Saturday, March 28, 2015

Jaylen Brown and Patrick Hamilton

According to the recent AJC article, UGA is still in the running for Jaylen Brown's commitment.

Appreciated the AJC article for two reasons.  Of course because of the Jaylen Brown update.  But also for contacting and getting the opinion of Patrick Hamilton, assistant coach at Wheeler.

Although I try to keep up with a lot of the players from former years, I didn't have any articles on the Blog about Hamilton.  As the AJC reports, Hamilton was a four-year letterman for the Dawgs, and captain of the team in 1989.  He averaged 12.7 points his senior year.

It's good to know that Brown has a person of the quality of Coach Hamilton helping to get him through the recruiting process.  Coach Hamilton is not overbearing with his desire that Brown attend UGA.  I would love to see Brown come to Georgia, but there's a good way to do things, and I think that Coach Hamilton is trying hard to strike the right balance.

We'll see.  I'm not optimistic at this point.  However, Brown may just decide that he's not ready to be out on his own just yet.  It may be good for him to spend a year at Georgia and join the kinds of athletes like Marcus Thornton, who proudly wore the G.

Revisiting the Kentucky Game

As painful as this is, yes, I'm going to go there.

Kentucky is just man-handling teams in the NCAA tournament.  The game against West Virginia was brutal.  Didn't watch it.  Didn't need to.  Knew Kentucky would win in convincing fashion.

Hard to believe that UGA gave Kentucky one of its toughest outs of the year.  Sure, there were the games against other SEC foes.  Sure, Kentucky barely outlasted a couple of teams(LSU and Missouri?), winning late or in overtime.  But neither of those teams were beating Kentucky by 9 points in the second half.

Besides, I don't care about the other teams.

Georgia should have won that game.  The game in Athens.  The game in which we were beating them soundly, and the Kentucky guys looked confused.

We needed a few things to go our way:

1.  Free throws.

Maddening to watch us go 9 of 18 in the most important game of the year.  50 percent!

2.  Balanced Scoring.

By and large, we had it.

3.  Good game by J.J. Frazier

Didn't get it.  He went 2 of 8 from the field, 1 of 5 from behind the arc.  He even missed his two free throw attempts.

4.  Great Game from Our Bigs

Was so proud to see Marcus Thornton, Nemi Djurisic and Yante Maten all shoot 50 percent or better from the floor.  Our three big men each outscored Dakari Johnson and Willie Cauley-Stein.  Nemi played out of his mind.

5.  Take away the Lob Pass

Mission accomplished.  Sure they must have had a couple, but I don't remember any.

6.  Great Coaching by Fox

We had it.  Great game plan.  We bodied their big men and made them shoot over the top.  Slowed the game down.  Made them defend our big men off the dribble.

7.  Win the Turnover Margin

They only had 3 turnovers the entire game.  We had 11.

8.  Get some Home Cooking

Think the refs hurt us more than helped us.

9.  Out-Shoot them from Deep

We went 3 of 17.  They shot 4 of 15.

10.  Be Tough on the Glass

We actually out-rebounded them, 41 to 38.

On the whole, we did what we needed to do.  

Their big man, Towns, was 8 of 12 from the floor.  He was hooking our defensive player with his elbow and shooting the jump hook.  I was practically screaming at the t.v. for Fox to call a double-down to make Towns go to his left.  Every time he bounced the ball, I would have had one of our guards running at him full speed.

In the end, we lost by 8.  We were right there, though.  If we had hit two more three-pointers, just 5 for 17, and shot 70 percent from the line, we would have won.

Woulda, coulda.  I know.  Frustrating.  They'll probably go 40 and 0 and win the whole thing, but we had them.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Georgia is Close

The high water mark for Fox basketball was when he had the athletes.  Doesn't get much better than this.

Fox could put on the floor a point guard who would protect the ball and shoot clutch free throws (Dustin Ware), a shooting guard who defended well and was reliable from deep (Ricky McPhee), a bulky guy with a big butt in the low post (Jeremy Price), a tall athlete at the high post (Trey Thompkins), and a sky-walking small forward (Travis Leslie).

UGA gobbled up rebounds with Thompkins, Price, and Leslie, and we could employ the match-up zone effectively with a long athletic guy at the top of the zone.

The problem is that all the athletes were Felton recruits.  When they left, the cupboard wasn't exactly bare, but it definitely was not well stocked.

Dawg fans have been waiting for the glory days to come back.  Meanwhile, we won the best we could.  Lost games we should have won.  Endured ugly basketball.

Well, guys.  I think Georgia is close.  Given the 2015 signing class and the 2016 commitments, we may be able to mix and match pieces and deploy some guys who will bring the excitement back.

Next year Fox can put on the floor two point guards who will give us some of the contributions that Dustin Ware made.

Charles Mann will be a senior.  With better athletes around him and reduced minutes, he won't have to force the action.  This will cut down on his turnovers and boost his assists.  Mann is a career 69 percent free throw shooter.  If he can improve those numbers to hit 75 to 80 percent, Georgia will close out some games with victories that we previously would have lost.

J.J. Frazier won't have to start, though he might.  He'll man the point whenever Chuck doesn't.  He is a clutch free throw shooter already, averaging 83 percent from the line.  He shoots it well (40 percent) from behind the arc.  He even gets more rebounds, four per game, than you would think.  Don't know how much his wrist injury impacted his shooting late in the season, but if he heals in the off-season and gives us any part of what he delivered against Mississippi State, look out.

At shooting guard will be Kenny Gaines.  Between being sick and the shoulder injury and the ankle injury (did I miss one?), it was amazing that we got as much this year out of Gaines as we did.  A healthy senior class Kenny Gaines will continue to defend well and will find that the shots and drives to the basket come easier for him.

Behind Gaines will likely be combo guard Turtle Jackson.  Jackson is perhaps not the shooter that McPhee was, but when he's on, Turtle can hit it from deep.  Even better, McPhee was primarily a catch and shoot guy, while Jackson can shoot it, take the ball to the rim and finish, or dish it to teammates.

Derek Ogbeide is a more athletic Jeremy Price.  Not as skilled offensively around the bucket, but he has all the tools.  Yante Maten is more skilled, but not as physical as Ogbeide.  Either way, Georgia has some pretty good options at low post.

As for the tall high post?  Yante Maten and E'Torrion Wilridge are our best bets there for now.  Wilridge is not as tall as Trey Thompkins and he doesn't have the range to step out and hit the three, but he will give Georgia good moments.  If Fox seals the deal with Mike Edwards, he would be the perfect candidate to fill the Thompkins role.

What UGA has been lacking is the Travis Leslie-type athlete.  They don't come around every day.  That's why we're close, rather than already there.  Can Yasir Rosemond bring in Jaylen Brown?  If so, then we're there.  If not, then 2015 will have to wait until 2016.  Jordan Harris is a skywalker and defender like Leslie, and a better shooter at the same point.

Georgia is close.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mike Edwards Visits

Jonas Hayes has a pretty good eye for talent.

Yante Maten is a guy that Coach Hayes targeted and successfully brought down to Georgia.  Maten showed this year that he is and will be a very good player for UGA.  He'll need to change his body during the off-season and gain more bounce off the floor, but look for him to make a big jump between his freshman and sophomore years.

Coach Hayes' target this year is Mike Edwards, another post prospect from Michigan.

As Blog readers know, I wasn't very high on Mike Edwards at first.  I didn't get it, and I posted as much.

Was I right and Jonas wrong?  Or was it the other way around?

After thinking about it, I'm glad that Hayes is the recruiter, and I'm the Blogger.  Looking at the videos with a more critical eye, I get it now.  I was thinking of Edwards' ceiling as being like Daniel Miller.  That would be sufficient enough to help the Dawgs.

But thinking about Edwards differently, he has enough pick and pop in his game to fill the role that Trey Thompkins did.  Tall high post, can shoot the 15 to 18-footer, and athletic enough to catch the  back door lob to the rim.

His ceiling isn't Daniel Miller,  It's Al Horford.

Mike Edwards is coming to visit this week.  Although he's an unranked guy, Edwards would be a good get for the Dawgs.  Here's wishing Coach Hayes, Fox and crew well.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Not Surprised by UVA Loss

to Michigan State.

I felt like if Georgia could get by Michigan State, we would beat UVA.

We had a pretty nice set-up to get to the Sweet Sixteen.  For us to win, however, somebody had to hit a few timely shots from outside.  Frazier, Nemi and Gaines weren't difference-makers from deep, so we watch from a distance as Michigan State celebrates.

Georgia would struggle in the tourney against teams with dominant post players.  But if we faced teams that sort of looked like us-- a collection of parts, a power forward playing center, short guards, and no superstar at the 3-position-- then Fox could slow the game down, get to the free throw line with Charles Mann and hopefully win ugly,

Almost worked.