Saturday, January 10, 2009

Derrick Favors Highlights

This is the YouTube video from the game at Kennesaw State between South Atlanta High and McEachern.

Favors looks bigger this year. Great hands and footwork. He had 32 for the game and South Atlanta won by one.

Trae Golden had a good game, too, with 25 points for McEachern.

I was a little bit hesitant to post the video, but I decided to get past it and put it up.

Favors and Golden

Dawgs lose by 9 to UT.

I'm disappointed in the loss. Really disappointed because a win over the #15 team in the nation would have meant so much. And we all but had it. Not satisfied with "almost," but neither can I deny the fact that our level of basketball is much, much better.

Bottom line? We missed lots of free throws. That's the biggest issue. When we really needed them, we didn't sink'em. We shot over 70% for the game. That's a mark of a good team. But the mark of a top 20 team is converting from the charity stripe with the game on the line. We didn't do that, and until we do, we won't be an elite SEC team, beating teams like #15 UT.

Swansey missed a couple of jumpers that were about in the basket before coming back out. He played much better, though, and so did Dustin Ware. Somehow we've got to get Zac to shoot better than 37%, and he needs to be automatic from the line.

3 Key plays, the first one was the difference to the game:

Tyler Smith misses a free throw, we box out, jump to get it, but it hangs up on the rim and then falls off. They get the offensive rebound and pass it out to Tatum for a three.

Leslie misses a free throw, they get the rebound, push it up the floor and score.

We turn the ball over on the in-bounds lob to Price, they get the run-out and score.

Need of the hour?A 2-guard who can slash the ball to the rim and shoot jumpshots.

If Ebuka can play, then you don't try to preserve his redshirt. If he's recovered from the off-season surgery, then play him during the SEC stretch. If Anyaorah cannot go, then I guess Travis Leslie will have to be the guy.

But UT drove the ball to the hoop late in the game and converted, and we tried jumpshots that didn't work.

I am more patient than most, and I am enjoying seeing the kids get better. Let's get some victories in the SEC.

More Articles on Point Guard Play

Scout and Rival's each have an article on Georgia's point guard play.



I posted the article from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution last night.

So, since everyone else is getting into the act, I'll offer yet more opinions on the topic of Georgia's point guards. Here are my thoughts:

Both Zac and Dustin will get better. It will be frustrating to watch. Neither is a shut-down defender. And they aren't guys with incredible speed and leaping ability.

Given Zac and Dustin's relative physical weakness, Coach Felton did not give much helpful analysis by comparing them to Stephon Marbury. Sure, Marbury grew as a point guard, and Zac and Dustin will need to grow. But the difference is that Marbury could jump out of the gym when he got to Tech. And Marbury was a physically tough, New York player. So he started out way, way ahead of Swansey and Ware.

The better comparison is to another New York point guard. Georgia's own Sundiata Gaines. Not the Sundiata Gaines who played well as a senior and led the team to the SEC Tournament championship, but the Sundiata Gaines who had to learn the point guard position as a freshman, and struggled mightily while doing so.

In his freshman year, Gaines shot 37% from the floor, 27% from behind the arc, 54% from the free throw line, and his assist to turnover ratio was barely even. However, Gaines excelled at effort. He wasn't a typical point guard, and he wasn't tall, but at 6' 1", he learned to battle, and he began to lead the team with his work ethic.

So with Gaines as a model, Zac and Dustin will have to learn to help Georgia, playing as smart, high-effort guys. Zac is 6' 1", and Dustin is 5' 11". They will always be under the rim players. The two will need to contribute by scoring when they can, hitting clutch shots and free throws, taking care of the ball, and distributing it to the right players in the right spots.

Dustin has the tighter handles and the most upside. In order for Dustin to achieve his potential, he'll need to hit the weights pretty hard and get used to driving the ball to the hole. When he played at North Cobb Christian, from what I could tell, there were other short guys on the floor who could give pressure defense and advance the ball on offense. Dustin seemed to have the role of designated shooter. He shot about as many 3-pointers as 2-pointers. Well, UGA needs him to be point guard, not a short 2-guard. And he can make the transition. It will just take some time.

Zac's free throw problems seem to be mechanical, rather than confidence. He shot a 1 and 1 against Tech, and the ball barely glanced the rim. My take is that he has the ball up on his fingertips too much when he releases it. His more natural shooting rhythm is for the ball to be placed back more in his palm. Let's bring in Mark Price, now that we have finished playing Georgia Tech for the year and don't have to worry about sabotage, and have him work with Zac until he gets it right.

I have also noticed that Zac seems to watch the ball when he shoots. He needs to focus on the basket, not the ball. If the ball spins just right, but lands nowhere near the rim, you're not going to score. Zac needs to keep his eyes on the basket and practice using the right mechanics time after time, so that in game situations his shooting stroke will be more reliable.

With college basketball's "win now" philosophy, Ware and Swansey don't have much time. They will need to start playing better right away, and somehow shorten the learning curve. What they can control is their effort, their attention to detail, their commitment to playing smart basketball. So I look forward to them leading the team in hustle and in focus, and letting the results take care of themselves.

Case in Point

In point guard, that is.

Georgia has not been playing well, and part of the issue is our point guards. The AJC did a story on Zac and Dustin, and their efforts to perform well for the Dawgs in the shadow of the legacy of Sundiata Gaines.

Man, I'm hoping these guys turn it around and have just a fantastic game soon. Like, later on today, when UT starts playing tough, physical basketball.

What happened to Mercer?

I saw them play one game on t.v., and they really looked good. They had the two early season wins over Auburn and Alabama.

But now they're stinking up the place. I checked to see if James Florence and Daniel Emerson were healthy and still in the line-up for them. Yep. Can't blame the losing streak on injuries, as best I can tell.

Think they have lost 6 straight. Jacksonville beat them by about 30 the other day.

It's not that they shouldn't lose at all, or even lose big on occasion. It's just that I was expecting them to continue to play well this year after starting the season out at 6 and 2. I think they're now 7 and 8.

Well, at least they can't blame the losses on former coach and UGA grad, Mark Slonaker.

UGA Faces Tennessee

Tough way to start the SEC slate, but you play the hand you're dealt in this league. Game is Saturday at 12:00 in Athens.

I really can't see a way that Georgia wins this one. When we had Sundiata Gaines, there was always a chance. He almost willed the team to victory last year, but Georgia lost by three.

With that said, Georgia has a chance. The game is at home. Should be a good crowd. And there's no Chris Lofton. He hit 9 three-pointers one year in a close game against us. Scotty Hopson and Cameron Tatum will be challenges at the two-guard position for us, but I don't expect them to shoot like Lofton. According to one stat I saw, they shoot less than 32% from deep. Not terrible, but not world-beaters, certainly.

Tyler Smith is listed as doubtful for the game, with a bruised bone in his knee. I expect him to play, by the way, but if he is held out, or at least not 100%, that should help Georgia some.

Tennessee really doesn't have any bad losses this year. They've had 4 defeats, but 2 of those were against a Gonzaga team with a great point guard and some very good shooters. They lost against defending national champ, Kansas, and Temple beat them, but only because their 2-guard had a career night.

I think we ought to pack things down in a zone. Slow the game down. Make them run some clock and hit from the outside. If they miss, rebound like crazy. If we can keep the game close, they might get a little nervous, argue amongst themselves-- that kind of thing, and we can steal our first SEC game of the year.

If we try to match their speed, end up turning the ball over and succumbing to their defensive pressure, then UT by 18.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fred Gibson still Contributing

Fred Gibson played 11 minutes in the Albuquerque Thunderbirds' Wednesday night game against the Erie BayHawks. Gibson responded by shooting 2 of 3 from the floor and 1 for 1 from the line. The Thunderbirds won the game by 1.

Gibson has not scored a lot of points, but he is contributing, and has had a pretty good start to 2009. In the first game of the year, he went 6 for 6 from the floor. The next game, he was 3 for 7.

Gibson followed with a game in which he shot just 1 for 5 from the field, so you would think that the coaches would want him to be more consistent. As it stands, however, the Thunderbirds have won 3 games in a row, and Fred is a part of the team's improving record.

Newman on the Way Out?

Steve Newman is out of the starting line-up for the Utah Flash. In fact, in the most recent game, Newman played less than 5 minutes.

The Utah Flash has had a few roster changes lately. Billy Walker and J.R. Giddens have been called up by the Boston Celtics. I'm not sure if anything is up with Steve, but things are not looking as good as they were just a couple of weeks ago.

He'll have to play hard to keep his roster spot.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Curious Comments from Terrance Woodbury

He put the blame for the Georgia Tech loss on himself. No need to do so. He didn't "bring his A game," that's for sure. And there were a few plays in which some extra effort could have turned the tide. However, everybody who stepped on the floor in a UGA uniform, along with the coaching staff, had a hand in it. We didn't play well, lost the game, and may have lost the opportunity to bring Derrick Favors on board.

Had we won the game by 20 points, like we should have (Tech may have gotten down on themselves if we had hit our free throws in the first half), we would have had a statement to make to all watching. But as it stands, our message is confusing at best.

And "making statements" brings me back to my original point. Terrance was quoted in a Red and Black article as saying that he "feels really bad that Corey Butler and I never beat them [Georgia Tech]."

The context and wording of Terrance's comments make the meaning uncertain. I'm not sure whether Woodbury meant that he and Corey never beat them during the game the other night, or never beat Tech at all. If he meant the latter, Terrance has obviously forgotten the Tech games in his career that were played in Athens.

Georgia beat Georgia Tech just last season. Wasn't a beautiful game, but it was a win. The most telling part of the box score was the guard play. Sundiata Gaines and Billy Humphrey went a combined 15 for 20 from the floor. Gaines scored 16 points, had 6 rebounds, 5 assists and only one turnover. Billy Humphrey was 9 out of 12, scored 23 points, had 4 rebounds and 3 steals.

Box Score

And back in the 2005/2006 season, Woodbury's first year, Georgia beat Georgia Tech then, as well. Sundiata had a remarkably similar stat line, with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. He also played a fantastic game on defense, holding Zam Frederick, Tech's point guard at the time, and current member of the South Carolina Gamecocks, to 1 of 12 shooting. Billy Humphrey, for his part, had about the same stat line, too. He scored 22 points, on 6 of 8 shooting.

Similar Game

Looking back at the box scores (and Billy Humphrey's 47 points over three games against Tech) brings back the utterly annoying reminder that Humphrey was supposed to be in his senior year this season. Performing at his best.

Had he not encountered his off-the-court issues, Georgia would have won this year's game. Likewise, if Sundiata had one more year, with his tough defensive play, reliable point-scoring and rebounding, Georgia would have won the game.

The two "what if" statements above are pure speculation. But what isn't is the fact that Georgia did win last year. And both Woodbury and Corey Butler played in the game. I believe Terrance was injured at the time of the 2005 game and didn't play, but he was on the team for that victory, too.

Whether it's a point of his bad memory or my bad interpretation, as distasteful as this year's loss to Tech is, the fact remains that the team with home court advantage won the game, as normally occurs in this series.

Keep your head up, Terrance, and let's find a way to get an upset against UT.

Class, all the Way

I don't often post much on the football team because basketball is what I like to think that I know. I may start covering the football team in the future, but for now, since basketball is by and large overlooked, I'll continue to focus there.

However, despite my focus on the roundball squad, there are some special occasions in which I broaden the scope of the Blog. And the story of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno going to the pro's is one of them. Makes you proud to be a UGA fan.

Sure, we didn't win a national championship with these guys, but they gave us some great moments. Handled the media attention well, conducted themselves well off the field, and will be successful at the next level.

Onward and Upward

Note: There is an even longer video of their press conference on UGA's official website,

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dawgs Lose.

Yuck. I am about sick. Horrible loss. Bad to lose to Tech in any sport. To lose in basketball after losing in football, it's much worse.

Georgia was leading by 13. We never looked good, but it did appear that we were going to win. They just wanted it more.

We were out-hustled and out-played, in my opinion. I don't know what this game means for the future. I just don't know.

The Ugly: Horrible free-throw shooting. We shoot 80% and the game is not even close. Instead, we shoot at or below 50% for the first half. Better in the second half, but right at 60% for the game. That just won't get it done in a close game.

Disappointed in Zac Swansey. I think he had 0 points for the game. He did have a couple of nice assists, but he had unforced turnovers, too. And in a big game, your point guard has to score at least some.

I guess that Trey Thompkins is a below the rim kind of guy. He's had multiple leg injuries, so maybe he gets stronger and better as the season goes on. But I had hoped that he would convert on some of those shots that ended up getting blocked from behind. The box score I saw indicates that he was 6 for 15. Forty percent shooting, but he has to do better.

I suggest playing zone primarily for the rest of the year. We like to play man-to-man, but we're just not very good at it.

Every team we play nowadays will press us. No offense to Zac or Dustin, but we got no offense from them either, so I'll go ahead and say it. I think that we should check with Coach Richt. Brandon Boykin might give us an option when we want a point guard with big-time athleticism.

Alec Kessler Tourney Concludes

Great event. Glad that it went so well. Congratulations to the organizers.

I hope that the Kessler family is very happy with how everything turned out.

Kessler Memorial Tourney

Monday, January 5, 2009

Gaines still going in Cantu

Sundiata Gaines had a little bit of a rough stretch for a while.

Well, he's back playing very well. In his last game, he scored 19 points and hit two triples late in the contest. B.J. Elder had 22.

More later.

Trae Golden and McEachern against Favors and South Atlanta

Great match-up. South Atlanta edged McEachern.

Favors scored 34. Golden had 25, with 5 three-pointers.

Would love to get Favors in 2009 and Golden in 2010. Tall order, but it really would be a coup for Georgia.


Georgia goes up against Tech

Hard to overstate the importance of this game. It's for bragging rights. Perhaps the "Derrick Favors Sweepstakes." It gives the winner some momentum going into the tough conference games.

Since Georgia lost this year in football, losing in basketball would be a tough pill to swallow. I'm sure all of their fans would besiege the Georgia-related message boards. It's important to win this game.

The tough part is that the game is at Tech's place, and the home team normally wins in this series. Of course, that would make it that much sweeter if Georgia does pull it out.

All the Marbles?