Mark Fox and his team showed lapses in judgment and development against USC-Upstate.
There was no reason for Georgia to play this poorly against USC-Upstate. Many of the problems were self-inflicted and the fact that this game was close throughout after a 13-2 start is downright shameful. Georgia won this game, but if this is preview of what is to come, the season is absolutely doomed to repeat Georgia’s past history. It is one thing to have a poor perimeter shooting night, it is another to let an undersized and less talented team push this team around and play scared. The lack of aggression and physicality was disturbing, Mark Fox’s decision to have Mike Edwards play in the center against the USC-Upstate 1-3-1 and 2-3 Zone Defenses was shocking, and then the perimeter defense was generally awful. Georgia still won it, but it is not like this has not happened before.
Let’s just get this out of the way now…
The Elephant in the Room: Tyree Crump’s role on this team
This will be a game where people talk about Tyree Crump and why he did not play enough minutes, his defensive performance and unwillingness to be an effective distributor and attacker against the USC-Upstate zone defenses is why he did not play. Crump is not a great shooter, he’s a streaky shooter and Mark Fox does not know what to do about it because he does not realize it. Fox seems to think Crump is a Shooting Guard when he is certainly not, especially with Turtle Jackson being as effective from the perimeter as he is. Crump needs to play Point Guard and he needs to reinvented.
At least Teshaun Hightower is playing aggressively, he’s making mistakes like a Freshman would, but he’s trying to make something happen out of aggression. Crump’s answer is to just shoot and disappear on the offensive end, which is a product of his unnatural role at the Shooting Guard position. Crump has to be engaged in the offense and he’s more aggressive as a Point Guard. He’s playing both the 1 and 2, but he’s ineffective as a 2 because he literally sees himself as just a shooter.
Tyree Crump had one very good possession defensively and it was at the Point Guard spot playing tight man-to-man defense (the tightest he has ever played) on the perimeter in an end of half situation. Crump has to bring the physicality and aggression as a Point Guard. Have Crump be engaged in the offense as a Point Guard and find ways to let him make plays off the dribble rather than just shooting threes. When Crump’s aggression is taken away and he only sees himself as being a three point shooter, he’s neutered on both sides of the floor. Jeff Dantzler calling him Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson is inaccurate to say the least because he’s playing more like Quantez Robertson. Remember Quantez Robertson from the late 2000s Auburn teams? He’d just chuck it up anytime he had an opening (or perceived opening) for a jump shot. That’s what happened to Tyree Crump. It makes sense that Crump is going to play 11 minutes when the bread-and-butter of his game is taken away from him.
To be blunt… This. Is. Not. Working.
That Spain trip was rat poison for Mark Fox, the rest of the Georgia staff, the media and this team as a whole. Maybe most of all… it was rat poison for Tyree Crump.
The misdiagnosis of Crump’s capabilities and the overreliance on J.J. Frazier last season (Hero Ball) stunted his development. Crump’s a Point Guard with one of the best first steps in the game, he has a natural ability to finish and make decisions off the bounce. Everyone thinks he’s Toney Douglas, he’s not Toney Douglas. He’s Tyree Crump, let him be himself out there – the incredibly aggressive Point Guard who can make his teammates better.
Tyree Crump is not in an opponent’s shirt on defense on every possession, he’s not disruptive at all. He needs to be fully engaged and if it means getting 15-18 minutes of max effort with a foul load, it is worth it. Maybe Tyree Crump can take some notes from Ehab Amin on Sunday.
The Zone Offense
It was a cold shooting night, these games happen. Teams will miss open shots, it will be compartmentalized and just infects a team. It’s much like how a hot shooting night goes where the entire team just pours it on. Historically, Georgia’s Zone Offense has been good. With many holdovers from last season’s team, this was expected to happen again.
In fact, the Spartans came out in a 1-3-1 Zone and Georgia methodically and brutally ripped it up. USC-Upstate went man-to-man after a timeout by Kyle Perry. Turns out USC-Upstate’s switch to man-to-man got them back into the game as Georgia struggled in the half court sets. USC-Upstate started switching between 1-3-1 and 2-3 Zone like the way Georgia Tech did last season. Things just became ugly because the wrong personnel were played in the wrong places in the 1-3-1 Zone and 2-3 Zone. The Freshmen were misdiagnosing what they were seeing and the threat of the defense going back to man-to-man really made the team passive and lazy. The team went from confident to existential crisis in one half.
There was ball movement against the zone, but not enough movement without the ball. In years past, Yante Maten was positioned in the middle of the zone. Short corners in the 1-3-1 were used as areas for solid interior passes as well. However, the approach tonight was incredibly immature, but not as bad as Mark Fox coached teams in his first four years against zone defenses. In the past, it would be pass it around the perimeter and chuck it up. Georgia tried to do more, but the movement without the ball and awareness was not there.
USC-Upstate did not need to extend their defense, if they extended their defense, Georgia would have had easier possessions.
The puzzling decision to have Mike Edwards play the role of the center man in the zone requires more than just an acknowledgement. Edwards’ role was critical and he failed at it. Yante Maten and Charles Mann both excelled playing that zone-breaker at the Free Throw Line. Mike Edwards’ issues with catching the basketball, hauling in rebounds, dribbling in traffic and handling contact make him a terrible candidate for that role. Mark Fox went with Edwards to play that role because he was experienced and his position dictated that he play there. It was a wrong decision.
All this is said and nothing has been said yet about the rebounding against the zone… that abomination is coming up.
Why not have E’Torrion Wilridge play in that spot? Wilridge was the leader in assists tonight (this is a phrase to get used to with Georgia Basketball this season) and it forces him to have play physical on offense. When Wilridge gets physical, he’s less likely to disappear. In fact, Wilridge was getting more aggressive as the night progressed.
Why not have Rayshaun Hammonds in that spot? Hammonds is a multi-tool player on offense and he’s accustomed to playing very physical. This role is like being a Point Guard against the zone. Hammonds can spot-up, play back to the basket and face-up.
Why not have Yante up there attracting double teams on the High Post setting up cutters on the other side with good ball movement?
There were a lot of good options and Mark Fox chose Mike Edwards. Edwards can do certain things, but handling the ball in traffic is a major weakness. Edwards is not a threat to shoot from 16 feet either.
It is not like Georgia was facing Xavier, Syracuse or Baylor tonight. No, this is USC-Upstate. Georgia has more skill and size than this Spartans team. Mark Fox is entrenched at Georgia and he’s struggling with a coach who is brand new and found out he was getting the lead chair on October 3.
Georgia played passive tonight and it was not just the shooting. No, it was the rebounding effort. The disgusting rebounding effort. How does Georgia only get 11 second chance points against an undersized team playing two different types of zones? How does that happen on a cold shooting night? A 27.2% Offensive Rebounding win rate will not cut the mustard.
The Defensive Effort
Georgia’s inability to handle ball screens and switch properly on them is an issue. The amount of dribble drives that USC-Upstate had was rather discouraging. USC-Upstate went on streaks and used their threat of shooting threes to prevent the help defense. Poor lateral movement and footwork really doomed the perimeter defenders. The non-disruptive nature of the Georgia Defense let the Spartans get into the game and take the shots that they wanted. It is a shame that Georgia had less shot attempts in the restricted arc than USC-Upstate.
A lot of hoping that the Spartans’ shooters would miss and the 78.2% defensive rebound win rate helped a great deal. If USC-Upstate shot the ball better, this game outcome would be different.
Repeating History at UGA
Another second game of the season turns out uglier than expected. Another second game where Mark Fox completely mismanages the team and there is a poor shooting night only to pull out a very ugly win.
- 2009-10: Loss to Wofford.
- 2010-11: Win over Colorado. 27/43 from Free Throw Line.
- 2011-12: Win over Bowling Green, outrebounded 43-28 and 20% from three point range.
- 2012-13: The infamous loss to Youngstown State.
- 2013-14: Loss to Georgia Tech.
- 2014-15: Win over Stony Brook.
- 2015-16: Kenny Gaines saves Georgia in an ugly one over Murray State
- 2016-17: The UNC-Asheville Miasma
Better players, same sort of results. Why expect anything more?
Lots of time between now and Sunday’s game against one of the best defensive players in the country, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Guard Ehab Amin. The new second game tradition is the awkward screenshot of the broadcast team doing the game recap.
And now some angry comments in the comments section…