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Post Men’s hoops – so close they can taste it

Thursday January 27, 2011

I suppose that’s how Florida fans felt in 2003 when Jarvis Hayes ended an epic game between two good teams. Spent. Gutted. I’ve taken a day to think about it, and that made it even worse.

Robinson’s early foul trouble really shook things up. The usually reliable Price+Ware index was a healthy 26 points. It was a strange game like that. Both teams probably think that they let the win get away from them – Florida in regulation and Georgia in 1OT. In the end, it was Georgia’s inability to stop Florida inside or outside. Macklin put back whatever Boynton or Walker or Parsons didn’t sink. It wasn’t Georgia’s best defensive outing of the year.

Not to overlook all that led up to it, a lot of talk afterward focused on those pivotal six seconds at the end of the first overtime. Bernie sums it up here. There’s another wrinkle to that situation, though: Georgia still had a timeout left. Would it have been better to burn that timeout after Price’s last free throw?

I think the issue of foul/no foul is secondary. The bigger point is that, in that situation, the coach and players were not aligned in what the defensive strategy should be. That’s why you take the timeout. If you want them to foul, fine. Make sure all 5 understand that and where to do it (and where NOT to do it). If you’d rather they defend, that’s fine too, or at least preferred to no strategy. Take the time to set up your D, emphasize that a foul anywhere but on the shot is OK, and don’t give up an uncontested shot. Would it have given Florida a chance to set up a better play? Sure – but the worst that happens is still a made three-pointer.

I get Fox’s point that “we have always trusted our defense” and that he wasn’t necessarily confident about rebounding a missed free throw the way things were going in the second half. I thought I saw him calling for the foul – Vincent Williams seemed to – but if Fox says he wanted to play D instead, we’ll go with that. The problem is that the defense wasn’t sure of what to do and didn’t have much time to set up after Price’s FT. A timeout wouldn’t have meant a miss on that shot, but at least we would have had a chance to set up against the push up the court.


The magnitude of the job ahead of Georgia is sinking in around the Bulldog Nation. It’s not just that the Dawgs lost a conference game. It’s not even that they lost ground in the division. It’s that they went 1-2 over the longest homestand of the season. Georgia still has ten conference games remaining in which to make up ground, but only four of those are at home. To finish even 9-7 in the league, the Dawgs will have to go 6-4 the rest of the way against conference opponents. Six of those games will be on the road, and they’ll be against teams like Kentucky, Florida, and Tennessee. Arkansas – certainly having a down year by their standards – is traditionally one of the toughest road environments in the SEC.

It’s daunting, but this is no time to abandon ship. Though Georgia’s results against Tennessee and Florida were disappointing, there’s no questioning Georgia’s competitiveness. When Tennessee and Florida have been in top form, they’ve taken down top 10 teams this year. Georgia got good games from both of those opponents. The Dawgs weren’t quite able to finish those wins, but there’s every reason to expect that they’ll be right there in each of their ten remaining games. Georgia’s as likely to rip off a few in a row as they were to drop those last-second defeats. That’s a great sign for the state of the program, but it has to be so frustrating to be so close to seeing the work really pay off.

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