Georgia at Cal State-Fullerton Preview: Dawgs in Orange County

Georgia visits Titan Gym for three games and starts off with Cal State-Fullerton.

Georgia comes into this first road game of the season with Cal State-Fullerton looking for an identity.  Once can argue that Georgia Basketball over the past nine years really has not had much of an identity and has seemed to just exist.  However, Mark Fox has sold recruits in four recruiting classes (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018) on a particular identity of what Georgia Basketball is supposed to be.  Georgia sold versatility, flexibility and the idea that Shooting Guards can become Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Think about that for a moment.

Step away from the screen or if on an airplane, take a longer than normal swig of Woodford Reserve (for our Delta flyers), Dewar’s (for our United flyers), and anything to make you forget the regrettable transportation decision (for our American Airlines flyers).

Has this really materialized?  The offense has not changed.  The defense is still the same.  The pace of play has stayed relatively constant.  It is just that the talent operating it all has improved every season.  The teams are longer, more athletic and have greater skill as time has progressed.  This affords greater depth and a reconsideration of the style of play, perhaps delivering what has been promised on the recruiting trail.  This is asking too much.  It would be like a politician holding to their promises on the campaign trail.

The dirty secret is out.  Let this team shoot threes and do not concede the restricted arc.  Packing the lanes is strangely optional since defenders can defend below the three point line because the threes will be taken regardless.  Georgia is much better in the mid-range thus far than last season.

Georgia’s shots in the non-money zone areas have been thus far from 9.77 feet on average.  29 of the shots came from within 9 feet and the team is shooting 44.8% from the restricted arc to 9 feet away from the basket.  From 10 feet away to the three point line, the team shoots 34.8%.  Juwan Parker has attempted the most of the least optimized shots on the floor for the Dawgs, he’s 1 for 5 in this area.  Surprisingly, from the restricted arc to 9 feet away, Yante Maten has only been 3 of 8 this season.  Rayshaun Hammonds has been perfect within 9 feet of the basket this season.

In the mid-range, Georgia is letting opponents shoot it on average from 10.74 feet.  23 out of 57 of these shots have been in the least ideal part of the non-money zone.  12 out of 34 (35.3%) shots were made by opponents from the restricted arc to 10 feet away from the basket and 8 out of 23 shots (34.78%) were made between 10 and 20 feet away from the basket.  It has made no difference where the shots were attempted against Georgia in the non-money zones.

Georgia’s average three point attempt has been 24.33 feet from the basket.  Made baskets were 24.11 feet from the basket on average, missed baskets were 24.42 feet from the basket, it really has not made much of a difference.

Opponents’ average three point attempt has been from 24.54 feet from the basket.  Made baskets and missed baskets had a negligible difference just like Georgia.

Georgia averages 18.67 turnovers per game, which is good enough for 335th in the nation.  In 21.3% of offensive plays, Georgia commits a turnover.  The Georgia Offense is stilted and dreadful, opposing defenses are getting a lot of help from Mark Fox’s team.

Georgia’s turnovers broken down by classification

  • 10.7% are Bad Passes which end up out-of-bounds
  • 53.6% are live ball turnovers
  • 3.6% are from stepping out of bounds with the ball
  • 16.1% are from traveling violations
  • 14.3% are from offensive fouls
  • 1.8% are shot clock violations

Georgia’s opponents collect 10 live ball turnovers per game, which is simply unacceptable.  It’s made even worse when there is a realization that the opposition were considered the cupcakes of the schedule.  There should be greater familiarity in terms of chemistry, but the predictability and rigidness of the sequence of events has contributed significantly to the problems.

It is a good thing that opponents missed their three point attempts because Georgia would be 1-2 at this point in the season.

Mark Fox has been unhappy with the way the team has performed and the way he has coached his team.  There has been plenty of time to build familiarity.  It is not like this team has been pieced together and is playing together for the first time like Kentucky.  This is a team with many returning players.

As good as Yante Maten has been, he’s a turnover machine this season.  It was not as bad last season, but double teams at both posts have been a problem for him.  Mark Fox has implored him to be more aggressive and while it has resulted positively in many ways, it means more turnovers because he is emphasized even more.  Maten has had 7 live ball turnovers, 2 offensive fouls and 2 traveling violations.  Maten tries to do too much as a scorer and his teammates are not helping him because they are feeding him the ball at inappropriate times.

The Wilridge-to-Maten post feed is now being denied, but Wilridge has no choice but to give Maten the ball.  Wilridge wants to stay on the court and he’s going to do what he is told even if it results poorly.  Wilridge probably needed a fresh start and it was a surprise that he did not transfer because Mark Fox took away his confidence and ability to thrive.  Fox’s toying with Wilridge in his Freshman season was irresponsible and wrong, the repercussions are still seen.  Even when Wilridge has the green light in the sequence to shoot, the shot comes off unusually off his hands.  When Wilridge is anxious and takes any shot, watch his hands and it will become evident as to whether the shot goes in.  An aware Wilridge on offense is a liability, but on those rare occasions when Wilridge forgets about Fox’s presence, he’s dangerous and he also gets yanked by Fox.  It’s easy to know when Wilridge is anxious/nervous and shooting, his hand will not come into direct pitch with the ball.  The shot will come off the sides of his shooting hand rather than the balanced center.

Wilridge and Tyree Crump are the two most obvious cases of Fox’s misdiagnosis of skill sets, mishandling of talent and psychological missteps.

On-lookers may think Wilridge is not athletic or talented when this is not the case.  Mark Fox mentally destroyed a former “Top 100” talent and now he has to bring Wilridge back to a more confident place because this looks bad.  The only good news is that Marcus Thornton went through similar circumstances in Athens.  Thornton dealt with mononucleosis, knee injuries and mispositioning to being on the Stegeman Coliseum mural.  When does Fox build Wilridge back up?

There are a lot of storylines to watch in this first road game and reaction to terrible performances at Stegeman Coliseum.  Let Mark Fox describe some of them.

“Tyree didn’t shoot it well. He could’ve taken two steps in on every shot. He’s gotta put himself in better position. But I thought we played very impatiently offensively. And a little bit soft offensively.”

“Yante had seven of [the turnovers] and Derek had three in the first half alone.”

“So maybe he’s [Jordan Harris] starting to grow up. I thought he made a couple big plays, a couple of big free throws…It was good to have him back.”

“We took terrible care of the basketball, and I don’t think we will leave here pleased with anything”

Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph actually made this observation, which is an interesting coincidence considering how this team has a lot in common with the 2012-13 Georgia Basketball Team.

If history is a guide, it does not work out well and this Georgia team is involved in many drama-filled and controversial games in the second half of the SEC schedule.

Is this bizarre Instagram post an omen?

Is this Mark Fox’s Walley World moment?  Nobody goes out of their way to walk to an ordinary parking lot during the daytime.

What about Cal State-Fullerton?

This is a very young team.  Jackson Rowe is really carrying the team and he’s going to be dwarfed out there.  Rowe did not play in their last game against Bethesda University, which happens to be their only win of the season.  Cal State Fullerton was doubled up by USC at the Galen Center and had a 19 point loss in Moraga against Saint Mary’s, the favorite to win the Wooden Legacy.

Cal State-Fullerton is the second worst three point shooting team in the country stroking it at 20% from three point range.  Head Coach Dedrique Taylor is having a rough start, but it was expected.  His team also is the worst Free Throw shooting team in the country.  Georgia is getting the opponent they need.

This is a relatively undersized and inexperienced team against a long, physical Georgia team.  Expecting Cal State-Fullerton to win out on the glass and interior would be foolish, but preseason tournaments and Georgia Basketball do not seem to mesh.

There are obvious similarities between the two squads.

Both teams can rebound, draw fouls, turn the ball over constantly, miss Free Throws and 3 point shots and have been fortunate enough to have opponents who miss three pointers frequently.

What to Expect

It’s going to be an offensive spectacle, well offensive in the terms of requiring eye bleach.  This game should set back the game of Basketball and be a tight, low scoring game until the Free Throws kick in at the end to inflate the score.  Georgia has experience, but little maturity and mettle.  Expect a lot of turnovers on both sides and missed shots.  Georgia will not play as deep, but the difference will come down to second chance points and Rayshaun Hammonds will come through to deliver this win.

Lots of questions going into the next game against presumably San Diego State.  The late start time will factor into how the team plays as well.  Readers who think that possibly this game will provide any new clues as to the identity of this team will be mistaken.  More questions than ever.

The expectation for this team is to get to the Finals and lose to a more skilled, better coached and schemed Saint Mary’s team.  Anything less would be a massive disappointment.  If Saint Mary’s does not make the Finals, Georgia has to win this tournament or else it will be a massive disaster for the RPI.

Prediction:  Georgia 65  Cal State-Fullerton 61

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