Ole Miss’ defense could not defend Georgia in man-to-man as long as the Dawgs were playing unselfishly and moving without the ball.
Tom Crean talks about cutting A LOT, this is supposed to be the team’s offensive identity. Frequent cuts and backdoor cuts to the basket along with downhill driving to set up shooters along the perimeter and cutters on the baseline is what this Georgia team is supposed to do on offense. This is not a team that is supposed to be running isos, taking three point shots off ball screens or even playing a traditional posts-and-perimeter players sort of a game. Tonight, Georgia showed for most of the game what they are capable of doing on the offensive end and the scary/disappointing part is that they could be even better at it.
Ole Miss could not matchup with Rayshaun Hammonds.
A focused, motivated, and not mentally foggy Rayshaun Hammonds is an NBA player. When he’s the opposite, he is a massive liability. However, this is the type of Rayshaun Hammonds that will get scouts excited and carry this Georgia team to victory. Hammonds played a smarter, more physical brand of basketball today against Ole Miss. Ole Miss did not have anybody who was Hammonds’ size outside of Khadim Sy and honestly, Sy is a soft player inside the perimeter. Hammonds challenged the undersized K.J. Buffen and Khadim Sy while also taking advantage of mismatches to score baskets.
Hammonds unlocked an aspect of this Georgia Offense that really has not been utilized much during this season. He can pass and set up his teammates off the pinch post or even at the Free Throw Line in a zone. As long as his teammates cut, he has an option to set someone up for a layup or dunk. This is very important as it will enable Georgia to get high probability scoring opportunities and draw fouls, which will help the defensive cause.
Hammonds was an important defensive player in the post as he was able to make an impact disrupting shots, forcing turnovers, and pulling down rebounds.
It is very clear that Rayshaun Hammonds was the Player of the Night.
Sharing the Basketball is Critical for Georgia
When Georgia is sharing the ball and specifically when Anthony Edwards and Sahvir Wheeler are the ones doing it, this is a really good team. Georgia’s defensive effort comes from success on the offensive end. When things get stagnant offensively, the defensive effort is not there. Wheeler was able to close the game out as a scorer, but for most of the night, he was setting up his teammates for dunks, layups, and three point shots. Ole Miss had no answer for Wheeler’s speed and unpredictability. Wheeler can finish at the rim and he has a floater at his disposal, but he is capable of kicking it out or cutting his dribble off to hit a cutter. Wheeler is a wheeler-dealer on the offensive end and when he gets the ball movement going along with teammates cutting to the basket, it is a difficult task to stop this team.
Sahvir Wheeler had 8 assists (48% assists rate), Anthony Edwards had 4 tonight. These are figures that bode very well for Georgia and one of the clearest signs that this was going to be a Georgia win was that Edwards had 3 assists at Halftime. The media and fans want Edwards to be the hero scoring 30+ points a night carrying this team that is supposedly full of scrubs, which is what they want you to believe. However, this is a team that is very capable of winning when Edwards is merely a decoy and next season, this team will have to win without Edwards.
When Anthony Edwards has 4 or more assists in a game: Georgia is 7-3.
The team had 19 assists in total tonight, which is exactly what Tom Crean wants to see, but it could be better. How?
Georgia’s Poor Response to the 1-3-1 Zone that switched into a 2-3 Zone
Tom Crean was displeased with the way his team cut against the 1-3-1 Zone in the First Half, but it was a much better performance in the Second Half. In fact, the switch to the 2-3 Zone was well diagnosed by Sahvir Wheeler and Donnell Gresham Jr. to set up Rayshaun Hammonds in the soft parts of the zone defense. Nothing worse that giving players options within the soft part of a zone. This helped with giving Mike Peake, Jordan Harris, and Toumani Camara baskets at the rim.
The lack of movement and the confusion came from Edwards who has struggled with diagnosing the zone defenses. When everyone figures out what the opponent is doing as far as the zone defense is concerned, the team relaxes and starts cutting again. It’s a sign of immaturity and inexperience to not read these cues.
When Georgia faces Florida, Mike White is going to throw 1-3-1 Zone and 1-2-2 Zone at Georgia especially if Kerry Blackshear Jr. is not playing. The tougher aspect from Florida as compared to Ole Miss when they play their zone defenses is that they have more size and they extend the zone further back into the 3/4 court.
A Very Fortunate Defensive Effort
Georgia won this game with a 9.8% steals rate, which is slightly below the magic number of 10% to reach to feel good about a possible victory. Ole Miss was absolutely terrible from three point range and they failed to take advantage of the following types of scenarios:
- Second chance opportunities: Georgia let the undersized Rebels get 10 offensive rebounds and they scored 8 points off them. Georgia had a 73% Defensive Rebounding rate, which is not good against a team like Ole Miss.
- Missed three point shots: Georgia did not guard Ole Miss tightly tonight and the challenges to the three point shots were poor.
- Allowing 38 points in the paint: Ole Miss was able to get to the rim too easily and the Georgia perimeter defenders fell asleep when sagging too far off on the Rebels.
- Not being consistently disruptive: Not being consistently disruptive for post entries and making things tough in the passing lanes gave Ole Miss opportunities to make something happen offensively.
- Getting lost on ball screens and when getting set defensively: Happens far too often with Georgia this season, everyone gets confused and nobody is on the same page. There is very little communication.
- Anthony Edwards tries to do too much to atone for an offensive mistake: This is immaturity, he’ll try to make a dynamic steal or try to force a turnover, but gets himself out of defensive position and compounds the problem. He does not need to be hero, he just need to make the right plays and put in the right amount of defensive effort and things will work themselves out… usually.
The SEC Tournament will have no fans in the stands outside of family of the players going forward. As long as this does not turn into a situation where fans still get in claiming to be family, this should be a very interesting tournament. It has eerie shades of 2008 and much like 2008, Georgia was an underachieving team with talent playing on opening night in front of an arena of fans. Can this team follow in the footsteps of the 2008 SEC Tournament Champions? One other eerie similarity, they beat Ole Miss in the First Round game of the SEC Tournament in 2008 just like this season.
Star Rating: 4 stars