nice arc on his shot.  Sort of reminds me of a bigger Tevin Mack.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Tubby and Texas Tech

Well, they got an at-large bid to the Big Dance.

Not quite sure how he gets it done, but Tubby has a gift.  Fifth team he has taken to the NCAA's.

I guess if the Dawgs couldn't go, good that a former Dawgs coach did.

Good luck, Tubby!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Proud of the Dawgs (Seven Thoughts)

1.  Momentum

 Knew we couldn't pull it out when J.J. got hurt.  He's the only guy on the roster with the speed to get past UK defenders off the bounce and finish with off-balance lay-ups or floaters.

It was one of those floaters that unfortunately led to Georgia's defeat.  Frazier penetrated, lofted up a floater, which went in, but he landed on one of their guys' foot.

Turned ankles happen like that all the time when you play basketball, but J.J.'s occurred at the worst possible moment for Georgia.

Calipari noted after the game, "The break we had was when J.J. hurt his ankle."  "That was a big break for us because we couldn't guard them."

2.  UK Strategy

Kentucky went right after J.J., post-injury, and Briscoe took advantage by driving him right to the basket.  J.J. is a willing defender, but with one bad wheel, Briscoe overpowered him.  Don't blame Calipari at all.

3.  UGA Strategy

Kudos to Coach Fox for finding a way to put UK on their heels.  Great coaching. It worked, too, for 3 quarters of the game.  In the end, we ran out of gas.  Kenny Gaines had a couple of good looks rim out that he might have hit when rested.

I guess J.J. probably "deserved" to have a chance to play through pain and give it his best shot. However, in retrospect, it probably would have been better to close out the game with Turtle Jackson at the point,

4.  Big Men

Once again, our big men outplayed Kentucky's.  Happened last year when Marcus Thornton and Nemi Djurisic led the charge.  This time, Maten went for 20 and Ogbeide did a great job on the boards.  Houston Kessler was scrappy.

UK starters Poythress and Labissiere didn't hurt us.  Lee was neutralized for the most part.  Kentucky has great depth, though, and as Georgia got tired, Willis hit free throws and open looks.

Proud of Derek Ogbeide, Mike Edwards, and Yante Maten.  Those guys will play a lot of great basketball for Georgia in the future.  Maten has another level to reach.  Want to see him come out chiseled next year.  When Edwards gets stronger and adds three or four inches of leaping ability, and Ogbeide gets down an improved right-hand jump hook, look out!

5.  Recruiting

I hope some guys watched UGA today.  Nothing better than representing the Dawgs on the floor.

Sure, you can choose to play way across the country, like Jaylen B. at California, Tony Parker at UCLA, or Kobi Simmons at Arizona.  But no one from this side of the country gets to see you play in person, and the games aren't even on t.v.  Tony Parker is finishing his senior year at UCLA.  His 13 points and 8 rebounds a game would have been huge for us.  Meanwhile, the Bruins are 10th in the PAC-12, and not going to the NCAA's.  With their losing record, it doesn't even look like they'll be invited to the NIT.

Some elite players may want to head north up the east coast.  Same answer as above.  Why go to Duke or another school, when you can be the man at Georgia?  Even out of state players should give Georgia a serious look.

Who wouldn't want to come in and help?  J.J. and next year's four sophomores will be that much better, and Jordan Harris and Tyree Crump will ratchet things up on offense.  We're just a player or two away from having an incredible run.

6.  Coach Fox

For those who wanted a coaching change, it ain't gonna happen.  If Fox will use his momentum and continue to play fast on offense and zone on defense, that would be enough of a coaching change for most of us.  That, and #5 above.

7.  NCAA Tournament

Makes sense to me to have four teams from the SEC in the NCAA Tournament:  UK, Texas AM, South Carolina and UGA.  I think we're in.  Sure, I'm biased, but Georgia closed the season with five straight wins and a close one against Kentucky.   That's a lot for the selection committee to disregard.

All in all, great game, Dawgs.  A win would have been huge, but you represented us well.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


I guess Coach Mark Fox does not read my Blog.  Not that I expect him to, mind you, but I had hoped that somehow he would get the message:

What he is doing with player substitutions is downright "redicalice."

I basically begged him to let Derek Ogbeide start the game and play straight through for extended minutes.  Even if Fox would leave Ogbeide in for the equivalent of the first quarter of the game (ten minutes or so), that would have been a significant improvement.  It's a t.v. game, so you know the guys are going to get a break at the five-minute mark.

Notice the way Stallings uses his guys.  Both Kornet and Jones started and played at least 8 minutes.  Compare that to the way that Fox runs Ogbeide and even Yante Maten in and out of the game.  Ogbeide went out before even two minutes elapsed.

By running guys in and out, you don't keep them fresh.  You in fact do the opposite.  Guys exert energy and then sit down.  They never get into the flow of the game.  By stretching their muscles out and making them sit in chairs almost immediately, you actually risk injury.

Fox said that he thought that Memorial Gym was hot.  That, too, is redicalice.  Vanderbilt's Coach Stallings obviously didn't think so.  Further, in the game against Florida (at Stegeman), Fox yanked Ogbeide out at the three-minute mark, roughly the same point in the game as at Vanderbilt.  In fact, Fox consistently runs players in at the three-minute mark, and has done so all year.   

If we had a talented bench, the substitutions might make more sense.  But Geno and Kessler are struggling.  They're not strong enough to battle for rebounds and win.  We don't get second shots, and when are guards are not hitting from the outside, our opponents grab the rebounds and run.  It would be different if Kessler or Geno had the dribbling ability and foot speed to get by their man on strong drives to the basket.  But that's not their skill set.  So instead of working the opposing defense, Mark Fox makes their job very easy.

Why not at least let Maten and Ogbeide play long enough together to get their guys in foul trouble?  Then Geno and Kessler could go in when the other team puts their reserves in.  Besides, when Maten and Ogbeide score on the block, that will lead the other team to sag off of our shooters to help out.  That will lead to open shots for our guards.

In the post-game interview, Mark Fox received three straight questions from reporters about his substitution patterns.  And in the recap of the game, the Athens Banner Herald's headline was that "Substitution Strategy Backfires on Mark Fox in UGA's Loss to Vanderbilt." 

The reporters get it, Coach Fox.  Why don't you?

I even started to think that Mark Fox was intentionally jeopardizing the season, whether consciously or not, so that he would in fact get fired.  

I reasoned that Fox saw the result of Georgia's decision to fire Mark Richt, a coach landing in a sunny climate with a new school and a multi-million dollar check in hand.  

I know.  The idea that Mark Fox is losing intentionally is redicalice.

But so is the way our players are being used.  Makes you wonder.  


Thursday, February 18, 2016

William Jarrell is a Player

If things turn out the way I think they will, UGA will have up to three additional scholarships to offer recruits from the 2016 class.

Georgia started out with three 2016/2017 scholarships open, since Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann are set to graduate this year and do not have any further eligibility.  Incoming freshmen Jordan Harris and Tyree Crump have already signed to take two of those slots.

That leaves one scholarship remaining.  However, two more scholarships would open up if Juwan Parker and Houston Kessler do not play next year due to injury and graduation, respectively.

William Jarrell is making a case for consideration for at least one of the UGA scholarships.  Jarrell's Crawford County squad whipped Seminole County last night winning 95 to 64.  Jordan Harris played big for Seminole County, scoring 37 points, to go with 14 rebounds and 5 blocks.  But William Jarrell was not too far behind, finishing with 27 points and 10 boards.

Jarrell is a rangy athlete who does a little bit of everything.   Defends like crazy, takes it to the rack, hits free throws and still averages six assists per game.  He's currently unsigned, and Georgia could probably lock up his commitment if we move soon.  

What do you think, Coach Hayes?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Fox: If Ogbeide is Punishing People

Leave him alone!

Do not insist on taking him out at the three-minute mark!

Ogbeide started and does a nice job.  In the first three minutes, Ogbeide showed some hustle and kept the ball alive, corralling one or two rebounds.  More importantly, by being strong around the basket, Derek drew two fouls on their guys, including one on their big man, Ogbunu.

Predictably, just past the three-minute mark, Fox yanked Ogbeide.  When Fox brought in Kessler, Florida laid off Houston, and bracketed Maten with Kessler's man, in effect double-teaming Yante.  Maten jockeyed for position, but with the two guys so close by, he couldn't get the ball in scoring position.

Now, not only does UGA not have Ogbeide's contributions, Yante has to work twice as hard.

After five or six minutes on the bench, Fox brings Ogbeide back in at the 10:56 mark.  Derek grabs two rebounds and quickly scores off the pick and roll.  On the next play, Ogbeide hits a jumper.  To reward Derek for his efforts, Fox immediately pulls him.

Not surprisingly, Georgia went cold.

UGA doesn't score again until Fox inserts Ogbeide again.  Ogbeide's presence allows Maten to play more on the perimeter, and Yante hits a three.  Ogbeide then posts up and hits a jump hook.

Georgia ends the half up six points.  But in a key game, when Florida's shooting is cold, Fox did not use his players effectively so that we could be up 10 or 15.

Ogbeide starts the second half.  Runs a pick and roll with J.J. Frazier.  Derek catches the pass cleanly, makes a nifty move to avoid the charge and scores with a jump hook.  Fox yanks him again, right at the three-minute mark.

By this time, I'm pulling my hair out.

Florida makes a run and takes the lead, eventually winning the game by four.  Derek Ogbeide finished the game shooting 4 of 5 from the floor and grabbing 6 rebounds.  He could have done so much more with more time and a chance to take the ball at Florida when he was hot.

Please, Fox.  Stop the crazy substitution patterns.  I know you want to have some depth, and guys have to play to get better.  At the same time, if you just use the players you have in a less rigid manner, Georgia might win two or three more games.  Could be the difference in going to the Tournament or staying home.  Could be the difference in continuing as Georgia's coach or going away.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Dawgs still tied for third in the SEC

Sure enough, South Carolina beat LSU.  That means that there is a three-way tie for first (South Carolina, Kentucky and LSU are 8-3), a two-way tie for second (Texas A&M and Florida are 7-4), and a two-way tie for third (Vanderbilt and Georgia are 6-5).

Every game is vitally important, and that's why I hoped that the Dawgs could somehow steal one at Rupp.  Had we won that game, we would have had a real shot at winning the Conference.

Of course, Georgia can just as easily lose a couple of games and fall toward the bottom of the SEC.  There is a four-way tie for fourth, so any slip-up by UGA could result in teams passing us by quickly.

Whatever magic Georgia has is needed now.  We've got seven more games left before the SEC tournament.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Can Georgia Win at Rupp? Answer: No!

Everyone needed to play well, and so far, no one has.

They are about to double us up in points.  Yep.  52 to 26.  Disappointing.

Doesn't mean we won't make the NCAA Tourney, necessarily, but we won't make the NCAA Tourney.

Like I said, disappointing.

We missed out on some big man recruits over the last few years (Tony Parker-UCLA, Shaq Goodwin-Memphis, even guys like Daniel Giddens-Ohio State, could have helped) and games like this one make those failures so glaring.  Malik Beasley is a freshman two-guard who is making a huge impact at Florida State.  All these guys were from the Atlanta area.  Oh well.

Back to the drawing board.

Can Dawgs Win at Rupp?

Very, very difficult to win there.  We have had some talented squads at Georgia, and we go up there and the environment, the talent and the refs get us all flustered.

With that said, we almost beat Kentucky last season (at Stegeman, though), and this year's Kentucky team isn't nearly as good.  Besides that, we haven't had a game all year during which Gaines, Mann, Frazier and Maten all play well.  If we can hit some outside shots and UK has a let-down after their big Florida win, UGA might steal one.  If we do, Georgia and Kentucky will be tied for second place in the SEC with matching 7 and 4 records.

Come to think of it, it's not inconceivable that Georgia could end up winning the SEC.  LSU will have to lose some, and Texas A&M and South Carolina will have to stumble, but it could happen.

Let's see what Fox does with the match-up zone.  Maybe Poythress will be out with an injury.  Perhaps Fox will start Mike Edwards and see if he can beat their big men off the dribble.

Are you ready?  Let's get started!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Texas A&M Game

Didn't get to see that game, and glad I missed it.  I won't post the statistics here.  Too depressing.

Bottom line:  It's very disappointing to see Georgia lose by a huge margin at home.  I remember when Felton had scholarship limitations and a depleted roster in his second year, and I expected that team to lose big.

Why Fox's team should play so poorly is a mystery to me.  On the other hand, sometimes the shots don't fall for you.  Besides, A&M is undefeated for a reason.  They're a good squad.

I haven't been a huge Fox supporter because I disagree with some of his recruiting, roster and game strategy moves.  However, I'm not on the fire Fox now bandwagon, either.

I am concerned that Auburn seems to be turning things around with their huge win over Kentucky.  I would like to see Georgia be more competitive.  I just don't know.

Let's regroup.  Beat Missouri.  Get some good recruiting news.  Maybe I'm a glass half-full guy, but we can still turn the ship around.

Kobi Simmons to Arizona

He could have helped at UGA.  I wouldn't trade Jordan Harris for him, but a big point guard would have been a nice addition to the 2016 class.

Next year UGA will have four quality guards on the roster in J.J. Frazier, Turtle Jackson, Tyree Crump and Jordan Harris. That's good, but since J.J. Frazier is more like a short two-guard, and we have been going with a three-guard line-up, Kobi Simmons would have plugged right in and competed for a starting position.

We'll see if Simmons can develop his potential.  Not an elite shooter at this point, but he has all the physical tools to contribute at a high level.

Can Georgia bring in a talented spring signee or two?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Why? Ten Things I Don't Understand

Got lots of questions.  Maybe some of the readers can help me, 'cause I don't get Coach Mark Fox's strategy.

1)  Why is Kessler still starting?

Nothing against him, but the centers in the SEC are bigger and stronger.  I suppose that Kessler knows the offense better than Ogbeide or Edwards, but by the time of SEC competition, the freshmen should know the plays.  I think Egbunu had 2 or 3 dunks on Kessler within the first two or three minutes in the game.  That allowed Florida to play from ahead, and we were playing catch-up from there.

Besides that, when Kessler screened a defender, Florida would double-team the ball and just let Kessler run loose, knowing that he isn't an offensive threat.  Kessler was 0 for 2 from the floor, with 0 rebounds, 0 assists and a turnover.  We have to get some production from that position, or it's going to be a long year.

2)  Why do we allow teams to walk the ball up the floor uncontested?

UF uses the 2-2-1 press as a staple to slow teams down.  By the time we get into our offense, the 30 second clock is working against us.  We have a press.  Mike Edwards played for a high school team on which the full court press was used every game with Edwards on the ball.  Why not press at least some?

3)  Why don't we put at least two guys along the lane to rebound missed foul shots?

If Ogbeide is shooting a one and one, then put somebody along the lane to catch the long rebound.  We generally don't have rebounders line up when we shoot free throws.  If we were shooting 80 percent or above as a team, I guess it would make more sense to me.  Predictably, Ogbeide missed the one and one, the ball caromed off the rim, but we didn't have anyone on that side of the line to rebound it.

4)  Why run the zone when we need to speed up their offense?

We sat back and let them run clock.  Made no sense to me.

5)  Why not foul when we need to get more possessions?

They shot 57 percent from the line.  Florida was already in the double bonus.  Might as well use the hack-a-Gator strategy so we can get the ball back.

6)  If Chuck is struggling, why not give Jackson more minutes?

Charles was 1 for 7 from the field with 3 turnovers and 0 assists.  Jackson did not score, but he needs to get minutes if Charles is off.  Most of Jackson's shot attempts were long ones at the end of the game when the clock was running out.

Chuck's free throws are better this year, but everything else seems off.

7)  Why not try some 1-3-1?

Seems like Fox goes with the zone when I would play man, and he plays man when I would play zone.  You can get some turnovers when you spring the 1-3-1 on opposing teams.  I don't think I've ever seen us use the 1-3-1.

8)  Why can't we get some rebounds?

I suppose this goes back to giving Ogbeide and Edwards more time.  Do we need to start Wilridge and bring Chuck off the bench?

9)  Why didn't we recruit Egbunu?

Egbunu went to school in the Atlanta area.  I pushed for us to give him a look.  Hard for me to believe that we couldn't have fought off USF for his recruitment.

10)  Are we really bad, or did we just have a bad night?

Hate to lose to a first-year coach when Fox has been here seven years.  I know you can lose a game down in Gainesville when they are shooting the ball well, but it just looked like they out-coached us.

Uggghh.  We'll play better, but the SEC is tougher this year.  Hope we can get things turned around.  As for now, I just have a lot of questions.

Wasn't Our Night

We needed something from outside, and we got nothing.  Chuck has gone 1 for 6.  J.J. Frazier was efficient, but he didn't give us much.  And they killed us on the boards.

Down 13 with 7 minutes to go

Georgia can still win if we get to the free throw line.  But if they keep shooting twice as many free throws as us and they shoot 43 percent from behind the arc, I don't see a way.

I think we need to start Ogbeide from here on out.  Nothing against Kessler, but he's 0 for 2 with 0 rebounds and Ogbeide is producing.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Georgia Can Win at Florida: Five Keys

Always difficult to come away with a victory when playing down in Gainesville.  However, the Dawgs can get it done.  Here are my five keys.

1)  Watch for the trap

Florida runs a 2-2-1 full court press.  The way to beat it is by using a 1-1-1-2 concept in bringing the ball up.

In other words, Georgia should keep a man behind the guard dribbling the ball up the floor,  If the trap comes, UGA's guard should throw the ball back to the guard trailing the action.  That guard should then have the angle to advance the ball quickly.

In addition, there should be a guy posted in the middle of the floor, and two guys on the baseline, close enough to their hoop so our guys have to be guarded, but far enough away so that they can become an outlet on the side of the floor, if needed.

In no case should we dribble the ball to the corner and stop. They will run us out of the gym if we give them easy steals and transition buckets.

Georgia's three-guard line-up of Gaines, Frazier and Mann should be able to break Florida's press.

2)  Make them shoot over the top

UF does not have a guy this year like Michael Frazier II, who was Florida's designated three-point marksman last season.  He set the Florida record for three-pointers made in a season, and once made 11 in a game against South Carolina.  Frazier declared for the NBA draft last season.

Since Florida struggles with outside shooting, I would sag on their on-ball screens and make sure the screen-man diving to the hoop isn't open.

KeVaughn Allen is a guy who can shoot the ball pretty well, but even still I'd make him prove that he is hot, before risking giving Florida the chance to drive the ball to the hole and make relatively easy shots or get our guys in foul trouble.

3)  Don't fall for the fake shot-clock

Some of their fans have started yelling out a count-down, as if the shot clock is going down to zero.  Our point guards should keep track of the actual clock and ignore their fans.

4)  Run when we can

If we get some turnovers, or rebound some of their long misses, we have to push the ball up the floor and score quickly.  Let's take their crowd out of the game.

5)  Play the match-ups

That means, use the match-up zone some.  Cut off their guards' penetration angles and avoid getting our guards in foul trouble.  But it also means that Fox should utilize his bench.  Give Ogbeide and Mike Edwards enough time for them to get Egbunu in foul trouble.  

We owe Mike White one.  Let's go to Gainesville and come back with the W.