Georgia may have dominated Bryant, but there were positives and negatives to take away.
Georgia beat an overmatched, undersized Bryant team 79-54 at Stegeman Coliseum and the reaction to this game will likely fall into two camps.
- Those complaining about player performance and rotations.
- Those thinking this team is a National Title Contender.
Both would be wrong. Very wrong. In fact, tonight just confirmed that Georgia has plenty of talent and length. The rotations are actually fine except for the last six minutes, which were squandered. However, the story is the style of play, which is 100% on Mark Fox. The bad news is that there is a case of square pegs being jammed into round holes, the good news is that this is a Film Room article.
To put it simply, if it seems like Georgia’s style of play is to encounter their opponents on defense and offense in the most polite fashion, borderline spiting themselves, it’s not a mirage. It’s really happening and it’s the reason why Georgia Basketball will continue down this same road under Mark Fox.
Tighter “rotations” will not solve this problem, the talent on this team is more than enough to be in the Top 20 in the country. From 1 to 13, this team can play fast, deep, wide open and make opponents quake. As long as this is the style of play, this will never be the case. It’s vanilla basketball with predictable passes and movement.
Bryant did not play zone at all, which is an absolute shock, but their decision to play man-to-man all night is an indication that maybe their staff looked at the scouting report and tried to see if the UGA half court offense would screw up. The answer is ‘yes’, if moving screens, unforced turnovers and shots taken out of rhythm are indicative of anything. Movement without the ball was an absolute mockery and the screen and roll was sad to watch on most possessions. Bryant to their credit, tested the man-to-man offense and did not let Georgia play zone offense which enables the UGA talent to make decisions on their own and read the defense.
No opponent should go zone against Georgia. Going zone against Georgia is begging to lose, even Baylor had to go man-to-man on their home floor to beat Georgia. Press, play man-to-man, and watch some game film on how the scripted sets operate. Lots of opportunities for overplays and uncomfortable double teams. The talent is far better than ever (Top 20 caliber), but the scheme is the same and it is unacceptable.
Georgia plays 4-on-5 on offense when it is at their best in the half court, which is downright pitiful. It’s the same old Georgia Basketball and it is one of the two caps on the team’s potential. To put it into NASCAR terms, Mark Fox is putting a restrictor plate on a stock car at Texas Motor Speedway (the only restrictor plate tracks are Talladega and Daytona).
There are no natural reads and the chemistry on the floor is stifled. The joke is that the offense has been revealed here before and it is the same stuff as two years ago, so it’s just different players same stuff.
But first, the stats and metrics.
What stands out?
- Bryant shot terribly from three point range as expected.
- Bryant had foul trouble and general depth issues.
- Georgia had more turnovers than Bryant.
- Georgia outrebounded Bryant 59-35 and had a 47.5% offensive rebounding win rate.
- Bryant still outscored Georgia 22-15 on second chance points.
- Georgia was horrific from the Free Throw Line and it was a team effort. Tyree Crump was a candidate to go 90% from the Free Throw Line this season and he goes 2 for 4. Sight line issues at the renovated Stegeman Coliseum?
- Turtle Jackson off the catch-and-shoot is a strong perimeter shooter.
- Rayshaun Hammonds had a big night and he got much of his work done attacking the basket.
- 32-12 on points in the paint, which is to be expected for Georgia against a team like Bryant.
- Georgia forced 8 steals and had 10 blocked shots.
- Who had the most assists? E’Torrion Wilridge.
- Yante Maten was Yante Maten.
We dig deeper.
- Why was Connor O’Neill more involved in the offense than Isaac Kante?
- Hightower and Jackson seem to be more involved in getting steals, Crump is not.
- Georgia was not able to get into fast break opportunities and were too often slowed down into the half court offense, but still had 76 possessions in this game.
- The +/- stars of the game are Turtle Jackson and Rayshaun Hammonds.
- 4 of the 10 blocks were courtesy of Georgia’s 2017 Class.
Going even deeper.
- 7,387 people paid or in the case of students attended the game, which means $7,387 will be donated by Mark Fox to the Athens Boys & Girls Club. He’s as upstanding as it gets in the coaching profession. Imagine him as Athletic Director.
The shot distribution breakdown for Georgia’s offense and defense will come out soon.
It’s Film Room Time
Going through the motions and forcing the ball into Maten.
Turtle Jackson makes a lag pass to Derek Ogbeide at the top of the key, which is actually defended by Bryant for some reason. Ogbeide is at the top of the key being defended when he is no threat to shoot or dribble from where he is. Maten is double teamed and there is a triangle of Bryant defenders there to ensure that Maten does not get the ball from a hedging defender in between Wilridge and Maten, a defender who is guarding (yet yielding the corner 3) Maten from the kick-out side and a defender in a weak 3/4 denial. The predictable move is actually passing the ball to Jackson, but it is very common to force the action into Maten. Ogbeide did not even bother to place a good screen on Jackson’s defender as he should have. Just going through the motions of a scripted set offense with a directive to force the ball into the hero.
Scripted High Post Follow
This is a common set and it comes off a Sideline Out-of-Bounds Play designed to just get Turtle Jackson into position to start the regular man-to-man set with a clear terminal point and no options based on the movement without the ball. This is a simpler version of what was the High Post Option, which is no longer an option look. It is possible that the set was botched, but it is executed terribly as Maten is actually led into a situation where he is dribbling into two undersized defenders. The hero saves the day.
This set is the heart of the Georgia Offense. In fact, Fox may have actually stripped out some of the options because the options were actually there when Charles Mann was at UGA.
Let’s take a look at Georgia running the High Post Weave through Yante Maten.
It may seem tough to understand in the GIF above, so let’s have the players in Doug Schakel’s instructional video show you the basic building blocks, they actually picked it up rather quickly. They can explain it far better than anyone can.
Option #1 is simply the post getting the pass and just taking it to the basket without any exercising of the options.
Option #2: Hand-off or pass to first weaver off the wing. In this case, first weaver gets it and makes the layup!
Option #3: Double fake and attack.
Option #4: Corner hand-off. Second weaver.
That’s a good chunk of the Georgia Offense.
Option #5: The third cutter from the top of the key coming around. This is not an option Georgia features.
Literally look up “Modified Triangle Offense” on YouTube and this is what comes up. The main difference between Schakel’s presentation as seen here and Georgia’s Offense is that Schakel has his post set up on the lower block where as Georgia has Maten/Hammonds/Ogbeide/Claxton/Kante set on the Elbow or even at the top of the key. Schakel actually does use the Georgia Center Post X-Cut Weave, but the girls picked up on it quickly as it is just the same play, but in a different location.
Georgia has one modifier that could setup a three point shot at the top of the key to start the possession (a quick hitter) as shown here, in this case the decision was to use the cutters to clear out the area, unfortunately the defenders were wise to the play and clogged up the lane for Mike Edwards. Edwards had no options other than to take it to the rack. The screen is the setup for the Center Post X-Cut and Corner man (Parker) to cut to the basket, but they were easily sniffed out and it just had the effect of a clear out. There were no real options here.
In this case below, the quick hitter part of the play is flipped in terms of roles as it frees up Crump for a three. Edwards could have set a better screen on the Elbow, but Georgia was called for plenty of moving screens and the slightest of hindrances is better than the offensive foul. The obvious way to know if this is going to happen is if there is a corner man and a post at the top of the key with two guards. From that point, the sequence makes itself obvious.
The Cross Screen with the Stagger Screen Three-Up
So here’s how it works. There’s a cross screen in the paint and if the Point Guard sees someone clear for a pass to dunk or lay it in, the pass is made otherwise there is a stagger screen setup on the opposite side to free up a three point shot attempt. If the defense is wise to it, then it’s just ball screen, roll and hope it works. No counters, nothing. That’s the set. Three possible outcomes and once the cross screen is done, opponents can immediately start cheating on the next part and force a turnover. There’s no reading of the defense, it’s a flowchart offensive sequence. There’s no ability to seize upon an opportunity to take advantage of being tightly or loosely guarded nor is there anything that addresses a defender sagging down. If the opportunity is not there from the inherent sequence, the offensive possession is toast.
In this case, Maten drew a foul in the aftermath of the cross screen, if he was freed up he’d get the ball. Crump and Edwards set a stagger screen for Rayshaun Hammonds to take a three at the top of the key.
Those who read the article with the step-by-step explanation of the Georgia Offense will quickly realize this is the same exact sequence featured just with different players.
Combined, these two sequences are 60 to 70% of the offense in the man-to-man Half Court.
The problems occur when the defense begins to anticipate the offensive ball movement and the movement without the ball. This happened against Bryant and it explains why the Field Goal percentage was poor and the ten turnovers committed. Moving screens, steals, bad passes and bad shots were taken due to the offense’s predictability.
Is there any positivity to take away from this game?
Yes, Mark Fox tried pressing in the first half and it worked two out of three times! He’ll need to commit to it, he cannot just run it occasionally. Press to exploit matchups, wear down opponents, force bad decisions and shorten the amount of time a team has to set up the offense. Fox tried a bit of token pressure as well at the 3/4 court just to slow down Bryant’s movement back up the floor.
Georgia opened up in zone, but did not stay in it for long at all. For 39 minutes of this game, Georgia played man-to-man defense. Georgia was crisper on defense in the first half, but Bryant also was shooting terribly from three point range when they had open looks. Fox also had the team trap on ball screens, which created disruption.
Georgia’s length and the Milwaukee Bucks styled lineups featuring long wingspans will become a part of the team’s identity. Claxton, Hammonds, Wilridge, Maten and Jackson were on the floor together and this caused some defensive disruption.
Fox needs to be more aggressive with the defense, but he has the right idea in mind to use the extreme length advantage that this team has. There is enough depth in length on this squad. From Point Guard to Power Forward, lots of options and length considerations.
Tyree Crump went 2 for 3, which breaks a mini-slump, but he’s more reliable and dangerous off the bounce. Once Crump is used to the new Stegeman Coliseum, he’ll be back to his old Free Throw shooting form. Does Mark Fox really want to ride out the streaks with Crump from three point range or does he want him at the line taking ten Free Throws a night and helping the defensive effort by getting important opposing players in foul trouble? Crump’s first step and finishing ability are far better than his shooting capabilities. Crump’s release point remains troublesome. Maybe, he needs to take a tip from Bobby Knight… use the shot fake. Shot fake to set up overzealous defenders and drive or draw a foul on a three point shot.
Teshaun Hightower showed he can aggressively defend, he made some mistakes, but he’s going to improve and he brings an energy to the team that is hard to match. It also gives Fox an opportunity to place Turtle Jackson at the 2 spot and be a catch-and-shoot three point shooter.
Rayshaun Hammonds and Nic Claxton are stars in the making, they are dangerous from inside and out. Defensively, they can be nightmarish. Derek Ogbeide had a tough offensive night, but he made up for it on defense.
There is a lot here for Georgia. Yante Maten is an All-American and he needs help out there. Maten deserves to be cutting down nets at some point in his glorious tenure at the University of Georgia. Mark Fox has to find a way to get him there, which means he has to make changes. There’s some precedent to this, but Mark Fox runs back to what is familiar far too often. Fox made changes against South Carolina and even ran a 5 Out and 4 Out 1 In Shuffle Offense against Kentucky in March 2015. Fox pressed against Gardner-Webb and Missouri last season to jump-start the team, he is very capable of doing what is necessary, but he goes back to that comfort zone rather than building a solution that fits his team and the applicable matchup.
- More pressure in the backcourt, no more passive trots back on defense after scoring.
- More freedom in the offense and even letting the team run motion, trust the talent. They had 17 turnovers against Bryant running the same old sets.
- More secondary break opportunities, let them run wild and get a charging call. It is a foul of aggression rather than a moving screen, which is just an foul of poor execution.
- Use the depth to wear down the opposition. Fox should not feel pressured to be Jim Harrick, he’s not Jim Harrick and that’s fine. Fox should stop listening to people stuck in the Year 2001.
- The man-to-man defense does wear down in terms of footwork, change it up a bit. Use some of that 2-3 Matchup Zone. There’s word of a 1-2-2 Matchup Zone in the works as well.
- Opt on the side of aggression with this team. This team is like a Ferrari, don’t treat them like a Kia Rio.
- Fox recruited for versatility and length, he needs to fully take advantage of it.
Based on talent alone, Georgia is an easy NCAA Tournament single-digit seed team. However, they are being put into a position to be an NIT team.