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Post Wait til next year? It’s

Thursday March 21, 2002

Wait til next year?

It’s conventional wisdom that next year’s hoops team will be preseason Top 15 and continue the improvement begun by Coach Harrick in 2001. There is no question that the talent level will be the highest in some time.

First we have to get the freshmen in. Turner and Johnson must make grades/scores and with the NCAA/academic problems we’ve had for three seasons now, I’m nervous until they get here.

I have heard great things about Wilkins coming around this year in practice, most people have. If so, that’s fantastic because he was not a difference-maker at NCSU. That team got better adding Josh Powell (one I wish we could have kept in GA). Damien must, must, must find his most productive role on the team before he becomes the catch-all answer to depth. We have heard the gushing that he can play four of the five positions – show us that he can master one first.

Arnold is supposed to be an instant impact guard. So was Dean. Coach is right that it’s unfair to judge Dean since he was added midseason, so one would expect a good bit of offseason improvement there as well.

Think about the weaknesses of this year’s team.

Inside depth. Good, Turner and Johnson if qualified will improve that situation if only through sheer numbers.

Outside shooting. That is not a forte of Wilkins unless he is a completely different player from a year ago. Ezra has become almost too much of a set shooter and more inconsistent as a result. He is one of the best post-up guards out there but we rarely get to see that element of his game anymore because of a lack of other options outside. Wright has come on somewhat, definitely better than a year ago. Jarvis becomes ordinary outside the arc. Dean we’ll see about. So it looks like the burden of a consistent outside shot for next year falls on either big improvements from Dean and Ezra or on the freshman shoulders of Arnold.

Point guard depth. How often did that rear its head down the stretch? If you are looking to Arnold for help there, fine, but I think in fairness to him only expect him to help out at either our outside shooting or at point guard. Getting both would be a bonus and I’m sure Arnold would not back down, but it’s an awful lot to ask of a freshmam in the SEC. Does Dean get more training here? Is it the right role for Wilkins who historically has looked to pass as a second option?

Should Turner and Johnson get in, we will finally have a good collection of bodies inside, and Georgia will have no shortage of wing players. Then guard play besides the known minutes at PG from Rashad is our biggest glaring weakness for next year. Where will points on the perimeter come from, and who will protect and distribute the ball off the bench? Those are significant questions that will determine how much the team improves.

Just adding players to a good mix of role players does not make the whole automatically better. The coaching change notwithstanding, adding Jumaine Jones to the 1997 team did not make them better. Roles became disrupted, it was the end of Michael Chadwick. As promising as Turner and Johnson seem to be, I like a lot of the things that Jonas Hayes brings to the table and hope his role can be preserved. That’s Harrick’s job next year – to make the whole better from more and better parts. It’s not a given.

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