Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Weekend hoops roundup

Monday January 15, 2007

Another solid win for the men’s basketball team on Saturday. Vandy wasn’t so much a game that Georgia should expect to win as it was a solid measuring stick for where Georgia might expect to finish in the SEC East. Vandy has noteworthy wins over Tennessee and Georgia Tech, so they presented some solid competition. While the South Carolina game was a test to see how Georgia could come off a losing slide and handle a team they were supposed to beat, the Vandy game tested their ability to sustain a level of play and hold the home court against a relative conference peer. They passed.

While Mike Mercer struggled a bit, it was good to see some other names step up. Bliss was impressive. Stukes was clutch. And once again, Gaines was the glue. Though Gaines didn’t break double-figures, his seven assists and five rebounds were critical. One really nice development was a solid game by Billy Humphrey. Over the past year, opponents had figured out ways to deny Humphrey from setting up shop in a comfortable spot on the perimeter. On Saturday he found ways to get open and even got around the basket some.

Though there were and always are several other individual contributions that matter in wins like this, it’s becoming axiomatic that Georgia will be in most every game where two guards plus Gaines play well. It might be Stukes or Mercer or in this case Stukes and Humphrey, but multiple threats at the guard spot with Gaines orchestrating things is a (and probably the) recipe for success for this team. Though I don’t mean to discount the work Bliss and Singleton have done to become better, it’s no secret that it’s a lot easier for the inside game to make its contribution when defenders are drawn to the perimeter.

As we’ve seen a couple of times this year, we know that this guard play won’t happen every time out, and the frontcourt isn’t to the point yet where they can carry the team. It was still good to see that kind of production in a big conference game against divisional foes. With return trips to Nashville and Columbia still to come, it might be premature to pencil Georgia in as the #4 team in the SEC East, but they’ve done their part so far to make that progress.

It was a much more disappointing story for the women. Losing to Tennessee isn’t necessarily something to fret over; they beat a lot of good teams. But the way in which they lost to Tennessee was the troubling and disappointing part. The upperclassmen simply did not respond to the challenge. Chambers didn’t hit a shot from the floor. Hardrick had a single basket. Humphrey managed just eight points. While freshmen are counted on to be a large part of this year’s team, the juniors and seniors are the ones with all-conference honors who are supposed to lead the way in games like these. They didn’t.

The result was the lowest-scoring output by an Andy Landers Georgia team. In their four losses this year, the Lady Dogs have scored 62, 54, 55, and 41 points. Yes, those losses were to four good opponents, but they found ways to bottle up a Georgia offense used to scoring 70-80 points. Georgia needs to find a source for offense against quality opponents, and they don’t have very long to search. The next three opponents are all quality teams – Vanderbilt, FSU, and Ole Miss.

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