Game Preview

Georgia vs. Dayton Preview: Game 1 of the 2019 Maui Invitational

Georgia takes on Dayton in a morning clash with the Dayton Flyers.

The Georgia Basketball Team is going to get lei’d so they can be ready to play at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.  This game is the equivalent of a 3 vs. 6 matchup (Dayton being the #3 seed and Georgia being the #6 seed) as far as how organizers put together the tournament for the eight participating teams.  The winner of this game will take on the winner of the Michigan State vs. Virginia Tech game and the loser of the game will take on the loser of that game as well.  Georgia has historically fared terribly in these tournaments during the 2000s and have been quite terrible during the month of November, but the month of December has historically shown much better results.

Taking a look at the overall Maui Jim Maui Invitational Bracket

If one were to be seeding this tournament as the organizers saw it:

  1. Kansas
  2. Michigan State
  3. Dayton
  4. UCLA
  5. BYU
  6. Georgia
  7. Virginia Tech
  8. Chaminade

It is a slap in the face to Georgia, but the expectations from the tournament organizers and ESPN is quite low for Tom Crean’s Georgia Bulldogs.  However, the media have been wrong in the past and they will continue to get it wrong and suffer financially for such decisions.

Georgia is under-the-radar in several ways in this tournament.

  1. Historically successful programs flood the tournament.  UCLA, Michigan State, and Kansas will hog up a lot of the attention.
  2. Low expectations for Georgia.  Most are following what is going on for Georgia on the Football field, not what is going on in Maui.  It’s not a fiscally responsible thing to follow Georgia Basketball in Maui for local media that are hurting already as opposed to covering the Georgia Football Team, which are not leaving the State of Georgia.
  3. Georgia = Anthony Edwards.  This is a dangerous assumption to make and opponents who simply think shutting down “The Ant Man” will be the key to beating Georgia are going to learn a very difficult lesson.  There is a lot more to this team than Edwards, in fact, Georgia is the deepest team in this field.  Depth matters, ask LSU, they blew a 16 point halftime lead to Utah State because they could not or simply did not want to play more than 6 deep at the fast pace that they wanted to play.  Many coaches are too influenced by media and are too stuck in their old-fashioned ways to scout opponents properly and media hype clouds their judgment.

Previewing the Dayton Flyers

Anthony Grant should be a familiar name to everyone.  Grant was a consideration for the Georgia Basketball Head Coach opening in 2009, but was not selected.  The story is that five coaches were interviewed, three of the five coaches interviewed were Mark Fox, Frank Haith, and Oliver Purnell.  The other two are unknown, but Grant was never considered by UGA President Michael Adams for the role and Mike Anderson was never offered the position per his agent.  Michael Adams would have clashed hard with Mike Anderson, it was never a consideration.  Anderson just used the news story to boost his pay.  It was much like Georgia interviewing Thad Matta, who was obligated to interview with Georgia to collect another year of severance pay on his contract.  It is possible that the Matta meeting was to outsiders a “job interview” to help Matta collect from Ohio State and a free extended consultation from a coach who in his prime was one of the best coaches in College Basketball.  The last time Georgia had a “free consultation”, it came from Dick Vitale and it resulted in the hire of Tubby Smith.

Anthony Grant ended up at Alabama and the comparisons between Grant and Fox were immediate.  Alabama and Georgia were on the same track, they both fired their Head Coaches mid-season in 2008-09 and hired new coaches for the 2009-10 season.  Grant and Fox would go head-to-head for recruits frequently with Grant getting the upper hand on talent, but both coaches did a poor job evaluating talent and their game plans were not well-executed enough to sustain success.  Grant was fired by Alabama in 2015, which happened to be the last time Georgia made the NCAA Tournament.  Grant would go to the Oklahoma City Thunder to be an assistant for Billy Donovan and then he was able to get the Dayton Head Coach role when Archie Miller left to take the Indiana job that was previously held by Tom Crean.

It all goes full circle.

Dayton is 3-0 this season and is coming off a 21-12 season that ended in Boulder, Colorado in the first round of the NIT.  Dayton has played three games against lesser competition (Indiana State, Charleston Southern, Omaha) at UD Arena.  Indiana State, Charleston Southern, and Omaha have a combined record of 5-12.  Georgia will be Dayton’s first major challenge and if these three opponents are considered preparation, it would not be considered good.

Anthony Grant’s Style of Play

Dayton’s 2018-19 Team was his best offensive team as a Head Coach since leaving VCU.  This season, Dayton is among the best in adjusted offensive efficiency at 108.2 (27th in the country) and these Flyers have the best 2 point Field Goal percentage in the country.

Grant’s offense is heavy on ball screens, features elevator screens, and is very deliberate.  Dayton’s offense emphasizes ball movement to set up shots, there are far less dribble-drive shot attempts in the restricted arc or mid-range than most teams.  This holds true for Dayton from three point range as well.  Ball movement is very important.

Grant’s defense is a Man-to-Man Defense, he will occasionally use a Run and Jump Press or have Man-to-Man Pressure after the ball crosses the timeline.  Grant’s teams tend to overplay in Man-to-Man Defense and it is a very aggressive version of the Man-to-Man Defense.  In the past, Georgia teams under Mark Fox would be intimidated by the physical, aggressive pressure that Grant’s teams would apply.  Much like Billy Donovan’s teams at Florida, this Dayton has thus far showed an ability to defend without fouling.

All this said, Dayton is a bit deceiving, especially this season. Dayton looks like an offensive and defensive juggernaut, but there are some major caveats.

Dayton At a Glance

Dayton’s Defensive Free Throw Rate is not what it seems.

Dayton allows a Free Throw Rate that is among the top 20% in the country, but this is a bit skewed.  Dayton faced two opponents that generally do a terrible job of getting to the Free Throw Line and even de-emphasize getting to the Free Throw Line.  The opponent that does a good job of getting to the Free Throw Line (Indiana State) was able to get a 47.4% Free Throw Rate!

Indiana State is 81st in the country in Free Throw Rate, which is 38.5%.  Indiana State was able to draw 19 fouls on Dayton, get three fouls on Obi Toppin, and shoot 21/27 from the Free Throw Line.

The Sycamores were able to have nearly the same amount of success drawing fouls on Dayton as they did with Duquesne and Loyola Marymount, but with the higher quality talent teams Louisville and Ball State, they struggled to get to the Free Throw Line.  What does that say about Dayton?  Well, their other two opponents do not paint a great picture of their amazing defensive discipline.

Charleston Southern has a Free Throw Rate of 14.6% (349th in the country) and Omaha has a Free Throw Rate of 25.8% (269th in the country).  Dayton was able to avoid fouling teams that do not draw fouls.

These are Omaha’s offensive efforts thus far this season, Dayton’s defensive efforts do not seem as impressive.

Dayton’s Two Point Field Goal Offense is Deceptive

Dayton has a whopping 72% Field Goal rate inside the perimeter.  Their opponents were not exactly good at Two Point Field Goal defense.  Indiana State allows a 57% rate (317th in the country), Charleston Southern allows a 63.9% rate (352nd in the country), and Omaha allows a 46.1% rate (122nd in the country).

Dayton was able to dominate in the restricted arc and they emphasize shot attempts in the restricted arc.  Obi Toppin was not the only one dominating, but their opponents were not doing a good enough job keeping the Flyers out.

Dayton’s Three Point Shooting Defense

Is it a product of Dayton’s defensive efforts or is it a case that Dayton scheduled teams that can shoot three point shots rather well?  Dayton allows a 42.9% three point shooting rate, which is 343rd in the country.

  • Indiana State is a 40.6% three point shooting team (28th in the country)
  • Charleston Southern is an 18.5% three point shooting (last in the country)
  • Omaha is 37.9% from three point range (56th in the country)

It is a little bit of Column A and B here for Dayton.  Dayton’s perimeter defense is not closing out well enough and setting up higher quality shots, even though opponents do not shoot the three point shot frequently against Dayton (27.7% – 17th lowest in the country).  Then again, their opponents all are in the bottom half of the country in 3 point shot distribution rate.

Dayton is influenced by outlier performances and scheduling

  • A 48% offensive rebounding rate against lowly Charleston Southern heavily skews the team’s offensive rebounding rate, which is 50th in the country at 34.7%.
  • Three Point Shooting Defense, as mentioned.
  • Two Point Shooting Offense, as mentioned.
  • Turnover Rate is deceptive as Dayton had a 24.1% turnover rate against Charleston Southern, a team that is good at forcing turnovers and two strong games not committing turnovers against teams that are not good at forcing turnovers.

Who to Watch for Dayton

Obi Toppin – 6’9″ 220 pound Power Forward

For those unfamiliar with Obadiah (‘Obi’) Toppin, he was actually a Georgia recruit who Mark Fox opted to not to take.  Toppin was recruited along with former Georgia Point Guard Teshaun Hightower out of the same prep school, Mt. Zion Prep.  Toppin was considered to be a bit of a project and ultimately Georgia did not pursue him like the way they did with Hightower.  Toppin is a Redshirt Sophomore and as a Redshirt Freshman, he was the team’s leading scorer.  This season he is carrying this team on his back, but he does have some help.

Toppin gets most of his work done in the restricted arc and he gets most of his points from ball movement.  Toppin is a good shot blocker, he is definitely not on the level of James Banks in this regard.  He’s a very strong offensive and defensive rebounder.  Toppin has been effective at drawing fouls this season, but last season he was not as good against quality opponents at getting himself to the Free Throw Line.

Can Toppin get it done and avoid foul trouble against better competition?  Against better competition, he was turnover prone last season and he was prone to getting into foul trouble.

Faster paced teams that were quality opponents like St. Bonaventure, VCU, Auburn, and Oklahoma gave him trouble, in general.

Jalen Crutcher – 6’1″ 169 pound Point Guard

Crutcher is the team’s best distributor by a country mile and he is quite good at it with a 29.9% Assist rate.  He’s off to a cold start from three point range, he’s normally a 34% three point shooter, which is average.  He likes to score in the restricted arc and he likes to take pull-up jump shots on occasion.  All of his three point attempts are in the catch-and-shoot.

Crutcher is strong at setting up his teammates off the ball screen and when he penetrates the lane he will look to distribute and this tendency sets him up for less challenged shots inside the perimeter.

Crutcher does not draw fouls and he does not foul himself.  Defensively, Crutcher is limited.  He’s not a threat to grab rebounds nor is he likely to force turnovers.

Ryan Mikesell – 6’7″ 215 pound Small Forward

Mikesell does not do anything particularly special.  He’s an average three point shooter, decent Free Throw shooter, and he scores in the restricted arc rather efficiently from ball movement.  He does not create his own shots, everything he does is off someone else’s assist on the offensive end.  The objective is to make Mikesell dribble the basketball, the second you get Mikesell to dribble, you have taken away his offensive capabilities.

Defensively, Mikesell has been a sink.  He does not force turnovers, he is not particularly adept with defensive rebounding, he doesn’t block shots, and last season he discovered the ability to defend without fouling.  He’s not defensively efficient.

Make Mikesell dribble, box him out, and do not have to worry about his defensive capabilities.

Rodney Chatman – 6’1″ 178 pound Combo Guard

Chatman is from Lithonia, Georgia and he is going to be motivated to beat Georgia.  Chatman is the team’s best three point shooter this season and he is a strong distributor, but he is very turnover prone.  Chatman is a transfer from Chattanooga making the step up from the Southern Conference to the Atlantic 10.

Chatman can create his own shots and he has shown improvement from three point range.  He is also adept at getting himself to the Free Throw Line where he should be a slightly above-average shooter.  He is not as much of a threat to score in the restricted arc.

Chatman is a concern defensively as he is good at forcing turnovers and for his size, he is a decent defensive rebounder.  Chatman is easily the second best defender on this Dayton team.

How does Georgia matchup with Dayton?

Georgia has not faced a team like Dayton this season.  No team has made a concerted nor successful effort at slowing Georgia’s pace of play and letting these Dawgs run amok.  This Georgia team is arguably 11 deep and if it takes 12 to win, Tom Crean will do it.  Dayton will play 9 deep, which makes this Flyers team possibly the deepest team that Georgia will face.  However, there is a massive talent drop-off after Toppin, Crutcher, and Chatman.  This is also a Dayton team that does seem very dependent upon Obi Toppin.

Dayton’s defensive discipline will face its most extreme test.

Georgia likes to attack the basket and draw a lot of fouls (43.9% Free Throw Rate – 23rd in the country).  Throw in a Dayton defense that tends to overplay and plays very tight man-to-man defense, this could bode very poorly for Dayton.  Tom Crean and Joe Scott love to backdoor cut defenses and this team is buying into the idea of doing just that.  Collapsing in on Anthony Edwards, Red Gresham or Sahvir Wheeler may result in an easy dunk because of the backdoor cuts setting up an easy pass with a clear lane.  Dayton defenders may come too late and with Obi Toppin patrolling the area, any mistake will result in a foul.  Georgia may want to draw fouls as opposed to getting points at times, if it means taking critical players out of the game.

Putting Obi Toppin on Rayshaun Hammonds may be a terrible idea because Hammonds could draw Toppin out and make him move his feet.  Hammonds attacking off the dribble puts a lot of pressure on opponents and this may not get him to the Free Throw Line, but it may force fouls on the floor that set up the bonus structure.

Rodney Chatman and Jalen Crutcher are dealt a very tough job, finding a way to stay out of foul trouble guarding Georgia’s three Point Guards:  Anthony Edwards, Sahvir Wheeler, and Red Gresham.

Gresham may cause problems for Mikesell and Toppin because he is so active on the offensive glass.

The Georgia Secondary Break

More movement, speed, and chaos benefit Georgia.  If Dayton lets Georgia run, they are not going to fare very well.  The keys to Georgia’s secondary break are as follows:

  1. No quick three point shots from Tyree Crump.  Don’t even set it up, unless it is a kick-out pass.  Every three point shot Tyree Crump has made this season has been off an assist, unassisted three point attempts have been missed.
  2. Letting Rayshaun Hammonds have a clear driving lane.
  3. No fancy stuff, just get to the basket and do not be overeager with passes.
  4. If the defensive rebound is made outside of the paint, push the ball up the floor.

The Georgia Secondary Break wears down opponents and is part of the reason why Georgia needs to play so deep.  In fact, 36.1% of Georgia’s shots have been in transition, which is 12th highest in the country.

Dayton may be turnover prone

Against Charleston Southern, an aggressive defense, they had a 24.1% turnover rate.  Georgia forces a 21.6% turnover rate.  Rodney Chatman is a weak spot for Dayton and Anthony Edwards may be drawing the assignment to guard him.  Edwards forces deflections and turnovers very well.  Chatman could have a long day in Maui with Georgia’s aggressive defense and Edwards’ ability to mess with the passing lanes.

Dayton better hit their three point shots, if they expect to win.

If Dayton does not hit their three point shots and Georgia is able to keep the Flyers from winning the glass, they are in a world of trouble.  Georgia’s opponents have been very three point happy as the perimeter defense still has not solidified to Tom Crean’s liking.  The dribble drive has been an issue more than any sort of ball movement defense.

If Dayton cannot hit their three point shots, they are handing the game to the Dawgs.  Stopping perimeter shooters like Mike Devoe of Georgia Tech is an obvious weakness.

Obi Toppin cannot do it all for Dayton.  Carlos Dotson and Moses Wright had good nights against Georgia and the interior defense of Georgia can be suspect unless the post players avoid foul trouble and their teammates are able to pick up the rest of the slack.  Georgia was able to get Dotson and Wright to foul out on nights where they were carrying their teams.

Expectations for the Monday Morning Clash

Georgia’s depth, ability to force turnovers, pace of play, and offensive style will effectively counter-act Dayton’s style of play.  Dayton is very dependent upon three players, but Georgia can spread the wealth much better and withstand adversity better.  Georgia is a team that like Anthony Edwards, gets better as the game goes on.  Dayton has to blow the Dawgs away to prevent the depth and stylistic issues from being an issue.  All Georgia has to do is be within 6 points with 8 minutes left to go in the game and the game should go Georgia’s way.

Dayton has not been able to impose their style of play on opponents, they have let opponents’ strengths and weaknesses impact the games.  Georgia poses many challenges that Dayton does not seem to be prepared to address.  Dayton would need to choke the pace out, completely dominate the offensive glass, avoid committing turnovers, and hit their three point shots.  Dayton needs to do more in this game to win than Georgia does.  Dayton has a much smaller margin of error than Georgia.  What happens if Chatman, Toppin or Crutcher face foul trouble?  Georgia has dealt with foul trouble and found ways to win because there is just more depth and the Dawgs come in waves.  There is no massive talent drop-off, just experience and maturity.  Georgia will have their immature moments, but they are the more tested and capable team.

Prediction:  Georgia 84 Dayton 79

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