Friday, December 2, 2016

Substitution Patterns ("Redicalice", Part Deux)

I still don't care for the Mark Fox substitution patterns.

My concern isn't that Mark Fox believes in substitutions.  All good teams rely on their bench.  Happens all the time in the NBA, and subbing is totally appropriate in college for a coach trying to build his bench by giving reserves some playing time.

The biggest issue for me is the timing.

Let the starters play at least the first quarter (the first half of the first half), unless there is some clear reason not to do so, such as foul trouble.

I particularly dislike the Fox excuses.  Last year against Vanderbilt, he said that the gym was hot.

The contest at Vandy was definitely a winnable game.  However, we needed both of our 6' 8" twin towers (Ogbeide and Maten) to offset their close to seven-foot ones (Kornet and Jones).  The way Derek Ogbeide started off the game, UGA had a good chance at success.  He muscled their guys and got UGA going early.

However, when Houston Kessler came in (and when Fox subbed out Charles Mann for Kenny Paul Geno), our offensive effectiveness went down, and Damian Jones went into "beast mode", ripping down rebounds and scoring around the basket.  Houston Kessler can be an okay match-up for some players, but whatever advantage Georgia had initially, rapidly evaporated when Kessler faced the Vandy bigs.

In a February 2016 article entitled, "Substitution Strategy Backfires on Mark Fox", the ABH reported:

"Freshman Derek Ogbeide did everything right to start Georgia's game at Vanderbilt Saturday. 
He won the opening tip, scored a basket and blocked a shot. It was a breakout moment in what could have been a signature game. 
But the great start abruptly ended. 
Georgia coach Mark Fox said after the game he thought Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium felt hot and worry crept in about fatigue.
So Fox subbed Ogbeide out less than two minutes into the game.
Vandy went on a 10-0 run with Ogbeide on the bench and Georgia (14-11, 7-7) never led again. Fox’s flurry of early substitutions backfired.
“I wanted our team to be fresh," Fox said. "I thought it was hot in the gym and we wanted to keep our team as fresh as we could."

Some Blog readers may remember my "Redicalice" post from last year.  In that article, I argued that to say the gym was hot didn't make sense at all, especially since the Vandy players stayed in for long stretches.  Besides, Fox subbed Ogbeide out for Kessler after about two minutes in nearly EVERY game.
Had nothing to do with heat.  
Without the heat excuse, however, basketball fans would then wonder why in the world Fox kept using an Ogbeide-for-Kessler substitution pattern, given the talent drop-off defensively.  
If Fox just likes having Houston Kessler as a sort of "co-starter" with Ogbeide, then he should admit it, and say it is his prerogative as the head coach.  Wouldn't make any sense, but Fox is the coach.
Well, we're a deeper team this season, and in a way, I actually want Fox to substitute more.  Again, not at the very beginning of the game.  However, if Turtle Jackson and Juwan Parker are the starters at the point guard and on the wing, I think Fox should use his bench strategically so that freshmen Tyree Crump and Jordan Harris, who are more talented offensively, get more playing time.  
As for Ogbeide, leave him alone.  Fox should let him stay in for more than 2 or 3 minutes to begin the game.
To fail to do so would be redicalice (part deux). 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

More on Recruiting (Isaiah Miller)

Since we have more scholarships to fill and at least one should go to a point guard, UGA should bring on Isaiah Miller.

Sure, as I said in my last post, I would have loved to successfully recruit a 5-star guard like Collin Sexton.  But if Sexton is bound and determined to go to Alabama, Georgia has to move on.  And if we land with Isaiah Miller, I say, "great recovery!"

Miller is a right-handed J.J. Frazier with bounce.  Fastest guy on the court, willing defender (averaged 25 points with 4 steals and 1 block per game last year), and someone who can surprise with scoring ability.  Has some "Allen Iverson" to his game.

Saw somewhere that Miller is 6' 2".  A tad generous, perhaps, but whatever his height, he is definitely an above-the-rim athlete.  Guy had 15 points with 5 dunks in Covington's season-opening victory over AAAA #1-ranked Henry County.  Miller scored 29 points with 7 rebounds in a104 to 71 blowout win over last year's AAAA state champ, Liberty County (including their D-1 ranked backcourt of Will Richardson and Auburn signee Davion Mitchell), and notched 22 against Berkmar.

At the present time, Miller is not ranked nationally by any of the recruiting services.  I suppose that the various evaluation teams consider him under-sized.  Well, my eyes say that he's a player.

Jonas, if the guy has the grades to be recruited, get him committed now before everyone else catches on.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Recruiting Frustrations

How in the world does Avery Johnson come in and assemble a top 5 recruiting class?  How does he invade the state of Georgia and recruit away Collin Sexton, a 5-star guard?  Keep in mind that Johnson has been at Alabama a little more than a year.

I guess I don't mind it so much if Duke or Kentucky out-recruits UGA, but when Alabama does it, there's big-time cause for concern.  Alabama had the same needs as UGA, about the same number of scholarships available for the 2017 class, and is a football school located in a small college town.

Very, very frustrating, especially since SEC foes Kentucky, Alabama, and Auburn have classes ranked numbers 1, 4 and 7, respectively.  Kentucky, I suppose, is a special case.  If so, what do Auburn and Alabama have that UGA doesn't?  We can say that Johnson is a former NBA coach, and therefore has an advantage over Georgia.  However, there are 6 SEC teams in the top 30 recruiting classes for next year.  What do any of them have that we don't?

At some point, we've got to start recruiting better.  The old excuses that "everybody else cheats", or that "they accept students that UGA never would", or worse, that "UGA has never recruited well"--  those arguments sound pathetic after a while.

Georgia Tech, still finding its way after the firing of Brian Gregory and the hiring of Josh Pastner, drew a blank.  They didn't get any of the top-ranked players in Georgia for 2017.  Perfect time for UGA to capitalize with a dream team of four or five studs.  Didn't happen.  Make no mistake, Pastner is an elite recruiter.  He'll get his share of the top players in future classes.

My frustration with Georgia recruiting rose as I saw Collin Sexton pour in 39 points against IMG Academy, which has to be one of the top three or four basketball programs in the country.  Sexton showed off an amazing all-around game.  Takes it strong to the basket, shoots well off the bounce, automatic from the free throw line.

Given that J.J. Frazier is graduating this year, Sexton is just what a scoring-challenged team like Georgia needs.  Instead of successfully recruiting him to the home state flagship university, our coaches lose Sexton to Alabama.  Ughh.

Georgia can still recover and bring in some talented players.  We have two, and possibly, three more scholarships to offer.  There are still a number of the top 150-ranked players who have not committed.
How many fans believe that Georgia will get any of the top-ranked guys?  I hope that Coach Fox proves me wrong, but as far as I know, Georgia is not in the running for any of them.

The early signing period is done, and while I'm fairly pleased with Hammonds and Claxton, I would love for UGA to assemble a complete class early in the year.  Unfortunately, UGA will once again have to see who is available in the spring.

Of course, we might strike gold like we did with Yante Maten.  But the truth is that we can also strike out, like we have done more than once in the Fox tenure.

Finding a diamond in the rough is a whole lot harder than finding one in the jewelry store.  Unfortunately, Georgia went to Zales, Shane Company, Jared's, and Kay, and while other SEC teams have their designs and ensembles complete, with bling to show off at the holiday parties, spring will once again find UGA out prospecting.

Can't we do better?