Saturday, March 6, 2010

Help is on the way

Cady Lalanne scored 17 points and added 6 rebounds and 6 blocked shots in the championship game against Fort Myers.

Lalanne's team, Oak Ridge High, lost 59 to 57.

Now that Lalanne's basketball playing time in high school is done, both he and UGA's fans can look forward to his arrival in Athens. Cady will replace some of the size lost due to Albert Jackson's graduation. And we need at least one more quality big. As Georgia found out in the game against Kentucky, it's hard to score when the other team combines good big guys with long perimeter defenders.

Help is on the way for Coach Fox and the Dawgs. The question is, just how much? Trent Johnson went from an SEC championship to the worst record in the league not because he forgot how to coach, but because he lost really good players after last season.

So if Georgia is to move out of last place in the SEC East, we need Lalanne and Gerald Robinson to contribute right away. Will we have any other freshmen? Can we sign Dwayne Polee, Donte Williams or Josh Langford? What about still elite unsigned guys like Doron Lamb or Terrence Ross? Are there any other players in Alabama, middle Georgia or elsewhere that can help Georgia to win next year?

If Fox can bring in only two additional players this spring, who should it be? Who is it likely to be? Let me know your thoughts.

Dawgs Come Up Short Against LSU

We lost 50 to 48. LSU isn't a very good team, either, with just one SEC win prior to the Georgia game. The loss has to be a bit of a let-down for our fans.

We just didn't play well. Same song, different verse about the Dawgs losing focus when we're away from Stegeman. We finished the year with no wins on the road.

Thompkins was 7 of 23 from the floor. As a coach, you'd like for the guy taking a majority of the shots to at least hit somewhere above 40 percent of his attempts. Didn't happen this time, but I was pleased that Thompkins rebounded pretty well. I would add that I didn't like seeing Thompkins arguing with Leslie after the final possession. Win together, lose together.

Speaking of Travis Leslie, he played a pretty efficient game. Didn't do anything extraordinary. Didn't even shoot that well, but he did end the game 3 out of 8. He needs more shots. I like seeing him post up on the low block.

We're 13 and 16 on the year, 5 and 11 in the SEC. No need to abandon ship. Let's regroup, go into the SEC Tournament and surprise some people.

Billy Humphrey to Play?

The University of New Orleans is going into the Sun Belt Conference's tournament and they are planning to leave it all out on the floor.

Billy Humphrey is doing his part. Although I was almost certain that Humphrey would not play again this year, he has reportedly been practicing with the team this week, and it appears that he will power through his knee problems and try to help New Orleans in their battle against Western Kentucky.

It is likely that the game today will be the end of an era. Unless New Orleans wins the tournament, they will be done for the year. And at the end of the season, the Privateers will be moving from Division I down to Division III, in which players will not receive scholarships to compete.

With Humphrey's knee problems and the exhaustion of his eligibility, his playing career will probably end today. That's the reason, at least in part, why Humphrey is making one last attempt to get back out there today. His team needs him and he wants to go out on a high note.

Here's hoping for the best.

Sundiata Gaines Hits Another Buzzer Beater

This time the shot happened at the end of the second quarter instead of the fourth, but it was a key basket nonetheless.

Gaines' bucket allowed Utah to close the gap to 57 to 49 going into half-time against the Phoenix Suns. The Jazz managed to overtake Phoenix at the end of the night and win the game 116 to 108.

Sundiata finished the contest going 2 of 3 from the field, 1 of 1 from behind the arc, and 1 of 1 from the free throw line. He didn't play a lot of minutes, but he was productive when he got out there.

I believe Sundiata will be a free agent at the end of the year. He has worked himself into position for a big salary increase from Utah or some other team looking for a quality back-up point guard.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dwayne Polee Working on His Game

Sounds great. If Leslie works on his two-guard skills and Polee comes in at the three position, Georgia would have some serious athleticism on the floor.

Or keep Leslie at the three position and bring Polee off the bench. Either way, let's reel Polee in and figure out how to use him once he gets here.

According to the article, UGA is competing with Rutgers, Gonzaga and UNLV for Polee's commitment. No offense to the other programs, but you have to like our chances. What do you think?


End of the Road for Charles Grant

Charles Grant's tenure as a New Orleans Saint officially ended today.

Grant has been troubled by problems on and off the field. He suffered a torn triceps this year and did not play in the Superbowl. Grant also faced earlier in the 2009/20010 season an investigation by the NFL regarding use of particular substances. And then there are the charges related to a fight in a Georgia bar.

Will Grant get picked up by any other teams? Hard to say.

Coach Tevester Anderson Still Going

Coach Anderson just clinched the regular season championship of the SWAC. His team went 15 and 1 in the conference.

He has had an incredible career. Not just length, but depth. Quality. I wonder what would have happened if Anderson had been made head coach at Georgia.


Mercer Ending Playing Career on a High Note

Things are looking up for Mike Mercer. Although he left Georgia, transferred to South Florida and promptly found trouble outside the court, Mercer has survived it all, with help from his coach and an assist from a teammate.

Mercer is now a college graduate, a player who has recovered from two torn ACL's, and a key contributor for a team that is competitive in the Big East.

He will play his last regular season game this coming Saturday. Whatever the future holds for Mercer, I think he has proven to himself that he can overcome obstacles, and perhaps even thrive if he puts in the required hard work.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Kentucky Rejects Dawgs

Hate to say it, but those guys were just better than we were. They might even win the national championship this year. Huge front line. Length at the small forward and shooting guard positions. They defended us better than any team I've seen this year. Other teams have pressed us to cause us to turn the ball over, but UK's half-court defense was outstanding.

With that said, I'm proud of the Dawgs for staying with it. I thought that Dustin Ware played a strong game. Ten points, five assists, zero turnovers. Jeremy Price scored 19 points on 7 of 11 shooting and 5 of 5 from the free throw line. JP added in 6 boards. Very impressive.

Travis Leslie got his shot blocked a couple of times. Don't recall how many, but Calipari obviously coached up his guys on defending him. If Leslie adds in a shot fake, showing the ball, he'll get to the free throw line more and decrease the chance of defenders timing his shot.

I still loved Leslie's fast break slam. As close to a dunk from the free throw line in live action that I've seen in a long time.

Other than the couple of nice dunks, UK shut down our two main scorers. Travis and Trey each went 4 for 13 from the floor, with 3 turnovers, and only 1 assist.

One of the telling stats from this game was that Kentucky's guards went to the line and Georgia's did not. No free throw shots at all from Leslie, Williams, Ware and McPhee. The other statistic that jumps out at me is the fact that they had 15 blocks and we didn't get any.

If Kentucky is making their three-pointers, and against Georgia, they shot a respectable 33 percent, then it will be tough for anyone to beat them.

We're 13 and 15 on the year, 5 and 10 in the SEC. Let's bounce back from this one, and beat LSU.

Score: Lanier County, 25, Nick Marshall, 23

And so it was, early in the second half of the game between Lanier County and Wilcox County. Now, as the article states, there could have been some home-cooking going on. Wilcox County was playing at home, and their gym was packed with fans. Lends itself quite predictably to the home squad getting more than their fare share of the calls.

The refs can make the calls, but they won't shoot the ball for anybody. So when one player nearly equals the output of the entire opposing team, it certainly gets my attention. It sounds to me like but for the big lead and his ankle sprain, Marshall could have had another one of those 40 or 50-point outings.

It would be great to bring him in on a football scholarship and let him play hoops if he still has the desire.

Josh Langford Leads Team to Championship Title

Josh Langford was named the MVP of the state basketball tournament held this past weekend. He scored 15 points with 10 rebounds in the championship game. Lee beat Carver High by a score of 62 to 48.

I don't know whether he will sign with Georgia next month, but if he does, UGA would be getting a versatile defender and scorer. With the right amount of hard work, Langford could blossom out on the wing.

Senior Night

Good group of guys. Tyler Whatley, Ricky McPhee, and Albert Jackson.

It's hard to believe how time flies. I remember writing about Jackson, hoping that he would be able to come in and help the team. Thinking about his transfer to Oak Hill, wondering whether that would work out for him. Being concerned that Jackson's Oak Hill teammate, Michael Beasley, seemed to be scoring all the points.

Jackson came to Athens and got to work. He battled through injuries, setbacks, and has now made it to the final stretch.

I will not soon forget his "parting of the Red Sea" dunk-- that play during the SEC Tournament when Jackson grabbed a rebound at about the foul line, took a couple of steps and rose up high toward the rim. Everyone in front of him leaned aside, as if moved by some invisible hand. Time had been running out and Georgia had a slight lead. I had wanted Jackson to throw the ball back out to one of the guards. "No, no--- Woo-Hoo!"

I never did know much about Tyler Whatley. However, you have to have contributions from all the players to make a team work. Even the guys who don't play much during the games do their part during the week. Practicing hard, going to class, making the starters better. From all I understand, Whatley was that kind of team player.

And where would Georgia's team be without Ricky McPhee? We didn't win a ton of games, but McPhee was in the thick of it in every contest. Making the long range jumpshot, defending, playing tons of minutes.

Wish we had our seniors for another year. Doubt any of them will continue playing basketball beyond college. And that's okay. I'm sure that they will all be key contributors during the week.

R&B Article

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sundiata Gaines Looks Back at His Journey

Just a treat to see Sundiata Gaines round out into the player he has become. He has always been a hard worker, and now he has his shot with the Utah Jazz.

I understand that he will be a free agent at the end of the year. I really do hope that the Hawks make a push for him.

I know I've said it before, but I appreciate Gaines for coming to Georgia when we had no upperclass players on the roster. He took a chance on UGA, helped weather the storm, both figuratively and literally, and led us on that miraculous SEC Tournament run.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Dwayne Polee Gets 20 and 12

Westchester whips #4 ranked Washington High.

The Westchester Comets have been blowing teams out by right at 40 points per contest. The final score of the game Friday night was right in line with Westchester's winning margin. However, the Washington Generals did not go down without a fight.

I'd have to consider Polee's recruitment to be a long shot, but you never know. Coach Fox may have successfully made the case for Polee to attend college on the east coast.

You have to think that if Polee flew across the country for a recruiting trip, Georgia has Polee's due consideration. If I were on the coaching staff for Georgia, I would have told Polee that the PAC-10 is down, UCLA is not playing well, and a team of Polee, Travis Leslie, Gerald Robinson and Howard Thompkins would have serious championship possibilities in the SEC, if not the nation. I'd also tell Polee that the triangle offense would give him the opportunity to develop and showcase his skills, as happened with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

Let's cross our fingers, guys.

Otto Petty: ACC Legend

Before Coach Hugh Durham came to Georgia to lead the team to the Final Four, he had some great squads at Florida State. Otto Petty was the point guard on Durham's most successful team.

Although only 5' 7" tall, Petty went around and through opposing defenders to lead FSU to the threshhold of the national championship. The article below recounts Durham's recruitment of Petty and Petty's role in FSU's defeat of Kentucky and UNC.

Petty is being honored as an ACC Legend.


Rennie Curran Makes Right Moves

Rennie Curran left Georgia a year early to enter the NFL draft. Smart move #1.

Curran recently stated that part of his reason for leaving was the fact that UGA fired three members of the defensive coaching staff, including defensive coordinator Willie Martinez. You can't let the tail wag the dawg here, and I'm not sure how much of a factor the coaching staff change was, but it certainly didn't help Georgia's case if the team wanted to keep Curran around.

A key part of being successful at linebacker is being so accustomed to the defensive schemes that a player can quickly make the right reads and play at a fast pace. With a new defensive staff coming in, Curran would have had to learn new terminology, new play calls, adjust to the 3-4 defense, and perhaps even do a lot more coverage out of the backfield. Combine all the foregoing with the risk of injury and the chance to make an NFL salary, and Curran's time as a Bulldog had come to a close.

I like the fact that Curran did his research before making a decision. He has also bulked up enough to gain consideration for the middle linebacker position.

More smart moves for Curran. Big loss for Georgia. Great opportunity for other linebackers on the roster.

Dawgs win against Florida

It's great to beat Florida in any sport. I felt at the beginning of the year that Georgia should handle Florida pretty well, so the blow-out we suffered down there was a big disappointment. Glad we got the W when we faced them at home.

I was distracted from the game, and I missed a lot of the second half. As a result, I'll post a link to a recap and confine my comments to the part that I actually saw.

The best news from the game, besides the win, was that Georgia got contributions from up and down the roster. I was particularly glad to see Anyaorah and Mayfield play well.

If I'm Mark Fox, I sit Demario Mayfield down and I have him watch film of the high-scoring guard down at South Florida, Dominique Jones. Jones was the first player I thought of when I saw Mayfield take the ball to the hoop and get the three point play.

I know that some fans suggested earlier in the year that since Mayfield played in a smaller high school classification, he shouldn't be expected to help the team. However, if he can get confidence, Mayfield might really be valuable in giving McPhee a rest in the upcoming game against Kentucky and the SEC Tournament.

Anyaorah can do a lot already. His legs seem to be in good shape. My one concern with his game is that his elbows flare out too wide on his shot. If he learns to square up to the basket and keep his arm locked in tight, his shooting percentage will go up.

Great win for the Dawgs. Congrats to the team and Coach Fox.

Cady Lalanne Leads Oak Ridge

Lalanne was the difference in Oak Ridge's Class 4A Region II final on Saturday against Nature Coast. Cady finished with 20 points, 16 rebounds and 2 blocks. Lalanne scored 9 of Oak Ridge's 12 points in the fourth quarter.

Nature Coast brought a good-sized front line to Orlando, part of a team that had gone 27 and 4 on the year. Lalanne's performance bodes well for Georgia as Cady gets prepared for college ball.

With the victory, Oak Ridge moves on to the final four of the state tournament.

Lalanne has averaged 21 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks per contest this year.