Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Hoops update

Friday November 30, 2007

First, a word to those who might have found this site in the past few months. I grew up much more of a college hoops fan than a football fan. That’s changed, but I still love to talk basketball – mens and womens – here. Being a Georgia fan makes that tough sometimes, but we get through it.

Yesterday’s article by Chip Towers detailing the academic mess in the men’s program illustrates how at times it can be so trying to follow this program.

(The headline has been changed from “Basketball academics ‘a slow-motion train wreck'” to “Dogs addressing basketball ‘train wreck'”.  Paints a little different picture right off the bat, no?)

As Georgia basketball has struggled towards respectability on the court, we took some comfort knowing that the coach was at least committed to doing things the right way. If you read just the first bit of Towers’ story, you probably get the contrary impression – things are out of control. But as we read on, we learn that the staff and administration was aware of the issue, stayed on top of it, tried several times to address it, and finally just had to cut their losses.

To put it a lot more bluntly: Georgia had a couple of guys who blew off their academic responsibilities. If you read between the lines, some of them are no longer part of the team. The problem was not one of oversight, neglect, or program priorities – it was all about players who didn’t give a damn.

In fact, Georgia’s efforts in academics will result in the second-best APR in the SEC for basketball programs. Make no mistake, Felton is still ultimately going to be judged by his ability to deliver a winning product on the court. But my faith in his approach and priorities off the court is not shaken one bit.

Scoring drought hits Athens

Felton’s first few teams set the standard for offensive futility, but points are also proving scarce for this year’s team. That’s reasonable given the unexpected departure of the team’s top two returning scorers. Sundiata Gaines is a wonderful point guard, but he hasn’t yet settled into the scorer’s role into which Rashad Wright transitioned as a senior. The trio of Gaines, Humphrey, and Woodbury now must be the scoring core of the team, and they’re not there yet.

As a result of the attrition, Georgia has used its five freshmen liberally. They’re as promising a group as Felton has had, but of course they’re still freshmen. Price, Jacobs, and Swansey look the most polished so far, but Barnes and Brewer will have a role this year too.

One area in which the Dawgs will especially miss Mercer and Brown is assertiveness on the offensive end. Offensive rebounds and trips to the foul line came easily against lesser competition, but crashing the offensive glass and drawing fouls has been much more difficult in the past two games against better teams.

Much of November and December will be about finding out what kind of team we have without its two leading scorers. As you might expect, so far it looks like a team of role players without that consistent leading force. Gaines might be the player most likely to be that force, but he’s not going to be able to do it all every night.

Lady Dogs

Consistency on offense has also been a problem for the women. Two of the team’s better outside weapons graduated, and Andy Landers is starting a relatively unheralded freshman, Angela Puleo, at the shooting guard. Though the Lady Dogs have several players who can hit the outside shot, they haven’t been consistently effective enough as a team to distract defensive attention away from Tasha Humphrey. They shot just 3-of-16 against Temple and 2-of-21 against Southern Cal.

It’s no coincidence that Georgia has scored under 60 points in their two games against quality opponents, Temple and Southern Cal. Fortunately Georgia played well enough on defense to win both of those games, but neither team will be mistaken for the top competition in the SEC. The Lady Dogs survived another close game against Oakland last night.

Georgia’s toughest test to date comes Sunday against Georgia Tech. The Jackets are coming off arguably the best season in program history, and most of the key pieces return. Stopping Tech means stopping two seniors – forward Janie Mitchell and sharpshooting guard Chioma Nnamaka. Freshman guard Alex Montgomery, at 6’1″, was one of the top prospects in the nation and will be a matchup problem for the small Georgia backcourt. Georgia should have a serious advantage inside and on the wing, and Tech will rely on pressure defense to keep the ball from going to Robinson and Humphrey. Christy Marshall shone as a freshman against Tech last year, but she has struggled to find minutes this year.

2 Responses to 'Hoops update'

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  • Without a big boy post player like Takais, this offense exists entirely on jacked up 3s. Part of that is the realities of the personnel. Part of it is the reality that our coach simply lacks a damn clue offensively.

    I don’t think this is an NIT level team right now.

  • 44 shot attempts and only 8 trips to the line against Del. St. I don’t care if the opponent did try to slow it down, that’s glacial offense. I was hoping Woodbury would be that perimeter guy who would go to the basket, but it hasn’t happened yet.