The Interrogation: Christmas Eve Edition

It’s time for the Monthly Interrogation for December 2017

Readers had comments, questions and non-sequiturs.  Time to respond to them and provide the answers to the burning thoughts.  The next Interrogation will be done again the day after the Georgia-Florida game in Athens.  Surely, it will have a different tone then.

Question 1:  

“You must be guilty or you wouldn’t have addressed it at all. Shame on you
And since you are all knowing why aren’t you coaching somewhere—like Kentucky!”

Guilty of what?  Colluding with the Russians?  Killing Nicole Brown Simpson?  Obstruction of justice?

Being the omniscient narrator of Georgia Men’s Basketball is not easy.  However, there’s no shame in telling the truth and pointing out the uncomfortable.

Question 2:  

“Winning any true road game against a decent opponent is an upset with Mark Fix at the helm.”

This includes a Freudian slip.  Mark “Fix” as in getting the Dawgs fixed (i.e. neutered).  And yes, road wins against decent opponents have been rare instances.  Wins over top competition have been few in general during the Mark Fox era.

Question 3:  

“Do we know for sure who made these calls? You can actually fool some of the people some of the time. Maybe the calls should be traced! and get the real truth!”

Baker Mayfield just needs to release the texts and calls he received.  He’s gone out of his way not to give Georgia any bulletin board material as if that really matters.

His number was put out there for all to see and only low-lives would call Mayfield.  Why are you defending low-lives?

You only believe that Mayfield did not get any calls because you think Georgia fans are the finest people on the planet.  There are good people who support Georgia and there are bad people who support Georgia.  Pretending this does not happen is ignorant tribalism.

Question 4:

“DO 20min, 2 rebs
What’s up?”

Back to Basketball questions!  I kept it in the original format because I actually liked the way it was done.  So good on you for having a different way of presenting a very pithy question!

Derek Ogbeide played rather soft for much of this season.  Ogbeide is a dominant rebounder who seemed to be consumed by not wanting to foul.  However, when stopped being as aggressive, it hurt the team.

As a team, the staff and the players need to get used to the idea of what it is like to be a deep team and taking advantage of it.  This is not like teams of years past, the talent level is much higher and the short rotations that were of necessity are not applicable.

Ogbeide’s not blocking as many shots and he’s not grabbing rebounds like he was before, but he is getting more steals and playing more efficient offensively.  What is also evident is that he is not fouling and his defensive efficiency is at its best during his time in Athens.  His defensive efficiency improvement may have a lot more to do with forcing steals and not putting opponents at the Free Throw Line.

Question 5:

“Great article – those offensive metrics are, well, offensive, but not the least bit surprising to anyone who regularly tries to sit through UGA basketball games. 8+ years of pure garbage on the offensive end of the court with the one constant over that time period being Mark Fox. Our offensive sets are horrible. And, do we even know what a fast break is? I guarantee Fox whines constantly about a lack of support behind the scenes, but you have to give the fan base an entertaining product and some results that give them hope.”

Maybe they know of Reese’s Fast Break?

As far as support is concerned, Mark Fox seems pretty content with things the way they are.  He has the beneficial relationships and he has adhered to the party line.

The base needs a reason to care.  Treating home games like they are major events would go a long way.  Those in charge are going about this the wrong way.  Only promoting on Milledge Avenue a few weeks before the season is just a terrible idea.  Fox needs to make Georgia Basketball games a staple of the Greek schedule and that means he needs to visit in April as well.  The campus just does not stop everything for a College Basketball game and getting the support from Greek Letter Organizations is critical.

The offensive sets need to be scrapped, just have an initial offensive look with a few rules inside and out, then let them go.

Question 6:  

“I take your point about the no-win reality of scheduling the Winthrops of the world, but doesn’t every team have to do this to some extent? For what it’s worth, we had 6 such games on last year’s schedule, and cut it down to 4 this year.”

This question is the best question of them all.  Love this question, so shout out to Sansho1 who asked this.  Thank you this is a question that needs to be answered.

Every Power 8 Team (ACC, American, Atlantic 10, B1G, Big XII, Big East, Pac-12, SEC) has squash matches that they purchased to fill up the schedule.  Playing less games at Stegeman Coliseum, playing more neutral site games and playing games at non-traditional road environments does the following:

  • Makes every game at Stegeman Coliseum an event.  The base is conditioned to scarcity of Home Games because of the Football Schedule.
  • The odds are lower that Stegeman Coliseum is not filled by opposing supporters of programs that place greater value on Men’s Basketball.  You schedule Home Games to promote the program, not embarrass it.
  • Having a target on your back on the road is a character building experience.  Being Wofford, North Florida or Charlotte’s “Super Bowl” helps going forward for the rest of the season.  There’s no benefit to beating them at Stegeman Coliseum in front of a crowd that is uninterested, a loss is far more devastating at Home than it would be on the Road.
  • Georgia Football does not have the flexibility to go where the alumni are and Georgia Basketball has a more flexible schedule, which means that Georgia Basketball can go where the alumni are.  This means neutral site games where UGA Alumni are located.  This means an annual game at Philips Arena, a game at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, a game in Jacksonville and even Savannah.  This helps the RPI, Strength of Schedule and program’s support across the country.

Everyone doing something does not warrant Georgia doing the same thing.

Question 7:

Well, I came here to say that I was actually enjoying watching the Dawgs play and beating St. Mary’s, Marquette and Winthrop were nice. Also like seeing other guys play. Yes, we need to settle on a regular rotation, but for now I’m glad to see lots of players (including freshmen(!)) getting game time. I think it will come in handy later in the season.

But what do I know?

Plenty.  You have a wide array of skill sets and knowledge!  Do not let anyone tell you otherwise, Russ.

Embrace the depth.  It is a wonderful thing for the following reasons:

  1. Georgia can play with greater energy and physicality on defense, which results in forcing more turnovers and bad shots.
  2. Fox has roster flexibility, which can be used to play specific match-ups for each opponent or lineup.
  3. Greater unpredictability as more can contribute, which makes it tougher to game plan.
  4. Georgia can press for an entire half and not be fatigued like a shallower team.
  5. Foul trouble is not a big deal with depth.

Question 8:

“I’d settle for the crowd being louder reacting to a good play than to a 1/1000 chance at a garbage pizza.”

Chain “pizza” is awful.  The only exception may be the thin crust (Detroit thin crust style) at Domino’s, but even then is it really pizza?  St. Louis and Detroit thin crust differ.  St. Louis style pizza uses Provel cheese while in Detroit, it’s mozzarella.  However, that’s not really pizza either.  Chicago Deep Dish is a casserole, not pizza.

Question 9:

“Article is on point. I want to feel good about the 7-1 start, but the product behind it cautions me to feel otherwise.

This team is sorely missing a premier……good defender on the perimeter. no excuse for the easy penetrations by opposing guards.”

The best defenders on the perimeter are Teshaun Hightower and Jordan Harris.  One of the biggest problems this team has is with help defense and being ready to defend.  A lot of it is energy and engagement.

The emergence of Hightower and Harris has really helped this team notch important wins this season.

Question 10:  

“If we start yelling while the Dawgs are on offense, Mark Fox’s head may explode. This is a man that could not handle the students yelling “one more year” while KCP was shooting free throws. The yelling really only brings up the intensity of the defense being played but you do see a lot of teams immediately run a back door cut in that situation. Seems more effective when the defense presses or traps (unnerving the inbounds player) but not so much in a base man to man. I think most players would say it just makes it much more fun but someone who actually played would need to respond to that.”

To be fair, Mark Fox’s head exploded last season against Alabama.  These sorts of things do not fail to have precedent.

Advice:  Ask Marcus Thornton, Connor Nolte, Kenny Paul Geno, Gerald Robinson Jr., Kenny Gaines and Dustin Ware for their thoughts on noise when on defense.

It just seems like Fox wants them communicating and he even uses the hand motion of talking when he is talking to players during stoppages.  Why disrupt their communication?  The idea is to make the environment as friendly to the team as possible and to create a Home Court Advantage.

Question 11:

“Santa, all I want for Christmas is a New Coach. Why did I think Fox would change? My bad for believing.”

Mark Fox showed he can make changes in recruiting, but the real story behind Fox’s recruiting is covered in this article.  In summary:  Let’s just say that former UGA President Michael Adams created that mess.

Fox is predictable, but he always makes an in-season adaptation to loosen things up.  Was the UMass game the impetus for change?  There’s much more that can be fixed.

Oh and Santa Claus is not real.

Question 12:

“Heck, this maybe the best article I’ve read on UGA basketball. Fox is absolutely horrible! I wish I could be in the locker room to hear him at half time! He can not make adjustments. That rotation is the worst ever. How in the hell do he expect a player to get any type rhythm! Defense, I don’t want to hear anything bout defense! Nobody plays defense and Fox suppose to be a defensive coach! Stop it, McGarity! You’ll fire Richt but hold on to Fox, worst AD in collegiate sports!!”

The rotations are fine, they get plenty of time in the lineups that they are in during practice.  The problem is that offense is easy to predict and has less than optimal terminal points.  The problems are less personnel and more schematic than anything else.

Richt deserved to be fired because he was already looking for another job during the bye week before that Florida debacle.  The Head Coach of the Georgia Football Team does not have a conversation with the brass at the University of Miami during this time, period.

UGA puts all of their energy into Football.  It’s a false equivalence.  The standards for Georgia Football and any other sport offered by the UGAA are very different.

There is not enough demand for College Basketball in the State of Georgia to justify the support required for a perennial NCAA Tournament program.

UGA Athletics is completely unprepared for a future without Football.  Georgians are unprepared for this as well.  Conditioning students, alumni and fans to support other sports is imperative.  The sport of Football is on borrowed time.  Youth Football enrollment is falling, CTE cases are becoming more publicized and even a second-year NFL player is talking about the brain damage he has suffered.  It’s even a political football as the next Blue Wave in politics may spell the end of Football as we know it.  The table is being set for the sunsetting of the sport and with generational shifts, it’s not hard to read these tea leaves.

The demise of College Football would also be hastened by the resurrection of the XFL or URFL.  How?  All Vince McMahon has to do is offer low-to-mid six figure pay to top High School recruits and underclassmen that are not eligible to enter the NFL.  Instead of attending Georgia, Alabama or LSU, these top recruits and underclassmen are getting paid $200,000 to play for the Birmingham Bolts or Memphis Maniax.  Guaranteed money is tough to turn down and the minimum three years to earning a Rookie Contract is arduous.  Many NFL dreams are dashed in college and more are dashed in training camp.  All that hard work and sacrifice to be casually cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and earn hardly anything monetarily from it?  The alternative is to take the guaranteed money and if Football does not work out, become a traditional college student with the earnings made.  The other alternative is to use the money earned to pay to be a Part Time College Student.  No dorms, no NCAA rules.  The XFL talent would be able to play in the NFL for more money after three years of being a Professional Football player.

College sports in general could be severely challenged by MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and Distance Learning, which will reduce the need for physical campus usage for pedagogical purposes.  With a decreased societal need for a physical human presence, the in-person classroom will gradually fall out of favor.  Non-interactions with the campuses themselves will harm college athletics as the digital campus becomes the preferred method of instruction.  The idea of the University in the United States and around the world is going to be reshaped.

MOOCs are not isolated to for-profit schools and the latest flavors from Silicon Valley.  Georgia Tech is on board with Master’s Degree in Computer Science through Udacity, which would cost approximately with fees $7,000 to complete.  Others will catch on, the University of Illinois offers an MBA program through Coursera that would cost $22,000 to complete.  Just like how online courses and distance offerings provide people from around the world with the opportunity to earn degrees, MOOCs will radically reduce costs and de-emphasize the campus experience.

It will also be easier than ever to become a Bulldog as qualified prospective students would not need a physical presence in Athens to earn a degree.  In fact, the future is now, but it is still in toddler mode in terms of popularity and recognition.

Question 13:

“Most of this team plays scared. They play with no confidence except for Maten and Parker. I think Turtle should be more aggressive offensively. It would make him play more passionately on the other end of the floor. The looser you can get this team playing the better the team would be. I think Fox want them to play looser but he doesn’t know how to accomplish that task.”

The team plays scared because they are afraid of making a mistake.  The offense gets tight due to over-reliance on sets that are often well-scouted.  The defense can play with a lack of energy and aggression due to a multitude of factors.

Georgia has played looser on offense in the past two games and certainly Temple and Georgia Tech’s approach helped the team play that way.  The offensive energy translated into defensive energy.

The team’s depth and willingness to embrace it is going to be a story going forward.  Mark Fox never had a team this deep and Georgia Basketball has never had a team play this deep and be effective.  It’s an unfamiliar sight for many that are not accustomed to change.

Turtle Jackson is not a secondary break attacker on offense, he’s more likely to slow things down into a set.  Teshaun Hightower is more likely to just attack and make something happen.  Jackson has always been that way and Hightower is going to continue to play his way.  Hightower’s defense keeps him on the floor and as long as he hits Free Throws, he’s going to remain there.

Turtle’s three point shooting has been very important this season and his ability to create off the dribble when the action breaks down has been critical to Georgia’s success.

Question 14:

“Just caught the last 5 minutes but looks like we dominated a pretty good team. To my untrained eye, we look pretty good, and I think having so many play will really help us down the stretch. Can we beat Kentucky?”

Believe it or not, this Georgia team can win at Rupp Arena.  Kentucky will be coming off their game against Louisville two days prior, which makes the Georgia game a bit of a let down game.

If you hear John Calipari makes a lot of references to warning his team about the game, it is a good indication that Georgia can take down the Cats.

Only one scholarship member of the Kentucky roster has played against Georgia, Wenyen Gabriel.  Kentucky is very talented, but very young and that makes them susceptible to a loss in this sort of a setting.

It all depends upon how Mark Fox approaches this game.  If Fox forces the team to run a lot of sets and play tight, this is going to be a 30+ point blowout for the soon-to-be Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns.  If Fox lets his team play loose, aggressive, energized and deep the outcome will be more favorable.

Georgia can definitely win against Kentucky and deliver the biggest win of the Mark Fox era.

Question 15:

“Why didn’t Tyree Crump play? Obviously they didn’t need him but when they need someone to score in a big sec game he will put him in. Why does fox treat players so bad? Why did he recruit him if he wasn’t going to play him?”

Tyree Crump plays plenty.  He was a bad match-up for Shizz Alston and Josh Brown, it is that simple.  The strategy worked, now didn’t it?

The blessings of depth mean that Fox can play match-ups and evidently Crump was not needed for this game.  Crump will be needed in other games and other members of the roster will sit.

Tyree Crump was more hyped than Rayshaun Hammonds coming to UGA, he was the second most-hyped incoming Freshman of the Mark Fox era because he lit up some tomato cans in Spain.  Rayshaun Hammonds never had that sort of hype around him despite being a likely First Round Draft Pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.  From a performance perspective, Crump has not lived up to the hype.  He’s a streaky player and it is easy to determine whether he is going to warrant more minutes in a game.

Crump is competing for time against Jordan Harris because Rayshaun Hammonds has earned his time on the floor.  Harris gives Fox a Shooting Guard who can defend, shoot and attack the basket without having a “sharpshooter complex”.  The problem is that Crump is not a consistent nor reliable scorer and he operates on an island offensively.  Crump is streaky and Fox cannot just let him shoot at will because if he is not making shots, he’s not doing anything else to help.  If Georgia is in a cold snap, it is not a personnel issue – it’s a game planning problem as Fox has pulled the reins too tight and the team is too focused on choreography, not making the right play.

Crump is streaky from three point range:  He can shoot 5 for 23 in his first five games and 10 for 19 in his next five games.

Tyree Crump with all of the hype and praise has bought into it.  It’s a shame because he is a complete Basketball player than what he has shown at Georgia.  Crump is being told that he is a shooter all the time, but the reality is that a well-rounded offensive player who has been convinced of being someone that he is not.  It has hurt his offensive production and his defense has not been as good as Jordan Harris or Teshaun Hightower.

Many people want Crump to live up to the hype more than see the team play well together and accomplish the objective of winning.  This feeds into the problem.  #FreeTyree really should be about Tyree freeing himself from the expectations and limitations that have been imposed upon him.  That means doing more than just shoot a three point shot.

This is NOT the Tyree Crump we saw in High School and AAU action.  His percentage of three point attempts in High School never reached such an extreme level.  He was NOT attempting 3 out of every 4 shots from three point range.

  • 2015-16:  54.93% were three point attempts
  • 2014-15:  57.32% were three point attempts
  • 2013-14:  51.62% were three point attempts
  • 2012-13:  51.03% were three point attempts

In his first season at UGA, Crump attempted 61.1% of his shots from three point range.  He’s become one-dimensional.