Kentucky was more confident, better prepared, and stronger than Georgia.
There’s only just so much this Georgia team can do this season to address their lack of physical strength and experience. Kentucky, a more experienced squad, displayed what an offseason of strength and conditioning combined with greater experience can do for a team. Georgia’s inability to physically control the interior, cut off driving lanes, finish at the rim, and consistently play with the necessary movement of the ball and without the ball all snowballed together to form the avalanche that rolled over them. While ESPN made the game about Anthony Edwards and resorted to silly gimmicks, there were interesting developments from this game that could carry over. However, those looking for the program to take it to the next level and start making any sort of a run should recognize that Year 1 under Tom Crean is going to feature some bumps in the road. Tonight’s game was a fender bender compared to the total wreck that happened in Starkville.
After the first 8 minutes, Crean switched to 2-3 Zone
Is 2-3 Zone the best type of zone defense for Georgia? Not this iteration of Bulldogs. No one is going to mistake Georgia’s 2-3 Zone with Washington or Syracuse. The zone defense was effective in closing the gap in the First Half and it was used in a make/miss pattern with man-to-man defense that came without switching. In the Second Half, Crean went back to switching in man-to-man along with the 2-3 Zone.
Georgia was playing far too small defensively to face Kentucky man-to-man and the only way to go was to mix a 1-2-2 Extended Zone with a 2-3 Zone. Once again, the 2-3 Zone lacked teeth as the length was not there up top. This is one of the downsides of having Sahvir Wheeler, he’s not a good guard in a 2-3 Zone. However, a combination of Jordan Harris and Anthony Edwards up top is far more effective in forcing turnovers, discouraging drives, and denying post entry.
The 2-3 Zone kept Georgia in this game and the team was able to rebound quite well out of it. However, once the team got out of 2-3 Zone, the woes of past games in the interior came back.
Rodney Howard saw action in the First Half, but did not play in the Second Half. Howard was the only player able to physically take on Nick Richards. Howard was effective in his role in the 2-3 Zone and the shame is that Crean did not play bigger and did not shuffle personnel to deny the Kentucky frontcourt from getting second chance points.
In the First Half, even with the mix of defenses, Georgia was able to enjoy a 75% Defensive Rebounding rate and allowed only 4 second points. The big issue for the Dawgs was that Kentucky was able to get to the Free Throw Line frequently. Kentucky did not have to shoot threes to win this game, they only made one, but they just needed to be the physically dominant team and force Georgia to play their game.
In the Second Half, Georgia played both man-to-man defense and the 2-3 Zone.
The commitment to closing out defensive possessions on the glass and play active 2-3 Zone was lacking in the Second Half when shots were not being made. This is not a team that can handle in-game adversity, this is a team that just crumbles like most people reacting to what is trending on Twitter. Going back to the man-to-man defense with switching did not help matters and it just gave Nick Richards more opportunities to get into position. Georgia had a 52.6% Defensive Rebounding rate and that is just unacceptable in the Second Half. The visuals of out-of-position black jerseys standing there in a helpless fashion surrounding Nick Richards should be posted everywhere in the Stegeman Coliseum Practice Facility just as a reminder of what not to do or let happen.
Kentucky’s ability to get 15-20 foot jump shot attempts was greatly overrated during the telecast. If these shots were missed, they would not get the same amount of praise. These are bad shots and opposing coaches will be thrilled to see an opponent try these shots as long a defensive rebound follows.
Kentucky was able to get a lot of opportunities just outside the restricted arc, between 5-9 feet from the basket.
Sloppiness in transition marred potential scoring and foul drawing opportunities. Kicked balls, overthrown passes, 1-on-3 attacks to the basket, quick shots, and attempts to beat Kentucky to the rim in the least physical fashion possible were prevalent. These sorts of things have happened frequently this season and an opponent like Kentucky will make an opponent pay for passiveness and poor decisions.
Much like zone defense, Georgia players can have the tendency to fall asleep in half court offense. Half court offense requires even more physical exertion than transition offense, it requires movement with and without the ball for the entire possession and an effort on the offensive glass. This idea still is foreign to the team.
Georgia would go on a defensive fueled, effort generated run and John Calipari would call a timeout. The response from Georgia after the timeout would be to fall asleep defensively and then come up the floor and take a shot in a non-transition possession without any of the following happening:
- No passes are made.
- Ball does not cross the three point arc.
- No cuts are made.
- No screens are made.
The result would be a 6-0 or 7-0 Kentucky run and Tom Crean would need to call a timeout. Both veterans and freshmen are making these mistakes out there.
The way it should be in an offensive half-court possession:
- Everyone is moving without the ball.
- The ball must cross the three point arc at least once, preferably the ball gets into the key.
- Dribble drives must have at least three options: Drive and attack, pass to a cutter, kick out to a shooter.
Inconsistent effort and willingness to move without the ball on offense have hampered this Georgia Basketball Team. It hurts the team on defense as bad shots result in transition offense for the opponent.
Ole Miss presents a very different challenge for Georgia on Saturday, but this is a matchup that is far more favorable for Tom Crean’s squad. However, the team needs to be prepared for teams to play like Kentucky, Mississippi State, and Auburn have against them. The next team that poses such a challenge will face them next week in Columbia, Missouri.