Saturday, December 13, 2008

You Never Know When Good Things Might Happen

Damien Wilkins has continued his giving ways.

He recently participated in an Oklahoma Thunder event to help one family who lost their home in a fire just before Thanksgiving. The children received bikes and one declared, "This is the best Christmas ever!"


Dawg fans are proud of Damien!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Crazy Hair

Late in the basketball season of 2007/2008, Coach Felton pledged that he would shave off his moustache if the Dawgs made it to the NCAA Tournament.

Well, against all odds, the Dawgs played four games, in three days, with two overtimes, and one tornado. And they won the SEC Tournament, automatically advancing to the NCAA Tournament's coveted field of 64.

True to his word, Coach Felton came out to the Tate Center during the spring, and before a group of cheering students, had his barber make him completely clean-shaven.

Fast-forward to fall, 2008. Coach Felton has grown back his moustache. And the team is struggling. They stumbled out of the gate and lost a couple of games that they should have won. Then came the embarassing loss to Illinois.

After that game, the seniors called a team-only meeting.

I'm not sure what was said, but I will say this: Georgia looked like a new team out there in the Dawgs' next game against Virginia Tech.

Georgia was much more patient offensively. They shared the ball. Cut down on turnovers. Played with more purpose, defensively. There was no second-half let-down. Everybody scored. And the Dawgs pulled out a game down the stretch against a quality opponent.

But it was more than that. Not just the way they played. The team looked different.

Corey Butler, the player nick-named, "the Senator", apparently decided to dispense with some of his statesman-like bearing, and ran out onto the floor sporting a Mohawk. Drazen Zlovaric had the same style. If Drazen's parents caught any of the highlights of the game on the Serbian version of ESPN, they must be there fraught with worry over how American life has totally corrupted their son.

As strange as the Mohawks were, the other hair-cuts had them beat. Travis Leslie, Dustin Ware and perhaps a couple of others had designs in their hair. I thought that aliens might have landed and put their characteristic crop circles on the scalps of our players. But it was weirder than that. Nothing geometric that I could see. No pattern that would suggest the visit of a race of highly advanced extra-terrestials.

No, this appeared to be pure whimsy.

Well, I'm all for fun. Coach Felton started this hair thing just before last season's successful tournament run, and we might just need some kind of extra magic again if the Dawgs are going to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2009.

Whatever the case, I definitely liked the team returning to its winning ways. I say, keep the crazy hair until we lose.

Felton and the Dawgs Give Back

Fantastic event. I tip my hat to Coach Felton for organizing the Boys and Girls Club Christmas Party again this year, and to Georgia's student athletes for participating and making us all proud.

Giving back to the community will stick with the players, long after the uniforms have faded and most of the athletic exploits have been forgotten. It has been said that once a heart is stretched with compassion, it never goes back to its original size.

I expect that the children of the Boys and Girls Club will certainly enjoy the time this weekend. They will have a visit from Santa (Terrance Woodbury), and a few toys to cherish, courtesy of Coach Felton and Wal-Mart.

Although the children will likely forget the toys they received at Christmas in 2008, perhaps what will remain with them is an abiding sense that someone cared, and the inspiration to keep the gift-giving going.

Boys and Girls Club Event

Chris Daniels' Expanded Range

Chris Daniels has expanded his range. Both geographically and athletically.

As readers of the Blog know, Chris Daniels is now playing in Poland. He joined the team, PGE Turow, earlier this year. Prior to that, he played for Kotwica. You can click on his name at the end of the article to pull up some of the background information on him.

At any rate, YouTube has a video of one of Daniels' buzzer-beating, long-range jumpshots, from back when he was with the Kotwica team.


Daniel Miller has Impressive Stats

Through the first week of December, Daniel Miller is averaging a double-double.

He averages 25 points and 13 rebounds on 72% shooting.

I know people will try to diminish his attainment, based on the fact that he plays against over-matched competition. But I still say, there is a lot to like here. Has the grades, the frame on which to build, and has decent fundamentals.

As many have said, you can't teach 7 feet. I am reminded of the kid, Thabeet at UConn. Came to the country at 6' 8", and kept on growing. He's now 7' 3", 270 lbs, and is a junior. He's pretty much a lock for being a first-round draft pick, whether he comes out this year or next.

Now I'm not saying that Thabeet and Miller are the same kind of athlete. But the point is that Thabeet didn't play against great competition in Tanzania, yet he was able to go to UConn and work on his game. Timid at first, I understand, he didn't average a whole lot of points his first year. But he worked hard and got better.

Can Daniel Miller blossom as a person and a player at UGA? We sure hope so. I'll continue to follow his progress.

Mike Mercer to Start for South Florida

Stan Heath is ready to shake up his team a bit. So far, South Florida is 3 and 3. Starting help may be on the way, as Mike Mercer and another transfer, Gus Gilchrist, will soon complete their one-year period for sitting out.

It looks indeed like Mercer will be in the starting line-up this coming Sunday. Hopefully, his knee is recovered, and he can get past the issues that have distracted him from playing at a high level.


Virginia Tech Coach Aggravated about Loss to Dawgs

Coach Seth Greenberg drew up a play to get his top scorer open. Georgia switched on the screen and Chris Barnes ended up guarding the shooting guard for Tech. However, the point guard with the ball didn't see the play develop and Georgia was able to emerge with the 1-point win.

VT Not Happy

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How Corey Butler Came to Play at Georgia

But for some astute judging of talent by Mike Mercer and Billy Humphrey, UGA would not have its starting shooting guard.

Mercer and Billy Humphrey competed against Corey Butler on the AAU circuit, and they convinced him to try out for UGA's team. Channing Toney also played a role in building Butler's confidence.

Butler Joins Team, Helps Out

Although Channing Toney, Mike Mercer and Billy Humphrey are now playing for other teams, UGA fans are still grateful for their one contribution that keeps on giving: Corey Butler.

Butler is the "glue guy" on Georgia's team. Best defender, articulate spokesman, reliable three-point shooter, good from the free throw line. I would love for him to shoot more and to develop his mid-range game, but other than that, he has done a fantastic job this year. He contributes in so many ways, it's hard not to have him on the floor.

I'm glad he decided to stick with it and keep playing basketball.

Rivals Article on Albert Jackson

Albert Jackson gets some recognition from the Rivals network and

I'm proud of Jackson for hanging in there and powering through his injuries so he could contribute this year. He ran the floor well with Dustin Ware. I don't know if his dunk last year in the SEC Tournament made ESPN's top plays, but he and Dustin Ware made it this year with Ware's behind the back pass and Jackson's slam to finish the break.

He had the shot that gave Georgia the lead. I think he traveled on that play, but that's part of the game. Sometimes the refs miss a call and it works to our advantage.

Jackson hit a couple of free throws, if memory serves me. And he had the big rebound at the end of the game to preserve Georgia's slim 1-point margin of victory.

Albert Jackson deserves the press. He's a 6' 10," 6' 11" guy with big hands and a powerful build. He has worked hard to get to this point, and we'll need him during the year.


Hopefully, Georgia's game against Virginia Tech is a sign of greater things to come. Our big men were just terrific. If our guards can start knocking down jumpshots, Georgia might win a few games.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Trouville is still alive in Playoffs

Levi Stukes is playing for Trouville, down in the Uruguayan League.

On an interesting note, Trouville had a game actually stopped on December 1, due to fan violence. Trouville played against Hebraica, and the police shut the game down with 2 minutes to go.

The game started off well, with lots of scoring and an up-tempo contest. However, a number of fouls were called and the game started to bog down. Hebraica was up by 14, 78 to 64, and then the Hebraica players and bench were called for technical fouls. Stukes shot 7 free throws and helped pull Trouville within 2 points. Thereafter, violence started to break out, and the police stopped the game. Due to the suspension, Hebraica won 85 to 82.

After that eventful game, Trouville got blasted by 49 points in a game against Defensor. However, Trouville bounced back with an 82 to 77 victory over Malvin, and the latest news reveals that they are still alive in the playoffs.

Corey Butler Stats (Historical, Dekalb County)

Part of the purpose for the Blog is to create a database of information about current and former UGA basketball players.

I may have posted some of this information on the Rivals message board, but since message board posts are deleted every couple of weeks or so, I wanted to re-post it here, in a semi-permanent place.

Here is a link to some of Corey Butler's stats from his high school days at Cross Keys. As the information indicates, Butler was #2 in scoring for Dekalb County (higher than Cameron Tatum, a current UT player; Jeremy Price of Georgia; Anjuan Wilderness at UNC-Charlotte; and Alade Aminu at Georgia Tech), #11 in free throw shooting, #8 in steals, #7 in assists, and #11 in rebounding.

Dekalb County Basketball Stats for 2005

The fact that Butler was the only player in Dekalb who appears in 5 of the 7 categories kept by the the County, strongly suggests that Corey Butler was the top all-around player in the County.

Dawgs Win!

Huge win by the Dawgs against Virginia Tech. The Dawgs are now 6 and 3. Not bad for a team with young point guards.

There was a lot to like about this game.

1. Play of the Point Guards

Dustin Ware and Zac Swansey were much better. I like Dustin's confidence. He still settles for the long-distance jumpshot too much, but he will be a consistent scorer one of these days.

Zac Swansey played his best game of the year, in my opinion. He fought over the top of screens, defended with energy and purpose against a quick point guard for Tech. Distributed the basketball to shooters.

Zac did not shoot particularly well. There were a couple of drives to the basket in which he missed lay-ups. Not easy lay-ups, mind you, but ones that he normally converts. And he missed two critical free throws down the stretch. But the bottom line was that Swansey defended, passed well, and didn't turn the ball over. On balance, a good game.

2. Corey Butler

Corey Butler. My player of the game. He led the team in scoring with 11 points. He went 4 of 8 from the field, and made the assist late to Albert Jackson. The key to the entire game, however, was the job Butler did against Tech's shooter, Vasallo, in the second half. Butler defended like crazy. Fantastic game.

3. Chris Barnes

I keep saying that Barnes can give us "Trevor Booker-like" play down in the post. Booker is the fantastic power forward for Clemson. Well, against Tech, Barnes showed Dawg fans a glimpse of the player he can become. He went 4 of 4 from the field.

And let's face it. Teams are intimidated by a big guy who goes strong to the basket and dunks the ball with authority. Barnes did that last night. But in addition to his power game, Barnes also demonstrated improved fundamentals, scoring at least one basket with his off hand, a skill he developed while he was recovering from surgery on his right wrist.

Barnes can put up big numbers. Great hands. Fantastic leaping ability. Decent-enough shooting touch. He missed a couple of free throws, but other than that, a great job.

4. Dennis Felton

Coach Felton just seems a lot more relaxed this year. Guys on the message boards calling for his job and saying things that don't bear repeating. Meanwhile, Coach Felton was interviewed by Rivals, recently, and I was impressed.

Felton was just calm. Said that even in the loss to Illinois, he saw some things that he was pleased with-- such as the team's defensive intensity. Way too many turnovers, of course, but rather than calling his team out publicly, he praised them. That's what a good coach does with a young squad.

I have a feeling that Felton will make UGA very happy this year. This year. Sure, he has a 13-man roster with 9 freshmen and sophomores. Members of his team have had injuries, this season and last, that have hurt player development. But UGA basketball is growing, and as his players improve, Felton will look smarter and smarter.

Anyway, Felton has kept up the guys' spirits, has them believing in themselves, and I'm betting that a lot of UGA fans will get on board in the not too distant future.

Ezra Williams Playing Consistent Ball

As I posted a couple of weeks ago, Ezra Williams is playing for the Austin Toros of the NBA D-League.

Williams is averaging a respectable 7 points and 2 rebounds in right at 18 minutes per game. He has yet to miss from the free throw line. He also has 1 assist per game, which I figure is about right for him.

Williams did not play in the Toros' last game, a win over the Sioux Falls SkyForce. Not sure if he was injured or not. The Toros won rather convincingly, by a score of 117 to 91.

Since Austin is affiliated with the San Antonio Spurs, maybe Williams will be considered by management if the Spurs need a scorer from behind the arc.

Richard Hendrix in D-League

File this one under "Basketball."

It's only tangentially related to UGA. Georgia has done a nice job the last few years in playing against Alabama. One of the keys to UGA's performance against the Tide was keeping Richard Hendrix under control.

Hendrix is a star in the making. If he ever learns to shoot free throws, the guy could really help Golden State. Hendrix is playing now in the D-League, out west playing for the Bakersfield Jam.

Turns out that Hendrix has some ability-- not sure how much, but some ability-- from behind the arc.

Anyway, I admire Hendrix for playing hard at Alabama and going about his business in the right way.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Swansey Speaks to Break-Down Against Illinois

Hopefully, Georgia has fixed the problems that led to the 34-point blow-out loss to Illinois. UGA will be playing Virginia Tech tomorrow, and the game is on t.v.

Zac Swansey was interviewed as part of the Red and Black follow-up article to the Illinois game. He blamed the loss on a lack of teamwork.


The Dawgs need a quick start against Va. Tech. Tech is an ACC team, and they have some pretty good pieces, including Dorenzo Hudson, a shooting guard that Georgia recruited; and Jeff Allen, a 6' 7" power forward who played with Jeremy Jacob at Hargrave.

Steve Newman and Utah Flash have Off Game

Steve Newman played in Utah's most recent game against Bakersfield. He scored just 3 points in 17 minutes, going just 1 for 6 from the field. He was able to grab 6 boards in the contest, but it would have to be considered as an off game for him.

His teammates didn't fare much better. Though Bill Walker had a nice game, with 23 points on 8 of 10 shooting, the Utah Flash was no match for the Bakersfield Jam. Bakersfield won the game, 122 to 81.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Montegranaro over Sundiata Gaines and Cantu

Sundiata Gaines is coming along in his rookie season in Italy. In the most recent game, Montegranaro beat Gaines' team, Pallacanestro Cantu, 85 to 82.

Unfortunately, Gaines had some of the blame for this defeat. He got fouled on a three-point attempt with just seconds remaining on the clock. He ended up missing all three of his free throws.

He'll get better over time, but part of that improvement will have to be getting better at the line.

Daniel Miller goes over 1,000 points

Congratulations to Miller.

Miller, a UGA signee, scored 24 points in his last game. He also had several blocked shots, and even a few assists. He went over 1,000 points during the contest, an impressive attainment in his high school career at Loganville Christian Academy.

Hopefully, Miller is lifting weights and getting as strong as he can be for the upcoming year. Georgia will need some help.

Dawgs Lose to Illinois

Nothing to say about this one. The team had a "players only" meeting after the game. Might be the only positive from a 34-point loss.

I was not expecting Georgia to win any of the games in this 3-game stretch. Western Kentucky, Illinois and Virginia Tech are pretty tough teams to face this early in the season, especially since Georgia is so young at the point guard position.

However, I was expecting Georgia to show up in all of the games. Defend, take reasonable care of the ball. When other teams end the game on a 22 to 0 run, that's just unacceptable.

With that said, as bad as the Illinois loss was, Georgia has a long season ahead. I don't want to assume that we will continue to lose indefinitely. Not before we have a chance to play the games. Expecting a loss here and there is one thing. Giving up is another.

Anybody remember the movie, "Facing the Giants?" It was a sports movie put out by a church down in Albany, Georgia. If I'm Coach Felton, I pull the team together and have them watch it.

Facing the Giants is the story of a coach in his sixth year. The team is playing poorly. His best player transfers, and the team's expectations hit rock bottom. I won't say anything more, just in case you haven't seen the movie, but there are some obvious parallels between the movie and UGA's basketball experience. There are some obvious differences, too. But that's why the team should see the movie. I'll stop there.

The point that I was trying to get to was that there was a line in the movie about how our attitudes and actions follow our beliefs.

The worst thing that could happen now is for UGA's basketball team to give up on the season. They must compete. Must continue to fight. Must not quit. It's bigger than just basketball.