If you are happy about this headline, you may have had a lobotomy or joined a weird cult.
It was 40 minutes of unacceptable Basketball. Georgia played roughly 18 minutes of acceptable Basketball during this entire trip to Maui. Nobody learned anything and the team is worse than it was before they came. Worse. If the results and way this team played is indicative of anything, it sure seems like Tom Crean and his staff coached in Maui to have this team buy into the media caricature that this team was nothing more than Anthony Edwards and The Pips. If Hero Ball, lazy defense, and a lack of faith in the freshmen class is what Georgia Basketball is this season, this season ends on March 11, 2020. The last time you see this iteration of Bulldogs will be in a depressing environment on a rainy Wednesday Night in Nashville. Is this what it is?
Georgia almost lost to a Division II opponent.
Consider that Anthony Edwards had to hit a game winner and score 21 points to carry an unwilling team to victory. Anthony Edwards is not a team identity, but only in the small minds of the sports media trying to get you click on something. All of this scouting work, practices, strength and conditioning, installing a style of play just went up in smoke. This team seemingly had an identity and they played more like a team, but the taste of linear television broke the team apart. Getting ESPN all hot and bothered is the priority?
Chaminade faced a very distracted Georgia Basketball Team that could not stay engaged on either end of the floor. Chaminade was able to get wide open three point shots and easy drives to the basket. Chaminade was also able to score quickly off Georgia’s made shots because nobody was looking to pressure the ball handler nor get back on defense. Whatever it was, there were blown defensive assignments in man-to-man and zone defenses. Nobody was challenging shots or making anyone uncomfortable out there.
Letting Chaminade go 7/11 from three point range in the First Half really took effort from Georgia. This Georgia team had to go out of their way not to try to stay attached to an offensive player. Aaron Arissol and Tyler Cartaino looked like Mike Devoe and Rodney Chatman out there. This is not acceptable, why are opponents capable of putting up career nights on Georgia to fill up their highlight reels?
There was nothing acceptable about allowing Chaminade to collect 11 steals and have such good ball movement on this defense. Georgia was a better defensive and offensive team before they left for Maui and bought into the media hype. If the objective was to try to sell recruits and show off on national television, mission failed. The objective is to become a better team so that you win games and eventually championships. How did this team become better? They didn’t.
One can say, “Well, this is an immature team.” The classic Mark Fox excuse, but the issues are coming from the veterans, not the rookies.
This entire trip to Maui is a massive blown opportunity. It could have turned into something that would build momentum even after the losses to Dayton and Michigan State, but this performance and the approach toward this game is troubling. It is possible that Tom Crean and his staff re-evaluate things and take a more holistic approach, but if Hero Ball is the strategy, it is a waste of a season and Crean did not need to be hired to do that.
- Mark Fox was playing Hero Ball and not making the right adjustments.
- Mark Fox was having his team play sloppy man-to-man defense yielding wide open three shots.
- Mark Fox was not playing aggressive defense and had his defense play on its heels.
- Mark Fox was letting Tyree Crump shoot bad threes and then pretended that Crump was not letting the missed shots get to him on defense. He even convinced him to keep on shooting those threes because he thought he was Steph Curry 2.0.
- Mark Fox was going to 7th Place Games in prominent tournaments.
- Mark Fox was wasting the talent he had.
Tom Crean, if he does exactly what he did in Maui, is completely unnecessary for UGA. We could saved $1.5 Million per year and kept Mark Fox, if those are acceptable results and stylistic attributes. If these are the best results we can come up with in a Basketball Season with so much promise, what are we doing here?
This game was supposed to give the freshmen more confidence and give them an opportunity to face live competition, build chemistry, and show these guys that they can do it on their own. Instead, the veterans hogged the minutes and completely tanked this team. No leadership. Limited effort. Selfishness. Questionable passion. Bad decisions. The veterans should be thanking Anthony Edwards for bailing them out because a loss would have made things very ugly. Anthony Edwards should not be bailing this team out against Chaminade.
Tye Fagan, Tyree Crump, and Amanze Ngumezi played awful tonight and they played important minutes. Red Gresham and Rayshaun Hammonds were also capable of playing much better. Crump and Ngumezi get the starts, but they are not delivering. Sahvir Wheeler, Mike Peake, and Toumani Camara were fighting out there when others stared or did nothing.
Whatever the approach was for this trip to Maui, never re-visit it. Nobody grew, the team looks out of sorts, and everyone is looking out for themselves.
- Nobody is setting each other up well on the perimeter.
- Nobody is sticking to their defensive responsibilities.
- The passes made inside the perimeter are excessive, way too short in distance, and even at times completely inappropriate types of passes. Do you practice that making that pass? Is your teammate actually expecting that pass?
- Nobody is pressuring ball handlers outside of Edwards and Wheeler.
- Active hands are a rarity on defense.
When did this team ever look disruptive on defense? Where was the imposition of will? It was just on the glass. Georgia won the X-Factor points by 20, but what good is that when there are easy driving lanes and wide open three point shots?
There is good news for Georgia from all this
Georgia will not deal with the ESPN hype machine until January 7, 2020, which is when the Dawgs will host Kentucky. Georgia will not be on a non-conference specific network until January 4, 2020, which is when this team visits Memphis and the game will be on CBS. All of the publicity got to this staff and team’s heads.
Do you want to win Twitter and ESPN’s approval or a National Championship? Tony Bennett and Chris Beard sure do not care about getting approval, they want to win Championships. Tom Crean won two Big Ten Championships, it is not like he does not know how to win. This trip to Maui was uncharacteristic and in retrospect, a sad display of Basketball.
The less attention the national media gives Georgia the better, this team is not ready for it and neither is the coaching staff. Crean needs to realize that winning comes before impressing ESPN and showing off for recruits. This is not Year 0, this is not a demo season. This is a team that is capable of making the NCAA Tournament and plays like their priorities are in the wrong place. The team plays and behaves like the cart is in front of the proverbial horse, at least in Maui.
The most important lesson from Maui is “What happens in Maui, stays in Maui.”