Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mississippi State Coach Gets Too Greedy

This loss is on Coach Mullen. If your team is down by 3 points, you don't call a fake punt from deep in your own territory. He would have looked like a genius if it had worked, but Florida has too much team speed to try it.

Hoped they would beat Florida, but the final score will probably not even be close.

Wilkins, Hayes, Close out NBA Pre-season

Damien Wilkins had a very efficient game, going 3 for 4 from the field and 3 for 4 from the line.

Jarvis Hayes was even better. He hit for 4 for 4 from the field, 1 for 1 from behind the arc, and 2 of 2 from the line.

Maybe Hayes and Wilkins will play key roles for the Nets and Wolves.

Hawks Blown Out by Magic

I was happy last night to see that there were NBA games on television. No football this weekend for the Dawgs-- no problem. Last game of the pre-season for the Hawks, going against division rival, Orlando Magic. Should be a good one, I thought.

I got myself in position in front of the television and waited impatiently for the game to come on.

I should have brought a pail with me.

Hate to be too critical, and maybe nauseating is too strong a description, but that's the first adjective that came to mind. It was awful, awful basketball from the Hawks. The Hawks got blasted by nearly 40 points. They shot a paltry 37 percent from the field, and 23 percent from behind the arc.

The Hawks starters seemed to have no answer for the Orlando Magic's schemes on defense. They were able to trap the ball in the corner and keep the Hawks from executing any plays. On the other side of the ball, no one from the Hawks could guard Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson, Dwight Howard, Michael Pietrus, or Brandon Bass. The Magic shot over 60 percent from the field and over 60 percent from three. Shucks, Dwight Howard even shot 7 of 10 from the free throw line.

Dwight Howard will get his points. But how could the Hawks go through the off-season and declare themselves much improved, when they did not bring in any shot-blockers? No one on the team got more than 6 rebounds. The Magic's big men had 8 blocked shots. Ours, just 1.

I think I heard one of the commentators say that Al Horford had a twisted ankle. If true, that explains some of the ineptitude in the post. But if Horford is hobbled or is not playing well, the Hawks need to have someone who can come off the bench and give the team a lift.

Didn't see Joe Smith play, but he's a pick and pop guy-- a tall player who shoots well enough if you give him space. He doesn't have enough weight to bang in the post on offense or defense. Haven't seen Jason Collins play in a long time, but if memory serves me, he's not a particularly proficient scorer, rebounder or defender. Keeping Solomon Jones would have been just as good an option, if not better.

If there was any good news, it was that Randolph Morris came off the bench and notched 11 points with 5 rebounds. I didn't see any of Morris' play, so he must have played in the 4th quarter when the game was well out of reach. However, if he's in shape, maybe he can help the team, and even challenge for minutes earlier in the game.

The most disappointing aspect of the game was the seeming confirmation that the Hawks management made a major mistake by re-signing Mike Bibby, and bringing in Jeff Teague, while letting the truly versatile Flip Murray leave.

Teague didn't impress me at all. I'm with commentator and former coach Hubie Blalock on this one: Teague has no mid-range game and cannot hit a 3-pointer.

How did Atlanta end up paying major money for another fast guy who can't shoot? Unless I'm missing something, Teague is a healthy Speedy Claxton. Shoots better from the line, but I'm afraid that's about it.

Teague went 0 of 15 from the floor and 0 of 4 from behind the arc. I would say that it's just one bad game, but the truth is that the guy is a point guard with a set shot. Bad form. He will shoot better from the field in the future. He can't possibly go every game with a 0% shooting average. But he won't ever be a great shooter, in my opinion, unless serious reconstruction is done on his shot. If I'm Mike Woodson, I make Teague work alone with Mark Price or some other shooting instructor for the entire season and off-season.

Let's hope that last night's game was an abberation. An off-night for the whole team.

Is Mark Fox getting the basketball Dawgs ready? I'd like to see the Hawks or the Dawgs play well in 2009.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Vince Dooley Speaks to Rotary Club

Sometimes it's good to hear from someone who's been there. Someone who has perspective.

Coach Dooley shared his thoughts on football, being an athletic director, gardening, raising a family, and other topics recently.


All-Almost Team

Saw recently that Alexander Johnson was cut by the Utah Jazz. He's good enough to almost make an NBA team's final roster.

That reminded me that UGA has had its own share of almost players. Guys that have committed or even signed with the team, but never made it to campus.

Here's my starting five for the All-Almost Team.

Louis Williams
Robert Dozier
Alexander Johnson
Larry Turner
Mohamed Abukar

Danny Ware may play again

Danny Ware has been practicing in full pads this week.

He has not played since suffering a dislocated elbow during the first game of the season. Looks like he's healthy enough to be in the mix for spot duty this Sunday.

O-Line to Shift

Not shift as in changing the pass protection, but shift as in the players that start out the game against Florida.

Ben Jones is the guy who always stays at center. Other than that, however, Coach Searles has shuffled the deck pretty regularly. Cordy Glenn has performed well enough to be a starter somewhere along the line. Clint Boling normally starts. Chris Davis is in there somewhere, too. The players in flux seem to be Justin Anderson and Vince Vance.

Let's hope we get the right mix for the Florida game. The first series will be critical.


Shawn Kemp, Jr., to Dawgs?

It could happen.

Kemp was successfully recruited to Alabama by Gottfried and his staff. However, Gottfried is the former coach at Alabama, and his staff moved on to other schools. In the meantime, Kemp decided to spend a year at a prep school to reportedly improve his test scores.

One of the key members of Gottfried's staff, Philip Pearson, is now a UGA assistant coach. And while it seems that new Tide coach Anthony Grant was not convinced that Alabama was a still a good fit for Kemp, I am sure that Pearson, once hired by the Dawgs, kept in touch with Kemp and let him know that UGA would love to have him.

As readers of the Blog know, I have thought for a long while that Kemp was a quality recruit (click on Kemp's name in blue hypertext below to pull up my earlier posts and other background information on him). Big body, good height at 6' 9", with the possibility of growing a few more inches. We're going to lose Albert Jackson after this year, and we don't have any other true centers on the roster.

Kemp is the kind of recruit that Georgia needs to get. Great upside, in-state player, at a position of need. As far as I can tell, Kemp, as a prep student, is unranked this year. However, he was a 4-star and ranked #105 last year. And earlier in 2008, Kemp was ranked much higher, determined by to be a 5-star and #25 in the country. He's not a guy who fell in the rankings due to injury, but as I understand, there were questions about whether Kemp would maximize his true potential.

If Fox can successfully attract Kemp, then he will make his first coup in recruiting. Georgia should get good press on it, based on name value alone. Put Kemp together with Gerald Robinson (a transfer who is already on campus and will become eligible next year), and Jalen Kendrick, and Georgia will really have something.

I won't "call him for Georgia," just in case Kemp reads the Blog (doubt it), and decides not to commit just to prove the prognosticators wrong. Of course I don't have that much pull in recruiting, but I don't even want to jinx UGA in any way. I will say that I am very optimistic that Kemp will commit to Georgia at some point soon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dawgs Learning Triangle Offense

Good to have an article on the progress of the team.

As much as I appreciated Dennis Felton for making sure we stayed out of NCAA trouble, stressing academics and winning the SEC East Tournament Championship, I believe the article is right in indicating we could have gone even farther with different offensive sets.

Fox has a complex system, and if the team can get it down, we may sneak up on a few people. I'm eager to see the product on the floor.


Interview with Jarvis Hayes

I thought that this interview with Jarvis was worth posting. It goes into his thoughts for this year's season, his desires to come back from injuries, and his thoughts about becoming a father.


Unfortunately, before Hayes has been able to get started for the season, he has been temporarily sidelined by more injuries, this time to his shins. Still hoping he has a successful season with the Nets.

Recruiting: Tough Business

I saw recently that both Jason Morris and Shannon Scott have eliminated Georgia from consideration.

UGA is, however, still in the running for Cady Lalanne.

These developments show just how difficult it is to get basketball recruiting going at Georgia.

Looking back at recent history, Dennis Felton arrived in Athens after the awkward personnel decisions were reached with Jim Harrick. Due to the looming NCAA penalties, Felton appropriately agreed to release Harrick's incoming class from their letters of intent.

Since Harrick had largely been unsuccessful in recruiting, Felton faced a roster with several seniors, but no juniors and no sophomores. Felton's recruiting efforts achieved the following results:

  1. 2003: Corey Gibbs, Marcus Sikes, Steve Newman and Levi Stukes (two 3-star players, and 2 unranked guys. Decent last minute work, but no home runs, especially given the fact that Gibbs was coming off of a knee injury)
  2. 2004: Channing Toney, Younes Idrissi, Dave Bliss, and Sundiata Gaines (two 3-stars and two unranked)
  3. 2005: Louis Williams, Mike Mercer, Rashaad Singleton, Terrance Woodbury, Kendrick Johnson, and Billy Humphrey (two 5-stars and four 3-stars)
  4. 2006: Takais Brown and Albert Jackson (one 3-star and one unranked Juco)
  5. 2007: Chris Barnes, Troy Brewer, Jeremy Jacob, Jeremy Price and Zac Swansey (two 4-stars, and three 3-stars)
  6. 2008: Ebuka Anyaorah, Travis Leslie, Howard Thompkins, Dustin Ware, and Drazen Zlovaric (one 4-star and four 3-stars)
  7. 2009: Demario Mayfield and Daniel Miller (one 3-star that would stay, and one that would ask out of his commitment after Felton was let go)

Felton did a respectable job in recruiting, especially so, given the fact that he had to recruit under the cloud of an NCAA investigation for the first couple of years. His third year, 2005, was supposed to be his "money year," the year in which his recruiting and the team's performance were supposed to take off.

And from all indications, things were pretty much set. He got early commitments from two 5-star players. However, Louis Williams opted to go straight to the pro's, and didn't show up at all. Another player, Kendrick Johnson, who was supposed to provide depth in the post, showed up with hobbled wheels.

From there, instead of taking off, things went down-hill for UGA. Injuries, transfers, suspensions and dismissals decimated the roster and the team's record. Although Georgia went to the NCAA Tourney in 2008 under Felton, the team's disappointing record in 2009 and the failure in quality recruiting during the year ultimately led to Felton's dismissal.

Now what? Mark Fox is on the scene. Can he reverse the tide?

Maybe. There are reasons for optimism here. No NCAA investigation. A new training facility. Even better news, Fox does not have to recruit like crazy to be successful. He has a roster full of scholarship players. He has 9 players-- 1 senior, 2 juniors, 5 sophomores, and 1 freshman, from the Felton tenure.

He can field a competitive team with Thompkins, Ware and Leslie, with Albert Jackson, Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes. All he needs to do is have a good offensive system, and he can win now.

But Fox won't be able to win later unless he recruits. So looking at how things are shaping up, Fox has the following recruiting results:

  1. 2009: Vincent Williams (one 3-star to go along with Felton hold-over, Demario Mayfield).
  2. 2010: Gerald Robinson (former 3-star from 2007).

Coach Fox wasn't a "big splash" recruit like John Calipari. I don't think it was realistic for fans to expect him to bring talent with him, so his first year is sort of like Felton's. The expectation was for him to plug up as many holes in the roster as possible. Vincent Williams is decent work, considering the circumstances.

The key for Fox is whether he can compress the schedule. Make his second year much better, like a money year, if you will, and really do well in 2011.

So far, the jury is still out on the 2010 recruiting for Fox. Georgia has missed out on some guys, but we still have a shot at Jelan Kendrick, a 5-star, and Cady Lalanne, a 3-star forward. If Fox can get Kendrick, Georgia recruiting is definitely on its way up. Follow the successful recruiting of Kendrick with the commitment of Julian Royal, Dai-Jon Parker, Tony Parker, and a couple of the other elite recruits for 2011 and 2012, then Georgia will have finally hit its stride.

Let's all keep our fingers crossed. Recruiting is tough business.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Practice Update

Coach Mark Fox put members of the media through the paces recently. Reporters got the chance to work on basketball fundamentals and get an "up-close and personal" look at what practice is like.

Good move by Mark Fox. We'd all like to have more coverage of the basketball team, and now that local reporters have experienced the fun of basketball, perhaps they will be more likely to write about the team during the year.

For the time-being, it was good to get the ABH update on how the players are doing.

Jeremy Price reports that he will be playing with his back to the basket more. Hopefully he realizes that the emphasis on playing in the post will increase his productivity. He has a lot to work with. Good hands. Big frame. Good rebounder with enough moves around the basket to be effective.

I disagreed with Coach Felton's idea that Price should play away from the hoop, because from what I could tell, it seemed that the mechanics on Jeremy's shot were off. Hard to say just what it is, but to me, he kind of pushes the ball at the rim. If he has worked on his release during the off-season, he could make a big step forward this year. In the meantime, let's emphasize what Price does well.

Dustin Ware is learning the offense. Under Felton's system, Sundiata Gaines not only had to defend well, he also had to create most of the offense off of the pick and roll and by breaking his man down off the dribble.

With the triangle scheme, on the other hand, the thought is that the offense is already created. The players read the multiple options and move according to prescribed patterns.

Ware won't have the same pressure to do everything as Gaines had. He's also got better players around him than Gaines had. At the same time, teams know that Ware is the only returning point guard on the squad, and he will be pressured almost constantly by good defenders. If Dustin does not play well, Georgia won't have the chance to get into its offense.

Howard Thompkins talks about the experience of working with Team USA over the summer. The international play and the time spent with coaches who emphasize defense should really help Thompkins this year.

My top recommendation for Thompkins is to keep hitting the weights. He is a legitimate 6' 9", and he could do so much more, offensively and defensively, if he fills out his frame.

Georgia will have the chance to surprise some teams this year, because no one else is running the same offense in the SEC. We've got some athletes, and most of the pundits and opposing coaches expect for Georgia to be bad. Perfect set-up for teams to look past the Dawgs and end up losing.

There are no patsies in the SEC East. Here's hoping that the Dawgs get the offense down, improve on their individual skills, and give the team a chance to win this year.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Dawgs Win!

I enjoy the historical aspect of following UGA sports. Here's an article from back in 1976. Some readers may remember the players from this team: Walter Daniels, Lucius Foster, Jacky Dorsey, Tony Flanagan (deceased), and others.

UGA Beats UF

Zander and Alec

The Ogletree twins played well in a win against Westlake.

Dawg fans no doubt know that Alec Ogletree is a 5-star player already committed to UGA. My question is about his brother. Is Zander another Rennie? Is there a way to somehow bring this guy on board? Sounds like a player.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rashad Wright Starts Year

Rashad Wright has begun the 2009/2010 season, playing again in the European League in Berlin.

Rashad averaged 9 points per game last year for Alba Berlin. Although his two-point shooting percentage was decent (48%), he shot less than 60% from the free throw line.

Through 4 games this season, he is shooting just 40% from the field and right at 68% from the line. He should improve as the season goes on, but if he wants to stick around in the European League as a quality point guard, he'll have to show that he can pick up the easy opportunities to score.