Georgia will face off against Valdosta State in the first exhibition game of the season.
When approaching exhibition games against Division II opponents, it is tough to glean anything as the product is largely unfinished. The opponent does not matter much and the result also holds no weight, but there’s a psychological factor of dominating a team that is on a lesser level in terms of competition, expectations, and talent. The purpose of a game like this is to get acclimated to facing an opponent that does not have ‘GEORGIA’ on the jersey. Playing in an actual organized game with real NCAA officials rather than a scrimmage with custom timing and rules. Of course, this does not mean that there are not things to look for in this game.
This may be a bugaboo for this Georgia Basketball Team due to the team not having as much traditional size in the post. Valdosta State is not going to seriously test the Georgia Frontcourt whether the team is in a 1-2-2 Matchup Zone or Man-to-Man Defense, but who steps up to fortify the paint and protect the rim early and in the middle of this game could possibly be indicative in the short-term. Will Amanze Ngumezi step up? Could Rodney Howard emerge?
- Michael Peake, Christian Brown, Rayshaun Hammonds and Toumani Camara could also drop down to patrol the post area on defense.
- The losses of Derek Ogbeide and Nicolas Claxton loom large with the interior.
How does Georgia compensate defensively for a less traditional roster in a half-court defense?
This is a good segue to the next thing to watch in this game.
What was Georgia’s biggest issue last season on the defensive end? If you answered “defending the dribble drive”, you would be correct and unfortunately you win nothing. The hire of John “The Virus” Linehan, massive roster turnover, and a roster that has more size in a general sense rather than a gauntlet of 6’9″ posts with a traditionally composed roster would mean that there will be change. Joe Scott’s defensive bread-and-butter is the 1-2-2 Matchup Zone and this is a defense that is adept at forcing turnovers and keeping action out of the paint (or at least intended to do so).
What mix defensively does Georgia sport with a more agile, athletic, and longer lineup? This is practically a fresh team, which means habits from the previous staff are generally not there.
- Will we see 1-2-2 Extended Zone much like Wes Miller’s UNC-Greensboro teams?
- Tom Crean talked about using 3/4 court presses, but beyond the 1-2-2 Extended Zone will there be a man press look with someone like a Jordan Harris, Sahvir Wheeler or Anthony Edwards putting on the defensive pressure?
- How does Georgia respond to ball screens? What is John Linehan’s philosophy when it comes to taking on the ball screen in a screen-and-roll, screen-and-fade, and in this Pack Line Defense trending College Basketball world – the Pick and Slip.
- Who responds well against ball screen action and are there defensive holes at the top of the key or on the wings?
There’s the matter of rebounding
So much is expected from Anthony Edwards and a lot of people are excited about his scoring and distributing capabilities. However, Edwards’ most intriguing quality is actually when he is not handling the ball at all. He’s a 6’5″ Combo Guard who can rebound very well, especially on the defensive end. Georgia needs to force turnovers, but the team needs one-and-out stops. Defensive rebounding was a problem last season and this season, the star of the show was an extremely strong and committed defensive rebounder. In AAU action with the Atlanta XPress, he had a 17.3% Defensive Rebounding rate, which is rather strong for a Guard.
Michael Peake will need to show energy on the offensive glass as he is still in the process of extending his game, but he has the energy level to get the Dawgs second chance points. He was an above-average offensive rebounder in AAU action this summer with MoKan Elite, but he did not play an extended amount of minutes. Peake may be operating in spurts.
Who’s the Point Guard?
Two Point Guards on the floor at the same time? Going from a Point Forward to possibly two or even three out there at once? It’s possible. Donnell “Red” Gresham Jr. is the steady hand at the Point Guard spot, his biggest strength may be his ability to shoot threes. If Gresham returns to his shooting ways during his Junior season in an offensive where he is not the main focus, he could have another 40%+ season from three point range.
Anthony Edwards is expected to play a major role as a Point Guard, but he is learning to play without the ball and this is critical in Georgia’s Offense, which is a Princeton inspired Offense. Edwards can stretch the floor and distribute, but his shot still needs a bit more improvement even though he would be classified as above-average.
Sahvir Wheeler is the most fascinating member of the Class of 2019. Wheeler was the best distributor in the class, even better than Cole Anthony. Wheeler was one of the most engaged players in the Summer of 2018, which was the last time he faced elite talent on a consistent basis. Wheeler had an astounding 65.1% assist rate and he had a PER of 29.9 with an estimated usage rate of 58.3%, which means almost EVERYTHING went through Wheeler. These sorts of freakish usage rates can happen in AAU. Wheeler being coached by Kevin Linehan is an absolutely amazing match as Wheeler is an aggressive guard on both ends. Wheeler makes things happen and if he can get his three point shot to being average in his first season, he has a lot of potential.
Post-Game Recap After the Game
Come back 45 minutes to an hour after the game for a recap of what took place at Stegeman Coliseum on this extremely early start to the Georgia Basketball season, even if the game does not count.