It was a microcosm for the season in one game for Georgia. It’s a Jekyll and Hyde Act.
Georgia and Georgia Tech played evenly for the First Half and then the teams diverged in performance drastically. One team played with composure and the other did not. Josh Pastner’s Yellow Jackets will look back at this Second Half and shudder at how they lost their cookies against their archrival. As for Georgia, it was a game to look at for many different reasons both positive and negative. Georgia was the team with greater urgency and energy in the Second Half and the depth of the team really showed through.
The First Half was Even
Georgia Tech mixed it up defensively and found success with the 2-2-1 Zone Press and the Extended 1-3-1 Zone. This resulted in turnovers, rushed possessions and fast break opportunities. However, there was an inkling that Georgia had a substantial edge over Georgia Tech. What was it?
Georgia was getting points off turnovers! Georgia Tech was sloppy and Georgia played defense with greater energy in both the Man-to-Man and 2-3 Matchup Zone Defenses. Why did Georgia have more energy defensively? Were they motivated more? Was the UMass debacle a kick in the pants?
It may have a lot less to do with preparation, but rather the required energy and increased freedom on offense. When Georgia was facing Georgia Tech’s zones and looked to beat the press, the action was much more natural and with it came greater energy. It’s amazing what a few made shots, effective ball movement against the zone and attacking the basket can do for a defense. It’s like a B6 shot, it gets everyone engaged and energized on the other end of the floor.
After all, Georgia did not start out playing well on defense until the offensive aggression came out. The weak attempts inside the restricted arc were evidently not going to be there. It required momentum plays from Rayshaun Hammonds and Derek Ogbeide to bring things to life on defense.
Georgia Tech was and still is shorthanded, but so was UMass. The differences between the two games are night and day, but in this half, Georgia Tech had the composure and energy to match the Dawgs.
Georgia had 9 Assists in the First Half, which is simply amazing to think about for a Georgia Basketball Team. Possessions were longer because the zone defenses and presses were draining the shot clock, but the assists were due in large part to having to pass to solve the zone defense. There’s no pattern or sequencing to Zone Offense, it is a matter of reading the defense, making the necessary movement without the ball and making smart passes.
Georgia Tech had their issues with unforced turnovers against both Man-to-Man and 2-3 Matchup Zone Defenses in the First Half. This just comes with the territory when starting a Freshman Point Guard and a Freshman Combo Forward (Alvarado and Wright). Georgia Tech’s inability to cash in on points off turnovers held them back in this half and in this game in general, but it certainly was not the only problem that they faced.
Booms and Busts: A Microcosm of the Georgia Basketball Season
This Georgia team is going to give anyone with a vested interest in the game an ulcer. The First Half had it’s moments of back and forth action that was inconsistent at times. The Second Half was pure extremes, especially on the offensive end.
Georgia went 15 for 21 from the field and 4 for 6 from 3 point range in the Second Half, which is absolutely ridiculous and welcome. Georgia ripped up a tired and uncomposed Georgia Tech 1-3-1 and 2-3 Zone by knocking down open shots in rhythm and getting opportunities at the rim. It was a team effort to achieve this offensive success, which makes this game nearly the exact opposite of the UMass game except for the fact that UMass played mostly Man-to-Man Defense and Georgia was compulsively running the same set on a loop. There was very little Man-to-Man Offense in this game from Georgia, but it did not mean that it was a glowing success all the time.
57.1% of possessions resulted in points while 22.9% of them resulted in a turnover. Georgia went up the floor at one point in the Second Half having committed four straight turnovers on offensive possessions. Georgia Tech could not capitalize at all on these errors despite having 12 steals in the game.
Georgia Tech 1-3-1 Zone Defense is designed to force turnovers and there were obvious gambles made along with clear defensive busts, which were read very well by everyone. However, there were horrible decisions and lazy passes made against the 1-3-1 Zone Defense that were mind-boggling and frustrating given how well the team was performing when a possession resulted in a mere shot being attempted.
Georgia would go on boom-and-bust spurts throughout the Second Half seemingly mirroring the hot and cold nature of the team. The turnovers based on 8 1/3 seasons of Mark Fox Brand Basketball in Athens are just a part of the game.
However, Georgia’s a very dangerous team when they hit their shots. Just like any other team.
It would be overwhelming for the audience to pull the entire Play-By-Play of the Second Half, but at one’s own leisure, feel free to review the Play-By-Play tab set for ‘Period 2’ and just be amazed at how ridiculous it looks.
It’s a microcosm of the team Georgia could look bad in four straight games against USC-Upstate, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Cal State Fullerton and San Diego State. The team could certainly not play well against Saint Mary’s one would presume, but they did play very well albeit the defensive effort was lacking. The team played a rather complete game at Marquette. One would think it would carry over and then the team would go on a two game swing against Winthrop and UMass where the team failed to defend and played sloppy, predictable Basketball. Georgia follows these two performances up by blowing away a Georgia Tech team returning Josh Okogie with an incredibly hot shooting performance.
What is this Georgia Basketball team? It is very difficult to figure out on a night-by-night basis what type of effort the team will put in, but one thing seems to be certain in the three biggest wins of the season for the Dawgs.
How much of the offensive sets were run in these three wins? Not much. They were run and they were certainly run in tonight’s win, but nowhere close to as many times as past games this season. Georgia has not really blown away an opponent in a half this season since the Bryant game, which makes this game a bit different and certainly less dramatic.
Georgia turned in a strong effort against a zone defense for the first time this season. Since the 2013-14 Season, Georgia has been a very strong Zone Offense team and the performances against USC-Upstate and UMass (when they went zone 30% of the game) were puzzling considering past history. Georgia Tech allowed Georgia to get back to their scoring ways even though there were horrible turnovers along with it.
Josh Pastner used the Triangle and Two last season against Georgia and it worked to hold down Georgia in the scoring column, but this time around Pastner did not use a junk defense, which was surprising.
Georgia’s success on offense came when they were patiently picking apart the zone defense and getting quick hitter offense.
In other words, Georgia plays better in a more free-form environment. Turnovers in a free-form environment can be fixed unlike strict adherence to a patterned sequence. It’s about recognizing situations, making the right reads and not trying to be a hero. Heroes do not have to be trying to score to get such a distinction, they could just try to make fancy, crowd-pleasing passes when they are completely inappropriate. Heroes also try to do the most “fundamental” act on offense rather than making the right one given the situation.
A good example of an attempt at trying to be fundamentally sound at the absolute wrong time was when Juwan Parker tried a 5 foot bounce pass to E’Torrion Wilridge on the Elbow to attack the 2-3 Zone of Georgia Tech. Parker ended up making a pass that was aimed at Wilridge’s ankles, it was an unforced turnover that should never have happened.
However, for the most part, Georgia Tech succeeded in getting Georgia engaged in the game. This was the exact opposite of what Josh Pastner could have wanted to do, but it did the following:
- Brought Jordan Harris out of the doldrums and gave him the opportunity to play on his toes and stand tall. Harris is the best shooter on this team, he was a 44.9% three point shooter last season and he had gaudy perimeter shooting metrics in High School. Is Harris back to being himself again?
- Gave Rayshaun Hammonds opportunities to drive the baseline, play more aggressively and not overthink when shooting from the perimeter.
- Put a spring in Derek Ogbeide’s step. Ogbeide had a reverse baseline layup in the game and was a defensive force.
- Tyree Crump had his best defensive night in his tenure in Athens.
- Yante Maten was able to do whatever he wanted and he did not need to force the action in any way.
Where was the Energy in Amherst then? Where was the defensive effort against Winthrop?
Defense requires energy and Georgia played with plenty of energy in the Second Half on the defensive end. The Dawgs used their length and clogged driving lanes. Georgia Tech became frustrated in the Second Half and they lost their composure. The fouls reflected that they also ran out of gas and an officiating crew willing to blow the whistle more, but it is simply a case of defenders wearing down mentally and defending with hands rather than feet. Rebounding win rates were even, but Georgia Tech committed more fouls in the second half on loose ball situations.
Georgia has depth and they have to use it. Fox went to an Extended 1-2-2 Zone and a 2-2-1 Zone Press in the Second Half when up double digits in the game. In fact, the game was seemingly in-hand and Fox employed it.
Was Mark Fox just more aware of the moment and what the Georgia Tech game meant? He was playing in front of UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity, UGA President Jere Morehead and UGA Head Football Coach Kirby Smart (who was either bored out of his mind or needed a Dunkin’ run in the worst way).
Is it reasonable to expect to see this sort of a performance again? Possibly, but there will be micromanaged clunkers along the way.
Remember Bo Wallace? The Ole Miss Quarterback who was commonly referenced as “Bad Bo” and “Good Bo”? That’s Georgia Basketball this season, it seems.
Google has thoughts on Clean, Old Fashioned Hate… thanks for interesting summary Google, we can all rely on you!