Temple at Georgia Preview: To Zone or Not to Zone?

Temple visits Georgia this afternoon in what will be an intriguing match-up.

There’s a lot going on right now.  Georgia is coming off a win over Georgia Tech.  Bitcoin is crashing and the extremely high cost of sending/exchanging money along with the slow process is resulting in lost investment.  Josh Pastner tried to fight a UGA supporting patron.  Ashton Hagans committed to Georgia and is trying to get a 2019 Class assembled and if he cannot re-classify, there’s a possibility of bringing E.J. Montgomery into the fray because of his connection to signee JoJo Toppin and Hagans’ popularity on the Adidas AAU circuit.  There’s a MAJOR GAME against Temple to be played!

Temple is not a joke at all, this is an NCAA Tournament team and they will challenge for the AAC Title.  Their strength of schedule is very strong, in fact, it is 2nd in the nation right now.

Temple has wins over Auburn, Clemson, Wisconsin (they are having a down season), South Carolina and Old Dominion.  Fran Dunphy’s squad is to be taken very seriously.  Their losses have been to La Salle (an Atlantic 10 enigma), George Washington and Villanova (the best team in College Basketball right now).

The AAC is going to be much better this season than last season.  The addition of Wichita State to the conference and the improvement of many programs within the conference will bring awareness back to the conference.  Houston, SMU, Wichita State, Temple and Cincinnati appear to be the upper echelon of the conference.  UConn, UCF and Tulane are expected to be challenging foes with an eye toward playing in a postseason tournament of some kind.  This is a good conference and they could likely end up with four or five NCAA Tournament berths.

Temple is a talented team with a backcourt that is the best Georgia has faced thus far.  They are not a particularly deep team, but they make up for it with quality of play and their style of play is conducive to their depth.

Expect heavy doses of Quinton Rose, Shizz Alston, Josh Brown and Obi Enechionya.  This is a team that can make their three points, cut to the basket well and find scoring inside the perimeter on post-ups.  This is a rather complete team, they are not a deep team, but they are complete team.

This is a complete team, but certainly not a perfect team.  They have their flaws and one of the biggest flaws that they have is that they do not share the ball well at all.  They score off the dribble or off tip-ins.  However, they do not turn it over much.  Maintaining a 1.119 Assist-to-Turnover ratio is solid.

Temple does not frequent the Free Throw Line much and they are certainly above average in their offensive efficiency.  When it comes to rebounding, they are not exactly strong in their ability to get second chance opportunities and close out defensive possessions.  It is a good thing that they average 7.2 steals per game to make up for the rebounding, but if Owls are not forcing turnovers there are opportunities to get second chances.

Temple will use a 2-3 Matchup Zone Defense along with a Man-to-Man.  Temple used to be a more Man-to-Man Defensive Team, but Temple alum, former NBA player, John Chaney disciple and Assistant Coach Aaron McKie has this team playing more zone like the good, old days in North Philadelphia.

Temple likes to show a 2-3 look when an opponent gets started into the frontcourt.  Moving the ball or moving without the ball will make it clear as to whether Temple is just using the 2-3 look as a base look for their Man-to-Man or they are going into a 2-3 Matchup Zone.

Temple’s inability to rebound may be a by-product of their zone defensive efforts, teams can actually rebound in zone defense very well, but few often do.  Temple also does not foul much and zone defense can substantially reduce fouls, but it also can result in fouls depending how it is executed.

Simply put, Temple’s ability to avoid fouling will be tested against Georgia’s ability to draw fouls.

Temple’s Starting Five will be:

  • PG:  Josh Brown
  • SG:  Shizz Alston
  • 3G:  Quinton Rose
  • Combo:  Obi Enechionyia
  • Center:  Ernest Aflakpui

Alani Moore will come off the bench and play as a fourth guard on the floor or spell any guard.  Moore is a streaky offensive player who provides a lot of defensive energy off the bench.  He’s a 5’10” 170 pound guard who is tough to account for on either end.

Quinton Rose will be a challenging match-up at the 3 spot for Rayshaun Hammonds, Rose will be able to score from inside and out and disrupt defensively.  Rose failing to have success is not an indicator that the team will suffer a loss.

In fact, if one of the players has a poor night, the rest of the players make up for the lost production in wins and losses.  This is a complete team, it takes a team effort to beat a team that plays like a team.

Temple will take a lot of shots off the dribble regardless of where the attempts takes place.  Shizz Alston and Quinton Rose are the team’s best three point shooters and they can pull the trigger at any time, they do not require movement without the ball or a catch-and-shoot rhythm setup to take a three point shot.  Alston makes a lot happen with the dribble and this makes him dangerous on the floor.  When a ball screen comes his way, he can accept, reject or just shoot.  Alston has a quick trigger to make something happen.

Defensively, Temple allows far too many shots in the money zones and this is the Achilles Heel of this team.  As potent as the offense can be, the defense can be leaky, selfish, experience busts or be susceptible to second chance points.

Temple will not let opponents attempt shots in transition, they allow 17% of shots attempted in transition.  However, their Defensive Effective Field Goal rate in the Half Court Defense is 49.4%, which is 208th in the country.  Temple has their defensive flaws.

Which Georgia Team will show up?

Will the team that beat Marquette and Georgia Tech show up or will the team that struggled against Cal State Fullerton, USC-Upstate or UMass make an appearance?

If Temple goes zone against Georgia to counter Georgia’s size and makeup for their lack of depth, Georgia showed that they can rip up the Georgia Tech zone defenses.  It was not luck, Georgia Tech’s zone defenses were simply exploited by Georgia like the way previous seasons’ teams did in Athens.  Going man-to-man will likely result in a lower Field Goal percentage for Georgia and more turnovers for the Dawgs, but it will wear out Temple and possibly put Obi Enechionyia into foul trouble.

Yante Maten would dominate Ernest Aflakpui and even though Aflakpui has the size to take on the All-American, he is a fouling machine designated to take the abuse not a credible defensive stalwart.  Aflakpui and Damion Moore are simply prototypical Centers and having to fight through the cross screens and being driven on by Maten from the High Post would be abuse.

The most important player on the floor will be Rayshaun Hammonds.  Hammonds has the assignment of defending Quinton Rose and his aggression on offense will be needed against Temple’s defense.  Hammonds may want to use the Georgia Tech game as a learning opportunity to get himself involved by attacking the basket and playing with greater physicality.

Wallflowers are not winners.  In life or in anything.

Georgia plays 11 Deep and while many may bemoan this, the depth will come in very handy as the season progresses.  The style of play is inappropriate for this team, but this is a radically different discussion.  Georgia’s depth and length can be obnoxious and Temple has not faced a team with Georgia’s willingness to play like the way they do.

Georgia takes a lot of shots in the “out of the money zone”, but the team has made the shots.  Juwan Parker is certainly more efficient in this area than from beyond the arc, but he is at his most efficient at the Free Throw Line.  In fact, Georgia is 10th in the country in highest percentage of shots in this region, but what makes it most tolerable is that Georgia is 31st in the country in Field Goal percentage when it comes to taking these shots.

Georgia may have struggled in wins this season, but in losses the common denominator was Field Goal percentage and inability to get to the Free Throw Line.  If Georgia can offset a poor shooting night from the field with 28 or more Free Throws, Georgia can find a way to win.  Georgia’s losses came when the team shot below 40% from the field.  Why did it happen?  It’s rather simple, the defenses were able to snuff out the Georgia Man-to-Man Offense and the offense was compulsively running the same two sets.

When the Georgia Offense is able to improvise there’s greater efficiency.  Georgia’s defensive issues are that they are not aggressive enough and do not play with enough energy in zone defense to justify staying in the zone defense.  It’s about energy, Georgia needs depth to play with enough energy to slam the door on opponents.

Simply put, Georgia has plenty of talent and Mark Fox needs to let his talent play with greater freedom.  Otherwise, every game becomes the same story.  It’s better to go down punching air rather than punching yourself.

What to Expect?

Temple will mix it up between Man-to-Man and 2-3 Matchup Zone.  It will be familiar to this Georgia team since they employ the same defensive mix as Georgia, but with more gambling within it.  Temple’s problem with Georgia will actually be the fouls situation in the frontcourt.  What enabled them to get away from Auburn and South Carolina will not let them get away from Georgia.  Georgia is adept at getting opponents into foul trouble and the zone alternative is not necessarily a good one against Georgia.

Temple will force turnovers, there’s no question that Georgia will likely commit 13 or more turnovers in this game.  However, Georgia will also get easy buckets, second chance points and Free Throws.

Georgia could put Temple’s frontcourt into danger early and fail to truly capitalize on the opportunity, but later on in the game, Georgia will get to the line frequently enough and chop up the game to wreck Temple’s rhythm.  It’s about rhythm and Temple wants a back-and-forth, clean basketball game.  Georgia is fine with a lot of whistles blown and Free Throw stoppages.  Juwan Parker gets some more points late at the Free Throw Line.

Yante Maten will have a good day, but Rayshaun Hammonds and Derek Ogbeide become the story in this one.

Prediction:  Georgia 75  Temple 69

One comment

  1. 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?

Comments are closed.