Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate 2017 Preview: Irrelevant Forces Collide

Georgia hosts Georgia Tech at Stegeman Coliseum in a rivalry that has lost its luster.

Basketball in the State of Georgia has been at a low point.  Georgia and Georgia Tech have struggled for relevance in the past decade, but it is not because they are mystically cursed.  Priorities at both institutions differ, but they have one thing in common – Men’s Basketball is irrelevant.  Georgia Tech is merely fielding teams to stay a nationally relevant brand that justifies its own scale and remain on the tip of the general public’s tongues.  Georgia is evidently fielding a Men’s Basketball program because they have to do so in order to field a Football Team in accordance to the demands of the Southeastern Conference.  This is just the cold hard reality as Georgia and Georgia Tech meet once again in a game of diminished importance.

A Rivalry that has lost meaning and identity

Clean, Old Fashioned Hate used to mean something in all sports and even between the two campuses.  It just means less now than ever.  There was a time when Georgia and Georgia Tech would compete for the same recruits and the teams would know each other well, but now there is greater unfamiliarity than ever.  Georgia and Georgia Tech students come from different places too despite the fact that there are a good number of students who went to school together in the Atlanta suburbs.  There was a time when the sorting of students created animosities and the vast differences between the institutions fostered rivalries, but now the differences are fewer and the academic gap between UGA and the Georgia Institute of Technology is shrinking.  It’s a different paradigm as both schools have changed.

#THWGT and #THWG used to mean something for each program and now it is just saved for a few days before a game in November.  It is truly just another game for both programs.  It’s something for older generations to hang onto as more UGA and Georgia Tech intermixing happens, those who attended Georgia Tech for undergrad are earning graduate degrees from UGA and vice versa.  Reputation, demographics and priorities have changed.  The stereotypes that each school plays off in jest went from being based in fact to outmoded and inaccurate.  The “Farm Boys and Blonde Sorority Girls Who Don’t Know How To Read” saw is no longer applicable as UGA made great pains to improve academically in the past two decades.  The “Nerds and The Ratio” saw holds true to an extent, but it reeks of hypocrisy as UGA is as “nerdy” as ever and has an Engineering School now.  The Georgia Tech Male/Female Ratio still is unbalanced (63/37), but the presence of Georgia State University right nearby neutralizes things a bit.

Most of the in-state students who attended UGA more than 20 years ago (they are now alumni) would be attending Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State, Valdosta State or the University of Alabama now.  It’s a very different world and in many ways the rivalry between Georgia and Georgia Tech is antiquated.  It’s a game between the two magnet schools of the State of Georgia.  Georgia Tech is trying to compete with Stanford and MIT while maintaining a global profile.  UGA is trying to compete with the University of Virginia, University of Florida and University of Michigan.  In some ways, it is a rivalry between an aspiring research and technology institution and an aspirational country club for the elite of the Atlanta suburbs.  Not exactly differences that make things heated.  The class, professional, geographical and educational warfare disparities do not exist like they did more than two decades ago.

But hey…

College Basketball means very little in the State of Georgia

According to a Wallet Hub published study in March 2017, the State of Georgia is among the states with the least College Basketball friendly environments.  Among SEC College Towns, Athens is the least College Basketball friendly.  Among Power 5 (programs that have College Football Playoff eligible programs) programs, Athens is the third most College Basketball unfriendly city.  Only Lincoln, Nebraska and Minneapolis, Minnesota are worse.

Source: WalletHub

Among large cities, Atlanta is 48th out of 55 cities in terms of being the Best College Basketball City.  Among medium-sized cities, Athens is 68th out of 77 cities.

That hostile attitude toward Basketball in the State of Georgia makes it even easier for out-of-state schools to come into Atlanta and recruit.  Recruits staying in-state would be fools if their decision was based on how much people cared about what they did on the basketball court.

Georgia and Georgia Tech Basketball have a common rival:  Irrelevance.

Georgia-Georgia Tech Recruiting Rivalry has been quiet.

From the Georgia roster, these are the student-athletes that were offered by Georgia Tech:

  • Turtle Jackson
  • Rayshaun Hammonds

From the Georgia Tech roster, these are the student-athletes that were offered by Georgia:

  • Tadric Jackson

Georgia and Georgia Tech have not had any recruiting battles over the years.  If the guys know each other, it is from AAU Basketball and randomly running into each other.  It is not like the days when Paul Hewitt, Oliver Purnell and Dennis Felton used to fight over talent.

Recruiting has been nationalized and Atlanta has become a place for coaches to find talent just like New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Baltimore, Washington and Detroit.  The country has become smaller as families and individuals move from place-to-place more than ever.  Technology has rendered shibboleths and exclusive local traditions obsolete.  The only localization in demand is localized governance over national and supranational fiats and whims.  Otherwise, borders mean very little and as Thomas Friedman puts it “The World is Flat”.  Locations have less meaning and significance with technological progress and the differences are only cultural, which are being disrupted as well.  Denying that this is happening is simply pretending that Xennials and Millennials do not exist and the 21st Century is merely a figment of one’s imagination.  However, many people do not seem to realize that they are doing this and want to go back to a so-called simpler time.  It’s the era of Adapt or Die.

A Look at the North Avenue Trade School 

Georgia Tech had a rough first eight games starting off 4-4 with losses at Wofford and at home against Grambling State.  Now, Georgia Tech is a bit different because they got Josh Okogie back.  Okogie is easily their best player on offense and the case can also be made on defense.

With Okogie and without Okogie, Georgia Tech is a very different team and it is hard to know what exactly to expect because their only game with Okogie this season was against Florida A&M.  However, the style of play should remain the same for the North Avenue Trade School.

Josh Pastner throws multiple defenses at opponents and runs the Dribble Drive Motion Offense.  This philosophy has not changed and with Okogie’s return it may allow Pastner to be more aggressive.

Pastner’s defensive tendencies from last season will not change, which means Georgia and other opponents should see a healthy dose of the following in every game.

  • Junk Defenses:  Pastner likes to use Triangle and Two, but he may be tempted to Box and One with Maten.
  • 1-3-1 Zone Defense:  This defense is getting more use from many teams and it is a good warm-up for Ole Miss.  Georgia Tech and Ole Miss like to use an extended 1-3-1 Zone to force turnovers and slow opponents from get into any Half Court Offense.
  • Pressure Man-to-Man Defense:  It would not be a surprise for Pastner to call for his defense to overplay knowing that Georgia’s players will not make strong cuts, backdoor cuts or make any sort of a deviation from the designed sets.
  • 2-2-1 Zone Press:  This can be transitioned into 2-3 Zone or Man-to-Man Defense.  Pastner wants Georgia to play tight and this is a look he used last season.

With Okogie, Georgia Tech is a better three point shooting team.  However, Tadric Jackson is Georgia Tech’s Juwan Parker, he’s a terrible three point shooter.  Jackson has the green light and opponents should play off him on the perimeter and discourage him from attacking the basket.

Unfortunately for Georgia, Georgia Tech has strong three point shooters in Okogie, Alvarado, Haywood and Alston.  This makes the matchup rather challenging since Georgia Tech’s shooters also know to make the aggressive cuts to the basket.   The Dribble Drive Motion Offense encourages backdoor cuts and cuts to the basket along with attacking the basket off the dribble to set up shots at the rim and open rhythm three pointers.  Spacing is critical.

Georgia Tech plays typically 9 Deep, but they are a perimeter-oriented team with only one effective post presence, Ben Lammers.  Lammers is a force on both ends of the floor and he has done a good job of defending without fouling.

Georgia Tech is among the slowest paced teams in the country with an adjusted tempo of 65 possessions per game (334th in the country).  This is a by-product of their defensive style of play that is meant to stifle opponents and force them to use up the shot clock.

Florida A&M was pressing against Georgia Tech to test Jose Alvarado and they failed miserably in their effort.  Georgia Tech was able to keep up a relatively swift pace, but this may not necessarily be an indication of things to come as far as pace of play.

Update 10 PM EST on December 18, 2017Tadric Jackson and Curtis Haywood II have been declared OUT for the Georgia game by Head Coach Josh Pastner.  This is the downside of writing articles two days prior, but it does not change the prediction of this game.

Georgia is Georgia

Georgia’s defensive efforts have been dismal as the team struggles in the Man-to-Man Defense with dribble drivers and fails to have specific approaches for each opponent.  Offensively, 70% of the offense is the same two sequence sets with very limited possibilities off them.  Figure out those two sequence sets and time them out to beat Georgia, it’s like an NES game.  Nobody can make that offense work.  Playing Tyree Crump for 40 minutes will not change that offense.

And no, the offense is not stand around and do nothing until the shot clock reads 10 either… there’s a lot of stupidity and screaming at the sky on message boards.  The only way to beat the idea of the offensive woes being a personnel issue is to just keep showing the Half Court Offense.  Once you see it enough times, you’ll see it in the game and it will become very repetitive and obvious.  You will understand quickly why it does not work and how easily it can be stopped.

The idea that Georgia needs more shooters on the floor to provide more spacing goes away since there are clear terminal points and players taken out of the equation from the outset.  It’s extremely limiting.

You can read it all right here (just scroll down to the second half of that article) and then stop building castles in the sky with the lineup possibilities.  Lineup possibilities and rotations are a NON-STARTER when considering the extreme limitations of the offense.  The idea of “letting them play” would be to implement a Motion Offense and that takes things out of Mark Fox’s hands, he’s a micromanager.  Want to let them play?  Take Mark Fox out of the equation because he is not going to change, he’s been given nine seasons and that’s considered an approval by those in power.

However, until the offense changes drastically in style… ROTATIONS AND LINEUPS DO NOT MATTER.

This roster would thrive running a Positionless or Semi-Positionless, Dribble Drive Motion Offense.  This roster would thrive using at least three different full court press and trap looks.  This roster would thrive using a 1-3-1 Defense with Jordan Harris serving as the Warrior and with Rayshaun Hammonds, Nic Claxton, E’Torrion Wilridge or even Teshaun Hightower up at the the top of the key.  Georgia can play Man-to-Man as long as the scouting reports are well done.  Georgia can run a 1-1-3 Zone Defense like the way Scott Drew’s Baylor teams do.  In fact, from a roster perspective there are a good number of similarities between Georgia and Baylor.  However, Baylor is a perennial NCAA Tournament team that fills the Ferrell Center and Georgia is an NIT mainstay that needs to trot out the Georgia Football Team in order to enhance the attendance of a game against an in-state arch-rival.

Update 10:41 PM EST on December 18:  Mark Fox told a very hard and ugly truth.  Oh boy.  Talk about your unfiltered moments, since when is Mark Fox getting his talking points from this publication.  In fact, some of things he said about this game seemed to have a lot in common with what is said in this article, which is weird.  Does Mark Fox actually read Georgia Basketball Blog?  No, let’s just refuse to acknowledge that possibility.  Granted, recruits seem to have been told not to link to this publication by the staff.  Thanks Amanze for linking to us!

Courtesy of Bulldogs Live with Coach Fox on December 18, 2017.  Sound Byte 1… Go!

What to Expect?

Georgia’s woes defending the perimeter and the dribble drive continue.  Georgia will lose the rebounding battle and play like they have the past two games.  Josh Pastner’s game plan will be reminiscent of the USC-Upstate and UMass approach.  Mark Fox will treat Georgia Tech like any other opponent and his disappointment in his team will continue.

Tech will hit their threes, play more physical than Georgia, deny the High Post and shorten Georgia’s Half Court Offense with presses and traps that make the Dawgs uncomfortable.  Georgia will try to jump shoot their way out of this one and it will not work out.  Georgia Tech may have some horrible losses on their schedule, but they’ll have a better game plan.  Georgia will continue to struggle with dribble penetration and leave wide open threes to compensate.  Tadric Jackson will be defended wrong and Georgia Tech will backdoor Juwan Parker early with Josh Okogie.  It is going to be ugly as Mark Fox will try to go 2-3 Matchup Zone and encounter the same problems as Man-to-Man with the exception of the cuts.   This roster has not been taught the 2-3 Matchup Zone very well by Mark Fox and it is a product of his disdain for the defense.

The team with the better game plan wins the game.  The team with the better preparation wins the game.  This will be a low-scoring game as Georgia Tech claims revenge for last season’s humiliation.

In the grand scheme of things within the State of Georgia… “a Men’s Basketball Game was played between Georgia and Georgia Tech?  They still play that shooty hoops game for sissies?”

It’s like “Who’s Line is It Anyway?”, the points don’t matter.

 

Prediction:  North Avenue Trade School 71  Georgia 59

One comment

  1. I didn’t realize Okogie was back for Tech. The main reason I had hoped for a win was due to his absence. We can always hope that all of GT’s players will forget how to play basketball for 40 minutes like they did in Atlanta last year. Seriously, that performance by GT against us last year was one of the worst I’ve ever seen by a college basketball team. Mark Fox would have you think our incredible defense won the day…yeah, right. In any case, it’s hard to imagine Pastner going 0-2 against Fox. Hell, even Brian Gregory owned Fox, even though he couldn’t beat anybody else.

    These next two games at home vs GT and Temple are huge if UGA wants to hold out any hope of having a somewhat respectable record in conference. Maybe we can drag them both down to our level.

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