Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Georgia Bull_ogs

Monday January 16, 2006

What a relief to finally see the Georgia basketball teams rediscover their defense over the weekend.

The men had been giving up around 90 PPG in their SEC games to date, but they held South Carolina to 61 points to earn a rare win for the program in Columbia. It was Georgia’s first road SEC win since the 2004 season. South Carolina is a mediocre team this year. Most teams will beat them in and away from Columbia. Last year, Georgia was the team that couldn’t beat most teams regardless of the effort they gave.

Most impressive and important was that the defense made plays when it had to. I made a big deal out of this in my “go-to guy” post below. Good stats are nice, but good stats at the right times win games. At the end of regulation and the end of overtime, Georgia used a defensive play to create a turnover to set up one possession to win the game. The final shot didn’t fall in regulation; it did in overtime.

You rarely hear Dennis Felton gush. There’s always something to work on, and the guys could always give more effort. He’s hungry for improvement. But his comments on Saturday showed how much this win meant not only to the current season but also to Felton’s turnaround of the program. “I would have felt good even if we would have came up a possession short in this game, because we got back to really playing with passion on defense and it was our best performance of the year so far in terms of staying tough and composed in a game where nothing was easy,” he said postgame.

You make years of investment in effort and faith, and eventually you hope to see some results. At this stage of the program, the results won’t always be consistent. Even on Saturday, Georgia did enough things poorly on offense to be in a position to lose. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who found myself constantly yelling, “TWO FREAKING HANDS ON THE BALL!!!”. The signs of progress are unmistakable though. Georgia has already beaten three teams they lost to last year (WKU, Clemson, and South Carolina). Who’s next?

The women didn’t use defense to survive a close game. They used defense to put a stranglehold on a dangerous opponent and pull away. Miami isn’t a great team, but they are athletic and quick enough to cause problems for lesser teams. With early foul trouble on Tasha Humphrey, the Lady Dogs weren’t able to build much of a comfortable lead. During the first ten minutes of the second half, Georgia held Miami to eight points and one field goal. The lead grew to over 20 points, and Georgia was able to close out the game with an easy win despite a rash of turnovers and sloppy play.

“We realize after the Tennessee game that we’re not real effective defensively,” said Coach Landers. I hope that realization came before the Tennessee game; the defense hasn’t been effective for most of the year. We’re not going to beat that nor the reasons for it into the ground. But what has been effective this year is the pressure and the ability of guards, Sherill Baker in particular, to steal the ball. That’s what Georgia turned to in the second half. They had the speed to keep up with and frustrate Miami, and the result was a lid on the basket for the Hurricanes. After a draining game at Tennessee on Thursday, Georgia survived a potential let-down game with relative ease, though it wasn’t pretty.

I don’t mean to overlook (yet another) great performance by Chambers and Baker, but Sunday’s game was perhaps the best of the season for Hardrick and Bostice. Bostice had to step up after Humphrey’s foul trouble, and she did. Good positioning led to good rebounds and scoring chances, and she was effective defensively. Hardrick might have had better games on offense, but she hasn’t shown that kind of fire and effort on defense in a while. She made a living on the floor and was a key to Georgia’s decisive second half run.

Comments are closed.