Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Lady Dogs take it to the giants

Monday February 27, 2006

Much of the postgame analysis of Georgia’s 74-61 win over Auburn yesterday focuses in on the fact that Georgia saw another first half lead disappear but withstood the opponent’s run this time and kept control of the game. It’s true – just as in the Baylor and Tennessee games, hot first-half jumpshots built a nice lead, but the lack of an inside game put the brakes on the scoring as the jumpshooting went cold in the second half.

I think a key fact getting overlooked is that Georgia retained control of the game by going to the basket. Now as Coach Landers admitted afterwards, Georgia didn’t mimic the entry passes and straight post-up offense Auburn had used to claw back into the game. Instead, they used penetration to get to the basket. Tasha Humphrey stopped the Auburn comeback with a drive from the elbow on which she scored and drew a foul. Janese Hardrick cut inside the Auburn defense on several occasions and found herself at the front of the rim.

The penetration was made possible because Humphrey and Megan Darrah, playing at the 4 and 5 spots, were effective enough from outside to draw Auburn’s sizeable post defenders away from the basket. Though Humphrey lacked the size to compete inside with KeKe “Aircraft” Carrier, Carrier was no match for Humphrey 15 feet from the basket. Humphrey was able to shoot over her or drive around her, and the result was a team-high 22 points despite a serious height disadvantage. Same thing with Hardrick. Since Humphrey and Darrah were able to draw the Auburn posts towards the perimeter, there was an opening for guard penetration, and Janese used some nice moves to weave through the forest and get to the basket.

I do wonder why Auburn stuck with a man defense. Auburn’s posts were of no use once they were drawn away from the basket, and that allowed Georgia to rely less on jumpshots and even get to the foul line to put the game away. Tennessee used a 3-2 zone to great effect against Georgia, and I think Auburn had the personnel to try the same. Auburn’s two posts could have controlled the lane, and they had enough size on the perimeter to pressure the outside shots.

In the end, possessions won the game for Georgia. They attempted 13 more field goals than Auburn (64-51). So even though Auburn was able to work the ball inside for higher-percentage shots, Georgia was able to overwhelm them by attempting more shots, even if they were lower-percentage jumpshots. How did Georgia get more possessions? The obvious answer is turnovers. Georgia forced 19 Auburn turnovers and committed a thrifty six of their own.

Another more hidden answer is rebounding. Although Auburn had a huge size advantage, they only outrebounded Georgia 36-30. Georgia was able to work for 11 offensive rebounds – two more than Auburn – and offensive rebounds mean additional possessions and field goal attempts. The kicker is that at least half of those offensive rebounds came from Georgia’s tiny guards. Again – where were Auburn’s posts to clean up on the glass? Auburn coach Nell Fortner seems to have made a strategic mistake with her tremendous size advantage.

Comments are closed.