Sahvir Wheeler took a massive step forward against SMU in a Double Overtime Win.
Sahvir Wheeler helped Georgia protect Stegeman Coliseum once again to improve the Dawgs record to 6-0 at the lovely and packed Stegesaurus. It was a back-and-forth game that tested SMU’s depth and conditioning while testing Georgia’s ability to play like a team and face an opponent who knew how to exploit Georgia’s weaknesses. Georgia passed the test tonight, but it will not get any easier going forward.
Interesting Things We Saw Tonight (or you missed…)
SMU did not play much zone against Georgia, which was a curious decision by SMU Head Coach Tim Jankovich. Yes, SMU used the 3-2 Zone Defense at times, but they wanted to play man-to-man with switching for most of the night. The decision to play man-to-man defense so extensively may have been a reaction to the team’s inability to stop offensive rebounds and their recognition that Georgia is a strong offensive rebounding team. It was an adjustment that has drawbacks and the major drawback was fatigue.
SMU played deeper than they typically would play, which enabled SMU to have enough energy to play into the first Overtime segment. However, it was clear that they were being run ragged by Georgia in the tail end of the first Overtime. Isiah Jasey played critical minutes for the Mustangs to buy them time so that they would not be run out of the building. The most fatigued players were Tyson Jolly and Ethan Chargois. Jolly’s mechanics on his Free Throws late in the game were altered by fatigue and he missed Free Throws that put Georgia into position to extend the game. Kendric Davis and Isiaha Mike were both fatigued, they both played extended minutes and their defensive commitment in man-to-man worsened.
Tom Crean finally pressed, but did not press enough to hasten the end of this game for SMU. Georgia had a 5 point lead with 3:20 left and took the foot off the pedal defensively after the presses and offense that came as a result from the defense let them get ahead. It was a surprise to see Tom Crean not choose to use the 2-2-1 Zone Press against a physically and mentally drained SMU team in Overtime. The 2-2-1 Zone Press combined with the zone defense was the best pairing of the night, it set up passes being jumped and deflections galore. Defensive engagement is important for this Georgia team and too often in the man-to-man defense, there was a toughness that was lacking and SMU’s ability to extend possessions both altered the pace of the game in their direction and set up second chance opportunities.
Pressing on made baskets would enable Georgia to get out on runs and score in transition, which is where Georgia has the most success offensively.
Georgia can’t win with Hero Ball, this is a team that thrives on aggressive team play. The offense requires reads and options while the defense needs strong communication, proper help defense, and a commitment to attacking the glass as a team. Anything that gets this team out of the aggressive team mindset puts this team in a very bad place. Sets that are specifically designed to make something happen for one player did not work tonight. Anthony Edwards was at his best when he had options and was an option in the offense, not the main focus in a Hero Ball construct. Let the offense flow, do not try to force the ball into Edwards, and do not put Edwards into the mindset that he has to carry this team. He does not have to carry this team, he can make a lot of amazing things happen by just letting the game come to him. Tom Crean gets too lost in trying to find ways to get Edwards involved that he forgets that Edwards is at his best as a team player. Mark Fox is a Hero Ball coach, Tom Crean has a Princeton style offense that has earned him a Final Four and two Big Ten Championships.
Rayshaun Hammonds is the barometer. When Hammonds plays well on both ends of the floor, avoids foul trouble, and can find an offensive rhythm, Georgia typically finds a way to win. Hammonds is a unique player and a matchup problem. His improvement as a defender will make him even more valuable. His struggles from the Free Throw Line are a strange development after shooting very well last season.
For much of the game, Georgia played better without Anthony Edwards. This was not Edwards’ best night and it was not Tom Crean’s best coaching job, even though Georgia won. This was not a strong night for Crean strategically. Edwards does look like he is still dealing with the “lower extremity injury”. This team is full of talented players and tonight was an opportunity to tune out the media and play like they are capable of playing. It was a more confident performance from Christian Brown, Sahvir Wheeler, Tye Fagan, and Toumani Camara. Jordan Harris’ presence gave the team a spark of aggressiveness.
It does seem that the rest of the team defers to Edwards and loses confidence as they believe that they are not capable of making things happen with him on the floor. This was happening in regulation against SMU and it is not the first time this happened during the season. Finding a way to integrate Edwards into the team is a massive challenge because while he is so talented, he’s not a savior and he cannot do everything out there. When Edwards was a part of the offensive system rather than being the offensive system, he shined.
Anthony Edwards is The Flying Man from the video game Earthbound. Edwards is not going to be in Athens for too long and he is there to give this immature, yet talented team a major boost, but he is not going to carry the team. The team cannot be looking around for Edwards next season, they need to learn that they have the power inside them all along.
When the Flying Man becomes the HERO is when things go wrong and the reality is revealed. The team goes to the well far too often and the message is quite clear.
“Of course, we’re your courage. But we warned you not to treat us like trash! Didn’t you get it?! This isn’t courage, it’s desperation. If you don’t understand “courage,” look it up in the dictionary. Okay? My name’s The Final Flying Man.”
Toumani Camara’s tip-offs were unusual to say the least. Odd tip-offs and exchanges with Feron Hunt and Ethan Chargois created awkward moments. Camara went 3-0 on tip-offs regardless.
Why Georgia won tonight and what can carry forward.
Georgia won the X-Factor points again: Georgia won the X-Factor points by 2.
- Georgia was more efficient than SMU with second chance opportunities: Georgia 22 SMU 19
- SMU did not cash in on Georgia’s turnovers enough: SMU 11 Georgia 8
- Georgia outscored SMU at the Free Throw Line: Georgia 9 SMU 7
Georgia shot the three point shot better than SMU.
- There were better shots being taken by Georgia due to inside-out ball movement.
- Georgia missed three point shots in transition that lacked the inside-out ball movement.
- Tyree Crump’s mechanics, footwork, and release delivery have a lot of variance. In transition opportunities without a paint touch, he releases the ball far too quickly and his release point is not where he would want it to be. When he gets catch-and-shoot opportunity off a paint touch, he has a slower and smoother delivery with a more practiced approach and he has a much three point Field Goal percentage. When Crump gets the opportunities in transition along the wing when the defense is even or shorthanded, Crump would benefit from playing off his tendency to shoot with a shot fake to freeze defenders so that he can get an old-fashioned three point possession by attacking the rim.
- SMU had open shots, but failed to make them in the first half. SMU took advantage of Georgia getting lost on switches like other opponents, but they were just not a strong three point shooting team outside of Isiaha Mike.
Sahvir Wheeler and Red Gresham splitting offense and defense in Overtime.
Sahvir Wheeler’s last bad decision was an unnecessary short pass at the top of the key toward the end of regulation. Wheeler would make more assertive plays that always had a series of options. Wheeler is learning when he has to take it himself or when he can set up his teammates. His teammates are starting to figure him out as well. Wheeler was able to use his relative freshness, speed, and aggression against SMU late in the game to tie the game in the first Overtime and get the game winning basket in the Second Overtime. No one can deny that he was the star of this game, even though Rayshaun Hammonds had a very strong night and was the leader when it came to metrics.
Gresham’s defensive efforts were noteworthy because he was able to stay in front of defenders, get necessary rebounds, and set up his more athletic teammates to make the big defensive plays. Gresham spelled Wheeler in both Overtime sessions when Crean was protecting Wheeler from fouling out of the game. Gresham served the team very well.
Who is better because of this game?
The entire team, but more specifically these players.
- Tye Fagan: Fagan was able to grow in this game. He is not a perimeter shooter, but he was able to make disruptive defensive plays, score garbage man points, and attack the basket.
- Christian Brown: Showed greater confidence in his jump shot today and this needs to carry over.
- Rodney Howard: For nothing else, he is learning how to be a shot blocker. He was getting blocked shots as a secondary defender.
- Sahvir Wheeler: He grew in tonight’s game. He was able to be THE MAN without having to the be THE MAN. He knows he has options and he made smarter choices as the game went on and this is important as the games become far more competitive.
And now… enjoy.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 21, 2019