Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Hoops weekend – contrasts in taking care of business

Monday February 28, 2011

Georgia’s men coasted to a 64-48 win over South Carolina Saturday night. It was Georgia’s biggest win and first breather since the rout of Mississippi State over a month ago. It also provided the Dawgs with a chance to face and overcome their second-half demons against a lesser opponent.

The starting frontcourt of Price and Thompkins combined for a nice 34 points, taking advantage of foul trouble to South Carolina’s only inside presence, Sam Muldrow. On the other end, the Dawgs held a +10 rebounding margin and held SC to 28% shooting (and an abysmal 1-of-19 from outside).

The difference in this game was second-half defense. Georgia only scored four more points in this rout than they did in the nail-biter in Columbia. But South Carolina’s comeback in that initial meeting was fueled by 47 second-half points. The Gamecocks converted Georgia turnovers and heated up from outside to roar back from that abysmal first half. This time the Dawgs kept up the intensity, avoided a slew of turnovers, defended the perimeter, and held the visitors to fewer than 30 points in the second half.

It wasn’t without a tiny bit of drama. South Carolina roared back to within 12 early in the second half, prompting a quick timeout from Mark Fox. Fox lit into the team, and apparently that was enough to head off another second-half collapse. The lead soon headed back upwards of 20 points, and South Carolina never seriously threatened again. Georgia went into full-on delay mode for the final six minutes and spent the time doing the basketball equivalent of running Chapas three straight times.

It was far from a perfect game, and there’s plenty to work on heading into the final week of the regular season. Despite controlling much of the game, Georgia only got two points off the bench in a combined 43 minutes. The starting guards only added 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting, and Robinson had nearly as many turnovers (6) as points (8). If Georgia is going to make much noise in the postseason, they really need Robinson to find his form.

The consensus is pretty clear about the South Carolina game: avoiding the loss was about as important as notching another win. The same holds true for Wednesday’s game against LSU, the final home game of the season and Senior Day for Price and Barnes. But avoiding the loss doesn’t mean going into a game with the tentative style of playing not to lose. Georgia did a good job of that against South Carolina and never let the stakes of the game get in the way of the moment.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the Lady Dogs. As it turned out, they needed only to win one of their final three games to claim second place in the conference heading into this weekend’s tournament. They couldn’t. Winning at Tennessee was a lot to ask, and Georgia wasn’t even competitive in that game. But the last two games against Auburn and Florida were there for the taking, and Georgia missed two opportunities to secure very favorable position for this week’s SEC Tournament.

Georgia heads into the SEC Tournament with three straight losses and very little momentum – not exactly where you want to be for the postseason. Ten days ago, they were in great shape having posted one of their best results of the year against Kentucky. They enjoyed a two-game lead in the standings for second place. Since then it’s been regression back to some very basic mistakes: missed layups, unforced turnovers, attempting too many three-pointers rather than working the ball inside, and the lack of shutdown defense. That Georgia was in these last two games should show them what could be possible by eliminating some simple mental mistakes. But when something as basic as a layup has been an issue all season, it’s a reach to expect a much of a change at this point in the season.

You’d get the wrong impression about which Georgia team was on the bubble from what I just wrote, and the Lady Dogs still managed to claim the #4 seed and a first-round bye in the conference tournament. That says a lot more about the relatively weak conference this year, but it’s still nominally a step forward from last season’s #6 seed. It means that Georgia will avoid playing on Thursday, and that extra day of rest can’t hurt a team already down one key reserve. It also means that Georgia’s now on Tennessee’s side of the bracket, but that won’t matter until Georgia advances beyond the quarterfinals.

The Lady Dogs will likely face South Carolina in the quarterfinals on Friday night at 7:30, but that’s not a given: South Carolina needed overtime to beat #12 seed Ole Miss during the regular season. If it does turn out to be SC, the two teams split home-and home back in January. We’ll have a look at the tournament field later this week.

Post Not a night to remember for Georgia basketball

Friday February 25, 2011

I can’t say much for the men’s loss at Florida because I was following score updates while watching the Lady Dogs at Stegeman Coliseum. The pattern of giving up a halftime lead seems to have held for the men, and that’s just what we’re going to have to expect from the team the rest of the way.

Leslie and Thompkins had a good game, the team actually shot 50%, and they outrebounded Florida. But outside shooting was rough, the Price+Ware index was a low 10 points, and Georgia turnovers led to over 20 Florida points. Add in Boynton’s timely three-pointers, and there’s your game. You’ll get better recaps from Bernie and Seth Emerson.

File this one away with the Vandy games and the home Florida and Tennessee games as tough ones that would have been nice to win but which aren’t terribly crippling to lose. That changes for the next couple of games: Georgia’s presumptive status of being on the right side of the bubble requires home wins over South Carolina and LSU.

It’s been a while since I’ve left Stegeman Coliseum as sick as I was last night after the Lady Dogs fell to Auburn. It wasn’t a particularly heart-breaking loss as the key plays were made with a few minutes left. It was just…bad. I know exactly what Andy Landers meant during his postgame show when he said that there just wasn’t much to talk about – it was just an ugly loss in a very winnable game with so much on the line at this point in the season. A team that looked purposeful and energetic a week ago in a dominant win over Kentucky just wasn’t interested in doing the things that would put away a game that was there for the taking.

You can start with the missed layups, go on to the 12 second-half turnovers that led to 20 Auburn points, and move on to the slow help defense. Auburn had far more points in the paint than Georgia (32-20), but their top three scorers were wings or guards. They consistently penetrated, hit layups, drew fouls, and made easy passes when the help was slow. On offense, Georgia again settled for a high number of three-point attempts – 24 – and connected on just a quarter of them. When the Lady Dogs tried to work it inside, the passes were often mishandled. “We throw the ball inside three times in the first half, and we don’t catch it,” said an exasperated Andy Landers. “That’s a problem.”

Unforced turnovers killed several opportunities to extend the lead for Georgia. The Lady Dogs led 22-16, had the ball, and Porsha Phillips misread a cut, throwing the ball directly to Auburn’s Alli Smalley who turned the steal into a layup. Georgia built a seven point lead midway through the second half and had a chance to go up nine. Porsha Phillips established position underneath, but Anne Marie Armstrong made a flat entry pass that fell short. Armstrong was slow to recover and get back on defense, and Auburn was off on a 10-0 run that changed the game.

Making things worse was the absence of freshman guard Ronkia Ransford. The McDonald’s All-American will be held out at least through the SEC Tournament for academic issues. Landers sounded like someone at the end of his rope. “If she doesn’t get her academic act together, she won’t be back,” he explained. “Why should she? You don’t go to class, you don’t go to school, you don’t meet your appointments, what are you doing here?” Without Ransford, Georgia’s rotation is pretty much down to seven players with Armstrong and Willis coming off the bench. There’s very little relief for Jasmine James. Against Auburn, Meredith Mitchell’s foul trouble and early disqualification turned that into an even thinner bench. It’s not that Georgia was especially sharp at any point in the game, but they really didn’t have much left down the stretch.

Even with the bad loss, Georgia has clinched a first-round bye at the SEC Tournament, will finish no worse than #4, and can still finish with the #2 seed. Here’s what could happen:

  • If Georgia beats Florida: They’ll finish no worse than the #3 seed. They’ll finish #2 if Vanderbilt and Kentucky both win or lose. If Vandy wins at South Carolina and Kentucky loses at Auburn, Georgia will lose the tiebreaker to Vanderbilt and finish #3.
  • If Georgia loses at Florida: Georgia could still finish anywhere from #2 – #4. If Vandy and Kentucky both lose, the Lady Dogs would still end up #2. If they both win, Georgia would fall behind them and drop to #4. If Vandy loses and Kentucky wins, Georgia would also drop to #4. If Vandy wins and Kentucky loses, Georgia would win the tiebreaker with UK for the #3 seed.

The key is the three-team tie. Georgia, Vandy, and Kentucky are all tied at 10-5. Georgia holds the two-team tiebreaker with UK and loses it against Vanderbilt. Kentucky takes the two-team tie over Vandy. The first three-team tiebreaker is “total won-lost record of games played among the tied teams.” Georgia has a 2-1 record against Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Kentucky has a 2-2 record. Vandy was 1-2. It comes down to Kentucky and Georgia, and the Lady Dogs swept UK.

What’s most likely to happen? It’s tough to tell. All three teams have to go on the road. Kentucky drilled Auburn by 30 in Lexington, but Auburn is much better at home. Vandy and Florida will each have only a day’s rest since their game was postponed until Friday. Georgia barely survived Florida in Athens. However the seeding ends up, there’s not really a favorable draw for Georgia. All three of their likely quarterfinal opponents – LSU, South Carolina, and Auburn – have defeated Georgia during the regular season.

Post New stadium great for Blank, awful for Atlanta

Wednesday February 23, 2011

A bad idea took another step forward on Tuesday as the Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority agreed to a memorandum of understanding to build a new open-air stadium for the Falcons just up the road from the Georgia Dome.

Why this is a bad idea makes a lot more sense if you put on your Gary Stokan hat and stop thinking about the Dome as simply the place where the Falcons play. If you can remember the Atlanta sports scene prior to 1990, the biggest national sports events were limited to the Omni. And even the Omni didn’t host much of significance after the 1970s. The Dome transformed Atlanta from a city that couldn’t host much more than the 1993 Women’s Final Four into a contender for any world-class sporting event. Without the Dome, there was no Olympics. Without the Dome, there was no Super Bowl. Without the Dome, the SEC Championship game is in New Orleans. You can keep going – the Final Four and NCAA Regionals, ACC and SEC basketball tournaments…dozens of modern national and regional sporting events the city just wasn’t able to handle prior to the Dome’s constructions.

OK, so what? We’ll still have the Dome, right? No one is proposing to tear it down. I’ll go back to a post I made last spring when this first came up:

A new stadium wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of the Dome, but the management of two large facilities could reasonably strain resources. A Georgia Dome in disrepair might not remain the ideal location for the SEC Championship, and everyone from the Superdome to open-air facilities across the Southeast would be lining up to host the game….Falcons officials might or might not care about the future of events like the SEC title game, but anyone involved with Atlanta government or sports management should.

Tony Barnhart said pretty much the same thing. If public money is going to be involved, and it clearly will be, then public interests have as much place at the table as Arthur Blank. If the need for a new stadium can be established, and even that’s suspect, it must be done in a way that will maintain, if not increase, Atlanta’s position in the market for sporting events. Yes, that means a retractable roof at the least. Otherwise, the GWCCA is just lining the pockets of its NFL owner while cutting the legs out from under a vibrant Atlanta sports industry.

Post Hartman Fund contributions holding steady

Wednesday February 23, 2011

We wondered last week if the Hartman Fund accepting donations beyond the February 15th deadline was a sign of trouble, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Contributions are currently over 98% of what they were a year ago ($22.4 million vs. $22.7 million), and donations are still trickling in. Donations are still roughly $4 million below the high water mark set in 2008.

It’s interesting to note that the total includes first-time donations of over $1 million. A lot of people might see soft ticket demand as an opportunity to get their foot in the door for renewable season tickets.

It seems as though Georgia’s had to work a lot harder to keep donations up. Advertisements for the Hartman Fund aired during the football season, and campaigns via e-mail, direct mail, and other media continued over the past several months. Now we’ll see if season ticket orders follow suit. We should learn by the beginning of June whether Georgia was able to sell out its season ticket allotment again.

UGA announced today that all Hartman Fund donors giving at least $100 should receive a season ticket order form in early March. That does not guarantee that everyone, especially new donors, will actually receive tickets.

Post Can GEICO really save you 15% on car insurance?

Tuesday February 22, 2011


Did UGA create unnecessary bad press by selling out the Rocky guy for an insurance company promotion? (h/t Blutarsky)

Post Softball Dawgs are #1

Tuesday February 22, 2011

We’ve had an eye on Georgia’s softball program since their 2009 run to the WCWS. The breakout sophomore class that came up big in 2009 are now seniors, and they’ve led Georgia to its first #1 ranking in softball early in the 2011 season. Congratulations to coach Lu Harris-Champer and the team. There’s a long way to go until the end of the season, but Georgia should have another team capable of making a run to Oklahoma City with a shot at a national title.

Post Final week of regular season starts in Knoxville for Lady Dogs

Monday February 21, 2011

You don’t need much build-up for tonight’s game other than mentioning the teams: Georgia and Tennessee. The SEC’s most successful women’s basketball programs meet late in the year, and for the first time in a while it’s a battle among the top two teams in the standings. Georgia knocked off UT in Athens last year in their first win over Tennessee since 2004. Things will be tougher as they always are in Knoxville, but no visiting program has won more on that court than Georgia.

Tennessee’s perfect conference mark means that first place is all but out of reach for Georgia, but a win over the Lady Vols could clinch a first-round SEC Tournament bye for Georgia and move within a game of locking down second place. Thanks to Kentucky’s win at Vanderbilt on Sunday, the Lady Dogs enjoy a two-game lead on the rest of the field for second place in the SEC. They lose the tiebreaker to Vandy, so they’ll still need to win two of their final three games to clinch second place outright. After tonight’s game in Knoxville, Georgia closes out the regular season with a home date against Auburn on Thursday and then a rematch with Florida in Gainesville on Sunday.

Georgia comes into the game winners of four of their last five. Tennessee hasn’t lost since December 14th, but they’ve had a few close calls recently against Kentucky and Vanderbilt. If Tennessee has a weakness, it’s been slow starts and poor shooting. What Georgia and any other opponent has to watch out for is relentless defensive pressure and dominant rebounding. Even if Tennessee’s shots aren’t falling, they can create offense off of turnovers, and they’ll create second and third chances for themselves.

Georgia’s biggest job will be on the glass, and that won’t be easy against a team 4th in the nation in rebounding margin. Tennessee has good size up front, and that could be a problem for Georgia’s undersized frontcourt. Tamika Willis, at 6’2″, might be called into action against a lineup that features the 6’6″ Kelley Cain along with several other players 6’2″ or taller.

The Lady Dogs had perhaps their most complete effort of the season last Thursday against Kentucky. Suffocating defense kept the Wildcats from getting into what they do well on offense, and the Georgia offense was extremely effective breaking down the UK press. They’ll need another strong performance on defense at Tennessee. We can expect a good bit of zone to try to counter Tennessee’s size, so perimeter defense will be key. As good as Tennessee is at interior defense, Georgia’s going to have to have their jumpshots falling. They’re going to need big nights from Miller, Mitchell, and Armstrong on the wings to loosen things up inside.

Post Hartman Fund still taking donations?

Thursday February 17, 2011

This can’t be a good sign for the health of the 2011 Hartman Fund campaign: the deadline for donations passed on the 15th of February as always, but they’re apparently still accepting donations.

Post Paging Dr. Heimlich

Thursday February 17, 2011

Let’s get this out of the way – the Dawgs didn’t kill their postseason chances in last night’s loss to Vanderbilt. Bubble teams can and do lose to better teams, and the bracketology calculus knows that. Even if Georgia was a prohibitive favorite, it’s ridiculous to say that Georgia lost a game they should have expected to win.

No, what hurt is another missed opportunity to help erase the doubt and end the speculation about Georgia’s postseason. That didn’t happen, and with chances running out for significant wins, that uncertainty will likely be there right through Selection Sunday.

Let’s also get this out of the way – the Dawgs didn’t lose because of the refs. Mark Fox can throw his end-of-game tantrum to whatever end, and the crowd that’s never seen a correct call made against Georgia can boo and throw things. They were the same refs when Georgia was building its 14-point lead, and they didn’t put a lid on Georgia’s basket the final eight minutes of the game.

Vandy won the same way they did in Nashville: turn Georgia into a jumpshooting team and control the paint. Festus Ezeli scored just 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting, but it was his 12 rebounds and 7 blocks that set the tone inside. Price and Barnes had 9 points and just 5 rebounds between them. The Commodores were equally effective shutting down Trey Thompkins who finished with 8 points. Meanwhile, Vandy played to their strengths on the perimeter, finally got the shots falling, and learned how to close out a game on the road.

For the second-straight game, Georgia led at halftime thanks in large part to a sluggish start by their opponent. Vandy did a little better than South Carolina’s 9 points, but the visitors were just 8-of-37 (22%) in the first half. Yet Georgia led by only six at the break. They extended that lead thanks to an early second half run, but the outside shots soon stopped falling. Georgia’s streaky success outside temporarily masked the fact that they couldn’t play to their strengths inside, and they didn’t have much to fall back on as Vanderbilt made their run.

It’s pretty clear now that Georgia isn’t going to transform into a beast of a team with a ton of momentum heading into the postseason. Thompkins is banged up, and the book is out on everyone else with few signs of improvement over the past month. The rest of the season is going to be a mix of frustration, occasional brilliance, and still more close finishes. They lack a go-to player for those close finishes, and that also won’t change down the stretch. Georgia still has legitimate NCAA Tournament hopes, and we’re just going to have to grind out these last few games and see which ones the Dawgs can take.

Post Students could be penalized for unused football tickets

Wednesday February 16, 2011

Georgia’s Student Government Association has backed a plan that could “result in disqualification for post-season tickets and tickets for the following season” for students if their football tickets go unused. Several games during the disappointing 2010 season saw huge vacant gaps in the student section, and the goal of this proposal is to put those tickets in the hands of freshmen and others lower on the priority list who would use them.

The plan would allow students to transfer tickets directly to another student or contribute them back to a ticket bank by Thursday of a game week. Students who don’t use their tickets or don’t contribute them would receive a penalty point. Three such points would lead to disqualification for future tickets.

Post Another long year coming on the diamond?

Wednesday February 16, 2011

The SEC’s baseball coaches don’t think too highly of Georgia’s chances this year. On the heels of a dreadful 5-23 conference record last year, another finish towards the bottom of the league won’t be a good sign for the direction of the program. Georgia was just one win away from a national title in 2008, but they’ve slid backwards since. They got run out of the Tallahassee regional in 2009, plummeted to the bottom of the conference last year, and are only forecast for modest improvement in 2011 (because, well, there’s not much lower to go after a 16-37 season).

There are certainly bright spots. Outfielder Zach Cone is a preseason All-American. Pitching should be deeper, if not improved. But the schedule, with 31 games against preseason Top 25 teams, would be a tough challenge even for a team favored to go to Omaha.

One big change around the conference and nation this year will be in the bats. A new testing standard was put into place earlier this year, and the expectation is an overall drop in power numbers.

Post Key mid-week home tests ahead for men’s and women’s hoops

Wednesday February 16, 2011

Georgia’s men’s and women’s basketball teams each face important home games this week that could significantly affect their place in the SEC standings and even their postseason position.

Saturday’s near-collapse at South Carolina almost made any conversation about the postseason moot, but the Georgia men live on. They enter tonight’s game with Vanderbilt owners of the SEC’s fourth-best record, but there are eight teams sitting between 6-4 and 4-6.

It’ll be nice to play this one in Athens instead of Nashville, and it will be REALLY nice not to play the game after an exhausting snow-delayed bus ride. Vandy is just 1-3 in SEC road games, but those losses included close calls at Tennessee and Florida. Key of course is stopping John Jenkins, but it was the strong performance by forward Festus Ezeli that made the difference last time. Ezeli was the central point of a Commodore attack that relentlessly went at the basket. As a result, the Bulldogs faced foul trouble early and ended up putting Vandy on the line 35 times. Georgia’s going to have to be much more disciplined on defense and even consider a zone to avoid those same kinds of problems.

That foul trouble contributed to issues on the other end. Barnes and Price only had a combined two points. Georgia’s perimeter offense also went cold after some early success. Dustin Ware was an abysmal 1-9 shooting. Ware’s play in this rematch takes on added importance in light of Gerald Robinson’s recent slump. Though Robinson had a solid 20 points in Nashville, he’s averaging under 10 PPG in Georgia’s last six outings. Travis Leslie had 13 points at South Carolina, but the rest of the guards combined for only 12.

So the job against the Commodores is a big one: get much better production and foul discipline out of the posts while getting the backcourt out of their own slump. Thompkins of course will be the focus of Georgia’s attack, but he can’t do much without those other pieces contributing. The Dawgs have quietly won three in a row in the conference, but it’s been a while since they’ve faced a team of Vanderbilt’s quality. Georgia’s just 2-3 at home over the past month, and that includes a narrow overtime win over Auburn. A much more energetic effort and a strong crowd has to be there for Georgia to get this pivotal win.

The Lady Dogs are in slightly better position after their own road scare last weekend. They currently sit alone in 2nd place in the league with a 9-3 conference record, and they’re pretty much locked in for yet another trip to the NCAA Tournament. But there is just a two-game separation between second place and sixth place. That’s significant because Georgia’s next two games are against Top 20 opponents. The Lady Dogs are just 2-3 against SEC teams with winning conference records, and their January win at Kentucky was their only win of the year over a ranked opponent. So while Georgia has managed to fight to the top of the standings after 75% of the season, they’ll have to raise their level of play against Kentucky and Tennessee to stay there.

We saw last year how four teams ended up tied for third place, and Georgia fell all the way to 6th in the tiebreaker. That was unusual, but there are four teams right now just below Georgia in the standings at either 8-4 or 7-5. A win over the Wildcats would give Georgia clear separation from that group; a loss would plunge them right back into a scenario that leaves them with a lot of work to do for one of the four tournament byes.

Kentucky has had an outstanding season, but a small upset a week ago at South Carolina knocked them out of second place. Consecutive road games at Georgia and Vanderbilt will likely define their season, so Georgia should expect a focused challenge. Georgia freshman guard Khaalidah Miller was the story of the first meeting. Miller poured in 24 points to break Kentucky’s 25-game home winning streak, but she’s been held scoreless in Georgia’s last two games.

Post One way for Tubby Smith to cement his legacy at Georgia

Monday February 14, 2011

To this day, you could probably still get a good debate going among Georgia basketball fans about Tubby Smith and his decision to leave for Kentucky. There’s the emotional reaction of betrayal of course. Others coolly accept that Kentucky was a better job, and leaving made perfect business and career sense for Smith. Still others maintain that the Georgia administration should have showed more fight to keep a talented coach instead of resigning themselves to the inevitable. Tubby’s legacy on the court is remembered more or less fondly (UT-C loss aside), but his departure still rubs many Georgia fans the wrong way. He is, after all, the first football or basketball coach to leave Georgia for a “better” job in, well, many decades?

There would be one way for Tubby to get Georgia fans to come together on this issue: take the job at Georgia Tech. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that:

Word is Georgia Tech could be interested in Gophers men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith after this season, when Smith will no longer have a payback penalty in his contract if he were to leave.

Of course we’re still at the unsourced rumor stage of things, and Tech still has a coach. The future of Paul Hewitt surely isn’t stable though, so it’s not premature to start thinking about potential replacements. The tidbit about Smith’s lack of a buyout is significant since Georgia Tech faces a significant cost to forcing out Hewitt. If they’re going to take a hit on their own buyout, it would be nice not to face such an expense on the other side of the deal.

I don’t put much more than a something-to-watch value on this rumor now, but it certainly would be interesting to see Tubby return to the state – this time at the head of the state’s second-best hoops program.

Post I’m lovin’ it.

Friday February 11, 2011

Congratulations to Georgia signee Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on being named to the prestigious McDonald’s All-American team.

The 5-star shooting guard is the 12th McDonald’s All-American to sign with or play for Georgia and will be the first McDonald’s All-American to play for Georgia as a freshman since Carlos Strong in 1992. We would have loved to have seen a shooting guard like this paired with this season’s frontcourt. Hopefully Mark Fox can find some comparable post talent to go with this caliber of guard.

Post Dawgs get a bitter taste of the postseason

Wednesday February 9, 2011

We got what we expected last night from Xavier. In many respects, it was a dress-rehearsal for a tournament game. From the sense of what was at stake for both teams to the quality of competition to the close, competitive game – it had the feel of a game in March. That’s good and bad. The good is that it showed Georgia just what will be expected of them as they face several more tournament-quality teams down the stretch. The bad of course i that they lost. It was a hard-fought game, to be sure, but it was also the third time that the team had come up short at home with similar chances to get a significant win.

A lot of credit has to go to Xavier. They played outstanding defense, especially on the perimeter. Dustin Ware got very few good looks at the basket. Georgia’s outside opportunities were generally limited to contested shots or open looks for Thompkins which he missed. Georgia struggled from outside and hurt themselves with a few key turnovers, and that was enough to overcome a pretty decent defensive effort by the Bulldogs. The visitors finally figured out how to attack the Georgia defense, and the Bulldogs couldn’t get key stops down the stretch to keep themselves close.

At this point in the year, the scouting report is rock solid on every team out there. If Georgia looks as if they’ve run into a wall over the past couple of games, that’s mainly because the book on Georgia is out. You probably know most of the main points. Trap Thompkins. Force Robinson into a decision. Turn Leslie into a jumpshooter. Georgia’s big men struggle and can accumulate fouls in man defense. The team as a whole struggles against the screen and roll.

There’s a tendency to be overly harsh on bubble teams. We dwell on the warts and shortcomings of our team, but that’s why they’re on the bubble. Most teams in this group are dealing with their own weaknesses, and a lot of them would like to be in Georgia’s position. The Dawgs have taken a step forward this year, but it’s possible that the step has left them frustratingly close to their goals. Are postseason hopes a long shot? Not really. It’s reasonable to expect the team to be competitive in all of its remaining games, and a few going the right way could dramatically change Georgia’s outlook.

So what’s it going to take for Georgia to end up on the right side of things? Xavier was Georgia’s last chance for a significant nonconference win. They’ll have to be content with wins over UAB and Georgia Tech and point out that they really didn’t have any ugly losses. That’s fine, but it’s not a point on which you can build much of a case for postseason play. The Dawgs have seven regular season games left: four on the road, and three at home. Two of those road games are against Tennessee and Florida – teams that beat Georgia in Athens. Another is the regular season finale against SEC West-leading Alabama. You’re going to see the 10-6 benchmark thrown around a lot, and that would help, but things look positive even with a 9-7 mark and a strong showing in the conference tournament. The most important thing is to take care of the home games and then see what happens on the road. Taking one (or, while we’re dreaming, both) at Florida or Tennessee would really help.

That all seems reasonable, but remember the point about the scouting report. Everyone knows what to expect from Georgia, and opponents have adjusted to it. The difficulty is that the team hasn’t shown much in the way of evolving or counterattacking the scout. Thompkins still struggles passing out of the double-team. Robinson still gets out of control. This is still pretty much the same team that we saw in Orlando. Let me be clear – that’s not a criticism. Georgia’s good enough in certain areas that they’ll still be successful even if the opponent has scouted and prepared for those things. It just helps us anticipate what the team will see as they try to finish strong.