Posts Tagged ‘Dawgs’
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.
The first time Georgia (15-16,9-9) and LSU (18-11,9-9) met this season, the Dawgs rode Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s 22 points en route to a 67-58 home victory – their first SEC win of the season. The victory over the Tigers set the Bulldogs off on a run in which they would win 5 of their next 6 games, with the lone loss coming at Florida.
LSU had a “UGA-like” resurgence as well following the loss to the Dawgs, which put them at 0-4 in league play. Since that game, the Tigers have posted a 9-5 conference record, notching wins over Missouri, Alabama and Arkansas.
A large part of LSU’s improved play has rested on the broad shoulders of sophomore big man Johnny O’Bryant III, who has put together an All-SEC calibre season. In conference play, O’Bryant averaged 14.7 points and 9.4 rebounds. The 262-pound forward has registered 11 double-doubles in his 18 SEC games this year. In the loss to Georgia back in January, O’Bryant netted 16 points to go along with 14 boards.
Containing O’Bryant’s physicality in the paint will be a challenge for the Dawgs on Thursday. However, Georgia’s biggest challenge in their first tournament game could be more emotional than physical. After suffering yet another heart-breaking road loss at the buzzer in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, UGA must regain its poise and be ready to deal with a competitive LSU team.
No team in the SEC has had worse luck away from home than Georgia this season, with the Dawgs losing in overtime to Ole Miss as well suffering 2-point, 1-point and 3-point losses at Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Alabama, respectively.
Obviously, how deep UGA goes into the tournament in Nashville relies heavily on the play of KCP, the SEC Player of the Year. The sophomore averaged 18.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals in league games this season, and he played an integral part in all 9 of the Dawgs’ league wins. The true measure of an MVP is how important he is to his team’s success, and Pope – without question – has been absolutely essential to this UGA squad.
In the latest NBAdraft.net projection for the 2013 draft, the site had KCP going at the 30th pick of the first round – the last pick.
Win or lose on Thursday, hopefully it will not be Pope’s last game as a Bulldog.
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.
Georgia headed to a timeout after Kyle Wiltjer hit a three-pointer that cut the UGA lead to 50-47 with 7:47 left in the game. For the first time Thursday night, the Kentucky faithful were on their feet making noise in Athens. The Dawgs had held a 10-point advantage over the Wildcats a little over a minute before this break in the action, but that lead had been cut down to just a possession ball game.
This moment was the exact point in the game when Georgia was supposed to crumple under the pressure of this furious Kentucky onslaught.
Unfortunately for the Cats, Georgia chose to respond, reeling off 12 straight points and opening up a 62-47 advantage with less than four minutes remaining. Georgia would go on to win from here 72-62, possibly putting an end to Kentucky’s NCAA hopes.
UGA’s team defense was tenacious on Thursday, holding the Cats to only 37% from the floor and just 62 points.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who scored 6 points during Georgia’s critical 12-point run, finished the game with 24 points and 10 boards for his sixth double-double of the season.
While KCP was once again the floor general for the Dawgs, Coach Mark Fox received magnificent play from both Donte Williams and Nemanja Djurisic.
Williams, who was a perfect 8 for 8 from the free throw line for the first time in his young life, contributed 10 points to go along with 8 rebounds. Donte played extremely strong inside for his team tonight, and his ability to make free throws may have been the difference in the game.
Neme snagged 6 boards himself, and he also netted 12 points, including a pair of monster three-pointers in the second half that helped UGA preserve their lead over Kentucky.
Credit Mark Fox for the turn around that this team has undergone right before our eyes this season. Against Kentucky, UGA committed just 10 turnovers; over the past three games, Georgia has given the ball away only 28 times, which is a major improvement for a team that was leading the conference with over 18 turnovers a contest earlier in the year.
The Dawgs followed up the Tennessee win with another dominant effort, and at 9-8 in the SEC they will travel to Alabama on Saturday with a chance to challenge for the 7-seed in this year’s league tournament.
One thing is for sure, this team will be ready to make some noise in Nashville next week.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, the network’s NCAA Tournament guru, has Kentucky currently placed in his “First Four Out” portion of the field, which implies that the Wildcats are riding the NCAA “Bubble” hard. A loss to the Georgia Bulldogs on Thursday night in Athens could certainly put a major damper on the Cats’ postseason hopes, meaning Coach Calipari’s team will probably be treating this game similarly to a playoff match-up.
However, the stakes in tonight’s game are pretty high for the Dawgs as well, who need a win to keep pace with Tennessee (10-7), LSU (9-8) and Arkansas (9-8) if they hope to avoid the dreaded 8-/9-seed game in this year’s SEC Tournament (UGA is in the 9-spot at the moment).
Since losing “Mr. Do-Everything” – freshman Nerlens Noel – Cal’s team has mustered just a 3-3 conference record (if you include the Florida game in which Noel went down with the knee injury). Noel anchored the Kentucky defense, averaging 4.4 blocks and nearly 10 rebounds a game. Over the past five games without Noel, the Cats have allowed SEC opponents to score 70 or more points in four of those games, which is definitely concerning since Kentucky had only allowed three league teams to post 70 points or more over the previous ten games.
Coach Cal’s team has not been able to get it together away from Rupp without the services of their big man, dropping road games at Tennessee and Arkansas (last Saturday). If the Cats want to dance this March, they will have to find a way to sneak out of Stegeman with a win on Thursday.
Offensively, Kentucky’s scoring is extremely balanced, with five players averaging over 8 points per game. Leading the way is freshman guard Archie Goodwin, who is netting a team-best 12.1 points per SEC contest.
For Georgia, Thursday’s game against Kentucky gives the Dawgs another chance to even up their overall record, which currently rests at 14-15. In addition, a victory over the Cats would greatly help UGA in its attempts to jockey for a slightly higher seed than 8 in next week’s SEC Tournament.
With Kentucky’s athleticism, I would be surprised if Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gets many good looks at the basket in this one. Coach Mark Fox will need more aggressive point guard play from freshman Charles Mann, who is coming off a career-high 18 points against Tennessee in game in which he repeatedly attacked the rim off the dribble.
Las Vegas is giving Kentucky a 3.5-point edge in this one, which may provide UGA with a little extra fuel leading up to the game.
While nearly 10,000 people packed into the Steg to see Tennessee last Saturday, I anticipate a near-capacity crowd Thursday night in what should be the most prestigious home game of the season.
Hopefully Georgia is ready.
Georgia freshman Kenny Gaines only played 8 minutes on Saturday, but he made the most of his time on the floor late in the game against the Vols. With Tennessee trailing UGA 50-45 and under 6 minutes remaining in the game, Charles Mann found Gaines in the corner where the frosh cooly buried a three-pointer, putting UGA back up by 8 points.
Gaines hit another monster three from the baseline minutes later, helping to extend the Dawgs’ lead to 62-50 with less than 3 minutes remaining.
Kenny put the stamp on the UGA victory by finishing a three-point play the old fashioned way off of another assist from Mann, giving Georgia a 67-58 advantage with only 1:25 left.
Prior to tip-off in this one, Fox had listed Gaines as a “game time” decision – thankfully, Gaines’s heel bruise seemed good enough to play on and Kenny was able to play a major role in Dawgs’ win.
A major concern for Georgia heading into today’s game with Tennessee centered on dealing with the Vols’ star point guard, Trae Golden, who had been scoring 19 points per game during the team’s recent six-game winning streak.
Charles Mann – UGA’s freshman point guard – stepped up and played his best game of the season while taking Golden completely out of his game. On offense, Mann took the ball right at Golden en route to the rim at nearly every opportunity, getting to the line for 14 free throw attempts (of which he made 12). Mann’s aggressiveness led to a career high 18 points to go along with 8 assists, and he had Golden in foul trouble for the entire game.
Defensively, the 6’4″ freshman was too tough for UT’s point guard, limiting the smaller Golden to merely 4 points on an abysmal 1 for 10 shooting performance.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had his hands full on defense for much of the afternoon as he was matched up on Jordan McRae, who finished up with 35 points before fouling out.
However, KCP gave Georgia another excellent effort inside Stegeman today, scoring 25 points and grabbing 9 boards – just one short of his fifth double-double of the year.
UGA did an excellent job inside dealing with the UT bigs, who came into this contest with some of the better rebounding numbers in the SEC. Georgia outrebounded Tennessee by a count of 38-34, and the Dawgs scored 30 points in the paint to the Vols’ 14.
The win today puts Georgia at 8-8 in the conference and 14-15 overall, giving UGA a realistic shot of getting into this season’s NIT Tournament, should they manage to win another game or two.
This loss may have devastating consequences for Tennessee as the Vols have now dropped two games to the Dawgs (RPI 141), and I imagine they will find themselves on the outside of the NCAA Bubble tomorrow morning.
For Georgia, showing the ability to bounce back from such a difficult loss at Vandy on Wednesday to grab a victory against a very hot team displays a lot of maturity.
The atmosphere inside the Steg this afternoon was energetic as the home crowd of nearly 10,000 fans enthusiastically voiced their support of this young Bulldog team.
I anticipate an even bigger crowd on Thursday night when Georgia hosts the John Calipari-led Kentucky Wildcats.
Since enjoying a five-game winning streak that saw their conference record boost to 6-4, Georgia has been slumping as of late, losing four of the past five contests. Three of those losses – Ole Miss, Arkansas, Vandy – came on the road, and all ended in heartbreaking fashion for Coach Mark Fox and his team. In each of those three games, Georgia had an opportunity to win at the end, but they failed to do so.
In the middle of February, the Dawgs seemed poised to avoid the opening round of Wednesday games in this year’s SEC Basketball Tournament. However, the loss to Vandy coupled with the difficulty of UGA’s remaining schedule has left the door open for the possibility of Georgia ending up with one of the dreaded bottom four seeds. The Dawgs wrap up SEC play with games against Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama, all of whom are currently sitting on or around the NCAA bubble, meaning they can ill-afford a loss to a team like Georgia (RPI of 141). Each one of these opponents will be trying to avoid a letdown against UGA, and the Dawgs should receive an intense effort from all of these squads.
On Saturday, UGA will host the hottest team in the conference – Tennessee – for a rematch inside Stegeman. Since losing to Georgia back on February 6th in Knoxville, the Vols have reeled off six-straight wins, including upsets of Kentucky, and most recently, Florida.
When Georgia and Tennessee first met last month, the Vols were without starting point guard Trae Golden, who was dealing with a hamstring injury. In the 68-62 home loss to the Dawgs, Tennessee struggled offensively without their primary ball handler, turning it over 13 times.
Since returning to Coach Martin’s lineup, Golden – a junior from Powder Springs, GA – has been sensational, scoring nearly 19 points per game to go along with 4 rebounds and 1 SEC Player of the Week award.
Tennessee’s other two stars – Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes – have been playing out of their minds lately as well. Over the past 6 games, McRae has been averaging 20 points a night, and he ranks third in the league in conference scoring at 18.3 per contest.
On the inside, Stokes has owned the glass, leading all SEC players at 10.5 boards per league game. Stokes has registered 12 double-doubles already this season, and he is a major reason why the Vols have outrebounded opponents in 11 of the past 12 games.
In a cruel twist of fate, Georgia may be without freshman Kenny Gaines once again on Saturday as he is still dealing with a deep heel bruise – he will be a game time decision, per Coach Mark Fox. Gaines was instrumental in UGA’s win at Tennessee last month, sparking his team with 12 points off the bench.
If Gaines cannot go for Fox, Georgia will need Charles Mann, Brandon Morris and Neme Djurisic to step up and provide offensive support to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who will most likely be blanketed by Vols’ defenders all afternoon.
Three quick takeaways from last night’s game between Georgia and Vanderbilt:
1. Yes, if Kentavious Caldwell-Pope doesn’t dribble the ball off of his foot and out of bounds with 19 seconds remaining, Vanderbilt would have had to foul him, giving UGA a chance to extend its 62-61 lead. This scenario may have eliminated the ‘Dores’ chances of making a fade-way shot to win or tie the game. However, without KCP the Dawgs would have never even been in the position that they were in, so it’s difficult to assign too much blame on the young man, who finished the night with 20 points and 14 rebounds, including two monster three-pointers in the last two minutes to tie the game.
2. Vandy’s 16-0 second-half run that put them up 52-47 with just 5:35 left to play definitely played a major factor the team’s victory last night. However, once again, Georgia has failed to capitalize on an opponent’s early offensive struggles.
In last night’s game, Vanderbilt had just 5 points after nearly 13 minutes of first-half play, yet the Georgia lead was just 17-5 due to the Dawgs’ offensive ineptitude.
Similarly, in the South Carolina game last Saturday, UGA limited the Cocks to only 2 points for the first 10 minutes of the game – however, Georgia’s advantage was just 5 points (with a 7-2 lead).
And in the game against Alabama, the Dawgs held the tied to merely 6 points through the game’s initial 10 minutes, but Georgia was only able to muster a 13-6 lead.
While UGA’s defense continues to be strong, especially out of the gates, their inability to score early and put teams aways is beginning to become a major liability.
3. Georgia is not out of the woods yet when it comes to avoiding playing in the opening Wednesday round of this year’s SEC tournament. Last night’s loss to Vanderbilt put’s UGA’s SEC record at 7-8, just one game ahead of the Dores.
Georgia’s remaining schedule: Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama
Vandy’s remaining schedule: Auburn, Florida, South Carolina
Realistically, both teams could finish 8-10 in conference with Vandy holding the head-to-head advantage.
With only four conference games remaining, the 2013 SEC Basketball Tournament picture is still not yet clear. One thing is very clear, however, and that is that the Georgia Bulldogs (13-14,7-7) definitely want to avoid the 8 or 9 seeds of this year’s tournament because the teams slotted in those positions will most likely be heading towards a Friday matchup with the highly-ranked Florida Gators.
If the tournament started today, the Dawgs would be rematching LSU in the dreaded 8/9 game at 1PM on Thursday.
If UGA wants to avoid Florida, then they must find a way to win several of their last four games, starting on Wednesday night in Nashville where they will take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Dawgs have not had a lot of success playing at Vandy over the past decade, registering just one win (2006) in ten attempts. For whatever reason, Georgia historically struggles with either the ‘Dores raised floor, behind the goal benches or a combination of both.
Although, this Vandy team is not the same calibre of squad that Coach Kevin Stallings has had on the floor in year’s past. This season the Commodores are 11-15 overall and 5-9 in conference play, placing them at 11th in the league. Lately though, Vandy has been improving, notching 3 wins in their past 5 games, including a 72-31 road drubbing of Missy State last Saturday.
Similarly to Georgia, Coach Stallings team has trouble scoring in SEC games, averaging only 60.4 points (to UGA’s 58.9). Vanderbilt’s offense lives and dies with the three-ball, tossing up over 22 shots from beyond the arc per game. Unfortunately for Stallings, it’s been a lot more “die” for his team than “live” with that strategy.
Vanderbilt’s dependence on the three may be related to their inability to score closer to the basket. Of all the 347 teams competing in Division I, only three have made fewer two-point field goals than Vandy’s 343 on the year.
To be fair though, UGA has only done slightly better, making 386 two-pointers, which is 325th in the nation in that category.
But in games where the Commodores are stroking it from the perimeter, they have been tough for opponents to handle. Vandy is 4-2 in SEC contests in which they make over 8 three-pointers, including a win over Arkansas – a team that recently knocked off UGA.
Georgia’s perimeter defense, which has been suspect this season, must be stronger if the Dawgs hope to steal one in Nashville. In SEC play, UGA ranks 11th in the league in three-point percentage defense, allowing teams to make over 35% of their attempts.
That effort probably won’t get it done for Coach Mark Fox’s team on Wednesday night.