Sunday, March 26, 2017

Final Four: Is there any hope for UGA in 2018?

South Carolina defeats Florida, 77 to 70, and makes it to its first Final Four.

Kentucky loses to North Carolina and does not advance.

Great news for Georgia.  Here's why:

1)  The SEC is a pretty good league.

We got five teams in, and three advanced to the Elite Eight.  If Georgia is competitive next year, we might get an invite, just because the SEC arguably over-achieved with results in March 2017.

2)  Kentucky Loses

I would have loved for there to be two SEC teams in the Final Four--  as long as one of them wasn't Kentucky.  Yeah, okay.  Call it sour grapes if you want.  At the same time, I really do have issues with their one and done strategy.  It's legal, but at some point, churning guys through your squad and encouraging just about all your freshmen, some of whom aren't quite ready, to declare for the NBA, is bad for the kids, and bad for college basketball.

3)  Hard-Nosed Defense Works

South Carolina got it done with defense.  Don't know whether they will win the championship, but they are two games away, and they have made it thus far by being who they are.

The Florida game was an excellent example.  Florida was hot in the first half, ripping three-pointers.  For the game, South Carolina shot 10 three-pointers and only made 2.  But they kept going to the hole, getting fouled and going to the line.

In the second half, the fool's gold corroded.  Believe I saw that Florida went 0 for 15 from three-point range.  Meanwhile, South Carolina marched again and again to the free throw line.  Florida shot 30 three-pointers, and the Gamecocks shot 30 free throws.  Frank Martin's strategy won.

4)  Recruit the best you can

The Gamecocks don't have a bunch of five-stars.  Sindarius Thornwell was a four-star recruit.  Chris Silva was a three-star.  Maik Kotsar, the guy from Estonia, was a three-star.  Same for Duane Notice.

They don't have a bunch of seven-footers, either.  But they recruit to their system, and have enough guys in that 6' 4" to 6' 10" range who are wired in to giving it their all on the court.

Now, Frank Martin churns players, too.  I don't know if he intentionally pushes guys off the team, but he had a ton of players leave the program after a year or two.  I think the truth is that not everyone thrives under Frank Martin's in-your-face coaching style, and guys sometimes would rather go elsewhere.

In any case, my point is that Frank Martin has not been getting top-ranked recruiting classes.  He gets enough talented guys so that by the time they are juniors and seniors, they are very competitive.

So, there is hope for Georgia.  Frank Martin is the same coach that UGA beat three times in a row last year.  We knocked them out of the NCAA Tournament, it is widely believed.
This year, we lost by two at their place, and by six at ours.

If Maten stays and we get production from Mike Edwards, Derrick Ogbeide, and Rayshaun Hammonds, that front-court rotation, supported by Wilridge and Claxton, should be stout enough to make the NCAA's.

On the perimeter, we will have Turtle Jackson, Tyree Crump, and Jordan Harris, likely supported by Juwan Parker, Pape Diatta, and Teshaun Hightower.

Hopefully, we will bring in another contributor, a guy like Avery Wilson to play minutes at point guard, or Isaiah Miller (or even Isaiah Banks) on the perimeter.

We may actually be close to having the kind of team that we all want, one that can make it to the NCAA's, and even, advance.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Recruiting: Top Five Unsigned

Well, now that the Dawgs aren't going to the NCAA's (with Vanderbilt beating Florida and Alabama looking stronger, there just isn't much room for am at-large bid for UGA), I'm curious once again about recruiting.

UGA has an open scholarship, and perhaps two if Yante Maten opts for signing with an agent.

Here are my top five unsigned hoopsters for the class of 2017:

1.  Isaiah Miller

He's the high-flying combo guard from Newton County.  I know we have watched him, but we have yet to offer, and Miller doesn't have any other high major offers.  Leads me to believe that something's not quite right, and we ultimately will not offer.

2.  M.J. Walker

For some reason we have never been in the running for McDonald's All-American Walker.  I guess we have given up, because I don't get the sense that we are actively recruiting him.

3.  Ahmad Rand

Athletic forward from Lincoln County.  Would be a decent pick-up if Yante goes pro.

Derrick Walker was our previous insurance policy, but he committed to Tennessee.

4.  Avery Wilson

Wilson should be at or near the top of our list.  We need a guy who can handle the rock, and Wilson is a strongly built point guard who can also score.  Reminds me a bit of J.J. Frazier, in the sense that he is an overlooked guy who has real potential

5.  Isaiah Banks

Tough defender and uber athlete from the Metro Atlanta area has become well-known through the video of him throwing down a tomahawk dunk and breaking the backboard.  From all I have seen, Banks doesn't have any high major offers either.

Bottom Line:  I'd be satisfied with Wilson if Miller is unavailable.  I believe that a point guard is more of a need than another big man.

Any other potential recruits out there?

Friday, March 10, 2017

J.J. has off game

Shoots 4 of 17.  Dawgs lose to Kentucky.

Still wish we had J.J. for one more year.  But all my wishful thinking doesn't change the cold, hard facts.

J.J. will graduate.  UGA basketball is competent, but far from exciting.  Recruiting is decent, but we are going deep into the spring with yet another open scholarship.

Dawgs will go to the NIT.  I'll have to find some Cinderella to root for at the Big Dance.


Prediction: J.J. Frazier has the game of his life

Dawgs win by 5.

Go Dawgs.  Beat despised Cats!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

If Fox is Fired

Give the reins to Jonas.

Coach Hayes is a local guy, someone who bleeds red and black, and an excellent recruiter.  I believe he would do things that Fox wouldn't.  Hayes would play his freshmen, establish reasonable substitution patterns, quit yanking guys after made three-pointers, play an up-tempo style of ball, use all of the available scholarships, and work as hard in the non-conference portion of the season as the SEC.

Hayes is our best shot for keeping Yante Maten for his senior year, and for Rayshaun Hammonds to remain committed to his signed letter.  Believe you me, Coach Pastner, the excellent coaching pick-up for Tech, would love to waltz in and secure Hammonds as a late addition to next year's signing class.

No guarantee any of the mid-major guys will come here anyway, or would have better success recruiting Atlanta than Fox.

Fox could lead us to victory in the SEC Tournament, and thereby secure an NCAA berth and at least one more year or a partial year as coach.  Happened to Coach Felton.

However, if the tornadoes stay far away this year, and Fox loses on Thursday to Tennessee, then let's not overlook our home-grown talent already residing in Athens.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Dawgs Lose

to Arkansas.  Final score:  85 to 67.

J.J. shot 5 of 15 from the floor.  He was pretty gassed, and battled foul trouble.

No other back court player picked him up.  Juwan Parker was 2 for 10.  Tyree Crump was 2 for 10.  Turtle Jackson was 2 of 7.  Throw in Jordan Harris at 0 for 1, and Pape Diatta at 0 for 2, and Georgia's other guards were 6 for 30 (20 percent).

Derek Ogbeide played well, and Mike Edwards was effective off the bench, but when they shoot 55 percent as a team compared to our 31 percent, a twenty-point loss or thereabouts is what you expect.

Sure could have used Yante Maten.

Can't see Georgia getting to the NCAA's unless we win the SEC Tournament.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Dawgs Edge Auburn: DaugMan's Ten Take-Aways

Dawgs beat Auburn by 1 last night.  Huge win for the team.  Proud of the guys.

Here are my 10 Take-Aways:

1.  J.J. Frazier is the Man!

31 points, with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.  Hit 5 of 9 three-pointers.  Clutch game on senior night.  Averaged 31 points a game in our last four contests.  He's the biggest little man in the country.

Loved the quote from Coach Avery Johnson at Alabama, who, at 5' 11", just an inch taller than J.J., and also left-handed, played for 15 years in the NBA.  Speaking of Frazier, Coach Johnson remarked, "He's the chef for the team.  He cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the Georgia Bulldogs."
Frazier has stated that he has sought to vindicate Mark Fox for giving him a scholarship.  And lest we forget, Fox gave Frazier second and third chances, after J.J. got arrested for driving without a license in March of 2014, and driving with a suspended license in August of 2015.

Well, I had my doubts, too, about how effective J.J. would be at finishing at the rim against SEC competition.  Had my doubts about whether he fully appreciated the opportunity to play basketball for the University of Georgia.  Thought he had some potential, but also saw that he shot 35 percent from the floor and 66 percent from the line (same percentage as center, Donte Williams) his freshman year.

No one doubts much about J.J. any longer.  He's improved as a basketball player and matured as a man.  Frazier loves Fox, loves to compete, and loves the University of Georgia.  Bravo, J.J.!

2.  Mark Fox is UGA's Coach

I posted previously that if Fox could pick up wins in more than half of our remaining games, he would be rightfully credited with doing his best coaching, and most assuredly would be back next year.  The Dawgs have gone 3 for 3 since.

Sure, there are those who would give the credit for the victories solely to J.J., but Fox correctly noted that for the Dawgs to have a chance to win after Yante Maten went down, UGA would have to play differently against each team.  We have, and we have won.

3.  Tyree Crump is pretty good

Didn't get to see the game on t.v., but the Box Score tells a compelling story.  Crump went 2 of 3 from behind the arc, and 2 of 2 from inside it.  He beat his man off the dribble in one of the highlights, and converted off the glass.

I have pushed for Fox to play Crump more.  Don't see how Fox can keep him on the bench with the production Crump is giving.

4.  Jordan Harris is okay

Not "okay" as a player, but "okay" as in reference to his health.  Fox had commented that Harris has had a chip in a bone, but he refused to say which bone, when the injury occurred, or for how long Jordan would be out.

Well, lo and behold, Harris played last night.  Hit a three, and converted two opportunities from the line.  His health is apparently fine, and even more mysteriously, he's not playing like a guy coming off an injury.

What went on?  We may never know.  All I can say is that Jordan Harris is okay.

5.  Georgia is not just Yante Maten

E'torrion Wilridge has picked up all the minutes from Yante's absence.  I don't think I've ever credited Fox for a personnel decision, but I'll do it now.  Playing Wilridge makes better sense than starting Mike Edwards.  Nothing against Mike, but Wilridge is able to defend better against quicker players, and we need to save Edwards as a guy who can give us "big man" minutes, in case Derek Ogbeide gets in foul trouble.

6.  Derek Ogbeide is a horse

Dude had 10 points and 15 boards last night.  Can't even remember when a Georgia player last got 15 rebounds.

7.  Dynamic Duo still not seen

J.J. has played his best basketball while Yante has been out.  He has carried the team because he's had to do it.

Early in the season, it was Yante having the huge games, and J.J.'s shooting seemed off.  Remember that Kansas game from back in November?  Georgia had a chance for a huge statement win.  Yante had 30 points and was killing them on the inside.  Kansas went to a zone and the Dawgs fell behind and lost by 11.

If J.J. had played big in that game, we would have destroyed Kansas.  However, Frazier fizzled.  He played 33 minutes, but never really got on track, achieving just 2 points and 3 turnovers, going 1 for 10 for the floor and 0 for 6 from behind the arc.

Or take our first game against Kentucky.  The Dawgs lost in overtime at Rupp.  Yante went 8 of 15.  J.J. went 8 of 21.  Not a terrible game, but had J.J. played up to his standards, Georgia would have taken that game.

When the Cats came to Athens, J.J. played huge.  Scored 35 points on 11 for 22 shooting.  Problem?  Yante had gone down earlier in the game with a knee injury.

Don't know if Yante can come back this season, or if he does, how effective he will be.  If J.J. and Yante both play dynamically, we can beat anybody in the country.  

8.  Everybody Else

Georgia got contributions from up and down in the roster.  Sure we've got a Dynamic Duo, but it's great to see we've got a Justice League, too.  I mentioned Crump, Harris and Ogbeide already.  Juwan Parker didn't shoot that well, going 4 for 12 from the field, but he grabbed 8 rebounds.

9.  Momentum

Georgia finally seems to have it.  Momemtum and even karma seems to be trending our way.

Didn't expect to be able to say that when Yante got hurt in a freak accident.  Everything that could go wrong was seeming to happen.

However, after the overtime loss at Florida, the overtime loss at Kentucky, and the clock debacle at Texas A&M, we're actually coming out ahead in close games.  We won by 1 at Tennessee, by 2 against LSU, by 5 at Alabama, and by 1 against Auburn.  We're 5 out of our last 6.

Who's to say that we couldn't go into Arkansas and win?  If so, Georgia would have huge momentum going into the SEC Tournament.

10.  NCAA Tournament

The win at Auburn and the victories accomplished in this stretch run all strengthen the possibilities of Georgia going to the NCAA Tournament.  If we win the SEC Tournament, of course, then we punch our own ticket to the Big Dance.  But if we fall short of the SEC tourney title, there's still a slim chance of an at-large bid.

Win at Arkansas, and get a couple of victories in the SEC Tournament, then perhaps the NCAA Selection Committee will look at all the above:  J.J. Frazier as one of the most exciting players in America.  A recovering Yante Maten.  Other guys doing just enough in support.  Momentum.  Playing Kentucky, Kansas and Florida and giving them all they could handle.  Overcoming the odds.

Sure, we're an underdog, but what better feeling is there than seeing a Cinderella dance?  Than seeing an underdog win?  Than the Dynamic Duo and the Justice League vanquishing their foes at the end?

I'm a hoops fan.  Hope you are, too.  Go Dawgs, beat Arkansas!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dawgs Edge LSU

LSU is really, really struggling.  Hard to even think of how they were set up for success last year with Ben Simmons running point guard.  Antonio Blakeny was in that same recruiting class.  He has been performing pretty well over the last few games, but I had no idea that the very next year LSU would beat Missouri in a race to last place in the SEC.

So glad the Dawgs pulled this one out.  Wasn't able to watch the game, but from all I understand, J.J. was huge yet again.  29 points, 8 assists.  Dude is incredible.

Well, I guess Mark Fox is your coach for next year.  If we had lost to LSU, I'm not sure he would have survived.  

However, after losing Yante Maten to injury, and has recently been revealed, Jordan Harris to a bone chip, Mark Fox has coached us to a win in the next two games.  Sure, we lost to Kentucky in that game that Yante was hurt, but we were neck and neck to the end.  Alabama and LSU aren't that great (Alabama will be a top three SEC team next year, though), but the point is that UGA finally was able to win close games.  

I'm thinking Yante will be back next year, and you have to like a front court of a seasoned and healthy Maten with Derek Ogbeide in the middle, and a multi-skilled Hammonds at the three.  You still have Mike Edwards and Nicolas Claxton off the bench.  Our back court will be challenged after J.J. graduates, but a rotation of Crump, Harris, Jackson, Hightower, and Parker might be okay if any of those five can advance the ball against pressure and drive the ball to the rim.

Can we bring in Isaiah Miller or Isaiah Banks?  I'd love Miller, since he could give us help at point guard.  But if for any reason Miller isn't the guy, then Banks from the metro Atlanta area is a 6' 5" shooting guard/small forward who can defend multiple positions.  Neither one of them are being heavily recruited, but both are super-athletic, and would be great additions.

As far as closing the 2017 season out, Georgia could indeed go on a run.  Have to figure that Auburn, our opponent in the last home game, won't be able to exploit the lack of Yante in the middle.  They mostly dribble-drive and shoot three pointers.  

We wouldn't play Kentucky until the end, and though we have Florida in our side of the bracket, they're not the same team without Egbunu.

Felton did it.  Perhaps Fox can harness the "Tornado Terriers" spirit and somehow win the SEC Tournament.  Let's play hard to end the season and see what happens.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Maten's Injury: Q-Qbd

Yante Maten has been "Da Man" for UGA basketball.  Leading the team in scoring and blocked shots, notching huge games against opponents' bigger front lines, shooting 53 percent from the floor for 19 points a game, and corralling 7 boards per outing, Maten has way out-produced expectations from when he and Osahen Iduwe were the two spring commitments in April 2014.

Maten has been so central to the way that UGA plays this season, that it is difficult to imagine Georgia having any successful offensive sets without him.  But injuries happen, and for perpetually "snake-bit" UGA basketball, they come at the worst times and in the weirdest of ways.  Remember back in January 2015 in the middle of the season when Maten suffered a concussion from being hit by a car?

Up to this past weekend, Georgia had somehow managed to avoid bad injuries this season.  J.J. Frazier had two or three scary-looking falls, but he was able to bounce back.  Georgia's heart and soul, Maten and Frazier, logged major minutes, and while J.J. has not had his best shooting year, UGA's dynamic duo kept Georgia competitive in just about all of our contests.

Well, with Maten going down with a sprained knee, suffered in the first few minutes of our last game against Kentucky, Georgia faces the daunting future of closing out the season without him.

If Yante's knee injury was a nuclear bomb dropped on the hoops hopes of UGA's 2017 basketball team, what about the near and long-term fall-out?  Let's look at the Q-cubed equation.

1.  Fox coaching (quality)

Although most UGA fans have their minds made up on whether Mark Fox can coach, I suppose that now we'll really see what he can do.  If Fox somehow, without Maten, manages to win more than half of our remaining games, you have to figure the guy has done his best coaching this season, if not his entire 8-year Georgia career.

2.  Fox coaching (quantity)

How many more years does Fox get?  Is 2017 the end?  Athletic Director Greg McGarity was once quoted as saying, "anything that has to be done eventually has to be done now."  That phrase, or something close to it, was given as the kind of thinking that led to the Mark Richt dismissal.

Following that same logic would probably lead to Fox suffering the same fate as Richt, an end-of-season pink slip.

Can't you see the performance review?  "Coach Fox, I see you gave yourself an A- on your 2017 performance self-analysis.  Care to explain that?"

"Well, you see how I graduated all my guys.  Sure, I have yet to win a single NCAA Tournament game in my 8 years, but everyone knows that it takes at least 15 years to turn UGA's program around.  We're just beyond that half-way point, now, and you see how I graduated all my guys.  Besides, we were just about to beat Kentucky when Yante got injured, and but for that freak accident, probably would have won the SEC Tournament and gone to the Big Dance."

Does the Maten injury generate any sympathy?  Will it get Fox past the "just do it (now)" approach of his boss?

3.  Fox coaching (quandary)

By quandary, I mean how will Fox answer the following questions?  Which style gives UGA the best chance to win?  Will he, looking at his personnel, finally realize that you can't micro-manage your way to basketball success in the SEC?  Without Maten to feed in the post, will Fox stop the crazy substitutions, give in and play more up-tempo?  Allow the talented freshman guards more minutes?

He might have to.

Fox, frustrated with the number of UGA turnovers, announced after a recent game that he might have to coach the way he did a couple of years ago--  slow the game down, and make every play call from the bench.

However, the 2017 team has no Chuck Mann, a powerfully-built point guard, who could, with the shot clock running down, drive the ball toward the rim and get fouled.  I suppose that when he made the above comment, Fox had in mind playing a version of "snail-ball", such that just about every play would go through Yante.  Well, now there's no Yante.

If we try snail-ball at this point, we'll probably just resort to "iso-J.J.", a game strategy that other teams will likely prepare for, and that even with Maten on the floor has already failed Georgia both early and late in games this year.

Facing his personnel quandary and realizing that he needs to coach like his job is on the line, I think he has to modestly speed things up, try different defenses, and allow guys to play, make the good pass, and shoot when they're open.

4.  Go or Stay?

Maten has a quandary of his own.  Go, or stay?

If Yante simply looks at his predecessors, the decision is pretty much made.  Coach Fox has had a few basketball players before who have faced the "go or stay" conundrum--  two players Fox inherited from Coach Felton, and one he brought in on his own.  But each guy who potentially had NBA ability-- Trey Thompkins, Travis Leslie, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, decided to forego their full college eligibility and opt for early entry into the pro ranks.

What about Maten?  Well, the jury was out on whether he would come back.  Some felt, perhaps selfishly for UGA's sake, that Yante needed another year to develop his game.  Others looked toward the future with dread, thinking that Maten would probably bolt for the pro ranks, especially since next year there won't be any J.J. Frazier to feed him.

Well, a wrench has just been thrown in the decision machine.  Now that Yante's been injured, I think he just about has to stay.

The potential of a knee injury is always in the back an athlete's mind.  That nagging concern can feel like a pebble in your proverbial career-choice shoe.  As you think about your family, your future, and the kinds of salaries guys are getting these days. even the NBA bench-riders, the knee-injury possibility is a thought that presents itself again and again.  It's a powerful motivator to cause student athletes to go for the money early, or at least, like Todd Gurley, get an insurance policy.

But once a knee injury in fact occurs, and worse, happens late in a college junior's sports career, it totally changes the dynamics.

Pro scouts, who are paid to not gamble with a franchise's money, have to distinguish between pretenders and contenders.  If some were casting furtive glances toward Yante or even staring him down, their gaze might be averted now.  "Perhaps he needs to play his senior year to see if his knee is really in good shape."

Since even with healthy knees, Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie only played a few months of Big League basketball, Yante probably is best served now by returning for his senior season.

The question remains:  If he does return, will Yante have to adjust to a new head coach?

Stay tuned.  Tonight's Alabama game and the Q-qbd equation over the last few contests could make all the difference.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Difference between Josh Pastner and Mark Fox

There are plenty, but perhaps this exchange from an article is most telling:

Earlier this month, a reporter asked Pastner about his plan for the long rebuild of Georgia Tech basketball. Pastner cut him off.
“Not a long rebuild,” he said, cracking a smile. “A major rebuild.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sure Enough, Crump goes back to the Bench

Glad that the Dawgs beat Mississippi State, but we won't have help from the refs every night.  At some point, we need to show we can hit a jump-shot.

That's where Crump comes in, or rather, did not come in.  After Crump's great game at Tennessee, Fox decided not to start him.  To make matters worse, Fox substituted Crump in fairly early in the first half, but after Tyree played a couple of minutes, then hit a deep three, he was yanked.

Houston Kessler, however, got ample playing time.  He only went out after picking up his second foul.

I guess it's too late in the season to complain.  Maybe Fox can win the SEC Tournament and get to the NCAA's after all.  I hope so.

I don't know what Fox is doing, and I don't think he knows, either.  I'd be happy to be proven wrong, but it looks like another NIT year for the Dawgs.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Bet you dollars to doughnuts

that Fox returns Tyree Crump to the bench against Mississippi State Tuesday night.  That's what happened when Crump shot lights out against Morehouse, and was thereafter relegated to the deep bench against Marquette.  I doubt Fox has changed much since then.

Crump has shown that he can score from long range.  He can knock down pressure free throws.  And he can score a bunch of points in a short time (he scored 13 in 16 minutes against Tennessee).

Crump's a great complement to J.J.  Sure, you likely have to play zone if both Crump and Frazier are in the game at the same time, but we need to play more zone defense anyway.  The pay-off for UGA will be most apparent on offense, because teams can't just double-team J.J. or Yante if Crump is in shooting position.

Unfortunately, Fox hates zone, and he apparently dislikes adjusting his scheme to his talent.  I remember being stunned that Fox sat Kenny Gaines instead of finding a way to put him on the floor with KCP.

Likewise, Coach Fox will have his reasons for not playing Crump all  year:  

"He was behind a pretty good player in J.J.", will likely be his "go-to" reason.  If he doesn't reach for that one, he'll say that "the match-ups didn't favor" giving Crump any time on the floor.  Fox will then declare that "Crump has been getting better in practice all year."

I say, if you're in next-to-last place in the SEC, do something different!  Besides, J.J. won't be here next year, so give Crump playing time now.  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Great Win for the Dawgs

We finally won a close one.  Dawgs win by one at Tennessee, 76 to 75.

I guess the frustration still remains.  Fox is so stubborn that he refuses to give minutes to his best players.

If Tyree Crump can score 13 points in 16 minutes in a hostile gym, why hasn't Fox been playing him?

Crump went 4 of 7 from the field, 3 of 5 from behind the arc, and 2 of 2 from the line.  We've been needing clutch shooting, something from the outside, and somebody to give J.J. a break from feeling he has to do all the scoring.

Fox got a win, and I'm excited and relieved.  I just want Fox to finally use his talent, and yes, play zone more, and yes, especially, play Tyree Crump more.  Maybe we would have pulled out the close ones instead of losing them.

Let's go on a run to close out the season!

Crump Starts and Hits a Three

Fox yanks him, first opportunity.

Why start Tyree, if you're not going to see what he can do?  If he's 1 for 1, let's see if he can stay hot before you bench him.

I have no clue what Fox is doing.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

About what I expected

Georgia loses to Florida by 12.  They were up 17, I think, during the last couple of minutes.

The one time we put on a press, we got a turnover.

Why doesn't Fox at least try different defenses?  What about a press?  What about the 1-3-1?  We're down 10 points late in the second half and we just let them walk the ball up the floor?  I can coach better than that!

We're 13 and 11 overall.  At 4 and 7 in the league, Georgia is in next to last place in the SEC.

Fox takes the credit for the 20 win seasons.  He has to take the blame for this one.  Sure, we've had some bad breaks, but if your team never wins close games, never beats higher ranked teams, then something is wrong with the recruiting and the in-game coaching.

I don't know what everybody else was expecting in year 8 of the Fox regime, but this wasn't it.  No NCAA wins in 8 seasons?  Lower reaches of the SEC?  Sure his guys are graduating, but I can field an intramural team with grad students.  Doesn't mean I'm a good coach.

Fox looked pretty good with Felton's players, Trey Thompkins, Travis Leslie, Dustin Ware and Jeremy Price.  But with his own guys, Fox looks totally out-matched by some of the other good coaches.

We finally beat Tech.  Other than that, I can't think of any highlights for the season.

Meanwhile, the other coaches are starting to recruit better.  Alabama and Avery Johnson will be a great looking squad next year.  Tennessee will be better.  Florida and South Carolina are at the top of the league now.

Georgia seems to be heading in the opposite direction.

This game might have forced McGarity's hand.

Hate to post this, but

I'm thinking the Dawgs lose big tonight.

Hope I'm wrong.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Good Game, Dawgs

Gave it our all.  They have Malik Monk and we don't.

We lost by 9, but it was an overtime game.  UGA was right there.  If we had some outside shooting in the first half against their zone, we would have blown them out.  Like I said, they have Malik Monk and we don't.  He can rise up over defenders and knock down shots.  Monk scored 37 for the game and was 7 of 11 behind the arc.

Disappointed that we missed key free throws.  Yante missed two straight that we vitally needed.  Turtle missed one that would have put Georgia up three before their final possession.

All in all, no complaints here.  I don't particularly care for putting KPG in without having other scorers on the floor, but even so, Geno had a nice drive and dish to Ogbeide.  I suppose that it's not playing Tyree Crump earlier in the year that I have issue with.  Hard to expect him to come in at Rupp and do much.  Even still, Fox coached well enough to win.

J.J. didn't have his best game, struggling in the first half.  Hard to take him out, though, because we just don't have many other scoring options.  Frazier bounced back in the second and really toughed it out, especially after getting knocked in the head.

Really concerned that Turtle Jackson is not giving us much of a lift.  Kind of dribbles it around 30 feet from the basket.  Glad he can help break the press.  But like I said, if he does break the press and gets fouled, then he has to be able to knock down the free throws.

Anyway, after J.J. Frazier graduates, UGA could be in trouble.  Tyree Crump plays like a short two guard, and I fear that Teshaun Hightower will play like a tall one.

Yante played a great game. He had a few turnovers here and there, but he was doubled all night, so a few miscues are to be expected.  Maten still outplayed the higher ranked Bam Adebayo and Wenyen Gabriel.  Yante ended up with 22 points and 5 boards.

Great game for Derek Ogbeide.  He's a load in the post.  18 points and 13 boards on 7 of 9 shooting is one of the best games by a UGA big man at Rupp that I can remember.

Jordan Harris, for one, was not scared.  He was 3 of 5 from the field and 2 of 2 from long range.  When he gets his confidence up and his turnovers down, he will score a lot of points for Georgia.

Give it to Kentucky, though.  They find a way to win.

UGA is 13 and 9 overall and 4 and 5 in the SEC.  In danger of sliding down into the lower reaches of the SEC if we don't steal at least one of these next two.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Good start for the Dawgs,

but their zone on defense and their rebounding on offense has the game tied at the half.

A terrible stat:  UK had almost as many offensive rebounds (11) as UGA had defensive (12).

That's why I don't like taking Ogbeide out if he has just one foul.  He was 2 of 2 from the floor with 4 rebounds.  We need his toughness.  I understand that he might not be able to stick Derek Willis out on the perimeter, but if we stay in the zone and rotate quickly, Ogbeide would be a match-up problem for them on offense.  

Way too many turnovers.  You expect big men to not be as skilled with the pass or dribble, but Tyree Crump, J.J. Frazier, and Turtle Jackson are out of control going to the basket.

With that said, we're tied at Rupp.  Kudos to Fox for starting the game out in a zone.  Maybe we rebound better in the second half.

I'd love to see a game in which both Yante and J.J. play well.  Yante is 3 of 5 from the floor.  J.J., 3 of 9.  J.J. also has two turnovers.

Go Dawgs!  Pull this one out!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Georgia Beats Texas: Ten Good Signs

Georgia beat Texas by 2 yesterday evening.  Boy, did we ever need that win.  Fox needed that win.  Not sure he would have survived a third consecutive loss.  Since some UGA fans have wanted UT coach, Shaka Smart, to come to Athens, it was good to see Fox get the W.

There were numerous good signs in the game.

1.  J.J. Frazier has good second half

Frazier didn't shoot the ball well.  If memory serves me, he was 0 for 5 from the field in the first half.

His stats for the game weren't great.  I think he ended up shooting 5 for 16.  The key, however, is that he came back in the second half and hit some key buckets.  Frazier also resisted the urge to do it all by himself, passing up at least one long-range jumper and getting the ball to Maten.

2.  Maten had a good game

Yante seems to play well against big physical line-ups.  Shaquille Cleare, the Texas center, is a huge man at 6' 8", 275.  Jarrett Allen is 6' 11", 235, and they bring Georgia native, James Banks, off the bench at 6' 10", 240.  

Yet with all of their physicality, Maten was able to post up and still not get knocked out of position by the Texas front line.  Yante finished with 21 points and 7 boards, outscoring the combined total of their big guys.

3.  Georgia won the turnover battle

Texas had 14 turnovers.  UGA had just 12.  That's huge.

4.  We broke the press

Late in the game, when the Longhorns threw their press against us, Georgia maintained composure.  

The way we played against A&M, you would think that we never practice against the press.  Well, we did enough this game, using J.J. as a decoy, getting the ball in to Turtle and having him attack from one side, then J.J. from the other.  We narrowly avoiding a J.J. Frazier turnover toward the end, but we didn't give the ball back to them, and they didn't have any fast-break opportunities off of our sloppiness.  I don't think they got a single turnover off of their press.  Good work, Dawgs.

5.  Turtle Jackson played well

His stats won't overwhelm you, but he had 2 points, 2 steals, 2 assists and 0 turnovers.  I like Jordan Harris and his athleticism, but late in the game when you need someone to bring the ball up court, Turtle Jackson is a better option.

6.  Fox gave Tyree Crump some time

Crump has to get used to playing.  We'll need him before the year is out, and he will absolutely have to play major minutes next year.  No sense for Fox to keep sitting him at the end of the bench.  Granted, Crump played only 4 minutes, but that's more than he's been getting, and the experience will help him later on.

7.  Enough contributions from other guys

Jordan Harris hit two long-range shots.  Juwan Parker scored 9, including two huge buckets late in the game.  Derek Ogbeide and Mike Edwards were physical enough against their guys.  Derek needs to learn to set screens, though.  

8.  Fans showed up

Well, the Steg didn't look full from what I could tell, but there was enough of a crowd.  The commentators said that all the tickets were sold.  

9.  The clock issues continued, but...

When the officials went to the monitor to check on whether Derek Ogbeide got the ball up before the shot clock expired, I had a bad feeling.  Sure enough, Derek's bucket was disallowed.  Yet up two, Georgia tightened up on defense and found a way to win.

10.  Georgia got lucky

Looked like the shot by their guy was going in.  The refs could have called a foul on Yante.  But neither happened.  The shot went in, then twisted out.  Lady Luck smiled on us instead of her usual scowl.  Dawgs won by 2. 

Georgia is now 13 and 8, heading into a tough stretch of opponents, including Kentucky, South Carolina, and Florida.  Would be amazing if Fox can win two out of these next three.  It can happen.  

Go Dawgs!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Apologies, Kudos, and Credit

My apologies to the timekeeper down at Texas A&M.  From all I understand after reading the statement from the SEC, it was not the timekeeper's fault, but rather a malfunction of equipment.

Kudos to UF Basketball Coach Mike White

After Florida lost a close game to Vanderbilt, Coach White said that he "put (his player) in a difficult situation.  It's my fault."

Has Coach Fox ever said anything similar?  I could have missed it, of course, but humility stands out to me.

Fox has to shoulder some of the blame for UGA's late game collapse.  How could you not put Turtle Jackson in?  Jordan Harris is not a good ball-handler.  If you have Wilridge in the game, then sub in Jackson for Geno.

Credit goes to Turtle Jackson for the good game.  Instead of launching three-pointers, Jackson took the ball to the basket and shot a mid-range jumper, things I have wanted him to do.  He went 2 for 2 from the floor in the contest.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

As Frustrated as I am,

Georgia could still go on a run.

Texas A&M Game Shows we need to Recruit another Guard

It was so obvious watching the Texas A&M game today that Jordan Harris is a small small forward, and Tyree Crump is a small shooting guard.  Maybe we can help both freshmen with their ball-handling skills over the summer, but for the present, at least, these guys aren't able to advance the ball against SEC-level defenses.

As it stands, we will have Turtle Jackson as our point guard next year.  I'm not convinced that Teshaun Hightower has point guard skills.

So, to keep UGA from losing every game next year to teams which press, we have to recruit someone like Isaiah Miller.  Better yet, find a way to bring in Avery Wilson as well.  He can probably get in to UGA as a student, so maybe we can ask him to come in as a preferred walk-on.

I like Derrick Walker, and would welcome him, especially if Yante Maten goes to the NBA, but since we only have so many scholarship spots, we just have to get a couple of unsigned guys who can handle the ball.

Disgraceful: Three Issues

Hard to understand being up 13 and then losing the game.  We're 12 and 7 now, and 4 and 3 in the SEC.  Team has a lot of good parts, but we're falling apart late in games and it's hard to make the Big Dance if we can't close these contests out.

I.  Turnovers

Way too many turnovers, especially within the last two minutes.

Jordan Harris, you have to be strong with the ball.  You're too good to have 6 or 7 turnovers in one game.  I know you're a freshman, but you're also a starter on a D-1 team.  You need to learn now.  If you drive the lane, wrap it up like a fullback until you're close enough to shoot.

J.J., you can't drive the ball to the hoop during the last 90 seconds of the game, leave your feet and throw it to their guys.  At least, try to make a shot.

If you make a key turnover, you have to put it behind you.  You can't let a pass bounce off your chest and fall out of bounds.

You are a tough competitor and the guy with the ball late.  You will most often be the hero or the goat in close games.  Well, with the point guard position comes point guard responsibilities.

I understand that the pressure is on.  That the press is on.  Not easy to perform when the crowd is against you and athletes are running at you.  We have to find a way.

II.  Coaching

Mark Fox:  Why play Kenny Paul Geno and not Turtle Jackson?  Turtle Jackson was actually shooting well this game.  I know we had guys go out with fouls, but we needed another ball handler desperately.

It's not like KPG was an incredible defender down there.  He hustles for rebounds, and can sometimes take a charge.  But against the press, he sets a screen and then floats around, of zero help getting the ball over the time line.  Good Dawg, but it's not his skill set to break the press.

I also disagree with Yante Maten taking the ball out of bounds.  Since they were letting us throw the ball into the corner, we didn't need Maten to see over the defense.  We needed him in the middle to be an outlet.  If you insist on playing KPG, let him take the ball out.

III.  Timekeeper

Home-cooking timekeeper and refs:  You are disgraceful.

We should have won the game.  Bad coaching was part of the issue, but the last play was so weird and the clock error so egregious that the SEC simply has to step in.  In that kind of situation, the solution is to play the last 5.6 seconds again.  Otherwise, unscrupulous time-keepers will cheat to the visiting team's disadvantage.

Friday, January 20, 2017


Disappointed to see the end of GeorgiaBasketballBlog.  I thought that HeckwithTech was doing a fantastic job.

I disagreed with a lot of his conclusions (and was annoyed by some of the ads), but you couldn't deny the amount of work that Heck put into  the articles.  Pictures, in depth research, explanation of offensive schemes, etc.  Good stuff.

The truth still remains that there aren't a lot of sites out there that focus on Georgia basketball.  The free ones you can count on one hand.  Maybe someone bought Heck out or hired him away.

Perhaps Heck just got tired.  It is a lot of work.

In any case, I would love to see Heck's site come back.  Since someone is squatting on the GeorgiaBasketballBlog name, Heck would have to reestablish his brand.

If, on the other hand, 2017 was the end of the road for Heck's blog, then hoops fans owe him our appreciation for helping keep interest up in the program.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

M.J. Walker

I would love to see Georgia make up ground on M.J. Walker, the recruit from Jonesboro who was recently named a McDonald's All-American.

The attached article indicates that Maryland, Ohio State and Florida State are recruiting M.J. the hardest.  I have no clue why UGA hasn't been in the conversation up to this point.  Best I can tell, we haven't even offered the guy.  Sure, we can target everybody, but it doesn't cost Georgia anything to extend an offer.

One would think that UGA would be all over Walker.  M.J. is a 5-star recruit, ranked #20 in the country, and an all-around complete player.  He has elite athleticism, pretty consistent jumper, shoots a floater going to the rim, and uses those tools to average 30 points and 8 rebounds per game.

Some guys shy away from contact and therefore rarely get fouled.  Not so with M.J.  He's an ex-football player who enjoys driving the ball to the bucket.  In other words, Walker is the kind of player who fits the Mark Fox strategy of beating teams through being fundamentally sound and shooting more free throws than the opponent.

From all indications, Walker's a great family kid, too.  What's not to like?   His mother wants M.J. to stay close to home.  That sounds like an open door for Coach Jonas Hayes.

Walker says he'll likely commit later in the year, so there's still time for Georgia to get in the mix.

Teshaun Hightower to the Dawgs (plus recruiting update)

Welcome, Teshaun!

Solid pick-up.  Good shooter.   Will defend and fit in the well with the guys on the roster.

I've posted about Hightower recently, so it's time now to take a look at how the 2017 class is shaping up overall.

Four current players, J.J. Frazier, Kenny Paul Geno, Houston Kessler and Brandon Young, are graduating.  UGA has signatures from Rayshaun Hammonds and Nic Claxton, and now, a pledge from Teshaun Hightower.

Kessler, Geno and Young have been good Dawgs, but admittedly, they really aren't offensive threats, probably averaging four points a game between the three of them.  J.J. Frazier is another matter.  He's our primary ball handler, best free throw shooter and second leading scorer. Losing J.J. will hurt. Can't be helped though.  Guys graduate.

The issue for a college coach is whether he can upgrade his roster with the next signing class.

It's hard to argue that with the latest recruits Coach Fox is on track to do just that.  But can he really put recruiting over the top with his last spot?

Derrick Walker, the power forward from Kansas, will be on an unofficial visit on January 28th.  If he commits, that would give Georgia six bigs, two small forwards, and five guards.  Walker is also considering St. Johns and Tennessee, so if he ends up choosing one of his other suitors, we need to swiftly shift focus to a small forward or another athletic guard.

Besides Walker, there are other good possibilities out there who have gone overlooked.  Isaiah Banks, the rim-wrecking 6' 5" guard/small forward, only has one D-1 offer, last I checked.

Avery Wilson is an available true scoring point guard, able to help break the press and also convert from long range.  Wilson, who has a little bit of J.J. Frazier in his game, is averaging 29 points a game for his Forest Park squad.

And then there is Isaiah Miller, the high-flying combo guard from just east of Atlanta.  The video speaks for itself.

Of course, if we have a transfer, or Yante Maten decides to forego his senior season, then Georgia would have two more spots open, and we'd really need to close the class on an upward swing.

Stay tuned, folks.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Isaiah Miller is a Bad Dude

Wasn't expecting Newton County to beat Zion Williamson's Spartanburg Day squad.   Of course, Zion doesn't have much help, and at the end of the day he got his (31 points and 14 boards), but Newton County still got the W.

Isaiah Miller led Newton with 24 points.  Hudl has some of the highlights of that game toward the end of the video below.

The video brings up a question:  Just one D-1 offer?  And Newton County is #1 in the state?  Hard to believe that everybody is just missing on this kid.  Has to be something else.  I'm sure some would say that Miller is undersized, but he sure doesn't play like it.  Besides, Miller has big feet.  Could grow another couple of inches.

Unfair to speculate further.  However, on a purely basketball basis, I'd rather have Miller than Derrick Walker.  Nothing against Walker, but UGA's backcourt is a more pressing need for next year.

Would take both in a heartbeat if Yante leaves, or if someone transfers.

Newton County is just an hour away.  Coach Hayes, if UNC-Greensboro is offering, why not UGA?

Very impressive.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Jonas Hayes with the Suplex!


Kent Davison was in trouble.  Wisely tapped out.

The scrum that wasn't followed the basketball game that wasn't after the snowstorm that wasn't.

Dawgs beat Missouri 71 to 66.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Teshaun Hightower

Teshaun Hightower, a 6' 5" combo guard, is set to announce his college decision on February 14th.

UGA fans have to figure that the timing favors Georgia.  Hightower was in Athens earlier this week, so the fact that he so soon afterwards released a decision date, means that he was either really impressed by what UGA had to say, or really discouraged by our loss to South Carolina.

Best I can tell, Teshaun likes the idea of playing with Rayshaun Hammonds, a guy he went up against regularly in Gwinnett County, and would prefer to be fairly close to home.  That works well for us, since UGA desperately needs another point guard, with J.J. Frazier graduating this summer.  Teshaun can probably easily see playing time in Athens.

Hightower is not highly ranked, but he's a player that may be under-valued by the analysts.  Here are his highlights from his senior season at Collins Hill, before he took the prep year at Mt. Zion.

If it's any indication, the guys over at 24/7 seem to think it's down to Western Kentucky and Georgia.

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict he's a Dawg!

Painful to Watch

Yeah, I did it.  Watched a bit of the replay of the Georgia-South Carolina game.

Feel like someone hit me with a body blow.  Hurts and takes my wind away.


I guess we're committed to the 1-4 look, with J.J. at the point and four guys along the baseline.  The problem is that it's too predictable.  J.J. will always have the ball coming up the floor.  All South Carolina needed to do was to wait on J.J., and pick him up high, and funnel him along the sidelines.

Contrast that with Kentucky's dribble drive offense.  Three guys touch the ball.  Any of them can drive the ball to the basket.  Makes the defense react.  The guards are allowed to play instinctively within the set offense.  The weave action stretches the court horizontally (from side to side) and vertically (toward the basket).  The defense cannot favor one side of the court, because the offense can come at them from any direction.

Okay, I know Kentucky has the athletes to make their system work.  But Georgia's system would work better, too, if Fox allowed other guys to touch the ball early in the possession.

Meanwhile, the first option on UGA's offense is apparently a Yante Maten screen 25 feet from the basket.  Leads to needless offensive foul calls against our best player. Sure enough, Maten was whistled for an offensive foul on our third possession.

Substitution Patterns

I knew Fox would take Ogbeide out of the game after Derek had only had two minutes on the floor.  I would scream at the screen if I weren't numbed by the fact that Fox does it every game.

Not to pick on Houston, but I think it's important to state the case objectively because of what it tells us about Coach Fox.

Kessler shoots 22 percent from the field (lowest on the team), 50 percent from the free throw line (second lowest on the team), and 0 percent from behind the arc (lowest on the team).  To make that 0 percent worse, half of his shots are three-pointers.

Houston averages 0.4 points per game, with just 1 rebound per contest.  Though he has played in all 14 games, he has only 1 steal, 0 assists, and 0 blocked shots on the year.  He has attempted just 4 free throws.

Bottom line is that Kessler isn't an offensive threat.  He won't help us get bigs like Silva in foul trouble.  He's not an effective distributor, nor is he a defensive stopper.

People aren't going to guard him.  They'll just double up on Yante like South Carolina did.

Meanwhile, the person that Kessler replaces, Derek Ogbeide, shoots 62 percent from the field (highest on the team), has 23 blocked shots on the year (highest on the team), gets 6.4 rebounds a game (highest rebound per minute played on the team), even averages an assist per game, and finishes with authority if Yante is doubled.

Why replace one of our best players with one of our worst?  Why do it game after game, early in the first half?  When Derek Ogbeide does not have any fouls?

I guess every "gym is hot" (Fox's excuse for abruptly yanking Ogbeide out of the Vanderbilt game last year).

While I'm at it, bringing Kenny Paul Geno in early doesn't help.  I suppose that being generous, one can say that Kenny defends well enough.  He is in fact a scrappy rebounder (2 per game).

Unfortunately, Geno is also a "tweener."  Not a good enough dribbler to be effective at driving the ball, and not big enough to have a legitimate post-up game.  More than half of his shots are three-pointers.  That propensity to loft up outside shots would be okay if Geno were a dead-eye shooter, but if you take away his performance against Division II Morehouse, Geno shoots right at 19 percent from behind the arc.

And if you do choose to play Geno, set him up for success.  Please do not put him in at the 2-guard position.

It's not just Kessler and Geno.  Turtle Jackson is struggling.  He has just as many turnovers (13) as assists (13).  He has made only 5 two-point baskets all year, and has attempted just 10 free throws.  He went 0 for 3 from the field in the South Carolina game, with 0 assists.

At some point in time, Jackson needs to drive the ball to the basket and convert.  Show fans and opponents alike that he has a floater or some semblance of a mid-range game.

Meanwhile, Tyree Crump, a former top 100 recruit combo guard, languishes on the bench.  He's played just 63 minutes all year, which is with the exceptions of the two walk-on's, by far the fewest minutes played on the team.

Compared to Jackson, however, Crump has just as many two-point field goals made, and more free throws made, in 1/4th the minutes played.  Again, if Jackson were tearing the place up, Crump's lack of playing time might make sense.  But since Turtle and J.J. need breaks, and Crump is a player known for his shooting ability, why not give Tyree a chance to show what he can do?  Fox plays just about everybody else.

I suppose that by leaving Crump on the bench, if Crump plays well next year, Fox can claim credit for developing him.

So there you have it.  You don't have to be into fancy analytics.  Objectively, measuring shooting, rebounding, blocked shots, assists, free throws, etc., the Fox substitution patterns make no sense.

Fox either doesn't know the simple metrics above, or he doesn't care.  Making bad substitutions early in the first half takes our momentum away, and we end up losing games that we should win-- close contests, in which a possession or two makes all the difference.

If Fox actually believes that he is helping the team to win, then he sees something that no one else does.  He may be smarter than the rest of us, but I doubt it.  At some point, Georgia's Athletic Director needs to realize that the results (0 games won in the NCAA Tournament over 8 seasons) speak for themselves.

We really want UGA basketball, and even Coach Fox himself, to succeed.  Right now, however, the best I can say is that the offensive structure and use of personnel make watching Georgia basketball painful.  Even with decent talent on the roster, looks like our Coach is driving us toward another disappointing season.