Georgia was run out of the Mullins Center in an effort that reflected a lack of preparation and awareness.
This is the type of loss that happens every season under Mark Fox until the 12 Year Plan is completed. UMass has a shorthanded, hodge-podge of a roster while Georgia has the most talented roster to grace Athens, Georgia in over a decade. How did Georgia look so disoriented, disjointed, soft and pitiful? How will the media spin this? How will Mark Fox spin this?
It was not a matter of turning the ball over too often, it was not an issue with making Free Throws, no problems with foul trouble, it was not even an issue with the Jimmies and the Joes or all of the other nonsensical stuff that is said about Georgia Basketball. This was Georgia Basketball exposed.
The distraction of focusing solely on the talent on the floor and not examining what they are instructed to do gives Mark Fox plenty of cover as it opens the door for excuses for why Georgia cannot win against teams like UMass or struggles to beat Winthrop. Yes, these criticisms give Mark Fox and the local media license to dump on the talent to distract from the horrible game planning.
The talent may improve, but the horrible performances will all look eerily reminiscent season after season. What is the problem? Well, there are so many…
1. Mark Fox did not have a game plan, he was unprepared.
It seems like this is the first time he learned of who is on the UMass roster because he did not know how to defend this team. No, really, the defensive plan was there was no defensive plan. The team certainly approached UMass like they were any other opponent that they would face and it showed!
How can anyone know this? What would make this an obvious problem?
- Carl Pierre was taking unguarded shots on the perimeter and was not given the Sam Hauser treatment.
- Luwane Pipkins was given space to destroy and it was not like he was getting the space immediately after a ball screen on a switch. Pipkins was taking three point shots with a switched defender from the Georgia frontcourt passively playing back.
- No pressure on Pipkins taking the ball up the floor. It was the same passive Georgia Man-to-Man Defense.
- Yante Maten was instructed not to front Rashaan Holloway and it made it easy to feed him the basketball.
- Derek Ogbeide did not have the task of defending Holloway despite being the closest thing to a bruiser this team has.
- A defense that cannot play tight enough on defense against the UMass perimeter was expected to be able to throw off UMass in a passive 2-3 Matchup Zone that is poorly instructed. With this team’s length, it would be disruptive if it was part of the team’s identity and taught well enough, but the way it was executed today it was far too easy to get quick three point shots for Carl Pierre.
Offensively, there was no specific game plan either. It was the same style of play.
- Lots of jump shots from wherever.
- No expectation that McCall would be prepared to face the Georgia Offense.
- Lots of awkward moments where Mike Edwards has nobody in his vicinity on the extreme High Post waiting to pass the ball to SOMEBODY.
Yes, this is the hallmark of a coach who is so versed and well-esteemed with his Xs and Os that he could not make any adjustments for his opposition. Mark Fox’s hubris, everyone.
2. Situational Awareness
Georgia was down 19 at the Half, but was granted the gift of fortuitous officiating in the first five minutes of the game. Georgia was able to get UMass in the Double Bonus with 15 minutes of action left with a 14 point deficit. Georgia had the recipe for a comeback. The game plan was to be obvious and anyone with a reasonable level of intelligence would know how to exploit this situation. However that is not the Mark Fox way!
Mark Fox coached teams have to play slow, methodical and play a style that is to sabotage their own results. It is like a person who finds that they pay a 5% Effective Tax Rate, makes it up to the Federal Government by giving a gift to the Treasury to make it a 95% Effective Tax Rate and has to live a life of abject poverty.
It’s an uphill battle every game, Mark Fox styled Basketball has to be done the toughest way possible, which is considered the right way. If the opponent does not have the chance to win, is that good sportsmanship?
Imagine if Mark Fox was your boxing trainer and was in your corner for a fight. The first round ends, he’d tell you as you get water sprayed into your mouth, “Go jab yourself in the face a few times. Maybe even throw in an uppercut!” That’s Mark Fox’s approach to winning games.
So back to Mark Fox’s hideous approach and what he failed to instruct his team to do. With the Double Bonus and Rashaan Holloway getting into foul trouble, Mark Fox did not have his team attack the basket off the dribble at all. No, he had his team run the same plodding sets that resulted in the most sub-optimal shots available on the floor. Unlike the previous three games, the shots did not fall and Fox blew the bailout he was given by the officials royally. Fox would never get such calls on the road, but he got them today and he apparently thought it was the wrong thing to take advantage of the situation.
Common sense would dictate that Turtle Jackson, Tyree Crump, Juwan Parker and the rest just pound the ball inside off the dribble and use secondary break opportunities to force Free Throw Attempts. However, the idea of taking jump shots from all over and forcing Yante Maten to take circus shots inside the restricted arc was just too tempting.
3. Those horrible offensive sets
Yep, those horrible offensive sets that have been chronicled here numerous times and broken down FULLY were to be run to their termination point. However, Matt McCall, being a coach who emphasizes review of Game Film was certainly not unfamiliar with Georgia’s predictable Half Court Offense. McCall was content to let Mark Fox’s offense self-destruct and so he did something profoundly simple, if your name is not Yante Maten and you are taller than 6’5″ you are not going to be followed up to the perimeter or the High Post. McCall sort of had a de facto junk defense in place against Georgia.
What resulted were bad shots taken from all over and Georgia had to score off second chance opportunities for much of the First Half. McCall was content to just guard a few players on the perimeter and let his defense hang back near the paint. Whenever Maten got a paint touch, double team and hope the rest of the team screwed it up by being passive and having terrible ball movement.
Forget Uga X, Hairy Dawg and Spike! Matt McCall knows the real mascot of the Georgia Basketball Team.
But what about PLAYING YOUR BEST PLAYERS AND ROTATIONS… THOSE ROTATIONS… OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! PLAY YOUR BEST PLAYERS BLAH BLAH BLAH….
How can a team get into an “Offensive Flow” when the opponent knows exactly where the ball is going and what the offensive movement is going to be? What “Offensive Flow” is to be expected?
No rotation with any sort of continuity is going to have success with this offense. It’s why the Georgia Offense has been and continues to be an underachiever.
Who are the best players? The sad part is that nobody knows because the offensive sets are horrible and there is no defensive game plan for each opponent. Georgia’s “Xs and Os” and scouting reports are preventing anyone from having a clear idea of what this team’s rotations should be and what lineups work. This is a fundamental problem, it’s what makes the rotations argument a non-starter. If there’s no clear strategic vision on each end of the floor, what is the point?
Ever notice that Georgia’s best possessions this season happen when the action breaks down or if there is a transition opportunity? It’s not a coincidence, but yet Georgia is one of the slowest paced teams in the country.
So much for the Georgia Frontcourt. If this team cannot outrebound UMass, what are they being taught? This team looked soft and Derek Ogbeide’s regression on the glass is a story now. Ogbeide used to be an aggressive beast, but now he is playing soft. What happened?
This team was supposed to play with physicality and Isaac Kante was supposed to be the one injecting it into practices, but yet this team is afraid to foul or make any sort of contact.
Mark Fox has a deep team, but his team is clearly instructed to not foul like a team that plays 6 or 7 deep out of fear of foul trouble. Mark Fox cannot trust his talent and he certainly has neutered the team.
Allowing a 38.6% offensive rebounding win rate is horrendous.
Here’s the Deal…
No identity, inability to game plan, playing to spite yourself, micromanagement and passiveness are not characteristics of NCAA Tournament teams. NCAA Tournament teams do not lose at UMass, they have a projected end of season RPI that is worse than 150. This is a BAD LOSS. Inexcusably bad.
Matt McCall won during Finals Week with his short-handed team in his First Year. What’s the excuse this time in Year 9 with the best arrangement of talent in over a decade?
Does it matter? No, of course not. Georgia is in the Rose Bowl and that means everything is okay in Butts-Mehre. That is until the reality of tax reform hits and giving drops… bye bye Tax Arbitrage.
The comments ought to be fun. Oh and if the “if you’re so smart why don’t you do it?” comment comes out… the answer is ‘Gladly’ as long as the dotard Greg McGarity and the old guard are gone.