Saturday, November 14, 2009

Freddie In, Ezra Out

Fred Gibson is on the roster for the Austin Toros of the NBA's D-League this year. He played almost all of last year with the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, but joined the Toros very late in last year's season, and did not score any points.

Followers of the Blog will remember that Ezra Williams played for the Austin Toros for more than one year. Williams is not listed as a returning player for the 2009/2010 season.

Auburn Comes to Athens

I feel like such a bad fan. It really is discouraging to face a football game at home against a rival, and believe that UGA will lose.

Part of the challenge of having a Blog is to force myself to go on the record and predict the outcome of upcoming games. I'm the biggest "homer" that there is, and ordinarily I would always pick UGA to win games, no matter what the sport, no matter which team the opponent.

However, on a Blog I feel like I must be intellectually honest, and choose which team will win, regardless of my hopes and natural inclinations.

So here it is...

I will be pulling like crazy for the Dawgs, but I don't see a way for us to win. Our defense isn't strong. Our offense has been one-dimensional. I can't see any of that changing today.

There will be no black-out in Sanford Stadium and no victory either. Auburn wins by at least a touchdown, something like 21 to 14.

SEC RPI to Take a Hit

Rider defeated Mississippi State. That was a surprise. Jarvis Varnado had his normal dominating game, but finding other scoring will be an issue for State this year.

In an even bigger upset, Cornell beat new coach Anthony Grant and his Alabama squad. Senario Hillman went just 2 of 6 from the floor. Never have figured out just what happened to him, but I thought Hillman was going to be a dominant player over at Alabama. Maybe he still will develop, but other than a few highlight-reel slam dunks, he just hasn't been much of a factor over his college career.

Grant will have Alabama performing at a high level. I am confident that they will get there. Tony Mitchell, JayMichael Green, and others are very talented players.

But Cornell was not to be denied. Congrats to them, and to Rider.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thompkins is Ready to Start Season

Great article on Howard Thompkins.

I always felt that the only thing that kept Thompkins from taking his game to the next level was working on his body. He missed all of the strength and conditioning from his first year, due to injury.

Now that he has had the benefit of the conditioning work from the pre-season, plus all of the coaching and competition from his time with the USA's team from the FIBA international games, he is actually ahead of the game.

If he has increased his speed and his vertical significantly, Thompkins is going to be a handful against opposing defenses.


I Got a New Attitude

While I'm at it, using songs as titles for my posts, (I assume that most readers caught the John Lennon reference in my last post), I decided to throw some Patti Labelle in there.

Labelle's "New Attitude" song might be the theme for Georgia's year. We don't have too many new players to speak of, but our coach has given us a new perspective and approach to the game, and that might be enough to get us some wins.


I will say that I like the line-up, if it's correct. Putting Jeremy Price in there with Chris Barnes and Trey Thompkins will give our starting five some height. We won't be as quick on the perimeter, since Dustin Ware will be paired with Travis Leslie in the backcourt. I'm not sure how long we will stay with the new look, especially if we have trouble advancing the ball. But we shouldn't be outrebounded.

I'd like to see Ebuka Anyaorah be the first person off the bench, followed by Drazen Zlovaric.

Should be fun.

Georgia vs. the New Orleans Privateers. Tonight!

All We Are Saying is Give Fox a Chance

As readers of the Blog may know, I was concerned with the hire of Mark Fox. I hadn't heard of him. You hadn't either.

Supporters of the decision touted Fox's victories over Georgia and his overall record of wins and losses. I wasn't too impressed with either.

I remembered that Georgia's really bad teams had played Fox's Nevada squad really close. In 2004, Georgia lost by single digits at home. The next year out at their place, Nevada had no answer for Younes Idrissi. He scored a career-high 16 points.

From what I recall from listening to the 2005 game, Georgia's announcers were quite unhappy at the way the game was called. Our guys were hammered, but didn't get the whistle. On the other hand, Nevada ended up shooting a whopping 32 free throws. Georgia shot only 11.

Even with the benefit of "home cooking," Nevada was losing with 10 minutes to play. They escaped with a narrow 6 point margin.

As far as Fox's record was concerned, I felt that Nevada's wins and losses should be viewed in the light of their yearly opponents. His Nevada teams faced conference foes Hawaii, Idaho, Boise State and Utah State.

During much of the time that Fox was compiling his consecutive 20-win seasons, SEC basketball was at its height, ranked number one in the nation in RPI. If fans remember, Georgia often played Florida 3 times annually during the Gators' two national championship runs, not to mention UGA's twice yearly contests against Tennessee and Kentucky.

I doubted that Nevada would have had anything near 20 wins if they had to play an SEC schedule.

As Nick Fazekas said about the narrow victory over Felton's team, "We really didn't know what it took to beat a good team, because we haven't been playing the best competition."

I would have preferred that UGA hire a coach with impeccable winning credentials at the highest levels, someone who would be immediately successful in recruiting the Atlanta area. I think Damon Evans was concerned about the pay scale for such a coach, and whether Georgia would be able to keep him, once hired.

Evans opted for Mark Fox.

I will say this, I warmed up to the idea. I like what Fox has done so far. He has gone out and gotten some decent recruits, and he has a shot at bagging some of the more elite-level guys in the next few months.

Most of us just want a guy who will recruit, keep the program clean, and run a credible-enough offense that UGA has a chance to win. I haven't seen the Fox version of the triangle offense, but I am eager to do so. I believe if it is as good as advertised, the victories will come in time.

As Georgia begins the 2009/2010 campaign, supporters are lining up behind Fox. Rightly so.

In the meantime, Kentucky has garnered an incredible recruiting class, and the other SEC East teams are as talented, top to bottom, as I can recall. As a result, Georgia may struggle.

The AJC correctly notes that we've had a lot of coaches since 1995. Accordingly, fans who are on the bandwagon now, may jump off very quickly if things do not go UGA's way early on.


Let's give Fox a chance. That's the real point of this post. Let's get behind the program and stay there. Georgia basketball opens its season tonight.

Go Dawgs!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Changing the Persona of the Dawgs: Five Keys

I like the premise of the article in the Red and Black. One way or another, Georgia basketball needs to get over the hump. We need to be a perennial winner, instead of a team that struggles to escape the cellar of the SEC East.

It can be done.

If a few things go our way, Fox can turn things around. However, I don't think that citing the win by Fox in 2004 does anything to make the writer's case.

Nevada did not play well against UGA. Georgia's 2004 squad was the team that was pretty much cobbled together during Felton's second year. I don't know how to say this without sounding unfair to our former players, but the fact remains that in 2004 we featured Younes Idrissi, a hobbled Dave Bliss, seriously injured Corey Gibbs, Levi Stukes and the freshman Sundiata Gaines. Kevin Brophy and Buzz Wehunt were key guys off the bench. That team played hard, but they did well to go 8 and 20 on the year.

Against Nevada, Georgia shot 17% from the field during the first half, and still was within ten points at the break. Nevada won the game by single digits.

Instead of looking back for inspiration, Fox and UGA fans should see our potential and seek to exploit it in the near future. Georgia is much, much more talented than it was in 2004.

Fox has inherited a team with SEC-quality players. Travis Leslie is one of the best athletes in the conference. Jackson, Price and Barnes will provide bulk in the post. Ware can and will play well at the point. Thompkins is highly skilled.

Here's what needs to happen for Fox to give UGA basketball a make-over.

1. Focus on the fundamentals

The article is right in that Georgia needs to cut down on turnovers. Not sure how that will happen with just one point guard with any experience, but if UGA can decrease turnovers, box out for rebounds, defend reasonably well, and hit free throws, we can steal a few games.

2. Install and execute the offense

I was discouraged by the lack of plays that Felton's team seemed to run. His teams did not have the skill to succeed in a motion offense. Most of the time, it seemed that Sundiata Gaines was the only player who could beat his guy off the bounce. Therefore, instead of having multiple players executing drives to the bucket (like Memphis did under Coach Calipari), Georgia always seemed to stagnate offensively until the end of the shot clock and Gaines was forced to try to create something on the fly.

The point is that given the fact that Fox has decent athletes, Georgia already has the nucleus for a successful year. If Fox can teach the triangle offense and really get the team to run it well, then guys like Thompkins and Leslie should be able to put points up on the board, and UGA can win some of the close games that the team lost in the past.

3. All hands on deck

Albert Jackson has an injury, but the word is that he will be able to play either this week or very soon. Ebuka Anyaorah is coming off of surgery on his shins last year.

We'll need some good luck to avoid any future injuries, but we'll also have to have discipline so that no players will be lost due to academic suspension.

4. Find a Scorer on the Wing

Georgia lost Terrance Woodbury to graduation. Do we have anyone on the roster that can shoot the ball from deep or drive it to the basket? I'm hoping that person is Ebuka Anyaorah or Drazen Zlovaric, but Fox needs to find somebody.

5. Recruit like crazy

We lost out on some Georgia-based talent for the class of 2010, like Kevin Ware, Trae Golden, Shawn Kemp, Rion Brown, and Jason Morris. My hope is that Fox and his staff will be able to rebound with 1 or 2 other 2010 signees, particularly, Jalen Kendrick.

If we get a couple of key guys for 2010, and Fox brings in a banner class for 2011, Georgia will have a roster that can do some serious damage in the SEC.

Our persona will change if Georgia is competitive in 2009, and if we can move the program forward in recruiting.

Hawks over Knicks

Final score: 114 to 101.

The Hawks could have easily lost the game last night. The Knicks were shooting over 60 percent there for a while, playing in front of their home crowd.

Although the Knicks are not very good this year, they have some players who can put up big numbers. Al Harrington had it working in the first half, Larry Hughes got hot, and then Tony Douglas started to shoot the ball well.

But the Hawks didn't fold. They got the ball to Al Horford, and he delivered. Solid game from Josh Smith, too, with a double-double. Mike Bibby hit open jump shots. And Joe Johnson, who didn't shoot well in the first half, seemed not to be able to miss in the second.

Nothing much from Marvin Williams. Not a whole lot of scoring from Jamal Crawford, although he did play well.

The Hawks are 6 and 2 on the year. In 3rd place in the East. They'll struggle against teams with big post players, like Cleveland, Orlando, and Boston, but you have to like the way Atlanta is playing right now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kemp To Auburn

So much for my wishful thinking. I guess I won't be offering any stock tips this week.

I was so sure that Fox would bag the big guy that I went ahead and boldly predicted it.


Thomas Davis Out

Thomas Davis had a really good pre-season. He was faster, stronger, and more prepared for his role as the weakside linebacker for the Carolina Panthers. He out for a brief time with an injury, but all things were looking good for Davis to have a dominant season when the Panthers began the year.

It wasn't to be.

Thomas suffered a torn ACL in the game against New Orleans, and he will be out for the rest of the year.

Arkansas to be Short-Handed

I have posted links before about the problems over at Arkansas. I generally make just one reference to these kinds of stories, because I don't want the problems with some athletes to unfairly affect the tons of student athletes who do the right thing and represent their schools well.

Nevertheless, I am posting this article because all of the links to the earlier stories at Arkansas seem not to work anymore. Maybe Yahoo will keep the attached article out there on the Net a little bit longer.

My concern is that in the sports culture of "win at all costs," a man like Pelphrey will not last long as a coach. He either wins soon, or expect him to be gone by the end of next year.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jason Morris to Tech

Morris is a guy that I had hoped would sign with UGA. Incredible hops and a really good-looking stroke.

From all I understand, Morris tends to vanish at times, so he will need some development before he is ready to make his full contribution. But make no mistake about it, the talent is there.

Maybe there will be some good news for UGA from Jalen Kendrick, Shawn Kemp, or Josh Langford.

Ironman Finishes

Double amputee and ironman. Now there's an oxymoron.

The notion of a double amputee competing at the highest levels in the sports world sounds totally absurd. If I had no legs, I think I would do well just to get up in the morning and make coffee.

But here we have it. UGA grad Scott Rigsby, a man in his late thirties, swam over 2 miles, biked 112, and ran a marathon, all in under 17 hours.


Amazing. I think the lesson for me is to keep running. Never give up.

What do you think?

Monday, November 9, 2009

SEC East Hoops Preview

From the Daily Gamecock.

I would assume from the words of the article that the writer thinks that USC will come in 4th in the SEC East.

Not a whole lot new in this preview. Everybody's preview has UK first. Tennessee deserves its general position as second in the pre-season rankings. Beyond that, though, it's anybody's guess.

Vanderbilt will be really good this year. Florida has Coach Donovan, a newly eligible transfer at center, and a scoring guard who will put up big numbers. South Carolina was strong last year and could surprise, even in an SEC East that is much tougher.

Georgia is generally ranked last in all the previews. It's hard to argue otherwise, since no one knows how Georgia will perform. We were in the cellar last year, and though we all may want to put Georgia in some other spot, in fairness to the process we'd have to have a reason to do so.

The Daily Gamecock's writers point out that Coach Fox brought on Vince Williams, an under-sized point guard. Other than that, Fox is going to battle with players that Felton recruited. True, Ebuka Anyaorah was injured last year, and since this is his first season playing, he could be seen as a new player. But the point remains that most of the other teams in the division brought in some pretty talented freshmen, and Georgia's class was not highly ranked at all.

I disagree with the writer's contention that Vince Williams and Demario Mayfield have to contribute a lot. They have to be at least serviceable for Georgia to win, but the key to this season are Thompkins, Ware and Leslie. If the big three play up to potential, Georgia can be competitive.

With that said, I have no argument with the preview's ranking having UGA as last. I certainly hope we do better.


D. J. Shockley to CFL?

D.J. Shockley was cut recently by the Atlanta Falcons, and from all indications, he won't be picked back up by the team.

It appears that at least one team in the Canadian Football League is interested in bringing Shockley in.

I wouldn't be surprised to see D.J. go to the CFL. It will give him a chance to showcase what he can do if he gets regular playing time, and it may ultimately lead to another chance with the NFL.

Great Attitude from Ealey

Guy's going be a good'un if he keeps working hard.

AJC Article

Herschel Walker Reviews Career

Guy was and is a talent, that's for sure. Big, fast, competitive.

Sometimes, fame makes it hard to adjust, live a regular life. To go from a small town in rural Georgia to becoming an almost idolized figure on a national stage must have been very difficult.

Good recap of Walker's life after football.