Hero Ball is alive and well as Preseason #2 Michigan State took down Georgia 80-68.
Michigan State proved they are simply on a different level from Georgia in today’s exhibition game from Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Michigan State brought their court, baskets, supporters and their flavor of Basketball while Georgia brought an effort and performance that was to be expected. There’s more work to be done for Georgia, but if this is Georgia’s style of play going into their three home games prior to the Wooden Classic, this team could be due for a major upset. It was a sloppy game on both ends of the floor and it showcased Mark Fox’s extreme stubbornness with this team.
Yante Maten had 33 of Georgia’s 68 points and as impressive as it is, it is also rather unhealthy for this Georgia team. Maten attempted 36.5% of all of the Field Goals and 58.3% of all of the Free Throws. It was expected that Mark Fox would resort to Hero Ball by forcing the offensive action through Yante Maten and it resulted in turnovers, bad shots and poor offensive flow. Maten should not have to carry the team, but Fox wants it this way. Georgia will never make the NCAA Tournament with this sort of a philosophy.
With the score tied at 29 at the 4 minute mark in the First Half, Georgia turned to Hero Ball and Michigan State went on a 11-2 run to the end the Half. Michigan State doubled Maten and denied him as the Georgia Offense was forced to keep trying to run through Maten. It was just uncomfortable Basketball and it allowed Michigan State to get out and run. It was an ending to a Half that would be expected from any Georgia Basketball Team over the past fifteen years.
How bad was Georgia’s backcourt today?
Mark Fox started Turtle Jackson at Point Guard with four Forwards: Wilridge, Maten, Ogbeide and Hammonds.
Tyree Crump was cold from three point range taking terrible shots and even had one blocked by Gavin Schilling because his shooting motion has the ball coming out at a lower point. This is what was feared about Crump and his shooting capabilities. Crump struggles with shots that are in any way contested and he gets wild with shots that are uncontested. The vast majority of shooters can get accurate shots off with a mild defensive contest on them, Crump does not appear to have that ability. Crump is not Steph Curry at all, Message Board Warriors please consult these folks, they may help you. Crump has talent, but he is getting undeserved hype that is not helpful in any way.
Turtle Jackson struggled mightily. Jackson had four assists, but nothing much else to show for his effort. Jackson and Crump were dreadful against Winston and Langford on defense. Jackson had poor control of the scripted set offense. 0/7 from the field for Turtle Jackson.
Teshaun Hightower seemed to have a better feel for the position than Jackson and he played better on both ends. Hightower was eager to mix things up a bit. Hightower’s points came off a three pointer, but there was more energy with him on the floor. Hightower did not hurt his case for the Point Guard spot at all.
Juwan Parker gave what he could give. Parker rebounded a little and got to the line and hit his Free Throws. Aside from that he was having a tough time with ball-handling and screens. Parker did not show that he deserved a starting role.
On the whole, the backcourt was rather miserable. This was the difference in this game. Even from a scoring perspective, Michigan State’s backcourt outscored Georgia’s 28-16.
Jordan Harris did not even play, he’s the best player on both sides of the floor in the backcourt when he’s healthy and he’s one of the best shooters in the conference. (Sources say he was out due to injury.)
The Ray of Light
Nicolas Claxton played very well and he outperformed projected NBA Lottery pick Jaren Jackson Jr. Claxton had 9 points on 4/5 shooting from the field with 4 rebounds, a steal and a block. Claxton showed he can do a lot out there and that he is tough enough to handle his position. Claxton outshined Mike Edwards by a long way today against the #2 Michigan State Spartans.
The Offense Hasn’t Changed
Like last season and seasons prior the 3 spot was completely uninvolved in the Offense. Hammonds and Wilridge played the 3 spot in this game and they combined for TWO Field Goal Attempts. Mark Fox was never playing 5-on-5 Basketball and this will not change. The so-called “Great Xs and Os Coach” Mark Fox had his half court offense playing with one hand behind their backs at all times, like always. Sometimes, the offense would have as few as two on the floor who seemed to have permission to fire up shots and at most there were four.
Experienced players still were setting illegal screens like always and grasping offensive rebounds still proved to be a challenge for Mike Edwards.
It’s a game that does not count, but stylistically there is an understanding that Mark Fox has not changed one bit. Insert hyped freshmen, All-SEC Players and whatever Star Ranking recruits into this mess of an offense… it is not going to change the result. It is what it is. It is now rather easy to set expectations and understand that this team is what was expected. Three articles summed it up and that is exactly the team present.
- What will Georgia be like from a pace perspective?
- Previewing Georgia’s Backcourt.
- Previewing Georgia’s Frontcourt.
Opponents are not afraid of the perimeter shooting because the team has poor spacing on the floor and the best passer on the team is E’Torrion Wilridge, a Small Forward. If an opponent does their homework, it is easy to get Georgia to commit 20 turnovers. Georgia had 16 turnovers and 11 of them came in the first half.
The Defense Didn’t Change Either
Georgia played man-to-man for much of the game and only resorted to zone and zone press at the very end of the game when the result was in-hand for the Spartans. Mark Fox is who he is and he probably thought that this team has work to do on defense and if he stays the course, things will work out come February. That’s Georgia Basketball.
Lots of retreating, scrambling and hoping for missed shots. The good news is that this could have been worse, Michigan State only shot 30% from three point range. Georgia’s first five opponents are abysmal from three point range. Poor rotating, switching on screens and blocking out on defensive rebounds really stood out. Georgia was not forcing turnovers, Michigan State’s own sloppiness with offensive fouls and mishandled passes resulted in their turnovers. Georgia was who they always were on defense and four steals in total is on par with how Georgia performs.
One Thing is Clear
With two weeks left to go of Fall Practice, Georgia Basketball made it obvious that they are who they have always been. Win or lose in this one, there were very few encouraging signs as far as this team’s style of play and identity. Nothing has changed, no reason to expect anything more. Hero Ball, Uncomfortable Offense, Passive Defense and Unwillingness to Change.