Posts Tagged ‘Bulldogs’
With the start to the 2014-2015 college basketball season a little less than three weeks away, Georgia is currently being projected to finish 5th in the Southeastern Conference by most major media networks. For a team that ended up 3rd in the SEC a year ago with a 12-6 league record, this prediction seems about right considering UGA lost a starter and major contributor in Brandon Morris this past offseason (Morris was dismissed for arrest involving marijuana possession). Losing Morris, who was the team’s third-leading scorer at 8.6 points per game, is definitely a tough blow to Mark Fox’s roster.
However, CMF does have one of the better backcourts in the conference at his disposal in juniors Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines, who averaged 13.9 and 13.0 points a night, respectively. Georgia will rely heavily on these two for offense this year, and second-team preseason All-SEC point guard Charles Mann should be more than ready to deliver. Having a veteran point guard has typically been a good omen for prospective at-large NCAA tournament teams, and in Charles Mann, UGA has a player who can create his own scoring opportunities just about any time the ball is in his hands. Last year, Mann shot 278 free throws, which placed him 10th in the nation in that category.
Once again, though, Georgia’s biggest question mark will be in the paint, where they return seniors Marcus Thornton and Nemanja Djurisic. While both of these guys have made nice strides in their respective offensive games over the past few seasons, neither of them possesses the ability to receive the ball on the block – back to the basket – and score consistently. The buzz from preseason practices thus far is that freshman Yante Maten, who was last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year in Michigan, might be ready to provide those aforementioned post skills. Maten has a big frame at 6’8″ and 245 pounds, and at the SEC media days Fox suggested that the frosh would most likely be playing significant minutes this season for the Dawgs.
Ironically, the starting positions where UGA is the most skilled – guard – might also be where they have the most depth. Sophomores J.J. Frazier and Juwan Parker should give Coach Fox quality minutes off the bench this year to spell Mann and Gaines. Frazier, who is rumored to have grown two inches in the offseason, came on particularly strong towards the end of last year, scoring in double-figures three times in the final ten games and finishing the season making almost 33% of his three-point attempts.
A trip to the NCAA tournament seems like a must for UGA this year if the Dawgs want to consider this season a step in the right direction. For that to happen though, Georgia needs to play as well before January as they do after it. Even though UGA won 20 games last year and nearly ended up 2nd in the conference, they weren’t even really in the NCAA Bubble discussion in March. Some of that could have to do with an SEC bias that exists in college basketball today, which may be based on the merits of the league’s teams, or simply the fact that people are tired of the SEC’s successes on the football field by the time basketball rolls around. The league placed three teams in the Big Dance last year and all three reached the Sweet Sixteen; Florida and Kentucky went on to the Final Four. However, most analysts declared the SEC “top-heavy”, reluctant to give credit to the conference’s other 11 teams.
The bottom line, though, is that the negative perceptions across the college basketball landscape regarding the quality of basketball being played in the SEC is not going to change any time soon. For Georgia to enter into that Bubble conversation, they cannot afford bad losses like they endured last year to the likes of Georgia Tech, Davidson and Temple. This season, UGA takes on Tech, Gonzaga, Colorado, Seton Hall and Kansas State before entering conference play. In my opinion, the Dawgs need to win three of those games if they hope to be taken seriously in late February.
Even though Mark Fox’s squad has to play Kentucky twice this year (potentially three times if they were to meet in the conference tournament), I expect them to post another winning record in SEC play based upon the fact that they return four starters in an expanded league that no longer has UGA playing the likes of Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky twice in a season.
I have no idea what to anticipate on November 14th, though, when the Dawgs take on in-state rival Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Will the same sluggish bunch that began the year last season come to play? Or, will it be the tough, hard-nosed team that won 8 of their final regular season games a year ago?
The AJC’s Michael Carvell reported late last night that Coach Mark Fox picked up a pair of commitments – a 3-star and an unranked prospect – that will make up Georgia’s 2014 freshmen class.
The 3-star recruit – Yante Maten – stands at 6’8″ and weighs 230 pounds. Maten, a Bloomfield, Michigan native, apparently received offers from both Michigan State and Indiana, but he was upset that both of those schools offered him late (and by “late”, I mean less than a week ago for each school).
The unranked prospect – Fred Iduwe – is a 6’11” recruit who currently hails from just outside of Milwaukee (via Nigeria). Iduwe reportedly chose Georgia over the likes of North Dakota and Wisconsin-Green Bay, which should provide some comfort to UGA fans that the Dawgs’ basketball program carries more prestige than those two aforementioned powerhouses.
Frankly speaking, it seems like Fox secured a potential contributor in Maten and a project in Iduwe. Any high school senior who has not been signed at this point in the year is most likely not going to provide an instant impact on the court next season.
The Dawgs return almost the entire team for the 2014-2015 season (minus Donte Williams), and they should be a contender for an at-large NCAA tournament bid.
However, Fox only has two more seasons with his star backcourt duo of Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines.
Recruiting has been Fox’s achilles heel during his tenure in Athens, and these two signings are not going to settle the fan base.
If Fox cannot land several major talents in next year’s recruiting class, UGA’s upward trend of success – assuming next year is a success – will level off with the eventual departures of Mann and Gaines following the 2015-2016 season.
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs looked primed and ready for the early tipoff in Athens this morning, while Georgia appeared hungover.
Tech’s pressure overwhelmed the Dawgs from the opening tip, forcing UGA into 4 turnovers before the game was 3 minutes old. In addition to the stingy defense, LA Tech was on fire from the outside, connecting on 7 of its first 8 three-pointers, allowing the other Bulldogs to open up a 39-13 advantage with 7:27 left before the intermission.
Georgia was completely overmatched to start the game, unable to slow down Louisiana Tech’s onslaught.
The Dawgs did manage to cut the lead to 19 points heading into the break, but the initial pummeling that Georgia took at the beginning of the game ended up being too much to overcome.
UGA was less careless with the basketball in the game’s final 20 minutes and LA Tech cooled off a bit, but the hole that Georgia dug for itself was just too deep.
The Dawgs gave the home crowd a glimmer of hope when they trimmed the LA Tech advantage to 62-54 with 6:06 remaining in the game after a three-pointer from Kenny Gaines. However, the other Bulldogs quickly quieted Stegeman Coliseum by going on a 7-2 run which was capped off by a Kenny Smith three, making it 69-56 with just 2:40 left.
LA Tech would go on to win 79-71, and the UGA season came to an abrupt end at about 1 o’clock in the afternoon.
Georgia’s 19 turnovers led to 17 points for Tech, and 16 of those came in the first half.
Charles Mann, who finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds, unfortunately committed another 7 turnovers, matching his total from the first-round game against Vermont.
Freshman J.J. Frazier paced the Dawgs offensively, scoring a career-high 15 points, including a 4 for 7 performance from beyond the arc.
Today’s loss puts UGA’s record for the season at 20-14, which is certainly better than most anticipated coming into the 2013-2014 season.
While Georgia certainly overachieved this year, for whatever reason, this team did not appear to be that interested in being a part of the NIT. The Dawgs needed a late second-half comeback to beat a less talented Vermont team at home in the opening round. This morning, UGA turned in maybe its worst first half of the season.
Some teams use the postseason NIT as an opportunity to tack on some additional wins in the hopes that it builds momentum going into the next season.
That did not happen for Georgia.
Dawgs fans should feel optimistic about next year’s basketball season, but the sleepy performances that UGA provided in its two NIT games felt a little too similar to the games Georgia played back in November to start the season.
If the Dawgs hope to be closer to the NCAA bubble next March, they must find a way to avoid these lackadaisical games going forward.
Sometimes talent triumphs grittiness and effort.
At least that was the lesson the Georgia Bulldogs learned yesterday in its 70-58 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats in the semifinals round of the SEC tournament.
The Cats are a physically impressive bunch, especially when viewed in person.
If you think having a 6’4″ point guard like Charles Mann is nice, guess what? Kentucky has two of them – each of the Harrison twins is 6’6″ and they both handle the ball well.
Julius Randle is 6’10” of pure muscle, and he too can move with the athleticism of a guard or wing.
The fact that UGA hung around and managed to make it a game at all is a testament to Coach Mark Fox’s system and his players’ belief in that system.
Just as in the Ole Miss game, Georgia had to play much of the first half with four starters – Mann, Kenny Gaines, Brandon Morris and Donte Williams – on the bench with two fouls each.
Once again, UGA’s reserves stepped up – JuWan Parker scored 7 points and J.J. Frazier contributed another 5 (to go along with 3 rebounds). Neme Djurisic and Cameron Forte scored 4 points apiece, and the Dawgs went into the intermission trailing Kentucky 36-32.
These aforementioned UGA players were all two-star recruits coming out of high school, and yet they managed to keep the Dawgs competitive in a game against a team that has McDonald’s All-Americans on its bench.
In the second half, though, UK’s talent took over.
Kentucky tightened up its defense, making it very difficult for Georgia to get good looks near the basket. The Cats are so long and athletic that it felt like there were six or seven of them on defense each possession.
For the majority of the afternoon, Georgia had the game played at the pace it wanted – slow and deliberate. The speed of the game definitely slowed down the Kentucky offense, but unfortunately for UGA, Kentucky turned in one of its better shooting performances of the season.
The Wildcats, who ranked near the bottom of the SEC in three-point percentage at just 32% in league games, knocked down an impressive 9 of their 16 attempts from beyond the arc. These three-pointers were devastating for the Dawgs, and they enabled UK to secure the 70-58 victory and earn a chance to play the Florida Gators on Sunday.
Georgia got as close as 3 points after a free throw from Neme to make it 46-43 with 13 minutes remaining, but the Dawgs were unable to wipe out the deficit completely.
UGA was led offensively by Kenny Gaines, who scored all 13 of his points in the game’s second half. Charles Mann was the only other Bulldog to finish in double-digits, contributing 12 points.
This loss pretty much assures that Georgia will not be playing in the NCAA tournament this season, but with an RPI of 76 the Dawgs look like a lock for the NIT.
Yesterday’s game embodied the kind of overachievement that the Dawgs have produced for much of this season as Georgia played toe-to-toe with a team that began the year ranked #1 in the country.
After a 6-6 start in the non-conference portion of the schedule, Georgia looked like a program that was about to go off the rails once conference play started. In addition to this mediocrity, Coach Mark Fox was being listed on just about every “Hot Seat” compilation being generated amongst college basketball media sources.
Somehow, CMF and his team altered the course of the season. For Georgia to finish the year 19-13 overall and tied for second in the conference is living proof to the amount of heart and perseverance this team possesses.
The Dawgs won 9 of their last 12 games, arguably making them one of the hotter teams in the country.
The knock against Fox has always been his inability to bring in more big-time recruits from the metro Atlanta area, which may be true.
But the guy definitely develops players (see J.J. Frazier, Neme Djurisic, Marcus Thornton, Kenny Gaines), and he finds a way to squeeze every ounce of effort out of his team.
The Dawgs are set to lose just one player from this team -senior Donte Williams – and they should enter next season as one of the favorites to finish near the top of the conference.
Coach Fox seems to have the program going in the right direction.
Mississippi’s Marshall Henderson does just about everything he can to draw attention to himself at all times.
Ironically, Georgia put together its best overall team effort of the season en route to an exciting 75-73 win that went late into the evening on Friday in the Georgia Dome.
After Charles Mann gave UGA the go ahead layup to make it 74-73 with 16 seconds remaining, Andy Kennedy called timeout to get his team ready for its final possession.
Georgia fans nervously suffered through this endless 30 seconds, waiting to see if Coach Mark Fox’s team had one last defense stand in them.
Fortunately, they did.
As soon as the ball touched Henderson’s hands he launched an off-balance three from the wing that glanced the side of the rim before falling into Marcus Thornton’s hands.
Thornton got one of the two free throws, giving UGA a 75-73 advantage.
The Rebels’ Jarvis Summers – who was unstoppable, scoring a game-high 26 points on the night – couldn’t connect on his last-second attempt from the corner and the Dawgs earned a chance to play Kentucky today in the semifinal round of the SEC tournament.
Charles Mann led UGA with 16 points, but credit the Georgia reserves and role players for stepping up big and keeping the Dawgs in the game in the first half.
Mann, Kenny Gaines and Marcus Thornton all picked up two fouls before the break, causing them to miss a ton of time in the first half.
With Ole Miss leading 18-7 and nearly 13 minutes remaining before the intermission, things were looking bleak for the Dawgs as their star point guard had to take a seat after picking up his second foul.
Freshman J.J. Frazier came to the rescue though, connecting on a pair of threes and a floater in the lane, scoring 8 of his 11 points in the game’s first half. Frazier’s spark off the bench was instrumental in the UGA comeback, and his scoring helped the Dawgs go into the half down by only a basket.
Brandon Morris did miss a couple close shots down the stretch, but he finished with 12 points on an array of drives from the wing.
In just 23 minutes, Marcus Thornton nearly notched another double-double, netting 9 points to go along with a team-high 11 rebounds. Thornton was aggressive when he received the ball in the paint, enabling him to shoot 10 free throws on the night. Thankfully for Georgia, Thornton made 7 of those attempts, several of them coming at critical moments down the stretch.
Marshall Henderson did manage to score 19 points, but I think it is safe to say that he may have shot his team out of the game. UGA’s Kenny Gaines and Juwan Parker tirelessly chased Henderson all over the court, frustrating the Ole Miss senior into a 2 for 16 performance from beyond the arc.
Now, I’ve never been to Rupp Arena, but I have a decent idea of what it might be like after sitting through the Kentucky-LSU game last night. Mark Fox was quoted earlier in the week as saying that he is tired of hearing about “Catlanta”, but his complaints had no effect no the Big Blue nation’s travel plans.
The Dawgs will be playing just an hour from Athens today in the Georgia Dome, but that arena is going to seem pretty hostile to Coach Mark Fox’s team.
If Georgia can weather the initial storm and get the game played at a half court pace, they could frustrate this young Wildcat team into forcing it a bit.
When these two teams met earlier this year in Lexington, Kentucky routed the Dawgs 79-54 – however, Georgia was playing without its second-leading scorer (Gaines), and the Dawgs were within 8 points with 12 minutes left in the contest.
If UGA wants into this year’s NCAA tourney, then they need to get into tomorrow’s SEC championship game.
Actually, CBS’s Jerry Palm thinks Georgia needs more:
Must win Sunday. Have to beat UK to have that chance. @ugadawg16: any chance for UGA to go to the NCAAs if they beat Kentucky tomorrow?
— Jerry Palm (@jppalmCBS) March 15, 2014
How will they replace Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s scoring? Where will the offense come from? Surely they cannot win as many games after losing the SEC Player of the Year to the NBA draft…
These concerns were the consensus question marks surrounding Coach Mark Fox’s team heading into the 2013-2014 season from just about every major media source that previews college basketball. This year’s team was picked to finish somewhere around 10th or 11th in the SEC before the season began.
Sophomores Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines had different ideas.
Georgia’s backcourt combined for 44 of UGA’s 69 points today in Baton Rouge, hoisting the Dawgs on their backs and carrying their team to a critical 69-61 road win against LSU.
The UGA duo played lights out on Saturday with Gaines scoring 20 points for the 4th time in the last 7 games. The sophomore was white hot in the first half, connecting on all four of his three-point attempts.
The entire Bulldog team was hitting shots before the intermission, making over 52% of their attempts from the floor. The problem wasn’t UGA’s shooting, though, it was their ball security. Georgia committed 13 first-half turnovers, yet they still managed to take 30-28 lead into the break due to some poor LSU shooting.
The Dawgs held a 21-18 advantage over the Tigers with 11:24 left before the half after a three from J.J. Frazier. Georgia remained stuck on 21 points for nearly 6 minutes until Kenny Gaines hit a three to reclaim a 24-22 lead. During that 6-minute drought, UGA committed 5 turnovers, and the only thing that kept them in the game was the fact that the Tigers could not find the rim.
In the second half, Charles Mann took over, scoring 16 of his game-high 22 points and snagging 7 of his game-high 10 rebounds (yes, Mann secured his first double-double of the season in probably the most important game of the year). Mann basically did what he does best: he got the line, where he made an incredible 12 of 14 attempts.
Georgia held an 11-point lead with less than 8 minutes left, and they were barely challenged for the remainder of the game other than a very brief LSU spurt that saw the Tigers cut the UGA advantage to 65-59 after an Anthony Hickey three-pointer. Charles Mann immediately buried a pair of free throws that shot the lead back to 8 points, and Georgia notched its 12th conference win of the season.
As far as LSU’s offense is concerned, the Tigers were led by Andre Stringer’s 22 points.
LSU’s leading scorer – Johnny O’Bryant – was a non-factor, mustering only 5 points while committing 5 turnovers. Coach Fox had a masterful game plan for JOB, doubling down on him at almost every opportunity. O’Bryant appeared flustered with the UGA defense, which held him to a season-low in scoring in conference play.
For Georgia, this victory was absolutely enormous.
The Dawgs finish the year 18-12 overall and 12-6 in the SEC, giving them the 3-seed in next week’s conference tournament.
Georgia will get the winner of the Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt/Mississippi State game in the quarterfinals round on Friday night.
The NCAA selection committee may or may not have UGA on its radar, but after winning 8 of their last 10 games to close out the regular season the Bulldogs are making themselves harder and harder to ignore.
(These late tip-offs make it difficult to put together a full-length post, so here are just some quick thoughts on this game)
Tonight’s win marks the first time a Georgia Bulldog Men’s basketball team has notched 10 conference wins since the 2002-2003 season.
It’s no secret that UGA’s defense was what won this game tonight. Missouri entered this contest averaging almost 74 points a night in league games, and they were third in field goal percentage (44%) and second in three-pointe percentage (37%).
The Tigers ran into a brick wall this evening in Athens, though, where the Dawgs held Mizzu to a season-low 56 points on just 32% shooting from the floor. The Tigers made only 3 of their 18 attempts from beyond the arc.
Mizzu’s big trio of scorers – Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross – came into tonight’s game netting more than 55 points per contest in SEC play. However, Georgia’s defenders held these guys to just a combined 38 points, which was a big reason why the Tigers appeared so stagnant on offense.
Nice bounce back game by Charles Mann:
Charles Mann scored a total of 12 points in his games against Tennessee and South Carolina last week. Tonight, however, Charles was in charge, dropping 19 points to go along with a team-high 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
Great production from the bench for Coach Fox:
UGA’s bench combined for 17 points on 46% shooting from the floor, and they hauled in 13 rebounds. Mizzu’s backups tallied a total of just 4 points. Fox got some nice minutes from Neme Djurisic, who hit two big three-pointers to give Georgia a 31-22 lead at the half. Those three’s were Neme’s only points of the game, but he did grab 6 boards.
This victory puts UGA at 16-11 overall and 10-5 in the conference. While Georgia has yet to be listed officially on any NCAA bubbles, the Dawgs continue to burst the bubble dreams of their SEC counterparts. UGA’s sweep of Mizzu this season has to have the Tigers feeling pretty uneasy about their NCAA chances.
Georgia hits the road to take on Arkansas this Saturday in another game that could be bubbly.