Andrew Garcia was one of three key Juniors on the Stony Brook roster to transfer out of the America East Conference favorites.
Geno Ford’s loss is Tom Crean’s gain. The 6’5″ 228 pound Stony Brook graduate from Harlem, New York is trading life by Port Jefferson for the Classic City. It is a massive shift culturally for Garcia to go from a Long Island suburb with no town-gown relations to the one of the best college towns in the United States in a crunchy oasis of the Deep South. Garcia would join Justin Kier as graduate transfers expected to make an impact on this 2020-21 Georgia Basketball Team. What does Garcia’s arrival to Athens mean going forward? He could be the X-Factor.
Below is the formula to keep in mind, these are the points created from effort plays on both ends of the floor:
X-Factor Points = Points Off Turnovers + Second Chance Points + Free Throws Made
Garcia gives Georgia more defensive disruptiveness.
Offense is not the key concern with the Georgia Basketball Team beyond perimeter shooting. Georgia’s offensive strategy and approach should be far more team-oriented and sound without Anthony Edwards, which bodes well for a Georgia team that fared quite well when there was solid movement and unselfish play.
— Tom Crean (@TomCrean) May 18, 2020
Much of the issues that plagued Georgia Basketball concerned defense last season. Undersized in strength in the post, not disruptive enough to play traditionally, and a lack of willingness from Tom Crean to adapt to his team held the team back on the defensive end.
While a 100 defensive efficiency would be considered “average”, it is not good enough among Power 9 conferences (A-10, American, ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac-12, SEC, WCC). Georgia would need to bring this figure down and the way to do that is through competitive defensive possessions, forced turnovers, and improved defensive rebounding.
Defensive rebounding was a bugaboo for the 2019-20 Georgia Bulldogs, sporting a 69.9% defensive rebounding rate and thus creating opportunities for opponents to get second chance scoring opportunities and draw fouls. Teams that struggle with defensive rebounding and find ways to be defensively efficient create turnovers.
This team is still learning how to create turnovers after the Mark Fox era. The team that ranked best in forced turnover rate since the 2007-08 Season was the 2008-09 team. It should be noted that Mark Fox coached teams were slightly above-average on the defensive glass and typically among the top quintile in offensive rebounding.
Creating turnovers is something that Andrew Garcia does quite well and this will help Crean’s squad make the transition from the conservative defensive mentality to the attacking defensive mentality necessary to win.
Garcia made the shift toward being a more aggressive defender arguably in the 2018-19 America East Conference season. His defensive aggressiveness built up through non-conference play and then he was at his most disruptive during last season’s conference games. Garcia sported a strong 3% steals rate, which is better than any of the incoming players on the Georgia roster. He accomplished all this while having his Foul Count per 40 minutes fall to 4.
Garcia is more accustomed to playing the 3 spot, which in the Georgia Defense would mean that he would able to guard the perimeter and take on some responsibilities in the posts. His size would give him the ability to guard oversized guards and let Sahvir Wheeler shift to a shooting guard. The addition of Garcia and Kier could finally herald the day that Georgia becomes a pressing team.
The lack of a traditional interior with a much more aggressive mindset and the infusion of Kier and Garcia would mean that pressing is a viable option. Tom Crean may be well-advised to watch some tape of Bob Huggins’ teams during the “Press Virginia” era or at the very least take his own advice from his introductory press conference at UGA.
It’s time to act upon this rhetoric and Andrew Garcia is the type of player who can help make it happen.
Second Chance Points
Losing Rayshaun Hammonds hurts on the offensive glass. Donnell Gresham Jr. was more important on the offensive glass than many think, his ability to extend possessions and set up his teammates played a large role in the win at Memphis. Offensive rebounding is a team effort at Georgia and the addition of Andrew Garcia gives this team a better chance to get second chance points.
Absolute figures and per game figures do not travel, but advanced metrics often do. Andrew Garcia had a 9.7% offensive rebounding rate at Stony Brook in his final season, the prior season he had a 10.3% offensive rebounding rate. With Georgia, this could mean more points per possession on a missed shot because of this team’s ability to finish at the rim and the opportunities to get there. Georgia was 68.3% at the rim against Division I competition.
Ability to draw fouls and get to the Free Throw Line
Andrew Garcia is a player who wants to attack the rim, he’ll do it off the dribble-drive, but now he is going to get the opportunity to be a cutter as well. Garcia could have better opportunities to draw fouls than he did at Stony Brook. Compared to those who departed the Georgia Basketball program, Garcia should be able to draw more fouls than all of them individually. This will result in Free Throw opportunities and support the ability for Justin Kier to get to the Free Throw Line as well.
Georgia did not do a good job with this aspect of X-Factor Points. Missed Free Throws and poor shot selection (due to Hero Ball) played a huge role with suppressing the team’s Free Throw Rate and the Free Throws Made per game.
If Garcia can get back to a 40%+ Free Throw Rate like he did in 2018-19, Georgia should be able to make a step forward offensively. Georgia took a step backwards in Free Throw Rate last season due to Tom Crean’s enabling of Hero Ball. Going from a 41.2% Free Throw Rate (16th in the country) to 33.6% (151st in the country) is not encouraging.
When it comes to X-Factor Points, Andrew Garcia is the type of player who can significantly enhance this metric all by himself. The most comparable player on the UGA roster in this regard is Christian Brown, who is expected to make a major step forward next season.