Yante Maten, Juwan Parker and Pape Diatta deserved a better outcome on Senior Night.
The last points Georgia scored was on a Teshaun Hightower Free Throw with 2:28 left in the game. The score was 60-56, all this Georgia team had to do was defend, not allow a second chance opportunity, attack the basket to get to the Free Throw Line and repeat. That did not happen. Poor shots, terrible transition defense, a turnover against the Texas A&M press, a bad switch on a screen and one of the clumsiest final possessions of a game in recent memory. It was a semi-rehash of last season’s debacle in College Station, except there was no clock malfunction only a poorly handed last possession situation with 12.7 seconds left on the clock. There was ample time to get the shot to win this game, but do not be fooled. There were other reasons why Georgia lost.
Content to be slow and intimidated in the First Half
Turnovers were not the culprit in this game for the Dawgs, but rather the shot selection and poor execution around the rim was an issue. The three point attempts were not of the greatest quality and the movement without the ball was poor. There was too much of a desire to play strength against strength with Texas A&M and the posts were not moving as they should. Some of the feeds into the low post should never have been made and the usage of the shot clock resulted in lesser quality shots.
There were a lot of bunnies missed and this was a problem, but some of them were due to efforts to finesse against Texas A&M. Texas A&M’s defensive effort was strong all night, but Georgia’s passive approach and almost too “fundamental” of an approach against the Aggies cost them.
The offense was too set-oriented and clamped down in this First Half. It’s Yante Maten’s Senior Night, but he was not always getting good looks and being willing to play offensively on their terms was difficult to watch. The desire to slow things down on defensive rebounds and walk the ball up the floor rather than push and try to make Texas A&M react to the action on the floor before they were set did more harm than good. Georgia is a team that needs to chop up the game with a lot of Free Throw Attempts, five in the First Half is not acceptable. Georgia is a team that needs at minimum 12 Free Throws in a half and they were taking uncomfortable shots at the rim along with plenty of jump shots.
Not matching Texas A&M’s physicality
Texas A&M outrebounded Georgia and this should not have happened. It was not Tyler Davis, Robert Williams or Tonny Trocha-Morelos causing the issues, the Texas A&M guards were putting in the extra effort and being pests.
Savion Flagg pulled down 6 rebounds, T.J. Starks had 7 rebounds, Admon Gilder has 6 rebounds. It was a clear team effort to grab rebounds and bring the physicality to Georgia for the Aggies. Georgia really did not have that same intensity on the glass. Georgia’s Recruiting Class of 2015 played awful in all stages and really did not bring the necessary physicality to win the game. Derek Ogbeide runs hot and cold and in the Second Half he was a ghost.
The attempted shots in the paint were attempted with zero effort to force the referees to call a foul. A clean game benefits Texas A&M because they do not have their depth tested. A foul-filled game puts Georgia at the advantage because Georgia has the depth to keep going. Georgia cannot win a game based on finesse, this team does not have the offense to do it and the Head Coach does not instill confidence in his players.
Rayshaun Hammonds did not bring the aggressiveness that he had against LSU and struggled to finish shots. Hammonds’ foul situation screwed things up in the First Half, but Hammonds’ passiveness on the offensive end was a step backward.
Turtle Jackson’s unwillingness to drive to the basket really hurt him and he did not get the playing time. Mark Fox needed Teshaun Hightower and Tyree Crump to do the work. Teshaun Hightower was the only one really willing to dare the Aggies to foul him and account for him on offense.
Finish strong and get fouled if you have to do so, but the finesse plays in traffic and bad angles as a result of the directives from Mark Fox are part of why Georgia lost this game.
Hero Ball, Destroying Confidence and Inefficiency
Yante Maten is the SEC Player of the Year and he’s one of the All-Time Greats at the University of Georgia, but it is unfair to tailor the entire offense around him and expect him to do everything. Maten attempted 18 shots from the field and he did not have a great night, but could Maten have been used for more than just a trailer to shoot a three, a High Post weave with an obvious outcome and a force feed along the low post at a bad angle? Yes. There were few efforts to use him on screen and rolls or even use him a decoy to free up driving lanes. Instead, the deliberate pace and labored possessions were built to bolster Maten at the expense of his own team. Yante Maten can only do so much.
Everything circles back to a rigidity and lack of confidence coming from Mark Fox. Mark Fox destroyed his Class of 2015 recruiting class in terms of confidence and development. There’s no question of it. Derek Ogbeide is not the rebounder he once was and he’s extremely hit-or-miss on offense. Turtle Jackson is afraid to dribble drive, his defensive capabilities are questionable and his shooting confidence has waned. E’Torrion Wilridge went from a dynamic, athletic Small Forward with a lot of potential and Mark Fox ruined him in his first season. Mike Edwards is being turned into someone he is not and his performances reflect that. The mistakes Fox made in the 2015-16 Season are now coming to roost as he can fix what he broke. His desire for Hero Ball and dog-housing his Freshmen that season have repercussions.
Fox has convinced Tyree Crump that he’s only a three point shooter when in High School he only attempted 52% of his shots from three point range. Jordan Harris, his best friend, is in purgatory wondering what his future holds.
This current group of Freshmen are special. Nicolas Claxton has versatility, length and excellent instincts. Rayshaun Hammonds is a top talent when he is confident and not finessing his way through games. Isaac Kante sits on the bench wondering what he did to get front row seats to this circus, he’s very talented and he’s being buried. Teshaun Hightower stands out not only because of his high touch position, but because he does things differently and he plays like he’s a Point Guard for a different school and a different coach. Hightower harasses opponents, he attacks at will, blocks off passing lanes and is simply faster than everyone.
Everyone could wonder what could have been. The talent has always been there. The media has not bagged on Fox’s players with the exception of some Football writers/publishers who do not pay attention to this beautiful sport unless it is time for a possible coaching change. The problem is not the media, most think the team has talent, but Mark Fox does not. The success comes in spite of him and the longevity is a result of fear. It’s not a fear of losing, it’s an irrational fear of things being uncovered and so-called “misplaced priorities”. Mark Fox’s role is that of a caretaker, babysitter and cheerleader. He’s not there to be the Head Coach that takes Georgia to their highest heights and have statue on the campus. He’s there to ensure that old cranks and the oligopolists know that an incident like what happened with Jim Harrick does not happen again and the boat is not rocked. Myopic – that’s the current state of Georgia Athletics.
So do we want to win or not? Slow-paced Basketball and antiquated talent development are not the pathway to success. These student-athletes deserve better and the back-handed (and even false) narratives to cover for the problems need to be removed. There should be more effort in improving the program and giving these fine student-athletes the confidence and opportunity to succeed rather than the spinning efforts by those within the UGAA to placate the so-called “moral majority” (or “useful idiots”).
We’re better than this and it is why the “Don’t Hire” and “Hire” articles are written. These articles are pre-emptive strikes to shift discourse and maybe influence someone making a decision (changing minds) because the decision-makers are not people with the best interests of the Georgia Basketball Program or the University of Georgia at heart. In fact, they do not even have the best interests of Georgians at heart, follow the money and political activity.