Saturday, February 2, 2013

Songs from the Dawgs?

Wow.  I loved today's article from the AJC.

Sound of Music

Just in case the AJC ever gets rid of the link, here's a quote:

As soon as coach Mark Fox stepped inside the door on the lower-level concourse, he was engulfed in a sea of black jerseys who jumped up and down as they chanted something that sounded like “yeet, yeet, yeet!” Moments later, that noise morphed into a rendition of the school fight song, “Glory to Old Georgia.” Only this was an abbreviated, rap-style version. The celebration was finished with some loud, timed applause.

The message: The Bulldogs are starting to get this basketball business down, and they’re thoroughly enjoying it.

“We’re feeling good,” said Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who led the Bulldogs with 19 points. “There’s a lot of confidence going around. We’re helping each other and picking each other up. Everybody’s stepping up every night now.”

Asked about the musical postlude, Caldwell-Pope laughed and grinned wide.

“We’re just re-mixing a little bit,” he said. “We’ve got Houston Kessler providing a little beat box and Kenny Gaines singing for us. We’re just singing and having fun.”

Houston Kessler beat-boxing?  Are U kiddin' me?

Maybe anything is possible in this season.  Heck, if they can sing, perhaps they might find a way to get invited to the Big Dance.

Woo-Hoo! Dawgs Win! Gaines Gets PT.

UGA beats South Carolina in Columbia.  Final score:  67 to 56

I missed most of today's game and I missed the Auburn game, too.  However, from the little bit I caught of today's action, it's apparent that Coach Fox has finally seen fit to give Kenny Gaines substantial playing time (24 minutes).  Bravo!  He even played Gaines and KCP at the same time.  Together on the floor with Mann!  Amazing.

Now, if he would just put Brandon Morris at the 4 position and slide Donte over to center.  That line-up would be the starting five that I thought we would have before the season began.  Guys who can catch and finish in the post, guards who can put the ball on the floor and drive.  Players who can advance the ball against the press.

In the pre-season I thought that UGA would be good enough to maybe get into the top five in the SEC.  Needless to say, I was disappointed with with the fact that we started out of the gates poorly and then lost to Georgia Tech and Florida.  Ugghh.  I hate losing to those guys in anything.

Given our early season losses, I figured that Fox was set on his line-up.  If he hadn't seen enough during the practices and the Italy trip to figure out the relative strengths of the players on his roster, then I didn't see much hope for the SEC calendar.  However, here we stand today at 4 and 4.  Sure, the SEC is weak this year, but so were a good number of the teams we played prior to the SEC part of the schedule.  The difference, in my humble opinion, is that KCP is playing a lot better, and Fox is starting to put his most talented guys on the floor. 

A lot of fans called for Kenny Gaines to get more minutes.  We were so bad before at scoring the basketball that we were hard to watch.  Playing Gaines could hardly hurt the team.  We desperately needed more offensive production.  In fact, I wrote earlier in the season that I was "calling Gaines out."  But in fairness to him, Gaines can only perform to the extent that he is allowed to play. 

Fox had insisted on making Gaines back up KCP, which is a losing proposition for Kenny.  Now that KG finally got major minutes, he has shown to the fans and to the coaching staff what he can do.  Having been inserted into the starting line-up for the second half of the South Carolina game also proves that he and KCP can be on the floor at the same time.

It's not hard to figure out.  Putting guys that can drive the basket on the floor makes the whole team more efficient.  Against the Gamecocks, it worked.  We 'bout had 4 guys to score in double figures (KCP had 19, Gaines had 11 and so did Charles Mann--  John Cannon had 8).  As it stands, our four top scorers for the game all shot 50 percent or better from the floor. 

Best game of the year, in my opinion.  Shucks, we may indeed finish the year in the top, rather than the bottom, third of the SEC.  Right now we're number six, so if we can keep the streak going a few games longer, the team will develop a lot more confidence. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Whatever Happened to

Jim Harrick's final recruiting class? 

Before Jim Harrick was dismissed back in 2003, he had a five-man recruiting class signed up.  Three freshmen and two JUCO's. 

Some Georgia fans were excited, but I didn't think much of the class at the time.  Sure, Harrick's basketball squad was performing well, but I had had gotten pumped up before about Harrick's recruiting.  The class that fooled me once was the 2002 signees, Harrick's next to last recruiting group of Alexander Johnson, Larry Turner and Julius Lamptey.  They ran 6' 10", 6' 10" and 7.0'.  Georgia was finally getting some athletic big men! 

The problem was that none of them got into school.

Well, as it turned out, Harrick's 2003 class didn't get into UGA either, but that was because they all asked for their releases after Harrick was dismissed-- everyone but Corey Gibbs, who was the lone recruit from the state of Georgia.  He did honor his letter of intent and enrolled.

In the aftermath of the Harrick melt-down, some basketball boosters were upset.  I was, too.  My concern was about the future of the basketball program.  But there were guys who lamented what could have been, especially in light of Harrick's "fantastic 2003 recruiting class."  One fan told me that Harrick's class was ranked in the top ten back then. 

I don't remember any top ten ranking, can't find evidence of it now, and I don't think he had it right.  In any case, the proof is in the pudding.  Know how many of that fantastic class made it to the NBA?  You got it.  Zip.  They didn't even perform that well in the college ranks.

Jordan Howell transferred to UT where he averaged 4 pts a game on 32 percent shooting.  He got 1 rebound a contest.

Marcus Jackson transferred to Marquette.  He netted 2.5 pts and 5 rebounds for his career.

Mohamed Abukar transferred to Florida.  In 2 years Abukar averaged 4 pts and 1 rebound per game while playing against SEC competition.  He transferred again, apparently homesick for San Diego and put up 15 and 6. 

Cassiano Matheus was a 3-star who transferred to Utah State.  He averaged 7 pts and 4 bds playing against basketball powerhouses Idaho, South Dakato State and Hawaii.

Corey Gibbs averaged 4 pts and 3 bds, but never played well for Georgia because of a bad knee injury incurred his senior year of high school.

Bottom line:  Maybe one of Harrick's recruits might have helped UGA basketball in a significant way.  Maybe.  But Harrick's failures in recruiting had the program on a downward spiral long before the ethical issues came to light.

KCP for Heisman!

Complete game for the Dawgs in the win over Texas A&M.  Wow, it sure does feel good to get the W.

Congrats, too, to Coach Fox.  He mixed in a little press, gave Kenny Gaines a few more minutes, and kept his guys from letting the game get away late in the second half. 

I'm not a Larry Conley fan.  Not by a long stretch.  But he was right on target in his commentary that Kentavious is probably more valuable to his team than any other player in the SEC.  We might have won a couple of games this season without KCP, but just a couple.  Kentavious plays great defense, gets the team out on the break, rebounds the ball and this year has really increased his shooting percentage. 

I can't think of any shooting guard that Georgia has ever had that brings more to the table than KCP.  Kentavious is averaging 17 points and 6 boards a game and shooting a respectable 42 percent from the field.  He also gets 2 assists and 2.5 steals per game.

In the last ten years we've had designated three-point shooters like Ricky McPhee who also did pretty well on the defensive end.  Gerald Robinson could drive on anybody, but he was more of a second point guard.  Corey Butler played some at the two-guard, but he was a defensive ace, rather than a scorer.  Billy Humphrey could shoot, but he had hobbled wheels for a portion of his career, and I don't remember him rebounding the ball much.

Levi Stukes was a shooting guard in a point guard's body.  Ezra Williams could shoot, but he didn't have much of a mid-range game.  Jarvis Hayes was more of a small forward.  D.A. Layne could score, but see my description of Levi Stukes above.

You'd have to go back to the era of Shandon and Willie Anderson to find Georgia's last big athletic two-guards, guys who could score, defend and rebound.  But even then, the Anderson brothers were more scorers than shooters.  If Kentavious is not the best ever UGA two-guard, then he's close.  If basketball had a Heisman, KCP would get my vote.