Even without Amanze Ngumezi, Georgia’s depth shines in a blowout win over North Carolina Central.
It was the way Georgia should have played against Chaminade, but it came in a game that actually counts. Georgia took the first game of December and improved to 5-2 this season. The team’s strengths and flaws were still there, but the team’s strengths overcame any effort by North Carolina Central to exploit their issues. It was a game for this team to use and build upon their depth against an undersized team and Tom Crean made his best use of it.
No Amanze Ngumezi, No Problem… At Least for Now.
How is Georgia going to play without their starting Combo Forward, Amanze Ngumezi? Tonight’s game may have been a taste of it, but North Carolina Central did not have any players capable of exploiting Georgia’s defensive inexperience and lack of depth in the post. Out of every player who has played in the post this season, Ngumezi has struggled the most on the defensive end. The fights on the interior for position were not there tonight because of the matchup so it is tough to see how things would be different with Rayshaun Hammonds, Toumani Camara, Rodney Howard, and Mike Peake sharing the responsibility of patrolling down low.
Some pregame news before Georgia tips with NC Central: Amanze Ngumaze has been suspended from all team activities indefinitely. pic.twitter.com/j434P7GXTa
— Ryne Dennis (@rynodennis19) December 4, 2019
Amanze Ngumezi is suspended indefinitely, but did seem inevitable that Mike Peake and Toumani Camara would emerge to take minutes from him. Ngumezi had a few blocked shots, but his rebounding and defensive effort were eventually going to lead him to sitting on the bench.
Georgia’s Freshman Class as a whole will dictate the team’s destiny, the media will not say it, but it is said here. Each of the newcomers is extremely important to this team’s success.
Rodney Howard has the size and weight of a Power 7 Post, but not the explosiveness nor footwork of one. However, Howard’s ability to muddle through this season is going to be important in dictating how far this team goes.
Balanced teams win championships, unbalanced teams can get away with winning games.
In the case of Rodney Howard, he was able to get 15 minutes on the floor and the game was able to come to him a bit more tonight. Howard had 4 offensive rebounds and 4 points that came from other players getting more attention and Howard reaping the rewards of the inattention. Howard also had 4 blocked shots that came from being a secondary defender. Howard is not going to be THE MAN down low, at least not this year. He’s still playing like he has weights on his feet and he is not confidently nor taking shot attempts in the restricted arc that appear physically coordinated. Howard is going to be the #1 project for the Associate Strength & Conditioning Director for Multiple Sports, Sean Hayes, this offseason.
Georgia Head Coach Tom Crean saw something in Howard when he was able to get out of his Letter of Intent from Ole Miss. Howard came to UGA at 6’10” 245 pounds, he grew an inch and is now 6’11”. A similarly sized big man to play for Tom Crean when he was a Freshman was Thomas Bryant (Indiana). Howard is certainly not on Bryant’s level, but Crean may see a trajectory where Howard could one day be on a path to being like Bryant.
Toumani Camara is easing his way into this season and he is making his mark on the defensive end. Camara’s weak spot is his shooting ability and he was not particularly strong leading the way as a Point Guard on offense, but he is a defensive disruptor. If the ball is in the air, Camara is a threat to make a play on it on defense. Camara gets deflections that set up his teammates official steal numbers, he is altering shots, and grabbing rebounds. He brought his disruptive fight from Maui back with him to Athens and he is going to be needed to do that in Tempe.
Mike Peake is easing his way into this team as well. Peake has stated that he wants to expand his offensive game and he has shown that he may be on his way to doing that. Peake is still in the restricted arc as an option in the regular half court offense and as a “garbage man” on the offensive end, but he has shown that he can hit a mid-range jump shot now. With Peake, everything is baby steps.
Christian Brown had a strong evening. He is a man without a position, which is what Tom Crean loves about him. Brown can do just about everything, but he is a master of nothing. 11 points and 8 rebounds in 15 minutes does excite people, even when it is against a sorely overmatched North Carolina Central team. However, Brown is going to learn how to make better decisions on the floor. Brown’s ability to dribble drive, cut, shoot, and even pass are there, but he needs to understand situations better. When the pace gets too quick or when he plays too fast, he is prone to making mistakes. Brown’s mistakes of aggression are better than his mistakes of passivity and we are all going to watch him grow.
Dominant Rebounding Performance
Georgia had a 64.7% Offensive Rebounding rate. Yes, that’s right. 64.7%. This is an absolutely amazing metric and it is rather under the radar because most pick up on the absolute number rather than metrics like these that tell the story better. It was a team effort on the offensive glass and disappointingly, Georgia had only 23 second chance points on 22 offensive rebounds. The Freshmen Foursome combined for 11 offensive rebounds against the overmatched Eagles.
Perimeter Defense Still an Issue
North Carolina Central is playing to earn money for their school and that means they are going to play games with quick turnaround times, which will result in a rest-weary opponent. The team’s depth was impacted by not having Randy Miller Jr. on the floor. The lack of depth showed in the last 12 minutes of the game. North Carolina Central was playing Extended 1-2-2 Zone and 2-3 Zone for much of the night, which is out-of-character for a LeVelle Moton coached team. Why they played like this? The pace of play, they were trying to slow the game down and not let it become a fast paced game because they do not have enough guys to play the incredibly fast pace that Georgia wants to play. (How strange is it to say that about Georgia?) It was a 72 possession game because Georgia took the foot off the gas in the last 5 minutes when the game was clearly in-hand.
The wear on the Eagles really got into their legs and their shooting mechanics, which resulted in missed three point shots.
Georgia did not magically play better defense, they just played fast enough to wear out a team that was lacking depth and conditioning. The first half perimeter defense was atrocious and the focus is going to be on that performance rather than the second half.
Man/Zone and Ball Screen Confusion
Georgia was going off and on with switching on ball screens, which resulted in defensive confusion and wide open three point shooters on the wings. There were ball screen reactions where defenders were switching when they were not supposed to be doing so and they ended up screening their own teammates. Tye Fagan was caught up into this confusion the most, but this is not the only time he was caught up into this mess.
Fagan also was thrown off by the switching on makes and misses of the Georgia Defense. Fagan would forget that he was in a zone and leave his defensive responsibility to follow his man. Fagan’s mistakes led to open three point shots for North Carolina Central. Fagan was not the only making these mistakes, but he was the one making this mistake the most.
The defensive scheme switches and confusion from it make the Georgia Defense look like they are on skates and they were more likely to make such mistakes when they were not using the 2-2-1 Zone Press or even a single man press.
Georgia needs to be better at handling ball screens to beat Arizona State.
- Georgia had better ball movement and all of Tyree Crump’s made three point shots looked like they were actually practiced. His composure in his follow-through and his cadence made it seem obvious that these were shots he is familiar with taking. Setting up Crump from three point range in the right way will go a long way because when he hits his three point shots, it prevents opponent run-outs on misses and it allows the defense to get set.
- Anthony Edwards was dealing with a leg injury during the game. It was a good move to pull him out when the game was already decided at the 8 minute media timeout. It is important to make sure Edwards is healthy. Let’s hope that the injury did not spawn from that slick Maui floor and that he recovers quickly.
- Rayshaun Hammonds is really enjoying how he gets less attention on the floor and he is making the most of it. He just needs to be healthy and out of foul trouble.
- The defensive combination of Toumani Camara and Christian Brown was very intriguing, they both were very disruptive teaming together in parts of the floor.