Dawgs’ Old Bugaboos Return in 68-56 Loss to Missouri

The miasma from the 2nd Half against Alabama carried over into this performance against Missouri.

All of the familiar problems that have plagued this Georgia team outside of handling the press came back to haunt the team.  There must be some mixed messaging or even a desire to play this style of Basketball from Mark Fox.  The defensive energy appeared in the First Half, but the offense throughout the game was an abomination.  The offensive effort carried over to the defense and it just spiraled.  The Dawgs neutered themselves tonight.

Those good feelings and NCAA Tournament talk of 10 and 11 seeds in Athens can go away now.  When Georgia is capable of playing this poorly on the offensive end for three straight halves and in five out of eight halves in SEC play, it is cause for concern.

Insecurity

Mark Fox is an insecure coach who cannot trust his talent and he seems to believe that they are not on the same level as their opposition in just about every game.  The reins have been tightened during the SEC schedule on the offensive end and there’s no better example of it than tonight.  Fox was looking to slow the tempo down to a 58 possession game.  Teams either look to slow the game down deliberately on the offensive end for the following reasons:

  1. Perceived or real talent differential.
  2. Incredibly set-oriented offense like a Princeton Offense, Wisconsin Swing or Virginia Mover-Blocker where there is continuity.
  3. Opponent plays at an extremely fast pace.
  4. Salting away the clock with the lead.

Georgia does not run continuity sets, the team runs a pair of 15 second sequences that when busted turn into pick-and-roll opportunities with under 8 on the shot clock.  Georgia runs these two man-to-man sets/sequences around 70-80% of the time, figure them out and all an opponent has to do is prevent the Dawgs from getting an effective shot off a 2 man game on the weak side.

Georgia was running false action in the first 4-5 seconds of the half court possession and passing along the perimeter just to burn time against one of the SLOWEST paced teams in the country.  It was pretty damn obvious and it set up some horrible passes and easy fast break points for the Missouri Tigers.

Mark Fox does not think much of his talent if he’s going to do this for three straight halves of Basketball.  He ran over his team concerning their Second Half against Alabama and then proceeds to make this happen.  Is this really the talent doing this to Fox and not the other way around?

Throw out talent, lineups and chemistry from the conversation.  If Fox’s idea of good offensive Basketball is to run the same two sets at a slow pace like the team has some sort of a compulsive disorder, that’s going to haunt this team.  The sad part is that the team is clearly not handling it well because they are getting worse, not better on this end of the floor.  Those half-assed screens and cuts are the team’s responses to how they are “supposed” to play.

There’s no natural movement without the ball, it is why Georgia historically is terrible when it comes to Assist-to-Turnover Ratio.  The defense gets its cues from the offense and if the team is being deliberate, the defense will be passive.  Georgia has to be aggressive on both ends and that means attacking off the dribble.

Dropped passes and rebounds are far too common for this Georgia Basketball Team.  There’s no toughness with the ball and this messes with the team’s mindset when running any ball screen action.  If Mike Edwards is not going to be able to cleanly catch a pass or rebound, he serves no purpose on the floor.  Wrap passes and pop passes are absolutely needed to give the second threat off the ball screen.

Edwards’ screens were an abomination tonight, he was whiffing on screens and not helping Turtle Jackson when he was hounded by Jordan Geist.  Good screening is critical and Edwards was not the only one botching up screens, but he whiffed on every screen he had tonight.  What you do after a ball screen also matters and there was no movement nor urgency to fade/roll/curl/set a second screen.  None.  It was impotent movement without the ball that is indicative of a team that is handcuffed by a system that allows them to play as a team on defense, but not on offense.

Mark Fox is afraid of his team doing anything that is off-script.  That’s the lesson to take away.  Secondary break and transition offense are like cheating because the offense did not earn the points through the set.  This is a Roy Williams disciple.  Mark Fox apparently learned nothing from his time as a Graduate Assistant at Kansas.  Stifling the secondary break and not taking advantage of Missouri’s big guys being out of position after a stop is unacceptable.  Three times did Georgia go out and run and they got points out of it.

If this is not what Mark Fox wants his team to do, he has to make that clear.  Otherwise, this will rear its head again.  Georgia took only 5 Free Throws in this game, which is antithetical to the success of this team.

The Bugaboos Return

Georgia’s struggle with Baseline Out-of-Bounds (BLOB) situations continued tonight.  Wide open threes and easy buckets at the rim were the result.  How does a 2-3 Zone in a BLOB result in a wide-open three for Kassius Robertson out on the corner?  How is that even possible?

Georgia’s 2-3 Matchup Zone is not the strength of this team and Fox was having plenty of defensive success with the Man-to-Man in the First Half.  Yet, Fox went 2-3 Matchup Zone against a team that could shoot like Missouri.  Good 2-3 Matchup Zone Teams play with tenacity and are disruptive, Georgia looked lazy like they were taking a smoke break from the usual Man-to-Man Defense.

Is the 2-3 Matchup Zone the right zone defense for this team??  Every season has a different team, which means that every team will have their strengths, weaknesses and styles that work best for them.  Syracuse can play 2-3 Zone with every team that they have because Jim Boeheim recruits guys to fit his system.  Mark Fox brings in guys to play his Man-to-Man Defense and he believes that the 2-3 Matchup Zone works best as a secondary defense.  He’s been of this mindset for the last four seasons, he’s used 1-2-2 Matchup Zone and a quirky 2-1-2 Zone that allowed Travis Leslie to play as a rover.  Whatever it is, it’s too late now to change things.

Missouri had a 33.33% offensive rebounding win rate, which is appalling.  Georgia’s effort against Alabama on the glass was strong, but tonight was back to the same way they were playing against an undersized Ole Miss team that was playing 1-3-1 and 2-3 zone for much of that game.

There’s nothing redeeming to take away from tonight.

The reward for this loss is the ability for these players to potentially wear a protective mask or flak jacket after a bruiser of a game against Frank Martin’s South Carolina Gamecocks.

It was a shameful effort and there are no excuses for it.  This is Basketball, not a Dance Class.  #CutTheChoreography

4 comments

  1. I should know not to get my hopes up with Mark Fox at the helm. To continue to have these types of performances a decade into a coach’s tenure shows that he is who he is – the boring style isn’t going to change and we’re never going to win ant truly meaningful games. We never even should up last night in a very meaningful and winnable game. Mizzou played down to out level for a little more than a half (both team’s were 9 for 32 from the field early in the 2nd half). Mizzou finally woke up and went on one run to take the lead and it was game over. We got punched in the mouth and the passive, insecure Mark Fox’s just curled up in the fetal position, sucked their thumbs and cried “I wanna go home!”. Amazing that we still put up with this after almost an entire decade. Look around the league at what other coaches are doing early in their tenure. They are building something. Does anyone believe we are going to be better next year without Maten?

  2. As long as Fox continues to control the game and not play his BEST MOST TALENTED players he will continue to show us the same. He played some people too long who contributed nothing but mistakes and players contributing to the game would make a shot and miss a shot and back to the bench they would go. I really don’t think he realizes who is and can play and who can’t or either he has favorites and no matter what they do or don’t do they will always be playing and playing alot. I really don’t understand why he has to be so controlling and will not allow them to play fun basketball. ssh.

  3. 12 players rotating in again? Why? Is this middle school, where everyone plays, and losers also get a trophy? If Fox wants to speed it up, run and press, I get it. But with his slog thru the mud offense, all he needs is 7-9 players. Keep 3-4 of your best 5 (starters, sorry ET) on the court at all times, and just rotate in 1, or 2 at the most, to give your best 5 some breathers, and the on court lineups continuity.

    9 seasons and the only improvements and growth Fox has shown as a coach, is to hire better recruiters, that have delivered him better talent. Looks like another 2nd round NIT season to me, unless the SEC gets 7-8 invites.

  4. Maten is clearly a great player but trying to force it in to him every play is an invitation to pretty much pay no attention to anybody else.If Maten is being being doubled or triple teamed someone must be open.Let Hammond or someone else with skills around the basket keep being aggressive. Georgia gets a lot of open looks for jumpers .I realize there are no JJ Fraziers out there anymore but Crump and Harris and especially Jackson can shoot but with every miss they get tighter knowing they will get yanked.Even Steph Curry misses.Let them feel that they can relax.Its has to be better let it fly than to wait till the last second and kick it out of bounds.

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