Season Preview

Georgia Basketball 2019-20 Season Preview

Georgia Basketball will be radically different in what could be considered the real Year 1 of the Tom Crean era.

The 2018-19 Georgia Basketball Season was more-or-less a demo season, a Year 0, for Georgia Head Coach Tom Crean and his staff.  Crean with a roster of holdovers and incoming freshmen from the Mark Fox era infamously lamented the lack of fit his players had with his style of play.  There was a demand to be immediately competitive (due to Ole Miss’ success last season with Kermit Davis), but playing a style that Crean was not familiar coaching and with a not fully receptive roster that was scarred by the end of the Mark Fox era was not a good idea when it came to selling the program for the future.  Last season was a demonstration season, it was an example of how Georgia will play, but not necessarily how well it would be executed.  It is not a surprise that Tom Crean was able to attract seven talented first-year players who generally fit the system well.

Georgia is a Very Young Team

Youth typically comes with massive struggles in athletics at all levels.  Typically, inexperience is a function of a learning curve and in college sports, the method of bringing in talent is based in a qualitative fashion and creating hype for sports media whether it be the diminishing local markets or on a national level.  Hype gets attention and money, do some programs really want to win championships?  Not necessarily, some would rather win the Signing Period than cut down nets because hope springs eternal as long as the talent is ballyhooed by the trusted media.

In the case of Georgia, inexperience may actually be a good thing.  Experienced players come with baggage and are used to playing in a different system, they may not necessarily mesh with the vision and strategy.  This was the case for Tom Crean when inheriting Mark Fox’s roster, which was a completely different situation from when Mark Fox inherited Dennis Felton’s roster.  The challenge for Tom Crean was to re-create the roster in his own vision to hasten the process, shorten the learning curve, pack Stegeman Coliseum, and win.  Crean has a more custom-fit roster that meets needs.

Georgia being young and better fit for Tom Crean’s style of play is a massive step forward compared to having ill-fitting experienced players.

Tom Crean’s Complete Rebuild

From a talent, fit, and morale perspective, Mark Fox inherited a far better situation than Tom Crean.  Much of the 2010-11 Season roster for Mark Fox was comprised of guys who were coached and recruited by Dennis Felton.  It was an easier transition with the existing talent and the media were ready to move on and embrace a new coach who was a bit of an unknown in the region.  Crean inherited local media that knew who he was and did not like him, it was made clear in the particularly hostile press conferences as compared to the press conferences that Mark Fox had.  Fox played hardball with the media and played politics, criticisms were unacceptable and in an industry where access means everything, the media rolled over.

In short:

The only thing that Crean has going for him that Mark Fox did not from the outset, strong student and alumni support.  The beanie dog thrower is the lone exception, but the silver lining with that case is that Georgia made international news and making it into Daily Mail along with articles about what bikinis former Love Island and Big Brother UK contestants are wearing in Ibiza is not a small feat.

Season tickets are sold out for the 2019-20 season and there was such passion for Georgia Basketball that the team enjoyed a sellout against UMass.  Typically on December 30, students are with their families and everyone is near the venue where a bowl game is taking place, which was New Orleans and usually that would include a short stay in Biloxi as well.

Changing the Narrative

Media and fan expectations of how teams were to be constructed have been shattered.  The concept is really simple, “If you win with your methodology, they’ll shut the f**k up.”  What is different about this Georgia roster is that the newcomers are largely composed of players from out-of-state.  The only in-state player from this new group of players is Anthony Edwards, everyone else went to school and/or called another state as their home.  There were no complaints about this class and the lack of in-state representation.  Georgia Basketball was largely composed of in-state talent and the team was not better because of it.

Beyond these expectations, there is the pressure that comes with bringing an NBA-ready player into a program that is “not supposed to succeed in Basketball” or is supposed to be an “a-yuk a-yuk Footbaw skoow”.  The two most prominent examples are Collin Sexton and Ben Simmons.  Ben Simmons was expected to carry the 2015-16 LSU Tigers and while the team was actually well-composed as far as talent was concerned, Simmons was given the unfortunate task of being the hero of the team and Hero Ball is not conducive to winning in College Basketball.  The 2015-16 LSU Basketball Team failed to make the NCAA Tournament and outright quit in the 2016 SEC Tournament.  Collin Sexton also had a young talented group playing with him as well during the 2017-18 season at Alabama.  Avery Johnson resorted to relying on Sexton far too much and while the team made it to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament on a buzzer-beater against Virginia Tech, the hype exceeded the results.  One talented player does not make a team and should not be a substitute for involving the rest of a team or carrying the rest of a team.  Teams win championships, not players.

Tom Crean has to avoid the temptation to treat Anthony Edwards like he is Sexton, Simmons, Fultz or Caldwell-Pope.  Edwards is a projected Top 3 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, but much of the buzz is about the rest of the team and who is going to step up among them.

The Newcomers

Anthony Edwards:  To the national media playing to a trained sound-byte oriented audience, Georgia is synonymous with Anthony Edwards this season.   Georgia is just Anthony Edwards and that’s all.  However, the 6’5″ combo guard with a lucrative NBA future from Atlanta has thus far shown himself to be just a piece of the team rather than falling into the common trap.  Edwards is still adjusting to the college game, but he has some aspects to his game that stand out from the rest.

  • He can create his own shot and execute on a consistent basis when doing so.
  • He can play multiple positions well, he is used to playing the 1,2, and 3 spots.
  • He is unselfish and does not have to be the center of the offense, especially in an offense like Georgia’s.
  • He is quick and aggressive on defense.
  • Very strong defensive rebounder.

Edwards still has to improve, he’s not a silver bullet.  There are things he needs to fix.

  • Limiting turnovers.  He will need to make better reads on offense and better passes.
  • Free Throw shooting.  Edwards is not a strong Free Throw shooter for a player who can find himself attempting a lot of Free Throws.
  • Three Point shooting.  Edwards was only a 35% three point shooter in shoe circuit action, which is the best defense and stiffest competition he would face.  The Under Armour circuit is arguably the weakest of the three major shoe circuits, even though they are all strong.
  • Moving without the ball.  Princeton-style Offense mandates that Edwards moves effectively without the ball as the various series that Tom Crean runs is often just a set up for read-and-react offensive plays.
  • Defending without fouling and adjusting to the officials.

Sahvir Wheeler:  The 5’8″ Guard from Houston, Texas is unlike any of the smaller guards you have seen.  He’s not J.J. Frazier, Jared Harper, Tremont Waters, Erving Walker, Chris Clemons, or Keon Johnson.  Wheeler is strong, fast, and extremely unselfish.  He is an aggressive defender and is the best distributor from the Class of 2019, even besting likely 2020 NBA Draft Top 10 pick, North Carolina’s Cole Anthony.

Wheeler changes the pace of the game with his defense and ability to turn a half-court offensive possession into something that resembles a secondary break.  His pass-first mentality is something his teammates must adjust to this season, but he must maintain some threat to score himself.

The risk with Wheeler is that opponents may not respect his three point shooting and sag off him to combat the dribble drive and play a partial pack-line defense that prevents post entries and denies passing lanes.  Wheeler is not a strong three point shooter at all (he was 30.8% from three point range against top tier talent in Nike EYBL), he’s actually quite poor from three point range and he’s not willing to take the three point shot out of awareness of his Achilles Heel.

Wheeler is an average Free Throw shooter.  Given his ability to dribble drive and attack the lane, he needs to be above 80% to make opponents pay and he’s likely going to be a 70-72% Free Throw shooter.  He is going to have a high FTA/FGA ratio, which fits very well with Tom Crean’s stylistic tendencies.

Wheeler will get steals, deflections, delays, and disruptions on the defensive end.  Wheeler is the exact player that Crean would want in a one-man press whether it be from the 3/4 or Full court.  Wheeler is not afraid to grab defensive rebounds, he had a 15.3% Defensive Rebounding rate in Nike EYBL action.

Wheeler is a 5’8″ Sundiata Gaines, just watch and it becomes very clear.  Gaines was able to distribute more in his latter two seasons because of the improved talent level and for Wheeler, he will immediately be able to distribute with confidence.

Jaykwon Walton:  Walton, much like Anthony Edwards, is able to play the 1,2, and 3 positions.  He’s 6’7″ 205 pounds and is the new embodiment of Georgia Basketball where there is a glut of players between the heights of 6’5″ and 6’9″ who can play multiple positions.  Walton played Point Guard for his High School team (Carver-Montgomery), but he played Small Forward in the Under Armour circuit for Team Thad.  Walton is primarily going to be used as a 2/3 rather than a Point Guard, but on this No Position Labeling Georgia Basketball Team, it does not exclude the possibility of Walton taking the ball up the court like he’s a Point Guard or posting up a smaller player.

Walton is a solid defensive rebounder for his size and he is still learning to defend in a way that forces turnovers.  Speaking of turnovers, Walton has a propensity for committing them and this is something he must improve upon.

Strengths:

  • Shot selection.  He had an 85.2% 2 point Field Goal percentage.  He is taking more optimized shots than others playing along the perimeter when he is inside the perimeter.
  • Defensive rebounding.  Sported an 18.3% Defensive Rebounding rate.

Weaknesses:

  • Free Throw Shooting:  Does not draw enough fouls and was a 54% Free Throw shooter.
  • Itchy trigger shooter from 3 point range:  35.3% from three point range is just slightly above-average and with a more challenging three point arc, it will be tougher.  He took 52.7% of his shots from three point range and it weighed down his efficiency.  Is he taking quality shots from beyond the arc?

Walton may see limited competition this season, but anything is possible and he could end up playing more as the season goes on.

Christian Brown:  Brown dealt with a turf toe injury that harmed his “value” to the recruiting media during his foray on the shoe circuit playing with AOT Running Rebels, he had a much stronger showing with Upward Stars on the Adidas circuit.  His campaign in the previous season’s circuit was strong, he did not just magically become a bad player, but hype is the name of the game.  A healthy Christian Brown is very effective.

Brown is a solid defensive rebounder like Walton, especially given his size and position being a 6’6″ 215 pound Small Forward and Combo Forward.  Brown is a better offensive rebounder than Walton, but this is not something to label as a strength for Brown.

Brown can shoot from the perimeter, but this is not an emphasized part of his game.  With Upward Stars, he was a 36.8% three point shooter and he only took 30.6% of his shots from beyond the arc.  Brown will attack the basket in just about every way imaginable and he does so with a bit of physicality, he is good at drawing fouls.

Strengths:

  • Aggression to the rim.
  • Ability to draw fouls.
  • Rebounding for size.

Weaknesses:

  • Free Throw Shooting could be inconsistent.
  • Turnover prone.

Toumani Camara:  Toumani Camara is a 6’8″ 220 pound multi-position player from Brussels, Belgium.  Camara has seen extended and featured playing time in the first two exhibition games.  Georgia beat out Kansas State for Camara and the comparisons to Wesley Iwundu, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Devin Robinson come to mind.  Camara was known for his defensive abilities, but he showed in High School that he could be a high scorer.

Camara is a long, athletic, and balanced basketball player.  He’s still growing and figuring out who he is on the floor, which gives him the opportunity to play No Labels Basketball at Georgia.  Crean has tried putting Camara in man-to-man defense against Point Guards during exhibition play and it has not worked well as Camara has not been quick enough laterally to stop them from getting to the rim.  Camara can get blocks, steals, and rebounds on both ends.  Camara is not as strong of a defensive rebounder as Christian Brown, but he is a better offensive rebounder.

Camara may be a surprise as a strong distributor from the wing, corner or inside the perimeter.  Camara’s shooting prowess is below average, he was an 18.2% three point shooter with Team Knight and he only shot 65.2% from the Free Throw Line.  Camara showed shooting struggles in the two exhibition games as well.

Strengths:

  • Defensive Swiss Army Knife.
  • Offensive Rebounding considering his position.
  • Passing Ability

Weaknesses:

  • Free Throw Shooting
  • Three Point Shooting
  • Effectiveness guarding a Point Guard’s dribble drive

Michael Peake:  Peake expected to be classified in the 2020 Class, but his grades and SAT score qualified him to be eligible and not have to attend prep school.  Peake is a 6’8″ 220 pound Combo Forward, but his shooting capabilities have not caught up with his other skill sets.  Peake is active on the glass, but he could still show improvement here.  He probably has the furthest to go out of the entire roster when it comes to earning minutes.

With MoKan Elite this Summer, he had a relatively strong defensive efficiency, but he still needs to improve.  Peake only averaged 5.1 points per game with 4.3 rebounds per game in 13.5 minutes per game.  The upside is what he can possibly do on a per minute basis rather than per game.  Peake is a work-in-progress when it comes to shooting.

Rodney Howard:  The 6’11” 245 pound post from Ypsilanti, Michigan attended Legacy Charter School in Greenville, South Carolina like another 6’11” post who attended UGA, Nicolas Claxton.  Howard’s game is different from Claxton and he comes with a different backstory.  Howard is a former Ole Miss signee and he ended up at Georgia, which is a better fit for him.  Howard is also needed at Georgia considering that Crean is lacking in dedicated post players.  Howard is going to learn to play more positionless, but he fits a desperate need for the team on defense.

Howard played for both the Atlanta Celtics and Derrick Favors Elite.  Howard operates within 10 feet of the basket and is a boards and post opportunities player.  Howard can be the featured post in a 4 out 1 in look and feel quite at home doing so.  He’s not much of a shot blocker, but he plays with physicality in the post.

Howard should end up getting playing time due to the thin frontcourt, Georgia needs bodies in the post on defense.

Donnell Gresham Jr.:  Red Gresham comes to UGA from Northeastern as a Graduate Transfer.  Gresham can shoot the ball rather well when he is not the focal point of the offense.  Gresham shines as a part of the team rather than the star, which gives him opportunities to distribute and take wide open threes in rhythm.

Gresham likes to shoot threes, much like Tyree Crump.  The difference though is that unlike Crump’s three years in Athens, Gresham has been knocking down threes rather well and he has become a better distributor.  90.9% of Gresham’s threes were made off assists, which could make him a great complement to Sahvir Wheeler and Anthony Edwards.

Gresham is rather optimized in terms of his shot selection as he does not attempt many mid-range shots.  15.1% of his shots came in the mid-range.

Gresham is also a steady hand as the primary ball handler with a solid 2.38 Assist/Turnover Ratio.

Examining the Schedule

Projecting how Georgia would do in each exact game would be difficult given that injuries, illnesses, and shifts happen.  Who would have thought that South Carolina was going to sweep Georgia after playing so atrociously in non-conference play last season?

The better way to look at the schedule is to look at the opponents and briefly describe how they will challenge/prepare the Dawgs.

11/5/2019 Western Carolina:  Western Carolina will test Georgia’s ability to defend against an offensively “optimized” team that can shoot the three point shot really well.  Western Carolina is great preparation for a team like Alabama.

11/12/2019 The Citadel:  The Citadel is a very fast-paced team.  They are projected to be the second-fastest team in College Basketball.  The Citadel is an average three point shooting that takes most of their shots from three point range, they are less disciplined on both ends than Western Carolina.  They will test Georgia’s ability to defend the three point shot and grab defensive rebounds off three point shots.  The Citadel prepares Georgia for no one, this is just going to be an entertaining game at Stegeman Coliseum.

11/15/2019 Delaware State:  Delaware State is easily the lowest quality opponent that Georgia will face all season.  They play fast, but they are not expected to be as fast as Western Carolina or The Citadel.  They cannot shoot threes, defend or rebound.  This is an opponent that Georgia should blow out, the test with them is just not to foul because they have three guards who can shoot 80% from the Free Throw Line.  The goal should be to force turnovers, get playing time and confidence, and not foul Senior Guard John Crosby as a side quest.

11/20/2019 Georgia Tech:  This is the game where things get real.  Georgia is looking for a fifth straight win in this series and to give Tyree Crump and Jordan Harris the distinction of beating the Yellow Jackets four straight times like the previous group of Seniors.  Georgia Tech will test Georgia with their multiple defenses and ability to challenge at the rim.  Georgia Tech has a trio of guards capable of making things difficult for the Dawgs:  Bubba Parham, Jose Alvarado, and Mike Devoe.  James Banks is the rim protector and he had a 9.2% blocks rate last season.  Georgia Tech is good preparation for Florida and Ole Miss.

11/25/2019 Dayton:  Anthony Grant’s physical and experienced Dayton team meets the Dawgs in Maui.  It’s youth vs. experience on a neutral floor and it is great preparation for a postseason berth as almost any opponent Georgia faces on a neutral floor will be more experienced than Tom Crean’s crew.  Remember when Mark Fox recruited Obadiah Toppin?  He’s their biggest scoring threat and their interior enforcer.  Dayton should be a strong defensive rebounding team and they will have a pair of guards equally capable of setting up their teammates, their weak point may be their perimeter shooting.  How does Georgia handle in-your-shirt defense?  This is Georgia’s best preparation for Missouri and South Carolina.

12/4/2019 North Carolina Central:  Remember Jamir Moultrie and how Mark Fox spurned him?  Moultrie is going to get his shot against Georgia and he’ll be playing with a chip on his shoulder.  Outside of Randy Miller Jr., this is not a good three point shooting team.  This is an undersized team that does not do anything particularly special and they do not have many key players back.  Lavelle Moton is capable of pulling upsets and he has put North Carolina Central in the NCAA Tournament before, it is a trap game for Georgia.  There is an emotional element to this game for North Carolina Central and the Dawgs need to be aware.

12/14/2019 @Arizona State:  Georgia’s first road game is in the desert.  The Curtain of Distraction will be there and so will a potent offense.  Georgia blew a 16 point lead to Arizona State last season when Bobby Hurley realized that none of the Georgia guards could defend the dribble drive and struggled against ball screen action.  Georgia’s weaknesses will be put to the test.  Dribble drives and defensive rebounding must be improved to win this game.  It’s a test for Georgia and it is good preparation for a team like Mississippi State or LSU.

12/20/2019 SMU:  SMU is going to play 3-2 Zone all game against Georgia.  SMU is in a bit of win or Tim Jankovich is fired situation this season.  SMU is a really good offensive rebounding team.  If Georgia cannot handle Arizona State, SMU has a pair of Combo Forwards that can shoot and grab rebounds.  Tyson Jolly is a very strong rebounding guard.  SMU will test Georgia’s ability to handle zone defense and close possessions.  Nobody is going to play like SMU this season because their zone is so different, but it is possible that Georgia may have seen a 3-2 look against Georgia Tech in a fleeting fashion before this game.

12/23/2019 Georgia Southern:  This is another emotional trap game.  For Georgia Southern, this is an opportunity to beat big, bad UGA.  This game is personal and the Dawgs better be aware of it and not fall asleep like they did against Georgia State in the Cayman Islands.  Mark Byington has an experienced team with balance in both the frontcourt and backcourt, even though they are undersized.  Simeon Carter and Isaiah Crawley are a solid interior duo and the backcourt can shoot well from the perimeter, their problem is that without Tookie Brown, someone has to prove that they can play Point Guard.  This may be a good preparation game for facing Texas A&M.

12/30/2019 Austin Peay:  This team will be very reliant on Terry “Not the Red Rooster” Taylor to do pretty much everything.  Former South Carolina assistant Matt Figger has a lot of work ahead of him, but his team is heavily influenced by Frank Martin’s style of play and Brad Underwood’s Spread Motion Offense.  This will be like facing much less talented South Carolina team.

The January from Hell

1/4/2020 Memphis:  The first game of the new year and it is against an extremely young and talented Memphis team.  Memphis plays extremely fast and is very potent on the offensive end.  Their frontcourt duo James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa should be disruptive and they should be able to win offensive rebounds.  How well will Memphis’ aggressive backcourt defend against Georgia’s movement without the ball?  Can Precious Achiuwa avoid foul trouble?  Memphis is great preparation for Kentucky as far as getting this team acclimated to the massive step up in talent quality.  This may be even better preparation for Auburn.

Kentucky:  Georgia gets Kentucky twice and the Ashton Hagans talk will continue because there has to be some sort of a talking point for the local media to grip onto when the two teams clash.  Kentucky has a strong backcourt, but the frontcourt is an open question as far as how much Nate Sestina and E.J. Montgomery can contribute.  Kentucky’s ability to force turnovers is the test for Georgia.  Can Georgia not hand opportunities to Kentucky?

Auburn:  Georgia gets Auburn twice as always and Bruce Pearl’s team will be different.  Auburn will test Georgia’s perimeter defense and ability to avoid turnovers.  Auburn has experience, but it will be tough to replace Jared Harper.  Harper carried the load for Auburn and Bryce Brown was Bruce Pearl’s Chris Lofton 2.0.  Who steps up now and will this team resemble the post-Lofton stage except if Pearl had both Duke Crews and Wayne Chism?

Tennessee:  Tennessee was gutted of their heart like Auburn and turn to former role players to carry the torch.  Can Tennessee get it done offensively by taking mid-range jump shots at the rate that they did last season?  Tennessee is far more vanilla this season and the frontcourt is simply not as good.

Mississippi State:  The Dogs of Mississippi State will test UGA both inside and out, they are a better defensive team than Arizona State.  How does Georgia respond to the pressure and intense atmosphere in Starkville?  Can Georgia test Mississippi State’s depth?  There’s a core five for the Maroon Dawgs, but beyond that Georgia should want to see Elias King and Iverson Molinar out there and put them to the test.  Georgia’s freshmen will be far more seasoned than Mississippi State’s and this game will be about depth and in-game experience.

Ole Miss:  Georgia-Ole Miss is reignited again and much like Mississippi State, the matter of depth will be explored.  Yes, Ole Miss has a dynamic backcourt and style of play that fits Breein Tyree and Devontae Shuler well, but how well will Kermit Davis’ first full class perform?  Ole Miss will test Georgia much like Arizona State on offense, but on defense it will be just like Georgia Tech.

Missouri:  Can Missouri ever field a fully healthy team for Cuonzo Martin?  The most hyped prospects find ways to get injured and the team changes drastically.  This season, there are no hyped must-see prospects in Columbia, but they have a strong shooting backcourt coupled with Jeremiah Tilmon patrolling the glass.  Dru Smith is a strong distributor, but he is turnover prone.  Cuonzo Martin’s offenses are nothing to write home about, but the defense is intense and Dru Smith is a steals machine with a 4% steals rate last season.  This is a test for Georgia’s ability to handle a slower paced, physical game.

A Peek at February and Beyond

Texas A&M:  The Aggies have a new coach, Buzz Williams, but a lot of talent stuck around.  However, this is a team that will struggle from the perimeter and may be a good team to run some of that 1-2-2 Matchup Zone.  Josh Nebo will be tough in the post from a defensive perspective and he does not foul.  These are two games where Georgia’s ability to force a key player into foul trouble is tested.

Florida:  The Gators are about as complete of a team as it gets, Georgia will be prepared for heavy ball screens from Dayton and Missouri.  The Dawgs will be ready for the 1-3-1 Zone having faced Ole Miss and Georgia Tech.  Can Georgia win a third straight in Gainesville considering the talent and experience that the Gators have?  How much will Georgia have left in the tank after a brutal January to play this one?

Alabama:  Nate Oats has a pair of talented and pesky Point Guards with Beetle Bolden and Kira Lewis.  The rest of the team is an open question.  Can Alex Reese be Nate Oats’ answer to Nick Perkins when he was at Buffalo?  Can John Petty be a C.J. Massinburg for Nate Oats?  John Petty is notoriously terrible away from Coleman Coliseum.  The pace of play will be fast and the offense comes in waves, but Galin Smith, Alex Reese, and Jaden Shackelford must step up to make it happen.  What is Alabama going to be like defensively outside of a near exclusive man-to-man defense?  Alabama will test Georgia much like Arizona State will on offense and defense.

South Carolina:  Georgia will get Frank Martin’s South Carolina Gamecocks twice.  The challenge posed by South Carolina is always the same.  How can Georgia handle a physical version of the Pack Line Defense?  South Carolina’s major weakness is perimeter shooting, Trey Anderson may be the second best threat from three point range after A.J. Lawson.

Georgia will evolve as the season goes along…

This is not a team that will shorten the rotation, the pace is far too fast and the required exertion is far too much as far as the pressure is concerned.  In order to play the desired way and to score in waves, the team needs depth and there are going to be games where particular players just do not have it.  Georgia will need to use their depth LIBERALLY to wear out the opposition.  From a brutal gauntlet in January to foul-fest track meets in November, Georgia will need to use their depth.

The evolution will not be depth, but rather determining which players work well together and who will earn minutes.  Improvement and working out kinks takes time within a season.

Contrary to popular belief, Georgia will not be 100% reliant on Anthony Edwards to win games.  If they are 100% reliant, it will be a sign that this team is not postseason worthy whatsoever and it may be far too strange for the fan base to accept the notion that Georgia could be much better without a top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Georgia’s weaknesses right now are clear.

Turnovers, defending the dribble drive, and defensive rebounding.  Georgia can shoot the basketball well enough for opponents to respect them, the team can attack the basket at any time and there’s no hesitation, the offense can move smoothly through a number of ball handlers, and this team can attack the offensive glass just as well as last season.

The turnovers stem from the following:

  • Being too unselfish and making an unnecessary extra pass
  • Getting way too fancy for your own good.
  • Teammates not prepared for a pass or being unaware that they could be involved in a play.
  • Moving screens

The defense against the dribble drive can be improved, but in man-to-man the following is exploited:

  • Slow lateral movement
  • Not enough harassment from the 3/4 court, the objective should be to make them start before they are ready or to delay the start of the set.
  • Going under ball screens, which given the slow lateral movement gives Point Guards an option to shoot or attack.

Defensive rebounding is a bugaboo for this Georgia Basketball Team, last season the team had a 69% Defensive Rebounding rate (278th in the country):

  • Inability to secure rebounds.
  • Long rebounds off threes.
  • Poor positioning and passiveness for rebounds.

Georgia cannot give opponents more shots and not make up for it with a high enough FTA/FGA ratio.  This is the real challenge for Georgia.  Georgia will force more turnovers this season, but it cannot come at the expense of rebounds and the team cannot commit a turnover rate of 22.5% like last season (333rd in the country).  A Point Guard does not fix this problem, the turnovers in the two exhibition games were a collective problem.

Prognosis

Georgia will be an NCAA Tournament team with nothing to worry about on Selection Sunday as long as the turnover rate is below 19% and the defensive rebounding rate is above 72%.  Those are the magic numbers.  Basically, all Georgia has to do is be average with defensive rebounding and turnovers and that should be enough for Georgia to be a very tough out for any opponent.  Forget striving for greatness, here are two things that Georgia should just strive to be average and things should work out the Dawgs’ way.

The seeding does not matter, all that matters is the matchup in the tournament.  Not by talent or name, but strengths and weaknesses.  That’s how March Madness works.

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