Wednesday, July 16, 2014

May the Best Man Win at Small Forward

I decided to edit my post about the dismissal of Brandon Morris, and keep it fairly short, meanwhile adding to my post about the line-up for the fall.

So, now that Morris will no longer be around to hold down the starting position at small forward, UGA's options going into the 2014/2015 season appear to be:

Yante Maten, 6' 8" freshman.
Kenny Paul Geno, 6' 6" sophomore.
Juwan Parker, 6' 4" sophomore.
Nemi Djurisic, 6' 8" senior.
Cameron Forte, 6' 7" junior.

Maten has talent and appears to be very versatile, having played some point guard in high school.  His issues are learning the offense and getting in shape.  I had Maten replacing Donte Williams at the power forward position, helping out Marcus Thornton, who is an under-sized post.

Kenny Paul Geno, a late recruiting pick-up last season after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope opted for the NBA, played some last year against Mississippi State and actually looked pretty good, scoring six points.  Otherwise, Geno averaged a point and a rebound per game over the course of the year.  Is he ready to start at the small forward position?  I don't think so, but he'll get his share of minutes.

Juwan Parker can play.  The problem is that he is our one option behind Kenny Gaines at the two-guard.  I say, keep bringing Parker off the bench.

Nemi has played a lot.  When he's hot, he's fun to watch. When he's not, not so much. I wouldn't regard him as an elite defender or ball-handler, which is what you want from a small forward.  I like Nemi providing a spark as sixth man.

Forte has good hands and is crafty around the basket.  He led Georgia in field goal percentage, almost shooting 60 percent from the floor (.591).  The only team members who came close to that percentage were Donte Williams and John Cannon, both of whom moved on.  Forte's biggest issue is that he can't shoot (Sounds harsh, but anyone who shoots 30 percent from the free throw line for a D-1 team, can't shoot, okay?).  Fox was quoted once as saying that Forte "has an ugly game, but good instincts."

Result?  Who's our best man for the job?

If Forte's game goes from ugly to decent-looking, he is the best option.  He doesn't need to be a three-point ace, but he simply must get to the point where he can convert from as far out as 15 feet, and at least shoot better than 60 percent from the line.  Forte, who looks more like 6' 5" than his listed 6' 7", is a decent rebounder, averaging  2 boards per game in 9 minutes.  He is not an explosive leaper, and probably won't ever be, but I would hope that he can increase his vertical a few inches over the summer.

If Forte doesn't improve, then Parker probably gets the start.  A lot of teams use three-guard sets, and Parker is probably the best match-up for those situations.  Fox hopefully is scouring the AAU circuit looking for a late-blooming two-guard, with size.  I'd rather save the ship than save the 'ship at this point.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Morris Dismissed

Morris dismissed.  No surprise here.

What would be surprising is if Brandon's suspension last year wasn't due to some drug-related issue.  I think if there had been a drug matter last year, then that would explain why Mark Fox acted so quickly, dismissing Morris a day or so after the arrest.

Guys are presumed innocent until proven guilty.  However, if you had an issue before, then don't be surprised if the presumption, for athletic scholarship purposes, evaporates if you get into trouble again.

None of us have all the details, so I probably won't speculate further about the situation.  I will say that the Morris arrest and subsequent dismissal are disappointing.  I had hoped that Brandon would really come into his own this year.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Sounds like a bad movie.  Looks like one, too.

Last week we got the report that Turtle Jackson had committed.  Had me excited.  I should have known bad news was coming.  I felt something in my bones.  I thought it might have been the rheumatism.  Nope.  Worse. UGA basketball.

Sure enough our collective hopes are jarred once again.  This time, it's the arrest of Brandon Morris.  The AJC reports that he was arrested for felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

We can harp on "overzealous Athens Clarke County police" if we want, but you can't absolve players just because they're players.  Guys have to take responsibility.

Consider the record over the last few years:

2007:  Takais Brown, Mike Mercer and Albert Jackson were suspended for class attendance issues.
2008:  Billy Humphrey suspended for underage drinking.
2008:  Billy Humphrey dismissed
2010:  Albert Jackson arrested for hit and run of parked car.
2012:  Donte Williams arrested for possession at Lenox Square Mall.
2014:  J.J. Frazier arrested for driving without a license.

I could go on.  I chose three incidents from the Fox tenure, and three from Felton's.  I chose three Athens law enforcement arrests, two from the Atlanta area, and one student discipline matter.

I know that UGA football also has bizarre arrests and problems, but the margin for error with basketball's thirteen-scholarship limit is so small.  The impact is much greater when a basketball player gets in trouble.

I could talk about untimely injuries and all sorts of admission matters that impact hoops recruitment (like the Charles Mitchell situation), but you get the point.  Every year, it's something.

That's how life goes when you're snakebit.