Posts Tagged ‘Bulldogs’
With the start to the 2013-2014 season less than three weeks away, Georgia Bulldog basketball fans are beginning to assess the possibilities and expectations for this year’s team. This Dawg team is comprised of a slew of sophomores and juniors (nine in all) – most of whom saw significant playing time last year – and one lone senior in Donte Williams. By today’s college basketball standards, Coach Fox has something of a “veteran” squad on his hands.
The outlooks provided by various media sources have been mixed for UGA: CBS’s Matt Norlander and Doug Gottlieb predict 7th and 8th place conference finishes for the Bulldogs, respectively. However, the more common estimation of how Georgia will fare in the SEC typically has the Dawgs ending up somewhere between 11th to 13th (thankfully Auburn seems to be a pretty consensus last-place pick).
Nationally, Georgia did secure one vote to be ranked in the first USA Today poll of the season, but as the AJC reported that vote came from none other than Coach Mark Fox, leaving us to wonder if his decision might have been at all biased.
Since the departure of Trey Thompkins and Jeremy Price several years ago, UGA has severely lacked any sort of an inside presence. Heading into this season with the same cast of bigs as last year – Neme Djurisic, Donte Williams, Tim Dixon, John Cannon and Marcus Thornton – it is hard to imagine that much will change in the Dawgs’ ability (or inability, rather) to get consistent post scoring.
One factor that could certainly make points hard to come by in the paint is that UGA does not have any serious shooting threats, so teams may opt to sag off shooters and load down on the blocks. Remember, this Georgia team struggled mightily on offense last season, finishing 307th in the nation in scoring and 287th in field goal percentage. In addition, Coach Fox’s team will be looking to improve on these abysmal offensive numbers without the help of last year’s SEC Player of the Year – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – who is now a member of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.
While Georgia fans should be excited about sophomore guards Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines – both of whom showed a lot of promise during their freshman campaigns – neither of these guys exactly lit up the nets last season, where the two converted less than 40% of their field goal attempts.
The Bulldogs will be relying more on Mann’s ability to get to the rim and draw fouls than his outside shot. However, Fox needs Gaines to be a consistent shooter in the two-guard position, and hopefully for Georgia’s sake Kenny is up for the challenge.
Both of these players benefited from having a superstar on the court with them last year in Pope – someone who drew a lot of attention from opposing defenses. This season Mann and Gaines may find it more difficult to score the basketball without the aide of KCP, yet Fox still needs them to step up and shoulder significant chunks of the scoring load.
In the words of Athlon Sports writer David Fox: “This could be a key year for Mark Fox.“
Interpret however you like.
ESPN DawgNation reporter David Ching broke the story this afternoon that Georgia sophomore Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will forgo his junior and senior seasons and enter this year’s NBA draft.
While I would love for KCP to stick around for at least one more year, it is hard to blame him for taking the jump – his stock has been on a steady rise since the end of the season, and he appears likely to be taken in the latter part of the first-round.
Losing KCP, last season’s SEC Player of the Year, will be a devastating blow to a Bulldog team that had a legitimate chance of making next year’s NCAA Tournament, assuming Pope’s services.
Without KCP though, Coach Mark Fox will be looking for additional scoring from Charles Mann, Kenny Gaines and Brandon Morris. The starting lineup will most likely be those three aforementioned players, Donte Williams, and then it’s really a matter of take your pick between Neme Djurisic, John Cannon, Tim Dixon or Marcus Thornton (should he return from his knee troubles).
Coach Fox has two freshman coming in next season – Juwan Parker and J.J. Frazier – and he also has an offer on the table to a 6’7″ three-star wing from Columbus, Georgia named Harold Givens.
Matching last season’s 9-9 conference record should be a formidable challenge for the Dawgs next year, and besting it nearly impossible without an incredible overall off-season improvement from the current roster.
Sorry for the lack of entries – I was unable to watch the LSU game due to work, and then I had to immediately shoot down to Amelia Island for a wedding, not leaving much time to write about Georgia basketball.
I was able to follow the flow of the UGA-LSU game on ESPN’s Gamecast however, and I was certainly amazed by the Dawgs’ ability to overcome a 20-point first-half deficit, almost tying the game with under a minute remaining.
At 15-17 overall, Georgia would be attempting to make history by getting an invite into the NIT, considering no team without a winning record has received a bid since 2006 when the selection committee removed the “must have .500 or better record stipulation”. Honestly, it feels like this basketball season is over.
All and all, I have to say I am pleased with what transpired on the court this year for Coach Mark Fox’s team. After an abysmal 2-7 start to the season which included home losses to Youngstown State and Iona, Georgia rallied to win 13 of their next 23 games, finishing at eighth place in the new fourteen-team SEC.
During the Dawgs’ initial slump, Coach Fox appeared to be gliding towards a hot seat. However, when conference play finished and UGA had won 9 games, members of the media began rumoring that CMF might be the league’s Coach of the Year (deservedly so). Florida’s Billy Donovan won that award, but I am not sure if what Fox did with this year’s UGA team isn’t more impressive.
Looking ahead to next year, any person who even remotely follows Georgia basketball knows that the success of the 2013-2014 teams relies heavily on whether Kentavious Caldwell-Pope returns for another season or not. Should Pope return, UGA would possess a lot of offensive firepower with more-seasoned versions of Charles Mann, Kenny Gaines and Brandon Morris.
Mann, who was named to the SEC’s All-Freshman team this year, could be an All-SEC first-team player by as early as next year. Towards the latter part of this season, Mann really began to come into his own at the point guard position, consistently attacking defenders and driving the ball to the rim. In three of UGA’s final six games, Mann got himself to the foul line for double-digit attempts – he finished with 14 or more points in all three of those games. With his size, his level of play can only go up as he gains maturity.
Should KCP choose to return, I think he would enjoy a lot less double-teams and traps next season as teams will have to pay more attention to Mann and Gaines – Pope may actually have the opportunity to show NBA scouts what he can do in one-on-one type situations.
A KCP-led Georgia basketball team would have a legitimate chance of finishing in the top five of the SEC, and I would feel pretty confident that they could earn an NCAA-berth.
However, if Pope decides to leave for the NBA in the next two weeks, obviously UGA basketball fans will have to temper and readjust their expectations.
Whether KCP stays or goes, Coach Mark Fox is going to have to play with less depth at the guard position, since both Vincent Williams and Sherrard Brantley will be graduating. Not that either of the aforementioned players were key elements of this season’s team, but both of them shot better than 36% from beyond the arc, consistently making key shots late in games for this young team this year.
Georgia’s two incoming freshmen – JJ Frazier and Juwan Parker – are both guards, but neither player will be ready to make significant contributions next season (ESPN rates each as a two-star recruit).
For the sake of the UGA basketball program, everyone needs to cross their fingers and hope that KCP wants to play one more year donning the Red and Black.
When Trevor Releford launched the basketball from beyond halfcourt with time expiring, a small part of me expected it to go in. Of course, less than a second later, the ball swished through the net, giving Alabama a 61-58 home victory over the Georgia Bulldogs.
After trailing the Tide 50-41 with less than six minutes remaining, Georgia mounted a 17-8 run that ended with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope burying an NBA-range three-pointer to tie the game at 58-apiece.
UGA actually possessed the basketball with the game knotted at 58-58 and only 17 ticks left on the clock. Unfortunately, freshman Charles Mann turned the ball over and the aforementioned prayer hoisted up by Releford was answered.
For Georgia to even be in a position to win this game at the end after the way that they played in the first half was quite a feat – UGA made only 26% of their field goal attempts before the intermission, mustering just 18 points.
Alabama made their first four field goal attempts with three of those coming from beyond the arc, helping the Tide to open up a 13-3 advantage less than four minutes into the first half. The Dawgs fought for much of the game to overcome this early deficit, and had they not started so poorly the game may not have come down to Releford’s desperate toss.
UGA was led offensively by KCP and Neme Djurisic, who scored 14 points apiece in the losing effort.
The loss sends the Dawgs to 9-9 on the season in conference play, and they will take on LSU in the second round of the SEC tournament next week in Nashville.
Considering that this team began the season 0-3 in the league, finishing up even in SEC games is a credit to Coach Fox and his team.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drew nothing but net from the wing on a three-pointer that tied Georgia 53-53 with South Carolina with only 10 seconds remaining, and the Dawgs would then stop the Cocks twice because of some weird officiating gaff before going into overtime (this portion of the game was extremely frustrating for anyone inside Stegeman because they were not telling us anything).
UGA then outscored Carolina 9-1 in the OT, and Georgia would leave Stegeman on Saturday evening with a much-needed 62-54 conference victory.
A loss to the Cocks would have been disheartening and difficult to overcome for a Bulldog team that held the lead in this game all the way up until the 8:47 mark in the second half, when Brian Richardson hit a three from the wing to put his team up 39-38.
Freshman Charles Mann, who chipped in 14 points for the Dawgs, had an opportunity to put his team on top when he went to the free throw line with 19 seconds remaining and Georgia trailing 51-50. But Mann choked, clanking both shots and giving USC a chance to further extend their lead.
Obviously, KCP’s three bailed Mann out and saved the day as the Dawgs took care of business in overtime.
However, the second biggest play that enabled Georgia to be in a position to win this game was made by sophomore Nemanja Djurisic. With only 52 seconds left and South Carolina leading 51-48, UGA found Sherrard Brantely wide open in the corner for a three, but the senior couldn’t knock it down. Fortunately for UGA, Neme corralled the weak side rebound, got fouled and cooly sunk both free throws, cutting the margin to just one point. If Neme doesn’t make those plays and the Cocks end up with the defensive board, Georgia would have had to foul and maybe KCP isn’t even in the position to make a game-tying three-pointer.
Neme ended up with 11 points and 6 rebounds.
All and all, this game was an extremely frustrating one to attend – both teams shot below 32% from the floor and neither squad hit more than 61% of their free throws. Georgia and South Carolina tallied up a combined 50 personal fouls, contributing to the marathon-like length of this nearly three-hour game.
All that being said, it feels a lot better knowing Georgia won.
The Georgia Bulldogs (12-11, 6-4) may feel as though they are looking in the mirror on Tuesday night when they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide (15-8, 7-4) in Athens.
Both of these teams have been winning conference games with their defensive efforts, where they are ranked second (Alabama) and fourth (Georgia) in team defense in league play. The Tide, especially, have been suffocating SEC foes, limiting opponents to under 57 points a night.
Another major similarity between these two squads is that each team relies heavily on its backcourt to provide offensive. The Tide’s offense runs through junior point guard Trever Releford, who is netting 14 points and nearly 2 steals a night in SEC games this season.
A final manner in which these two squads are comparable is in their struggles to score baskets – Bama gets 58.7 points per conference game to Georgia’s 58.4. If the crew at ESPNU is anticipating offensive fireworks, they might be let down with what unfolds on the court inside Stegeman.
Alabama’s leading scorer in the paint is sophomore Nick Jacobs – an Atlanta native – who is averaging 6.7 points per game this year. Interestingly, the Tide are 6-1 in games in which Jacobs scores 8 points or more, so hopefully the Dawgs can limit his touches inside on Tuesday night.
For the most part though, Bama plays a four-guard line-up. so Georgia should look to take advantage inside with their superior size.
While it was refreshing to see the Dawgs win without a field goal from leading-scorer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on Saturday, hopefully the game against Texas A & M was more of an anomaly than anything else.
A win on Tuesday evening and Georgia could catapult themselves into a tie for third place in the league.
As a fan of this Bulldog team, I have been finding myself scratching my head in amazement over the past day or so when I think about Georgia’s recent five-game run. The thought of UGA adding another win to this run is almost surreal.
However, a victory on Tuesday night might do more than shoot Georgia further up the league standings. Another successful effort by the Dawgs could garner some national media attention, and dare I say, put Georgia on the NCAA “Bubble”.
After a pair of successful road wins at South Carolina and Tennessee over the past week, the Georgia Bulldogs (11-11, 5-4) will find themselves in unfamiliar territory on Saturday: home.
The Dawgs – one of the SEC hottest teams at the moment – will be playing host to the Texas A & M Aggies, the team that Georgia beat back on January 26th, marking the beginning of this four-game winning streak. In that game, UGA rode Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s 22 points en route to a 59-52 victory. The Aggies’ star player, Elston Turner, managed 19 points, but it took a 5 for 14 shooting night from the floor to get to that total.
Since the loss to Georgia, the Aggies have been playing some inspired basketball as well, winning two of their last three games. One of those wins came on Thursday night in a 70-68 home upset of #21 Missouri. The lone loss during the Aggies’ recent three-game stretch came in overtime to the Kentucky Wildcats last Saturday.
Tomorrow’s game in Athens has the potential to be an influential game in the conference, considering that these two teams are just a game apart in the SEC standings. With the added depth to the league, Saturday’s game provides Georgia with a chance to further separate itself from the middle of the pack; conversely, the Aggies will be looking to entrench themselves deeper into the center of the SEC standings.
Fans attending and watching the game in Stegeman tomorrow should be treated to a pretty good defensive display. In league play, Texas A & M and Georgia rank 3rd and 4th in the conference allowing just 60.7 and 63.2 points per game, respectively. The Aggies basically play a pressure man defense for 40 minutes, so UGA must be strong with the ball and not let their offense get pushed too far outside of the perimeter.
With the way Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been playing over the past five games, I would not be at all surprised to A & M shading help to KCP’s defender for much of the game.
Pope has been nothing short of spectacular over the Dawgs’ run, averaging nearly 22 points and 7 rebounds a contest during these past 4 games.
Georgia hasn’t won five SEC games in a row since 2001.
Twelve years later, Coach Mark Fox’s team has a chance to do it again.
The last time a Georgia Bulldogs (10-11, 4-4) basketball team won four consecutive Southeastern conference games was during the 2002-2003 season, which ended in turmoil for the Dawgs when coach Jim Harrick was forced to resign amid rampant cheating allegations. That season’s team, led by superstar Jarvis Hayes, pulled itself from postseason consideration, a postseason that might have featured a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
On Wednesday night, Coach Mark Fox’s team will be looking to put together a similar SEC win streak when they take on the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville.
The Vols (11-9) have gotten out to a slow start in conference play at 3-5, but much of that can be attributed to the challenging schedule that they have played thus far. Much like Georgia, Tennessee was dealt an SEC slate that began rather top-heavy, playing Ole Miss and Alabama twice as well as traveling to Rupp Arena to take on Kentucky – UT beat Bama at home, but lost all of the other aforementioned games.
Tennessee has been tough at home this year, winning 3 of 4 league games and notching significant out of conference wins over #14 Wichita State and Xavier.
The Vols are a big, physical group, led by mammoth sophomore Jarnell Stokes, a 6’8″ (270 pound) forward who sets the tone inside for a Tennessee team that is fourth in conference play in rebounding at 36 a game. Stokes, who averages 12.6 points and 9.6 boards in league contests, has already tallied 5 double-doubles in his first 8 games.
On the perimeter, Georgia will have to find a way to contain junior wingman Jordan McRae, who is putting together a phenomenal junior campaign. In conference play, the Midway, Georgia native is scoring a whopping 17.3 points on 43% shooting from the floor. Most likely, McRae will guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and vice versa, which should provide fans with an intriguing match-up on both ends.
While Georgia has struggled to put up points in SEC games, averaging only 58 a night, the Dawgs are improving offensively. Though UGA has attempted a league-low 356 field goals through eight games, the Dawgs are making nearly 44% of those shots, which is fourth-best in the conference. Even more impressive has been Georgia’s outside shooting, where the Bulldogs are connecting on over 37% of their attempts from beyond the arc (3rd in the league).
At the center of Georgia’s offense stands last week’s SEC Player of the Week – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – who has been nothing short of spectacular for Coach Mark Fox thus far. When gazing over the conference-only statistics, it’s hard to find a list that doesn’t have KCP’s name somewhere near the top. Pope is second SEC games in scoring (17.6) and steals (2.3). He is third in the field goal (51%) and free throw (86%) percentage categories, and KCP ranks fifth in three-point (43%) percentage as well. Pope even finds himself among the league leaders in rebounds with 5.5 boards per SEC contest. At the risk of gushing over the young man, I think it is safe to say that he is living up to his preseason First-Team All-SEC billing.
Georgia’s success away from Athens in SEC games this season can be directly attributed to Pope, whose calming presence on both the offensive and defensive ends has given this team the lift it has needed to win on the road.
KCP is providing veteran leadership to a young team, and amazingly, he himself is just a sophomore.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope took care of the first half, Kenny Gaines handled the second and the Georgia Bulldogs (10-11; 4-4) cruised out of Columbia with a 67-56 SEC road victory – their second of the season. In fact, today’s win over the Gamecocks marks the first three-game conference win streak for the Dawgs since February of 2004.
After exchanging the lead 13 times in the first 20 minutes, South Carolina took a 30-29 advantage to the locker room at the break. Pope carried Georgia through the first half, scoring 16 of his game-high 19 points prior to the intermission.
KCP was limited in the second half, however, mustering only 3 points. His three was rather timely though, putting the Dawgs up 59-49 with 4:35 remaining in the game.
Georgia played like a bunch of veterans in the Colonial Life Center on Saturday, fending off the Cocks on multiple occasions in the final 20 minutes. Carolina erased an 8-point UGA lead after Bruce Ellington finished a three-point play with 10:51 left, cutting the Georgia advantage to just 46-44. The Dawgs responded instantly with a Donte Williams jumper and then a three from Vincent Williams, expanding the UGA lead to 51-44.
Carolina would close the gap once again though, trimming the Georgia margin to just 4 points with under seven minutes to play. Georgia answered the Cocks’ run though with three-pointers from Sherrard Brantley as well as the aforementioned three from KCP that gave the Dawgs a 10-point advantage with a little over 4 minutes remaining.
Not to sound like a broken record, but I cannot stress how impressive and mature Georgia’s second half performance was this afternoon. The Dawgs played sloppily before the break, turning the ball over 9 times. Georgia cleaned things up after the half, giving it away only 4 times in the game’s final 20 minutes.
Coach Mark Fox got great offensive production from his bench today with Kenny Gaines and John Cannon chipping in 11 and 8 points apiece.
Freshman Charles Mann, who went down with a shoulder injury late in the first half, played rock-solid for the Dawgs, netting 11 points to go along with 6 assists and 3 rebounds.
Georgia was red-hot from the floor in Columbia, making almost 59% of their field goal attempts and over 46% of their three’s. The Dawgs’ 67 points ties the team’s best SEC offensive outburst of the season, matching the 67 that they put up against LSU back in January.
South Carolina had three players finish in double-digits – Michael Carrera (16), Bruce Ellington (14), Brian Richardson (12) – but for the most part the Gamecocks struggled to score, hitting under 36% from the floor.
The win over Carolina puts Georgia at 6th place in the conference (for the moment) with a 4-4 record. This young UGA team is learning to close-out games, and they appear to be improving each week.
With 4 wins in the past 5 games, Georgia may be one of the hotter teams in the SEC.
Is it possible for a team to shoot under 30% from the floor and below 60% from the free throw line and still be in a position to win late in a game?
Auburn proved it on Wednesday night inside Stegeman Coliseum, where they mustered just 28.3% on field goal attempts to go along with a 15 for 27 performance from the charity stripe. Despite the fact that Auburn had only two field goals nearly 10 minutes into the second half, the Tigers still had the ball down by merely one basket with a 1:34 remaining in the game.
Auburn’s leading scorer – Frankie Sullivan – missed a jumper, which Kentavious Caldwell-Pope corralled and flung out to Sherrard Brantley ahead of the break. Brantlely blew the lay-up, but fortunately for Georgia KCP hustled down the court and tipped in his teammate’s miss, giving his team a 50-46 lead with 1:07 left.
Pope made a pair of free throws two possessions later that put UGA up 53-47 with only 31 seconds on the clock.
KCP – I mean, Georgia – would end up winning the game 57-49 over Auburn, the team’s second-straight conference win.
Pope was the undeniable hero on a night when both teams looked anemic on offense. KCP finished the game with 20 points and 10 rebounds, his third double-double of the season.
The Dawgs could have put this contest away much earlier, yet they apparently decided to be polite and match Auburn miss for miss from the free throw line, where Georgia managed to make only 15 of 26 shots (just slightly better than the Tigers). UGA also committed 16 turnovers, which has become pretty much par for the course this year.
Freshman Charles Mann had a nice game, chipping in 10 points and 6 assists and making an amazing skinny-post catch and basket with 20 seconds left that extended the Georgia lead to 55-49.
The rest of the Bulldog team put on performances that were rather forgettable.
The Tigers had three players – Frankie Sullivan, Allen Payne and Chris Denson – score in double-digits, contributing 13, 13 and 12 points apiece, respectively.
For Georgia, Wednesday night’s win may not have been aesthetically pleasing, but it did serve to bolster the team’s overall record to 9-11, and UGA is now 3-4 in SEC play. The Dawgs, who started out 0-3 in league play, have won 3 of their last four games, positioning themselves somewhere in the middle of the conference standings.
This Georgia team may not “wow” people or earn much in the form of style points, but they are winning basketball games.