Cannot emphasize it enough, Georgia needs a November to Remember.
November is Georgia’s bugaboo under Coach Mark Fox, even the two best teams struggled in November. November will likely be a challenge again, but winning in this month despite history and possible backcourt depth issues may prove VERY BENEFICIAL and provide the team with lots of momentum and experience, even though nobody wants to see it happen under the circumstances that they may happen.
What Backcourt Depth Issues?
There are a pair of backcourt depth issues that may affect the team in November. Juwan Parker is said to recovering nicely from his achilles injury, but Kenny Gaines is rumored to have suffered a setback of an unknown magnitude with his recovery from a foot injury sustained back in March during a practice after the Kentucky game. This is being kept rather quiet in typical Mark Fox fashion, but it is certainly not reason to panic. Tip off against Chattanooga is in 9 weeks, it is hard to believe, but it is inching closer. A setback does not mean that Gaines will be out or even playing at a lesser level, he could be just fine right now considering this rumor is now about two weeks old.
And of course, like any rumor – this could all be untrue!
To put it simply: Expect Kenny Gaines to play in November, but do not be shocked if he gets less minutes just to keep him fresh or get him acclimated and it is an opportunity to give Will Jackson and Juwan Parker more minutes.
Wait, there’s a second issue…
J.J. Frazier as we all know faces misdemeanor charges for driving with a suspended license. This is Frazier’s second offense regarding a lack of or suspended license while driving. It should be noted Frazier was also charged with improper driving. Frazier’s offenses are not of drug or alcohol related nature nor were they violent crimes. However, the fact that it is a repeat offense may be considered an embarrassment for Coach Fox. Rougher punishments have been issued for violations of team rules, just ask Kenny Gaines about his suspension for the Florida game as a Freshman. No legal processes are reported yet as far as Frazier’s misdemeanor charge, but calisthenic punishments are not going to do the trick for a second-time offense. It would be VERY shocking if Frazier is not suspended for at least the Chattanooga game. More about this will probably be released at the start of Fall Practice.
If this is all the bad news coming out of the Georgia Basketball program, then this team should be in good shape.
Pace Will Be Artificially and Naturally Faster, But 3 Guard Looks May Come Later…
The pace of play will be artificially faster, offensive efficiency will not necessarily improve for much of College Basketball. Theoretically, every team will increase pace by 16.67% with the shift in the shot clock, but with the end of coaches being able to bail out their offenses in the backcourt in the face of a 10 second count expiration there will be more teams looking to press. Georgia may be one of those teams looking to press and play at a faster pace, if fans recall, Georgia was operating at its fastest pace under Mark Fox until the injury bug swept through the team last season.
With the possible temporary backcourt depth issues, 3 Guard looks may not be the norm in November. In fact, the Small Forward spot that was practically vacant last season has become a position of improvement for this team. Kenny Paul Geno is said to be having a great offseason and E’Torrion Wilridge is the big surprise according to those close to the program. The ignorant comparison to Brandon Morris made by some is looking to be more inaccurate by the week. If Wilridge keeps up the hard work and continues to showcase his sweet stroke, the team can play with a Point Guard, Shooting Guard, Small Forward and a pair of undifferentiated posts at a faster pace.
3 Guard Looks may either happen due to unforeseen injuries during the season OR as a different look that Fox wants to use on the floor. With E’Torrion Wilridge and an improved Kenny Paul Geno, the 3 Guard Look is not the default look of the Georgia lineup. This is all good news because it enables Fox the ability to give opponents different lineups and force opponents to adjust.
Seton Hall is the Biggest Indicator and a Complicated Programming Situation
Georgia will be tested on all fronts in their game in Newark. However, first the programming situation:
This game will have some tricky television and game timing. Georgia will visit Seton Hall on the date of the Georgia-Georgia Tech Football Game, ideally Dawg fans – especially those in the New York City Metro Area would want the two games to be scheduled at different times. The challenge is two-fold: College Basketball games have pre-set Game Times and Television Assignments before the season starts and College Football games are usually scheduled as far as the game time and Television Assignment two to three weeks in advance.
Very few College Football Games are pre-scheduled for a particular network and time. An example of a game that is pre-scheduled for a particular network and time is the annual Georgia-Florida game, it is always a 3:30 PM EST game on CBS scheduled as the first Saturday of November or last Saturday of October. However, in the case of Georgia and Georgia Tech, this game is highly dependent upon the performances of both teams. If Georgia and Georgia Tech are both undefeated (as an example), ABC/ESPN has the rights to this game and will choose to put it as their Saturday Primetime Game on ABC. Georgia and Georgia Tech could face each other at Noon like last year or even play at 3:30 PM like two years ago. The timing cannot be determined right now.
The other complicating factor is the matter of the rights to Big East Basketball, which is of course owned by Fox Sports. During the biggest rivalry weekend of the College Football season, Fox Sports wants to put out as many College Football games as they can. Fox Sports has the rights to Conference USA, Pac-12 and Big XII Football. Their Basketball rights include exclusive Big East programming, two weekly selections of Pac-12 games and a weekly Conference USA game. Sometimes, Fox will crossover and take a game from the Big Ten because they do own 50% of the Big Ten Network.
The ball as far as television scheduling for the Georgia-Seton Hall game is in Fox Sports’ court. They will not put the game on Fox (the broadcast network) because there will be a likely doubleheader featuring UCLA-USC and a Big XII game, but they could likely put the game on Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2 or option it to the FSN Regional networks on a national basis. This is a challenging game of chicken here as far as ratings, placement and timing. Best guess is that this game will be aired on Fox Sports 2 and the time of the game will likely be at 7:30 PM. The rationale behind this guess is that Fox Sports 2 has been used for early season games in the Big East in the past and Fox Sports does not have a direct regional network per se in the New York City area.
As mentioned, Seton Hall is the indicator for this team’s progress and will serve as litmus test for the frontcourt. How good is Derek Ogbeide? Find out when he faces off against Angel Delgado. It will serve as a good preview for what is to come against Tech’s big guys and possibly the biggest frontcourt challenge of the season, Baylor’s Rico Gathers. Winning at Seton Hall and going 4-0 in November will happen if Georgia’s younger players step up to the plate and if the team plays with enough chemistry. It can be done.
Being forced to build depth in November will set the team up well for the games against Tech and Clemson and for the brutal finish to the season starting in Baton Rouge. Staying healthy, having trusted depth and chemistry will propel Georgia to a second straight NCAA Tournament. It is much more preferable that the growing pains are felt in hard fought wins over Murray State and High Point rather than losses to South Carolina and Ole Miss.