Georgia will face Chaminade in a game that does not count at 9 PM Eastern Time.
Rather than a conventional preview of Georgia’s matchup with Division II opponent and host of the Maui Invitational, Chaminade, this is an opportunity to discuss how Tom Crean can maximize the 40 minutes of game action rather than solely focus on beating the opponent. This is the outcome a Division I team has when they lose two games in the Maui Invitational, they come away with two official games played and no path to resume redemption in the 7th place game. This is not something to feel good about, it is an opportunity to re-assess and build for December and onward. Here’s a good way to approach this game that does not count.
Give Anthony Edwards, Tyree Crump, and Rayshaun Hammonds the day off.
This is a game that is about improving depth and giving experience to players in the middle of the season on a neutral floor. It is a unique atmosphere and it is a good opportunity to instill confidence in players who have talent, but are not the focal point of this team. These players will be needed as the season goes on and while it may be strange to consider, Georgia has six other freshmen who will be needed to help the team win games. Forcing the rest of the team to win a game and giving extended minutes to the non-hyped players will do a lot of good.
Hammonds did appear to turn his ankle with the poorly maintained floor and Anthony Edwards had a very few bad slips on the floor. Why risk their health? Giving the cold shooting Tyree Crump the day off would allow Tom Crean to play a bigger lineup and provide Jaykwon Walton with the opportunity to slide into the offense and defense. It would be interesting to see Walton act as the Point Guard and see how this team responds to it. Walton may be the team’s best three point shooter.
No man-to-man defense.
The man-to-man defense has been an outright failure this season beyond the pressure that Sahvir Wheeler and Anthony Edwards have put on defenders taking the ball up the floor. This is an opportunity to practice 2-3 and 1-2-2 Matchup Zone. Playing an entire game in these zone defenses will be a very competitive practice that could bode well in the future as Georgia’s zone defense was impressive against Michigan State and it was seldom used prior to this game.
Press All Game
This is a good opportunity to practice the single man press, 2-2-1 Zone Press, and extended 1-2-2 Matchup Zone. The objective is to practice stifling an opponent before they can get into an offensive set. This defense is supposed to be disruptive and there needs to be more of it, practicing the press will prove handy later this season. Plus, who does not want to see these freshmen get active on the defensive end and use their athleticism and length to make things happen?
Build up the Freshmen
If it is not clear, conventional wisdom and this new era of Georgia Basketball do not mesh. In fact, conventional wisdom is why NBA scouts frequently get it wrong, NCAA transfers are at all-time highs, and why media acclaimed recruiting classes fail to make the Final Four. A lot of what you think the sport is now, is not. The game has changed radically. Technology and the abundance of data available have yet to become mainstream. The Luddites still run the media as the narrative and hyperbole come first and they are still in charge of the coaching fraternity. However, Tony Bennett and Chris Beard (last season’s National Championship game coaches) actually use the most modern methods of evaluating talent and scouting. Conventional wisdom has been wrong since 2015, take a look at the NCAA Tournaments since Duke’s National Championship and it is very clear that something changed and it is not an aberration, it is a new trend.
Georgia has a set of freshmen not named Anthony Edwards who actually fit Tom Crean rather well, which means that the learning curve can shorten. Shorter learning curves lead to players like Casey Morsell at Virginia picking up where Kyle Guy left off quite easily. Aside from clear NBA-ready talent, freshmen go through a learning curve and they do not necessarily fit in this age of talent collection rather than determining a good fit. Georgia happens to have a roster of freshmen who fit Tom Crean well and they can produce this season. There needs to be an emphasis today on getting these freshmen going.
- Sahvir Wheeler – Easily the best distributor in the Class of 2019. Al-Amir Dawes of Clemson and Cole Anthony of North Carolina are competitive, but Wheeler is the top dog. Wheeler is a consistent jump shot away from being well ahead of Tremont Waters and Jared Harper. Wheeler fits on the offensive end with his ability to penetrate, set up shooters, set up cutters, finish, and draw fouls. Wheeler can play the fast pace that Crean wants to play, there is no hesitancy.
- Jaykwon Walton – Walton had the best three point shooting figures against the highest level of competition that a High School player can face prior to College Basketball among this Class of 2019. Walton was used as a Swing in AAU, but he played Point Guard in High School. Walton’s versatility is fascinating, but his shooting stroke is his most prominent feature. Walton’s defense can certainly improve, but when you are 6’7″ and capable of playing just about anywhere, there are intriguing and disruptive possibilities. Getting Wheeler and Walton on the same page would be a very good idea that may prevent opponents from packing it in defensively on Georgia and allow for cutting.
- Christian Brown – He’s still figuring out what he can do out there. Brown is capable of drawing a lot of fouls and loves to take on contact. Brown is not finishing and his shooting has thus far been lacking confidence. Brown needs to show more fight on the glass. Brown has a propensity for committing offensive fouls and he can get sloppy with his ball handling, at times.
- Toumani Camara – Camara’s defense has given him the ability to shine, but he is still behind as a shooter. Camara, with greater confidence and more experience, could actually have a future similar to Obi Toppin. Camara does need to develop his shooting, but his ability to be defensively disruptive and score in the restricted arc is very similar to Toppin when he first came to Dayton. The faster that Tom Crean can get Camara involved on both ends, the tougher this team becomes.
- Mike Peake – When Peake hit a three point shot against Dayton, it was an encouraging sign for the Chicagoan. Peake’s athleticism, length, and ability to extend possessions are his strengths, but he has shown that he has made improvements with his shooting. Peake’s aggression does lead to fouls, but this is also a product of immaturity and a lack of playing time. Peake played limited minutes in AAU with MoKan Elite and he is playing limited minutes with Georgia. More playing time for Peake to spell Amanze Ngumezi, when he does not want to fight for position or use his hands properly on defense, is a good idea. Peake could also find inspiration from Obi Toppin as he is similarly sized and came to Georgia with a generally similar skill set as Toppin when he started at Dayton.