There wasn’t much defense on either side as expected, but in this game between two evenly matched squads, Georgia’s bad habits took them down.
There were several themes in this game between Alabama and Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum and they were quite clear in the First Half and in the Overtime session. The difference in toughness, effort, and situational awareness between the two teams is very obvious and yet Georgia could have still won this game. Georgia was able to get out to a 12 point lead with 14:24 left in the game, but yet poor chemistry and greedy shot attempts put Georgia into a position where they needed some missed Free Throws from Alabama to get into Overtime. The team that was positioning themselves better for the loose balls and outnumbering the other when possession was in doubt won the game, but there is so much more.
Tom Crean’s strategic approach was to let Nate Oats’ team do what they wanted on offense.
Crean went to a 2-3 Zone against Alabama for three possessions, it was not effective because Alabama was able to spread out the zone so well that they were able to put a defender up top on an island against dribble driver. It was not a disruptive defense, it just forced Alabama to recalibrate and acknowledge. They were not flustered. Georgia also is a terrible 2-3 Zone team, which is strange considering that this team did so well with a 1-2-2 Matchup Zone and the 1-2-2 Extended Zone. If there is a team to use a 1-2-2 Extended Zone against just to keep them from getting out and running, it is Alabama. The point of a press or trap is to slow, speed up or disrupt the opponent, but not your own team.
Crean’s defense alternated between switching and not switching. The rules depended upon who the player receiving the ball screen was. If Kira Lewis Jr. was getting a ball screen, there was no switch. Defenders were frequently going under the screens to deny Lewis the driving lane, it did not work at all. Lewis and James “Beetle” Bolden were able to drive from the top of the key and wing without many issues. The decision to put Toumani Camara on Lewis was puzzling considering that Lewis is much quicker than Camara. Camara was always a step too late defensively. Camara is a better matchup guarding someone like Andrew Nembhard, Nick Weatherspoon, Ashton Hagans or A.J. Lawson. Putting Camara on players like Lewis, J’Von McCormick or Breein Tyree makes very little sense. Point Guards with more strength and less quickness provide Camara the opportunity to stay in front in a man-to-man defensive scenario.
Crean’s choices ultimately allowed Alabama to immediately score after Georgia baskets and prevented the Dawgs from having more than one big run in the game. Alabama was able to run offense just as they wanted without much disruption.
Anthony Edwards had a double-double, but clearly was not 100%.
Anthony Edwards was active on the defensive glass, but he was not playing like himself. He struggled shooting from the field and was at his best within 8 feet of the basket, he could not be relied upon as a shooter and this provided opportunities for his teammates. Edwards was taking the shots, but his accuracy was off the entire game. He was 0/6 from three point range and 5/11 inside the perimeter. He could not finish at the rim with consistency either. It was a frustrating game.
Sahvir Wheeler picked up the slack for Edwards and carried the team. Wheeler was getting his work done probing the defense off the dribble and frequently bailed out the team like the way Gerald Robinson Jr. used to do. Wheeler struggled defensively in his assignments and it still seems like Tom Crean is unsure how to best use Wheeler on the defensive end.
It Still Looks Like Nothing Comes Easy
Corralling rebounds is a tough fight, three point shots made are major accomplishments, a caught pass by a cutter, layups, and staying in front of defenders all seem like more stressful experiences compared to opponents.
On the offensive end, Georgia had 24 points on 14 offensive rebounds, which is much better than usual. However, there were blown opportunities both at the rim and a few quick three point shots that should have been reconsidered. Tye Fagan, Toumani Camara, and Anthony Edwards fought hard to extend possessions and get second chance points.
There are still too many occasions where one opposing player is outnumbered by Georgia on the glass and still is able to get the ball. The opposite happens as well as Georgia is frequently outnumbered on the glass.
Three Point Shots
The perimeter shooting from this Georgia Basketball Team is cringeworthy. Three point shot selection is seemingly prohibited. If there is no one in front of the player, take a shot regardless. This is not a good three point shooting team and there is a delusional belief that this is a path to victory. Tyree Crump taking his quota of three point shots, many of which are of terrible quality, Rayshaun Hammonds’ inconsistent mechanics, and Toumani Camara’s horribly flat shot were all seemingly encouraged. Rather moving and attacking, there was a lot of settling for shots that could have been had at any time. Alabama was not challenging Georgia’s shooters, they were camped out ready to go.
Discomfort with Contact
This is not a physically or mentally strong team. The aggression is inconsistent and officiating has certainly messed with the team. However, this is a team with weak hands and bad habits with what to do with hands within 12 feet of the basket.
- Not going up with two hands to grab a rebound.
- Putting the ball down below the waist.
- Not playing through contact without caring about the officials’ call.
- Not diving for loose balls.
- Terrible reverse layups that completely neutralize the idea of taking a reverse layup.
- Fumbled passes.
- Not taking advantage of defenders in the restricted arc.
- Too much finesse.
Did You Notice?
- Toumani Camara had Georgia’s first six points, which were all dunks. Camara had 12 points and they were all in the restricted arc.
- Mike Peake’s extended playing time. Rayshaun Hammonds found himself in foul trouble and Peake filled in. Peake’s tough mid-range shot put Georgia into a position to get the game to Overtime. He’s clearly still learning, but he offers a lot of upside.
- Crean wanted to tighten the rotation down to 8 tonight and his team is not built to play that way. The team was playing better deeper and were able to put opponents away late due to using depth. His teams are wearing down and Edwards playing ill did not help matters. Why Crean wanted a tighter rotation against a team like Alabama is still a bit of a mystery, but he ultimately had to play a 9th player.
- Tye Fagan is capable of making the type of plays that Jordan Harris makes and he has a more controlled dribble. Fagan’s next step is shooting the ball.
Generally speaking, Georgia rebounded well enough to win the game. The team even had a 15.6% turnover rate. However, the rebounding effort was inconsistent and the turnovers were a massive problem in the First Half.
What was bothersome was that Georgia was not forcing turnovers, not engaged defensively, taking bad three point shots, and not drawing fouls.
The same problems do end up creeping up in every game. There’s potential, but the coaches seem too stubborn to adjust and the players are overly confident in their weak spots. Not every shot coming out of Tyree Crump’s hands is going to go in, Jordan Harris’ handle and ability to catch as a cutter is still poor, Toumani Camara is doing things he is still not ready to do, Rayshaun Hammonds is never fully there, and Anthony Edwards seems more comfortable as a decoy.
It is that time of year to mask the weaknesses, make adjustments, and focus on the future rather than pretending the team is a contender for an at-large bid. At some point, there needs to be some introspection.