Let’s go back to October 18, 2019, which was Georgia’s Exhibition Game against Valdosta State.
October 2019 was certainly simpler times and no one could have ever expected that March Madness would be cancelled. During this time, there was much anticipation for the debut of Anthony Edwards at Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia went through a bit of an evolution and devolution during the 2019-20 Season and in this series, the goal is to look at what exactly Georgia was doing and not doing with visual help rather than a description of the events. So let’s go down memory lane and see how the 2019-20 Georgia Basketball Team looked against a team that would finish 26-4 in Division II and finish 18-2 in the Gulf South Conference as Regular Season Champions.
How it is all examined
The best way to examine the various parts of the game that are highlighted is to show a GIF of a clip from the game. It gives the opportunity to watch the particular play on a loop without sounds or any distractions. It also enables pauses and fast-forwarding quite easily. The plays are far more chewable so that there is understanding.
The choice of GIFing also makes things quite annoying on the publishing side because the game has to be re-watched and the plays have to be cut down into 15 second chunks to be viewable through GFYCat. Not every play is going to be covered, but the ones that stand out because they are common sets, show some form of development or play into some kind of a theme will be shown and examined.
This particular game is probably going to be the longest of the series due to the fact that is the first game and a lot of things have changed or stayed the same. There are clues in this game as to how this season would play out and where the issues were. More issues would rear their ugly heads in Maui, but that is coming down the road.
The Ball is Tipped
Notice who is out there starting and tipping off to get the season going.
- Tyree Crump
- Anthony Edwards
- Donnell Gresham Jr.
- Rayshaun Hammonds
- Toumani Camara (tip-off responsibilities)
Camara struggled throughout the season on tip-offs, he was usually undersized in the role and it was not something that ever came naturally to him during the season. In fact, Camara had his issues with elevating on rebounds and getting blocked shots in general during the season due to both his lack of strength and timing. Camara did not exactly time his jump right and he was not strong enough to influence the direction of the tip.
It’s also worthy to note that it is very likely that four of the five players representing UGA in that starting lineup will likely not be on the 2020-21 Team Roster. Crump, Edwards, and Gresham have all either graduated or formally entered the 2020 NBA Draft without any chance of a return. Hammonds has not hired an agent yet, but he is a projected 2nd Round Draft Pick. Most indications are that Hammonds will stay in the 2020 NBA Draft.
From an experience perspective, Crump and Gresham are both Seniors, Hammonds is a Junior, and Camara and Edwards are Freshmen. This is not something that one could have ever imagined during the last five seasons of the Mark Fox era.
Georgia also had the distinction this past season of playing one of the first exhibition games and some of the themes of this game set the tone for the team before they embarked to Maui.
First Defensive Possession of 2019-20
It is an ugly defensive possession and not exactly a good start for Anthony Edwards and Toumani Camara. Valdosta State was running a cutter from the wing against Gresham on the dribble drive. Edwards took a gamble with a swipe at the ball and the Point Guard he was defending used this as an opportunity to attack as Edwards was flat footed. Edwards has a long wingspan and is quick enough laterally to stay in front of his man, the problem is that he made the aggressive play that is far tougher to make on the college level than in High School. This was Edwards’ Welcome to College Basketball Moment. Edwards took a bad angle and it was an easy drive to the restricted arc.
Camara lost awareness of where he is on the floor with his help defense efforts to protect the rim and he ended up getting called for a personal foul because he was in the restricted arc and also never established his position. Those who have watched many Georgia games this season will notice that Camara becomes much better at drawing offensive fouls (specifically charging) as the season progresses.
Gresham stayed on the cutter from the wing and denied the cutter as an option, he did his job well here.
Much of the season, Tom Crean talked about the need for players to talk on defense and how the team was rather silent for much of the season. Here is an example of Rayshaun Hammonds alerting Toumani Camara to play help defense as he had his head turned and he could not play help defense. It is very likely that Hammonds would have committed a foul had he helped by getting into the lane, but it could have set up an easy basket as well.
First Offensive Possession of 2019-20
In this first offensive possession, Georgia ran High Horns with a weave along the perimeter to set up Toumani Camara on the post. Camara kicked out to a wide open Tyree Crump for a three point shot and he made it. It was an offensive possession that was filled with good reads and getting Crump an open three point shot that was in rhythm like he had practiced the shot so many times played a huge role in getting the points.
What is High Horns?
High Horns is a description of two players serving as possible screeners at the top of the key or on the elbows on each side of the floor. More commonly, they are placed at the top of the key and some coaches may place them well above the three point line. High Horns as an opening look can set up the rest of a designed set or any sort of a motion offense. It gives the ball handler a pair of ball screen options, a three point shot attempt in the case of a sagging defense, and a cutter if the wing or corner defender falls asleep on their man.
In this case, Anthony Edwards serves as the Point Guard and he opts to use Rayshaun Hammonds as his screener, he’ll drive right and Valdosta opts not to switch. To deny the roller, they place Hammonds’ defender in a position to deny the pass into the rolling Hammonds. Edwards astutely realizes that he is guarded by 1 1/2 defenders as the passing window into Hammonds was both narrow and far too risky. Edwards opts to pass to Toumani Camara and Rayshaun Hammonds does not have dominant position in the low post, Camara initiates the second part of this particular set, which is the three man weave.
In the three man weave, Valdosta State’s guards switched defenders in the man-to-man against other guards and forwards stayed on forwards. In this case, the weave is not meant to continue to set up a shot like the way North Dakota State does, it just is there to set some sort of a favorable situation. The favorable situation was Toumani Camara in a good position on the pinch post.
Valdosta State’s defenders had a few choices here:
- Let Camara go one-on-one against their defender.
- Double team Camara as fast as possible and go hard at it.
- Play 1 1/2 men on Camara to deny any sort of a kick out pass (Crump).
- Play 1 1/2 men on Camara to deny the cutter down the middle (Hammonds).
Valdosta appeared to go with Option #2, but Camara picked up on it quickly and was able to pass it the ball out to Tyree Crump for a high percentage three point shot.
Toumani Camara’s defensive footwork and inexperience in the post.
One of the big points of contention last season was that Tom Crean really did not adjust defensively given the roster that he had. One of the things that happened was that 6’8″ 220 pound (220 is being generous) Toumani Camara defended the post against posts like Reggie Perry, Nick Richards, James Banks, Carlos Dotson, Alanzo Frink, and Austin Wiley. What made them mismatches was not the matter of height, it was the matter of strength and weight. Toumani Camara, a freshman who did not have a full offseason of strength and conditioning, was not going to be able to defend these big guys effectively. In fact, Georgia did not have anybody who was really able to take on players in the post because of the lack of strength and experience.
Crean wanted to play a traditional man-to-man defense for much of the season and it was a painful sight, there were no presses or exotic zones designed to create confusion and force turnovers. It was too straight-forward and this put the team at a distinct disadvantage.
The result is a six foot unchallenged shot against Camara as a result of this defensive calculation. It’s simply unfair and there are clear defensive issues before the first media timeout against a Division II squad.
Lazy Passes, Screens, and Cuts
Edwards remains as Point Guard and he calls up Camara to set him up as a screener on the High Post. There are a host of mistakes and ugly execution here because it is not quite clear what they are trying to accomplish beyond setting up Tyree Crump for a three point shot that he could have at any time he wants.
- Possible blown potential on the set being flipped as there may have been an opportunity for Camara to set a screen on the Dribble Hand-Off at the top of the key and provide an opening for Edwards to turn the corner and drive.
- Was there supposed to be a cross screen between Hammonds and Crump? If there was it sets up Hammonds for an easy layup since Edwards has his head up and could be ready to make an alley-oop type of a pass. Instead, it just looks lazy and Hammonds can easily be covered up.
- Camara sets the downscreen for Crump at the Free Throw Line, but Crump takes a bad cut to the top of the key and Camara’s screen is rendered ineffective.
- Edwards makes the pass anyway not observing what has just transpired and Crump has no chance at the pass.
How could the botched movement turn into two points?
Edwards could have not made the pass and Crump could have read the overplay by the defender, which could have set up an easy layup for him off a high screen by a re-screening Camara. This is one of those contingencies that requires practice, communication, and chemistry. Worst case scenario is two shots at the Free Throw Line for a strong Free Throw shooter.
Later in the season, Georgia would do a much better job at cutting down the middle when the action breaks down. Tyree Crump was a beneficiary of chin screens and high screens for much of the season.
Same Set Flipped with Donnell Gresham Jr. as the Point Guard
Amazingly, this is the next offensive possession and Crean wants to see it executed correctly. It is a massive twist on the Ricky Yogi set with the inclusion of a crossing action. The screens are crisper and the decisions are better (relatively), but the spacing is not as good.
So what went wrong here?
- Spacing. Gresham and Camara were doing their dribble hand-off act on the three point arc, which made it easier to defend than Edwards and Camara were doing it more than 5 feet away.
- Gresham having Crump as his first intended option rather than noticing that Crump’s cross screen did effectively set up Hammonds into excellent post-up position.
- Gresham could have passed it into Hammonds for an advantageous situation without using a bounce pass.
The objective is to get the first good shot and they set up the good shot with Hammonds off the cross screen, Gresham hesitated because the team really wanted Tyree Crump to get rolling (which was a theme throughout the season – overconfidence in Crump and the desire to set him up downhill or off lateral passes rather than inside-out action).
The team would actually try to run the same set a third time in a row and turned it over.
Anthony Edwards’ first heroic shot attempt
Anthony Edwards’ shot selection and many of his moves were set up by what he does on the right wing. Anthony Edwards was on the right wing as often as Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. This is the first of many shot attempts that come from this area of the floor. The problem is that the shots were all of low quality, even though he has the ability to make them better than the average player. His teammates just stand there and do nothing as it is clear that Edwards’ intentions are to do nothing to but make the play on his own. It is not an iso, but it has the effect of an iso.
The defensive switch that Edwards attracts here should not make much of a difference, it is Valdosta State. He’s not getting Alabama’s John Petty and Beetle Bolden to switch so that he can face smaller Bolden in a one-on-one situation.
Notice that this is Sahvir Wheeler’s first offensive possession.
Sahvir Wheeler Being a Pest and Valdosta State’s Greed
Wheeler sped up the possession and Valdosta State, being a three point shooting heavy team, went straight for the first three point shot they can muster. Camara challenged the three point shot, it was missed and Anthony Edwards secures the rebound. Nobody switches here from Georgia and the defensive possession worked well as the attempts to pressure the ball handler and the passing lane gave the freshman trio of Edwards, Camara, and Wheeler a one-and-out.
A false start getting out in transition.
Tom Crean wants this team to get out and get points in transition off rebounds, but it was Anthony Edwards who realized too late that his teammates were not necessarily ready for him to make a play toward the basket as they all were along the perimeter. Crump was getting into position for a three point shot attempt because he needs to be forced to take a layup (whether it be in a set or as a transition ball handler… without the ball, he does not look to cut unless it is specifically designed), Hammonds was not too far away from Crump, and Camara was possibly going to head to the corner.
Edwards had to beat two defenders to get to the rim and he could not get through his first. This is a situation where the ball is supposed to swing around the perimeter for an open shooter or driver along the wing or corner.
Sahvir Wheeler is Perhaps too Unselfish
Much is said about Anthony Edwards being too unselfish at Georgia, it’s actually untrue. Sahvir Wheeler was too unselfish in the beginning of his Freshman Season.
This plays on two key themes that were present especially early in the season.
- Sahvir Wheeler was a pass-first player and he was looking to set up his teammates regardless of what the situation called and in this scenario a floater or finish would have sufficed.
- Tyree Crump as a go-to perimeter shooter. It just never panned out and there was no evidence to support Crump being a reliable three point shooting threat at this time or any time. However, there was need to give Crump that confidence and it just was never there. This proved to be detrimental to both the team and Crump as the hype from a hot shooting trip in Spain against poor quality players shaped false conceptions and rough realities.
Sahvir Wheeler would take on a more aggressive approach as a finisher at the basket against SMU. Wheeler’s performance against SMU was a preview of a guard who had more confidence and better decision making.
A Preview of One of the More Iconic Plays of the Season
In this transition offense possession that takes 10 seconds to execute, Jordan Harris and Christian Brown give a bit of foreshadowing to one of the more iconic dunks of the past five seasons of Georgia Basketball, which took place against Kentucky with Jordan Harris in the same position on the floor. Harris found Brown cutting from the wing and Brown was able to get the reverse layup. Brown’s decision to move from the corner to the wing with Harris in the post is emblematic of a team that plays positionless basketball.
Getting used to dribble drive decision making.
Sahvir Wheeler only had one passing option and he kicked out to Tye Fagan who had a clear driving lane. Fagan could have drove and attempted a teardrop floater, which should be in any guard’s arsenal. UGA fans would remember that the teardrop floater was a shot that J.J. Frazier would use quite a bit.
When Fagan crosses the SEC mark, he has three defenders in front of him and one behind him. Fagan could have just went for the floater or passed it immediately to Christian Brown on the cut rather than going forward any more. Brown could have also stayed in the corner to get a wide open three point shot attempt as the defense completely collapsed around Fagan.
When driving, there is a cutoff point of no return and Fagan passed it, which increased the difficulty of the possession considerably.
Above is an example of Sahvir Wheeler setting Jordan Harris perfectly from his dribble drive. Wheeler attacked the lane forced the defensive pinch and he had a wide open Harris along the wing to take a casual, high percentage three point shot. Wheeler made his decision at the right time and the results were positive. The second notch in the key is a good place to make a definitive choice.
Tyree Crump buys time for Anthony Edwards to atone for a bad shot decision.
It is that weave set that acts as an iso rearing its head again. It sets Anthony Edwards to shoot from the right side and it is a tough shot to make.
This is Edwards’ shot distribution through January 12, 2020.
For the entire season, it looked like this.
Edwards was and still is not a strong jump shooter and yet Tom Crean was designing sets with Edwards in mind to take the low percentage jump shots. These shots would take away offensive rebounding opportunities and this would basically result in 7 out of 10 shots by Edwards in these situations to ostensibly be turnovers.
Crump stalled the transition opportunity for Valdosta State by staying front of the offensive player on the wing. This bought time for Edwards to attack the passing lane and get the ball into Tyree Crump’s hands to make a transition layup all on his own.
Sahvir Wheeler’s Full Court Pressure Defense
Sahvir Wheeler on a one man press this past season was a common sight to see on defense. Under Mark Fox, there would be no pressure in the backcourt except when the team was up by 7-9 points late in a game and Fox would sometimes use an extended 1-2-2 Zone to force opponents to use up time on the clock. Tom Crean has not used full court presses and extended pressure much during his tenure at Georgia and they have been executed poorly because these are defenses that are not used much in practice or game situations.
However, Crean uses Sahvir Wheeler as a one man pest on defense. In this game, it certainly worked well. Wheeler was extremely aggressive, but in the regular season, Wheeler’s pressure was closer to the token pressure variety.
It’s an interesting look back at the game against Valdosta State, at least from the big picture and with the power of hindsight.