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). 

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