Georgia Visits UMass During Finals Week

Georgia will face UMass in the middle of UMass’ Finals Period.

Is the UMass team distracted going into their home game against Georgia?  Consider the following.

  1. UMass hosted Providence on Saturday and won 72-63.  This is a big deal for UMass.  Lots of rat poison for a team that dropped four games in a row, including a loss to Quinnipiac.
  2. UMass’ Final Exam Period is still going on, in fact, they start Final Exams TODAYYes, that’s right TODAY.
  3. UMass’ second Reading Day (which is an intended cram session day of studying for those unacquainted) is on the day of this game.

What distractions lie for Georgia?

  1. Final Exams are over for the teams, so there’s sweating it out when it comes to grades.
  2. The Winthrop game was panned by both the staff and the players.
  3. Jordan Harris’ playing time and status with Mark Fox is a relative unknown.

What does UMass bring to the table?

A pressing style of Basketball with a coach who knows how to beat Georgia.  As long as UMass does not score, the press will not be seen.  Winthrop is in some ways a good warmup for UMass, but in others it is not.

UMass plays 8 Deep, which for a coach who likes to press is not a good thing.  There should be a mix of 2-2-1 Zone Press and the Run and Jump Press when McCall pulls the trigger to do it after a made basket.

Luwane Pipkins and Rashaan Holloway are the team’s most reliable options outside and inside respectively.  Pipkins is a scoring machine, but he is also a volume shooter.  Pipkins is also a pick-pocketer with a propensity for turning it over himself.  Holloway is a HUGE interior force to who really has struggled on the glass and his minutes are substantially lower than his teammates because he is a fouling machine.  Holloway is the lone shot blocking threat on the team.  Holloway is 6’11” and he was 310 pounds last season, but he dropped weight and increased his stamina to play effectively for Matt McCall.

Carl Pierre is the team’s best three point shooter, but he offers nothing much else at the Shooting Guard spot thus far.  Pierre has high upside as a Freshman, but it may not be realized in a more complete fashion until next season.

Much of McCall’s team is redshirting this season and the names coming in are rather familiar.

  • Jonathan Laurent – Former UGA recruit.  Transferring in from Rutgers.
  • Kieran Heyward – Transferring in from LSU.
  • Keon Clergeot – Transferring in from Memphis.

UMass is above-average at getting shots off in the money zones, their results are rather average when it comes to these areas.  They do not get to the Free Throw Line frequently and they take far too many threes without any sort of rhythm or ball movement.  Much of this is a product of Luwane Pipkins playing the role of hero in the offense.  Carl Pierre and Rayshawn Pierre take a significant majority of their shots from three point range.

The objective should be to force them to take shots between the restricted arc and the three point arc.  They are significantly weak in this area and there is a concerted effort by UMass to not take these shots.

UMass is rather dependent on ball movement to score at the rim, but they do struggle with turnovers just like Georgia.  They are only a strong defensive rebounding team as they have struggled to get second chance opportunities.

This is a team that has struggled to force live ball turnovers and turns it over quite a bit too.  Their inability to keep themselves from fouling does not help their cause either.

Defensively, they are not doing a good enough job of keeping opponents out of the money zones.  They are holding opponents to a low three point shooting percentage, but they are yielding shots at the rim, which may be due in part to their presses being broken.  However, the fact that they have pressed and not forced turnovers is a concern for these Minutemen.  Opponents are getting 24.2% of their shots off in transition, which is 56th highest in the country.

Georgia makes for an unusual opponent for UMass

Where does UMass get tested by UGA?

  • Offensive and Defensive Glass
  • Defending the non-money zone.
  • Defending without fouling:  Georgia has a high FTA/FGA ratio of .47 (10th in the country).
  • Shooting three point shots:  Georgia will likely be keying in on Pipkins and Pierre.  Similar to Marquette.
  • Depth:  Georgia can run guys in and out and wear down UMass.

How does UMass test UGA?

  • UMass will try to speed up Georgia with the press.  Georgia only attempts 13.7% of shots in transition.
  • Matt McCall knows the Georgia Half Court Offense from his time at Chattanooga and Florida.
  • Luwane Pipkins is very tough to guard, he’s much like guarding Markus Howard, but without the three point shooting prowess.

Georgia has been at their best when Yante Maten has not been overemphasized.  Winthrop was a step backwards for the team, but this game serves as an opportunity to get back to playing more like a team.  Juwan Parker’s contributions inside the perimeter have served the team well in getting fouls drawn and shots knocked down from the mid-range.

However, there is reason for all of this to be thrown out the window.

What is this supposed to mean?  Is the team is going to play with greater physicality on defense or is it going to mean that the team is going to play scared on offense?

8 Years of Mark Fox’s Rhetorical and Realized History says… All defensive and turnover related issues mean that this team will retrench like a turtle (not the Turtle Jackson kind), play slower, have options removed on offense, play less aggressive and of course Hero Ball.  There’s no reason not to expect it.

The staff may be a bit more motivated than usual to win this particular game, but the game plan will likely be what is unfortunately expected.

Georgia is the better team in this game as far as talent is concerned and there will likely be some handcuffs applied to the offense in order to “take care of the basketball”, it will come at the expense of points and even cause turnovers.  UMass is going to likely know the man-to-man offense a bit too well, which should negate these efforts.  Georgia is a slow paced team, this is the identity of a Mark Fox coached team and there’s no getting around it.  There will be less secondary break than usual to “prevent turnovers”.  UMass will try to speed things up and may cause trouble, but they will likely not shoot that well either.  Expect a low-scoring slog of a game in Amherst, but it will be tighter than some would like.  Second chance points when the action breaks down is going to be the difference.

UMass is not very good, this is not a game to get too excited when it comes to a victory.  Losing this game would be rather awful considering that Georgia really has almost all of the advantages except for McCall’s familiarity and the home court advantage.  It would also be damaging for the RPI.

Mark Fox has more than 8 Years of tendencies from his tenure at Georgia to break.  

Prediction:  Georgia 65  UMass 61


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