Georgia visits the Hottest Gym in the Country – Vanderbilt

Bring your thermometers because Memorial Gym is HOT!  HOT!  HOT!

When Georgia faces Vanderbilt tonight not only do the Dawgs have to contend with the cellar dwellers of the SEC, but they will be contending with the conditions.  Memorial Gym is built like an opera house, take a visit to a game in Nashville and it will be easy to understand why this place is a bit infamous.  Strange acoustics and setups aside, there are two important things for the Georgia Bulldogs to deal with outside of Bryce Drew’s Commodores:  (1) The sideline arrangements, which have been liberalized to allow coaches to move up the sideline as opposed to being forced to stay along the baseline.  This can cut the Head Coaches off from the assistants.  (2)  The supposed heat in the gym, which is deemed by Mark Fox to be “very hot”.  No other coach has ever been known to complain about the heat in Memorial Gym, but O’Connell Center is infamously muggy and no coach ever makes excuses about it (Mark Fox has never won at the O’Connell Center).

Vanderbilt is not sweating it this season.

Bryce Drew’s Vanderbilt Commodores are 8-15 (2-8 in the SEC) this season and really have no postseason aspirations, they are just a young group waiting on an extremely talented 2018 Class to bring them back from the pains of this season.  This season is expected to be an aberration and the Commodores have had it rough this season even with the lowered expectations.

Making the NCAA Tournament last season made it much easier to swallow one rough season to follow.

Matthew Fisher-Davis’ shoulder injury resulted in a finished college career, which makes the rest of the season much tougher, but they are not playing for anything other than pride and growth.

Before the season, on the surface it would seem that with three Seniors in major roles that the team would have a chance to make their case for the NCAA Tournament.  However, this team has serious depth issues in both talent and experience.

Saben Lee has been the revelation for Vanderbilt.  This Freshman has been the spark plug to pick up the Commodores and provide them with the energy to get some wins.  Lee is an aggressive dribble driver with a knack for finishing at the rim and playing disruptively on defense.

This may be Georgia’s last game against Riley LaChance and Jeff Roberson.  LaChance is a brilliant shooter who has more of a load to carry than ever in Nashville and Jeff Roberson has slowly improved every season.  Roberson is an indispensible Senior Small Forward with a strong game from three point range.

Vanderbilt is a team with two excellent three pointers on offense, an aggressive dribble driver and whatever left that they can piece together.  There are only two three point shooters to run off the line, the rest of this team can just chuck three pointers and an opposing coach would be happy to take transition shots down the floor on the opposite end.  Riley LaChance does attempt two point jump shots in the mid-range as well.

Without Matthew Fisher-Davis, Vanderbilt is a more aggressive team when it comes to attempting shots in the restricted arc.  Joe Toye, Saben Lee, Jeff Roberson and Clevon Brown carry this effort.

Strengths

  • Shooting ability of LaChance and Roberson.
  • Ability to score in the restricted arc off the dribble or off a cut.
  • Very few live ball turnovers committed.
  • Ability to get to the Free Throw Line and force opponents into foul trouble.
  • Shot selection

Weaknesses

  • Post presence
  • Effective depth
  • Commit a lot of fouls.
  • Do not force turnovers.
  • Weak shooting team outside of LaChance and Roberson.

Georgia is Rebuilding Too, But Nobody Wants to Admit it

There have been some unusual happenings and a few more usual happening are to come.

Let’s start with the unusual:

The usual:

  • This is also the same month when Fox lashes out on his players, Yante Maten felt it two seasons ago and he’s getting it again.
  • Being 13-9 for the third straight season.
  • Media pieces about Mark Fox being on the hot seat are coming out of the woodwork by Football writers who are just bored and waiting for Spring Football Practice to start already.
  • ESPN commentators will start lobbying for coaches who are perceived to be on the hot seat.  Do not be surprised if Sean Farnham is the first to sound-off about it.  However, ESPN commentators also praised Dennis Felton and thought that Georgia needed to keep him.  It takes 6-7 years for ESPN commentators to bury the man that they praised.  This is what they do, they just provide emotional noise.
  • Message boards are abuzz with fever dreams.
  • The NCAA Tournament is already out of reach.

Georgia is pretty much the same team that they have been all season.  The offense is pretty much two predictable sequences and forcing it into Yante Maten when he is a bad position off the low post.  The defense is very conservative and hopes to force opponents to take bad shots.  The pace of play is slow to artificially keep the score low and limit opponent possessions because Georgia’s Defense gets worse as the game progresses, not better.

Georgia does not attack the basket off the dribble and there’s no natural chemistry between the players because everything is forced through a contrived offense.  Solid ball movement, reading defenses and making cuts to the basket are foreign concepts (unless it is an X-Cut off the High Post in one of those sequences, which is usually a half-assed cut that is well-scouted).

Sometimes teams change in February and Mark Fox coached teams have done that, but it seems like Mark Fox wants to double-down.

What to Expect

Georgia typically plays down to their competition and this is going to be another example of that.  Just because Vanderbilt has significant flaws, it does not mean that Georgia can capitalize on it.  Georgia is not a team that can capitalize on anything and it seems to be by choice, which is a major theme within Butts-Mehre.  Failure is evidently a choice and supporters are very comfortable with failure all around as long as the Football Team wins.

Being accustomed to failure lowers the bar and helps deflect criticism.  UGA Athletics doesn’t handle success or failure very well.  Much like this Georgia Basketball Team.

Riley LaChance and Jeff Roberson have a big night.  Saben Lee creates foul trouble issues tonight.  Vanderbilt takes this one.

 

Oh and if you live in Nashville and want to cheat on your spouse, do it before the game and then attend the game – nobody would notice a thing!  It’s also like a penance because your punishment for cheating is paying to watch a horrible game in that kooky gym.

Prediction:  Vanderbilt 66  Georgia 62