It’s not youth, it’s naivete. Tom Crean’s naivete handed this game to Texas A&M.
Tom Crean’s approach is starting to get predictable and the team’s response to the approach is also predictable. Georgia lost a third straight road game where they held a double digit lead and this is the fourth out of five games where Georgia held a double digit lead. The results have remained the same as this team is unable to handle counterpunch from an opponent, but it goes far beyond that in today’s loss in College Station.
Tom Crean claims there is no set rotation, this is a half truth.
There are no quotas for minutes played or defined players to play for each game, but there are patterns. Crean plays deep in the First Half and then in the Second Half turns to a shallow core usually consisting of veterans to close things out. It is not surprising that this team falls apart and considering the upperclassmen are not leading this squad, it makes the team extremely vulnerable to falling apart just like what happened in today’s game.
Players were able to play in the First Half as seen above, the team played deep and was able to get into secondary break in the last eight minutes of the half to push the lead into double digits. Crean had a fresher team that was more aggressive. When playing such depth, there is no opportunity for anybody to rest on their laurels.
However, in the Second Half, everything seems predetermined regardless of how well a player performs in the First Half and the idea of wearing down an opponent is completely disregarded.
Notice how Christian Brown, Rodney Howard, and Mike Peake barely played in the Second Half and they would not have had any minutes at all if it was not for foul trouble incurred. Donnell Gresham Jr. was saved for the very end of the game when all momentum was seemingly lost. Anthony Edwards was still physically not at the level he is accustomed of playing and he was mentally out of the game altogether, he was pulled and Georgia went from being tied to pulling out to a 6 point lead in the Second Half.
Crean’s usage of veterans and Edwards as crutches for his team and forcing action through them has hindered the team’s development. Crean is trying to force something to happen that will just not happen. The veterans and Edwards will not lead, carry the team, make the necessary plays to stem any sort of an opponent comeback nor push a comeback.
The formula for victory is almost always present during a Georgia Basketball game. It is there in spurts, but there are things that this team does respond to very well. This team is not comprised of players who are suited to playing a marathon, they play in sprints. The reasonable expectation and adjustment is that they max out during the sprints, get their rest, and then get right back out there to put in the same effort. However, this is a team that lulls themselves to sleep, wears down, plays carelessly, and is inconsistent when it comes to the physicality and disruptiveness.
Really Dumb Turnovers by Crean’s Hinge Players without Enough Return
Tom Crean is hinging this team on Jordan Harris, Tyree Crump, Anthony Edwards, and Rayshaun Hammonds. Outside of Crump’s three made three point shots in the First Half that were set up by strong ball movement, there was not much coming from these four players. Crean has an excessive amount of faith in them. However, the roles have changed for these players as the season has moved along. They were needed to carry the team in the non-conference slate, but it is becoming apparent that the underclassmen are more than capable of carrying their own weight.
How many teams commit as many out of bounds turnovers when receiving and catching a pass? One would think that it would be freshmen making these mistakes, but this falls upon Jordan Harris, Tyree Crump, and Rayshaun Hammonds quite commonly and all from the corner.
Lack of situational awareness should be a problem that first year players have. One would expect Toumani Camara and Christian Brown to bring about a shot clock violation, but the veterans are the ones doing it. When there is 3 seconds left on the shot clock and you are in the corner, it is not a reasonable expectation to dribble, kick to another perimeter shooter, and expect a shot to go off. Sometimes, you have to suck it up and deal. There is a difference between good shot selection and setting up a good shot through ball movement and a situation where a shot has to be attempted due to timing issues.
Quick shots from three point range without any rhythm or ball movement in non-urgent situations are tantamount to a turnover. Georgia takes a lot of those shots. Who is taking them? The hinge players. There has to be accountability and there also has to be a reward for the players who are making the right plays, it just does not seem like this is happening.
21 Georgia turnovers, 26 points off turnovers for Texas A&M.
What did Texas A&M do to shut Georgia down?
Texas A&M’s zone defense was not the cause of Georgia’s problems. Texas A&M’s extended 1-2-2 zone pressure that came off misses slowed Georgia down, reduced ball movement, and there was a reduction in movement without the ball. All Texas A&M had to do was put Georgia into a situation where they had to rely on half court offense and given the poor chemistry that this team has, it would be enough to let Georgia beat themselves. That’s the key to beating Georgia most of the time, put Georgia in a position to beat themselves. The Dawgs will take the bait eagerly with whatever is thrown their way.
Half Court Offense is filled with hesitancy and often nobody is on the same page. Players will be caught looking or just will tune out, especially in the Second Half. Why? There’s no reward other than a trip to the bench for the rest of the game or on the other side of the coin, no accountability.
Crean also did not adjust defensively. Georgia’s 2-3 Zone was adequate in the First Half, is it Georgia’s best defense? Certainly not, but it worked better than the man-to-man that was yielding dribble drives. Texas A&M did seem like they were physically in control on the offensive end against the man-to-man and they were working the clock down. Why not press them to either speed them up or put them in a position where they have less time to set up a quality shot? Crean did not do this. It was the same approach on repeat and an aggressive culture is not built by sitting back and letting things happen.
It was an inconsistent performance that comes from a strikingly consistent formula.
Game Grade: 1.5 stars out of 5