It was fast-paced, careless, fun, and perilous in one of the first exhibition games of the 2019-20 Season.
It is early, the regular season starts in 18 days and this Georgia team is much like last season’s team in some ways, but also very different in others. Georgia trailed by as much as 13 in the first half with many of the feared and unresolved issues rearing their ugly head, but there was a comeback and it was spearheaded by an aggressive backcourt and execution of shots. It is usually not advisable to draw any sort of conclusions about a team from an exhibition game against a Division II opponent in mid-October. Jack-O-Lanterns have not been cut up yet and there’s a Tropical Storm in the Gulf of Mexico, there’s a lot of judgment to reserve.
Point Guard Play
The story was not Anthony Edwards, who put on a strong performance despite the 5 turnovers. Edwards is a bit of a given as far as what he can contribute, the question was who else would rise up and make things happen. Tonight may have given us an answer, Savhir Wheeler. It was hard to not notice Wheeler out there harassing defenders, driving and making daring passes, and turning down three point shot attempts. Tom Crean gave Wheeler the opportunity to show what he can do and he gave him a 28 minute audition, it was an entertaining show.
Sahvir Wheeler changed the momentum of the game and defensively shifted the Georgia Defense from being passive to being aggressors willing to gamble away shots off the dribble drive in exchange for turnovers. Sahvir Wheeler’s aggression was contagious as Anthony Edwards, Tyree Crump, and Jordan Harris joined in on the act. Wheeler bought into John Linehan’s defensive approach and did what his predecessors could not or were simply not trained to do, harass ballhandlers.
Wheeler played extremely tight man-to-man whether it was in the 3/4 court or 30 feet from the basket. Wheeler simply did exactly what the UGA faithful have not seen in over a decade from a Point Guard and it was a throwback to Sundiata Gaines. Mark Fox’s defense and the Point Guards he recruited were not trained to play with the purpose of forcing a turnover, even J.J. Frazier never played like Wheeler. It was jarring in a positive way, there was energy.
Wheeler’s metrics were not jaw dropping, but 8 rebounds from a 5’8″ Point Guard is nothing to slight and he was producing second-chance opportunities. Team chemistry hampered Wheeler on the offensive end as he looked to trigger emphatic scoring opportunities at the rim and set up ball rotation to create wide open three point attempts that did not materialize.
Good Crump, Bad Crump
At times, Tyree Crump looked like the Tyree Crump that he was when he was in High School. An aggressive, confident driver who wanted to finish at the rim, draw fouls, and also make three point shots. Crump’s defense was noticeably different, he showed a willingness to be a pest and get the deflections to force turnovers. His results were not as good as Edwards and Wheeler, but it was progress.
Then there was the Tyree Crump that the base has become very familiar with watching. Crump’s quick trigger out-of-rhythm three point shot attempts that were forced. Crump was able to avoid temptation to taking these shots at points during the game and blew by inferior defenders, but he went back to old habits and fired away haphazardly.
Defensive Rebounding and Giving Up Second Chance Points
Georgia gave up 16 second chance points on the 13 second chance opportunities they gave Valdosta State. This is Valdosta State, Georgia is not facing Dayton yet, but this is alarming. A 64.86% Defensive Rebounding rate is not acceptable and more talented teams will cash in on those opportunities at a much better rate.
Who stepped up on the defensive glass for the Dawgs? Wheeler and Edwards. When it came to the frontcourt, no one really came through for Georgia on the defensive glass.
Offensive Rebounding may be a strength once again?
Georgia had 37.5% Offensive Rebounding rate, which against Valdosta State may not mean much, but it is encouraging to see that this team may continue to get second chance points like last season.
It is certainly better to get second chance points as opposed to the “no chance points”…
Team Chemistry, Turnovers, and Hyper-Aggression
The pace of play was EXTREMELY fast. 82 possessions. 25.62% Turnover Rate based on the Turnover Rate formula, but when considering possessions it was a 30.4% Turnover Rate. 3 out of 10 Georgia Possessions ended with a turnover.
How did this happen with Point Guards galore and improved talent against Valdosta State? Very simple, these guys don’t have the chemistry yet and they were forcing opportunities to make it on ESPN and get the crowd to get riled up. The team was getting too fancy for its own good, especially in the fast break situations and extra passes that originated from strong backdoor cuts and dribble drives.
Who Played and When They Played… Any Clues?
At first blush, this team does appear to be an 11 deep team. Jaykwon Walton and Michael Peake played garbage time minutes with the walk-ons and this may be a sign that they have the most work to do to earn playing time.
Rodney Howard was given the opportunity to show what he can do in the post and he may get future minutes to push Amanze Ngumezi for playing time. Toumani Camara was given the start and he flipped defensively between the post and perimeter. Camara interestingly led the team in assists, but not surprisingly was more tuned into being an intangibles player.
Christian Brown is more confident in his ability to attack the basket, but he was quiet out there. Brown and Hammonds had an intriguing inside-outside dynamic along the wing and low post.
Creating Your Own Shot
One of the big differentiators between NBA quality prospects and ordinary college players is the ability for a player to create their own shot and successfully execute the shot. Only Rayshaun Hammonds and Anthony Edwards showed such a capability tonight. Edwards’ ability to create his own shot and knock down the shots that would considered most inefficient is a matchup nightmare. Hammonds showed that he can do the same while also working his way through both the high and low posts.
Anthony Edwards’ Jump Shot Chart
Rayshaun Hammonds’ Jump Shot Chart
There’s A Lot to Improve, But There is Potential
This is a diagnostic of a game, it was a test to see how the players would fare against unfamiliar competition. With an exhibition game in Charlotte against the Charlotte 49ers and 18 days away from the start of the regular season, there is much to improve before a showdown with Mark Prosser and the Western Carolina Catamounts.