Youth was served and there was one very clear theme in this win over Missouri.
There were ebbs and flows to this game in St. Louis and the obvious part was that it had everything to do with what Georgia was doing rather than what Missouri was doing. Missouri had no control of this game and they did not deserve to win unless Georgia played in a fashion for much of the game that would hand them the victory. It was not necessarily about personnel, but that was certainly important as Georgia looked like a team that was certainly on equal ground with Missouri as far as talent is concerned. There was a strategic element to the game that made the difference between Georgia going on a run and Missouri holding Georgia off.
The Dribble Drive and Georgia’s Aggression
Without the dribble drive, Georgia loses this game quite handily. The 10-0 run and near six minute drought Georgia went on to start the game had everything to do with Georgia’s tentative nature and unwillingness to use the dribble-drive. Fox wanted the offense to flow from Yante and out in the post, but this was not going to work considering that Missouri was looking to wall off Yante and double him. It resulted in possessions filled with bad shots and turnovers. Turtle Jackson was struggling from three point range, operating the offense and his defense was atrocious. Jackson was pulled and Teshaun Hightower immediately did what he does best – attack.
At first blush, Hightower operating the offense and giving the team a lift with his aggression was why Georgia went on a ridiculous 14 minute run against Missouri in which the Dawgs outscored the Tigers 33-14. However, it became clear that it was not Hightower’s mere presence alone that caused Missouri’s Defense to loosen.
It took an opening of the Second Half where Georgia blew the lead to realize why Georgia was able to hand the game over so easily. Without the dribble drive, the game plan became rather simple since Georgia was going to take jump shots and force the ball into Maten every possession. When Turtle Jackson and Tyree Crump started attacking the basket, it was clear that the approach was the problem rather than the issue being solely a personnel matter.
Yes, Georgia could have blown out Missouri today. It could have been a 20+ point blood bath, but the reticence came back in spurts and Fox wanted to force it into Maten and Ogbeide on the low block rather than move them around off ball screens. Maten’s shots came off second chance points and ball screens, he was not getting it done with his back to the basket.
It reared its head in the final 3:30 of this game with a jump shot and post up oriented offensive approach. The fact that Georgia held on is quite an accomplishment given how the offensive design was so wretched. Without the dribble drive or threat of the dribble drive, it was easy to defend. It’s why Georgia was outscored 3-1 in the final 3:30.
The aggression on offense carried over to the defense, which explains why the runs happened the way they did. The Hero Ball segments were a problem and when Georgia got back to focusing on attacking the defense with all options, the ball movement improved and the Field Goal percentages rose. However, the ball movement as a whole was terrible, 6 assists to 8 turnovers is not something to brag about.
It can be maddening to see the aggressive style of play alternate with the typical offense, as if Fox was spotting himself a lead so that he could play his way.
It’s all about that hubris.
Youth Was Served and the Team Has Plenty of Talent
This team has talent, do not let the Sean Farnhams out there who crap on the talent level of the team get you to think otherwise. Georgia has enough talent to play with anyone, yes that’s right anyone. It has always been about confidence, game planning, freedom and understanding core competencies. Star ratings mean nothing, Yante Maten was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Michigan coming out of High School – he was not some scrub who became somebody. The recruiting media screwed up and they do it often in Men’s Basketball. In fact, all of the players who saw the floor today were heralded players on a national level coming out of High School with the exception of Teshaun Hightower, who was ignored because he went to a post-secondary prep school. The Sean Farnhams out there would just say they are not good enough and that they need a magical coach to make them good, which is nonsense. Trusting the recruiting media to do evaluations and not be transparent about how they come to their conclusions is ridiculous.
Imagine if every Football recruit was a Quarterback. Would it be easy to evaluate them all and rank them? Not really. Quarterbacks make critical decisions and have the ball the majority of the time. In Basketball, a skill sport like Soccer, the game is about decisions, confidence and how to make themselves and teammates play better. This is not a sport where “you only have one responsibility” or the focus can be narrow. The ball can be in your hands, the defender could be yours within a blink of an eye, and what you do without the ball is just as important as what you do with it. The approach must be more holistic and the current method of evaluation is wrong, but the Sean Farnhams of the world prefer to not see it as the recruiting media screwing up – ESPN’s evaluators being wrong in approach and actually ranking in the first place rather than emphasizing fit and stage of development. Not every style works for every player. After all, Daniel Giddens would have been a massive mistake in Athens because his skill set would never have worked out with Mark Fox.
The Freshmen are really good and Tyree Crump has been used all wrong.
- Nicolas Claxton played well on defense and thrived using his versatility and length. His rebounding was incredibly important.
- Rayshaun Hammonds played lockdown defense, he was contesting three point shots and denying driving lanes. He rendered everyone he faced a shooter. Hammonds did not commit a Flagrant Foul on Jontay Porter, that’s just a bad decision by Pat Adams.
- Teshaun Hightower has brought a different vibe to the team. Hightower’s aggressive defense, rebounding and offensive aggression is contagious. Hightower brought the dribble drive back when it was long stashed away after Charles Mann left. Everyone else jumped on board.
- Should it be terribly surprising that Tyree Crump’s success came as a distributor and driver today. Crump’s ability to attack the rim has been suppressed. Crump needs to shot fake and drive. Exclusively making Crump a shooter and having him take 80% of shots from three point range is nonsensical. He’s 32% this season from beyond the arc and was 32.8% last season. He got hot in Spain against tomato cans, time to re-think this as this is wrecking a talented young man.
Winning Without the Extra Effort Points
Georgia lost the extra effort points tonight to Mizzou 24-19, but still overcame it. Georgia needs to deny second chance points for opponents and force points off turnovers. A 69.7% defensive rebounding win rate is not going to get it done in most games.
The pace of play and the turnovers forced by Missouri were due to the micromanaging of the post touches for Maten. The micromanagement and tentative nature of the offense allowed Missouri to play with greater aggression and time out their traps and pressures. It cannot be that easy.
This is a good win, but it leaves a lot of questions as to why Mark Fox went back and forth with his offensive approach or the freedom that he allowed. It’s an inconsistency that leaves a lot of people wondering what if the team was able to play with the same level of aggression, freedom and confidence all season.
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