Saturday, October 12, 2013

How to fix recruiting, attendance and pick up 5 wins

Recruiting for UGA basketball coach Mark Fox has not been going well.  It does not figure to get better in the near future.

Let's face it, hoops fans.  We have missed out on every recruit we tried for this year.  Gant ain't and Lee is lee-ning elsewhere (interpreted, Jakeenan Gant is committed to Missouri, and William Lee will likely end up at Alabama).  Fisher-Davis picked Vandy, Tadric Jackson chose Tech, Ahmed Hill has apparently turned us down, Turman committed to Tennessee.  Guards, forwards, centers.  Didn't matter.  The answer to the Fox recruiting pitch was "No thanks."

Truly is stunning to me.  I have never seen a Georgia coach in any sport go "0-for" in a recruiting season, but that's exactly what Mark Fox has done so far for 2014 players.

Unfortunately, Fox didn't do much better for 2013, either, missing out on every high level recruit, and ending up with what some fans would consider four "diamond in the rough"-types (two 3-star players and two un-ranked guys).  Could be good players, but they are not the heralded recruits that our SEC competitors like Florida, Alabama and Kentucky are bringing in.

2012 was better, and Fox managed to attract three 3-star players, Kenny Gaines, Brandon Morris and Charles Mann.  Still, Fox missed out on elite big men from the state of Georgia, Tony Parker, Robert Carter, Charles Mitchell, and Shaq Goodwin.

I have posted similar information before, but it bears repeating:

Fox Recruiting Classes

Vincent Williams, 2009
Marcus Thornton, Donte Williams, Sherrard Brantley, 2010
John Florveus, Nemanja Djurisic, Caldwell-Pope, Tim Dixon and John Cannon, 2011
Brandon Morris, Kenny Gaines, Charles Mann, 2012
Kenny Paul Geno, J.J. Frazier, Juwan Parker and Cameron Forte, 2013
Nada, 2014

Said another way, Fox has during his tenure brought in 16 signees, who were given a total of 41 stars according to That's 2.5 stars per recruit.

In those 5 classes and 16 recruits, only one signee was above 3-stars.  Performance on the court generally follows performance in recruiting classes.  Of the 16 recruits who have played so far, only one has managed over 8 points per game (KCP).  None of the big men Fox has recruited have averaged over 4.5 boards a game.  Not surprisingly, Fox has managed 3 losing seasons out of a total of 4.  His one winning season was with his predecessor's recruits.

Attendance at UGA hoops games has sagged.  Fans want to see an exciting brand of basketball, and the Fox teams have not delivered.  According to one source, Georgia has the worst home attendance in the SEC.

How can Fox recover?  How can he get a decent recruit for 2014?  How can he win games and boost attendance?  The answer to these questions, in the author's opinion, may lie at Northwest Florida Junior College.

Why Northwest Florida?  Because Tevin Glass and Shaq Johnson are there.

Fox can make a big step forward by bringing in Glass and Johnson.  I don't see anybody else on the recruiting horizon.  I say, if we can get both players, do it.  The two recruits would have to take a chance on Fox, that he'll be around next year.  At the same time, we'd be taking a chance on them.  They are juco players and Johnson has a mark on his basketball resume, since he was dismissed from Auburn, allegedly after getting arrested for marijuana possession.

Fox would have a different appeal to make to Glass and Johnson, one that may ultimately be successful. Come to UGA and get back on track.  Johnson would readily understand that he'd be on a short lease and would have to toe the line.  The big recruiting carrot is that both players would get to suit up with Charles Mann, the point guard that helped Glass, Johnson and Milton High School win the Georgia 5A state championship in 2012.

Glass is a player who can score and rebound.  He's not a traditional big power forward, but he's 6' 7" and can put the ball on the floor.  In the absence of a true big man recruit, Glass would be perfect.  Shaq Johnson is a Travis Leslie clone.  6' 5" and jumps out of the gym.  Shoots 70 percent from the line.

Fox got Leslie into the NBA.  Tell Johnson that he'll do the same for him.

If we can field a versatile line-up with Kenny Gaines, Juwan Parker and Shaq Johnson as two-guards, Chuck Mann and J.J. Frazier at the point, Brandon Morris and KPG at small forward, and Forte and Glass as power forwards, we'd be exciting to watch.  Throw a few lobs to Kenny Gaines and Shaq Johnson and the attendance issue would go away.

Finally, use the resulting line-up to go to a pressure defense for 90 feet.  We'll get easier buckets and pick up at least 5 more wins on the season.  That performance might be enough for Fox to be retained and for an elite big man recruit to sign on early for next year.

I Don't Mind Losing

when we at least play well and avoid self-inflicted wounds.

But 4 turnovers?

Four sacks?  Were any of their sacks on blitzes?  What I remember is seeing our guys out-quicked and bull-rushed.  Our O-line was supposed to be a factor in our favor.

Stupid penalties?

Out-hustled?  They ran the ball effectively, threw it with precision and every gimmick play they tried worked.  At some point we'll have to do at least something well on defense.  I'm not seeing it.

I guess it is personnel.  Remember last year?  Boy do we miss Jarvis!  Out in Columbia he had 8 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and an interception.

We never quit, but "we never got started too good, either."

Hats off to Mizzou.  They came into our place and kicked our tails.

Valiant Effort

Missing players.  Poor defense.  We can't come back from 15 points down with 2 minutes left.

The interception by Murray was the clincher.  But it shouldn't have come down to him doing another long drive.  Why can't we come up with a big stop?  Their replacement qb and we let him throw a 20-yard play?

By the way, what was Herrera thinking?  But for that late hit on their qb, we probably would have gotten the ball with decent field position and time left on the clock.

Well, we can still win the East if we get some help.  We'll have to take care of business, but you have to figure that without Franklin, a couple of Mizzou's opponents can find a way to stop them.  We need Florida to lose, too.  That always helps.

Mark Beard?

Is Houston our only option at right tackle?  We have Theus.  We have Beard.  Why not play them more?  That last sack was tough to watch.

Questions, Questions

Ten troubling questions:

1.  What's up with Swann?

Anybody know?

I rarely criticize a player on this Blog, but expectations were so high for him that it's obvious to me that something is wrong.

2.  What happened to the other players in the defensive backfield?

I know we had Sheldon Dawson and the bigger corner who played some last year (Evans?).  Wiggins looks competitive.  Lakatos and Grantham have to do something.

3.  Why keep the shirt on Turman?

We need him now, not next year.  He looked strong on his YouTube videos.  Besides, next year all indications are that we'll have Chubb and Michel in addition to Turman, Todd Gurley, Brendan Douglas, J.J. Green and Keith Marshall.

My guess is that Turman must not know the plays.  Otherwise, let's not make a Knoshon Moreno mistake.

4.  When will we stop somebody on third down?

5.  Will Jordan Jenkins ever channel his Jarvis Jones?

6.  Who will be our play-maker on defense?

Ray Drew looks good, but we need a Thomas Davis-type safety, Ogletree-type linebacker, or a Champ Bailey on the corner.

7.  Why is their offensive line playing better than ours?

8.  Should we go to the spread offense next year?

The pro offense is a beautiful thing when you have the players to implement it, but the spread seems to keep defenses guessing where the ball is going.  The ability to stretch the field laterally as well as vertically is what we're missing.

9.  How good is Missouri?  Are they going to win the SEC East?

10.  It's the third quarter now.  Can we still win it?  And if so, will my ticker make it to the end of the season?

Dawgs vs. Missouri

All of our weaknesses are being exposed.  Special teams has a low snap followed by a poor punt.  They get the ball at the 50, drive down and score.

Young secondary keeps giving up long plays.  Can't get off the field on third down.  They score.

We have players out, so we're hurting on offense.  Aaron Murray can't do it all.  Giving up the inside to their defensive end results in a sack.  Lack of ball security leads to two fumbles.  One giving them a score and the second keeping us from scoring.  We should be looking at 21 to 17, but instead it's 28 to 10.

Don't think we can win this one, guys.

If we somehow pull even and win in overtime, it will be a certifiable miracle, Coach Richt should get Coach of the Year (beatification, too) and Murray should take home the Heisman.