Georgia’s perimeter defense was a sore point against Chattanooga.
Chattanooga was able to connect on 12 of 30 three point attempts and this played a major role in their win over Georgia. Georgia provided Chattanooga with plenty of uncontested opportunities from three point range and Chattanooga took full advantage. Last season, Georgia held opponents to a 31.2% three point Field Goal percentage, which ranked 36th in the nation. Bad perimeter defense and opponents’ ability to hit the three point shot doomed Georgia last season. In fact, teams that shot threes in volume and kept the pace high, caused Georgia problems last season.
Against Chattanooga, Georgia played at a fast pace and the offense was a beneficiary, but the defensive effort was sorely lacking leaving the Chattanooga shooters with far too much room in both the 2-3 Zone and Man-to-Man. Greg Pryor got things started quickly for the Mocs and it became the start of a bad trend.
This was a well-designed play that used a cross screen in the restricted arc to free up Greg Pryor and then an even more clever brush screen to keep J.J. Frazier from being able to effectively challenge Pryor’s attempt. The defensive assignments put Frazier at a size advantage no matter who he was defending. There were some curious decisions as to why Charles Mann was assigned to defend Tre’ McLean and Kenny Paul Geno was defending Casey Jones. Mann should have been defending Casey Jones, Geno should have been defending McLean and Gaines was a good choice to defend the lethal shooting Eric Robertson.
In this Man-to-Man Defensive look, lots of things went wrong, but it could have worked had someone stayed on Eric Robertson or if there was somebody ready to patrol the nearby the elbow. Traps, presses and zones typically leave the middle as a weak area. Kenny Gaines and J.J. Frazier were crossed up after the trap was set and this set up Eric Robertson to be able to hit a wide open Greg Pryor for a three point attempt.
What made this play make even less sense was that after the trap is set, J.J. Frazier was defending Justin Tuoyo on a switch! Yante Maten did not stay on his man and Charles Mann did not switch, sensing that Maten would not have been able to switch over fast enough or Maten simply made the wrong move. Maten could have easily stayed with Tuoyo and Mann could have stayed on his man. It was poor defensive communication and thus the gamble to trap on the sideline. Tuoyo did not set a hard screen and is not much of a threat outside of the paint to score.
If this was pre-designed, it was horribly executed as two men stayed on task to trap Pryor, but everyone was lost as far as what they were supposed to do in this situation.
This is simply the case of getting caught when setting up the defense off a rebound. Georgia was not going to let Chattanooga try to get any secondary break points, but Kenny Gaines ceded too much ground and Greg Pryor nailed a 25 footer. It was a really good shot and it is very difficult to defend the spot up three point shot, but Gaines had defensive support from Maten right behind him and he did not have to back up as far as the elbow. Had Gaines stopped around at the three point line, it would have made a big difference. Charles Mann actually had good defending position against the three point shot as far as his distance and placement relative to the arc.
Georgia is already in the bonus at this point and Georgia goes into their 2-3 Matchup Zone, which can look like a 3-2 at times or even 1-2-2. Where it goes wrong is upon the receipt of the pass by Johnathan Burroughs-Cook. Backcourt defenders get crossed up here again as Kenny Gaines and Turtle Jackson become unclear as to who is covering Burroughs-Cook. Jackson has better initial position to Cook, but quickly backs off and lets Kenny Gaines defend him out of position and the shot is taken in the heat of the confusion since there is no credible challenge to a shot at nearly of the top of the key.
There are several ways to beat a zone and one way that is not often discussed is the concept of flooding a zone. Chattanooga floods Georgia’s poorly conceived zone by placing Chuck Ester at the elbow and using his post position as a brush screen that takes Yante Maten and Houston Kessler out of the action leaving a 4 on 3 situation on one side of the floor. Peyton Woods ends up with a wide open three point attempt as Maten was not communicating with Kessler. Whether Maten was supposed to be on the high post is unknown, but rather than having Chattanooga try to break the zone via ball entry, Chuck Ester’s mere presence at the high post was enough to get Maten in a bad spot.
Another Peyton Woods three point shot against a 2-3 zone that had collapsed. Kenny Paul Geno let Dee Oldham get an angle on him and dribble drive, which is not something any defender should let happen in a zone. E’Torrion Wilridge made the mistake of pinching too close to the middle and not holding his water on the other end. Chuck Ester was covered by Turtle Jackson, Oldham was not going to make a bad pass to Ester and ball entry into Casey Jones would have been ill-advised as Yante Maten was already there.
This like many of the mistakes Georgia had made was rooted in poor communication, inexperience and a lack of chemistry. Georgia is far more ahead on offense than on defense.
This is just ugly zone defense, but Turtle Jackson did a good job of denying the entry pass to the elbow. Mann was in an unfortunate position as the zone turned from 3-2 to 1-4. Wilridge was left in a lose-lose situation in this zone offense look because if he filled on the perimeter, Peyton Woods is open AGAIN. Jackson’s decision to stay on Oldham through the dribble drive set up the opportunity to pinch the zone and cause a double team. Geno had to be the guy to step up with Oldham broke through. Mann made the mistake of trying to go for the steal rather than go back to Jackson’s previously occupied position.
Some more poor communication in the Matchup zone as zoning defenders are putting themselves out of position. Once again, the threat of high post action put Georgia’s zone defense in a pickle. Georgia was caught again shifting from 3-2 to 2-3. Mann had to leave his man and Maten had to shift over as fast as he could to occupy Mann’s previous zone area. This did not happen and the defense did not look composed to at least challenge a shot.
Georgia’s perimeter defense and zone defense need work and the lack of chemistry and communication is evident. Fox and his staff will need to work on these concepts as they will be important going forward because Man-to-Man Defense is going to be very challenging with the new freedom of movement rules. Georgia’s zone defenses are not going to be as effective as Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse 2-3 Zone because they have the personnel to run it most effectively and a coach that has made it his signature style for years. Mark Fox runs zone because he has to do it, not because he wants to do so. Georgia keeps defenses from hitting a high percentage of threes by challenging the shots with regularity and needs to be able to do it in both kinds of defenses.