Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Hoops update

Monday January 7, 2008
Dawgs lose game, player

Last week the Arizona women’s team had to finish a game 5-on-2. Hopefully it won’t get to that point for the Georgia men’s team, but at this rate of attrition who knows? Center Rashad Singleton has left the program to transfer to another school where he might see more playing time. He becomes the third player to leave the program since practice began. The 7’0" Singleton was still very much a project as a junior, and he had been replaced in the starting lineup by freshman Jeremy Price. Singleton was a factor if only for post depth, but his departure won’t have nearly the impact that the loss of Mercer and Brown had.

The Singleton-less Dawgs paid a return visit to the west coast over the weekend and dropped a game to Gonzaga. It wasn’t a surprise to lose to a quality team like Gonzaga, but the difference in offensive production from this game to last season’s win over the Zags was pretty stark. Billy Humphrey poured in four three-pointers for Georgia’s first 12 points of the game, but Georgia couldn’t keep up from there. To their credit, they were able to cut the lead to single-digits by the end (what a regrettable foul at the end by Corey Butler), but they never put the outcome in doubt.

It’s not worth harping on the team’s problems now because 1) they’re many and 2) they’re familiar and expected. Scoring is an issue without Brown and Mercer, and it’s just going to be that kind of year where significant games come down to Gaines playing out of his mind.

A weak SEC might be Georgia’s saving grace this year, but so far they are contributing to the conference’s weakness instead of looking to be in a position to take advantage of it.

I said a few weeks ago that a win over Tech was one of the big things I looked for this season, and this Wednesday’s game looms huge now. It’s not just the rivalry. Tech is a struggling, beatable team. It’s an opportunity for the Dawgs to show some balls against a vulnerable opponent in a game that means something to even casual Georgia basketball fans. With the personnel losses, even if understandable, and a lukewarm performance through the schedule so far, Felton ‘s program needs an injection of good news and goodwill. A win over Tech would give it to him.

Lady Dogs record their first loss

With a 13-0 start and a #7 ranking, one would think all was well in the world for the Lady Dogs. But that start and record was a bit of fool’s gold, and that was exposed in a decisive loss at Xavier on Sunday.

Georgia’s schedule this year has been uncharacteristically soft. Just a year ago, the Lady Dogs beat Stanford and Rutgers in the first few games of the season. This year, for the first time I can recall, the Lady Dogs have yet to face a ranked team. That fact will change, of course, as SEC play begins and the Lady Dogs take a midseason trip to Oklahoma. En route to that 13-0 start, the Lady Dogs struggled with several good-but-not-great teams like Temple, USC, Georgia Tech, and FSU. Those are teams that will likely be bubble teams at the end of the regular season, and it’s been all Georgia can do to get past them.

While no one was glad to see the first loss of the season come, it has also been clear for some time that this team wasn’t playing Top 10 ball. One can hope that the loss jolts a bit of urgency into the team on the eve of SEC play. It’s likely though that the problems are more fundamental. To sum up, the team has looked slow, soft, and shallow. They got a single point off the bench against Xavier, and the starters weren’t able to do nearly enough. While the radio team wrote it off as "one of those days," offensive production has been a problem for the team all season. Tasha Humphrey will usually – though not always – score in the high teens or 20s. Ashley Houts usually manages double-figures also. After that, consistency is out the window.

Coach Landers is disappointed with the lack of fight against a physical opponent. "What does a competitor do when someone comes out and punches? They punch back," he said. "We didn’t punch back. We didn’t compete. It’s surprising. It most certainly is. It’s sickening, is what it is, it’s sickening."

Both the depth issues and lack of offense are puzzling given that two very talented scorers are on the bench. Christy Marshall lit up the SEC as a freshman last year but has really struggled this season. A concussion back in December hasn’t helped her progress. Brittany Carter was one of the top prospects in the nation and drew comparisons to Deanna Nolan, but for whatever reason she hasn’t seen much playing time. The only newcomer to see significant time has been Angela Puleo who earned a starting job as a freshman. But Puleo seems to start out of necessity; players like her are usually sharpshooters who make an impact for a few minutes off the bench. They’re not everyday starting 2-guards.

It might look silly to seem down on a 13-1 team, but there are some big questions facing this team as they start SEC play with Ole Miss this Thursday. Coach Landers seems concerned too with ominous statements about bench production and toughness.

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