Hoop Dawgs

This is a blog that will discuss UGA Men's Basketball

Posts Tagged ‘Dawgs

Dawgs hoping to build on 2013-2014 season’s successes

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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?

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Written by hoopdawg

October 24, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Posted in ncaa basketball, sec

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Brandon Morris’s arrest a crushing blow to UGA’s basketball momentum

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In case you missed it, Brandon Morris was arrested over the weekend on a felony marijuana charge. Coach Mark Fox declined to comment on the situation, and Morris will face disciplinary actions from UGA’s Athletic Association Comprehensive Action committee, most likely sooner rather than later.

The best case scenario for Morris and the UGA basketball program is that this is the young man’s first marijuana offense, potentially resulting in a suspension of 10% of next season’s competition, or roughly 3 games. The first game listed on the schedule – which is still a work in progress – for next year is Georgia Tech on November 14th in Atlanta. The Dawgs played without Morris last season against the Jackets in Athens in a game that Georgia dropped 80-71, marking the team’s third straight loss to Tech.

The fact that Morris missed the first three games of last season, which equals exactly 10% of the 30 games that the team played, makes me somewhat suspicious that his transgression last year was marijuana-related as well. If that turns out to be the case, then Morris will be suspended for 30% of next season’s schedule, or about 9 games. I call this possible outcome the “second-best but still not so great” scenario.

Missing 9 games would force Georgia to begin the season without one of its starters from a year ago, meaning that the Dawgs would take on the Jackets, the preseason NIT and potentially both Colorado and Seton Hall, all without Morris’s services.

Georgia basketball enjoyed a major turnaround last year, winning 20 games and finishing 12-6 in the Southeastern Conference, and Brandon Morris was a big part of the team’s success. His height and length make him a tough defender, and he has a knack for slashing and getting the ball to the rim. Morris was the third-leading scorer for Coach Fox last season at 8.6 points per game, doubling his offensive production from his freshman campaign.

Losing Morris for nearly a third of the season would be a major blow to this team’s NCAA tournament aspirations, which were dampened this past season by a weak RPI (76) that was weighed down by some early season losses to Tech, Davidson and Temple. If Mark Fox’s team hopes to dance in 2015, they must avoid the out of conference letdowns that plagued them a year ago.

Of course another possible outcome for the Morris is that he is kicked off the team, leaving UGA with his shoes to fill for the entire season.

Right now, everything regarding Brandon’s situation is pure speculation, and until a judgment comes out from the aforementioned committee Morris’s fate will remain up in the air. One thing is certain though, and that is that he will miss some games next year, meaning that Fox will have a shallower bench at his disposal.

Without Morris, Georgia could look to Cameron Forte, who showed flashes of scoring ability in his first year in Athens. However, Forte’s defense was a major liability that kept him off the court for significant chunks of time last season, and if he cannot guard better this year Fox will have to get creative with his lineup by playing a smaller group that includes J.J. Frazier, Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann.

The Dawgs will definitely be dealing with some sort of setback from this incident when they kick off next year, but hopefully it won’t be enough to change the outcome of the season.

Written by hoopdawg

July 14, 2014 at 10:15 am

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CMF signs two for next year

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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.

 

Written by hoopdawg

April 6, 2014 at 7:50 am

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Dawgs fall to LA Tech in second round of NIT

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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.

Written by hoopdawg

March 22, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Georgia escapes Vermont in the first round of the NIT

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Georgia appeared dead in the water after Sandro Carissimo – who led Vermont with 11 points – hit a jumper to put his Vermont team up 52-45 with just 6:30 left in the game.

The Dawgs had relinquished a 29-20 halftime advantage, and they looked as if they had no interest in defending the perimeter.

Charles Mann, however, had other plans, scoring 11 of his career-high 29 points in the game’s final minutes, helping his Bulldog team finish the game on an 18-4 run en route to the 63-56 victory.

Vermont could not handle Mann, allowing the sophomore to get to the rim at will.  

Marcus Thornton chipped in 16 points, which gave him and Mann a combined 45 of the team’s 63 points on the night.

UGA’s biggest problem in this game was itself as the Dawgs committed 22 turnovers against the Catamounts.  Charles Mann may have netted 29 points this evening, but he also carried the turnover load as well by giving the ball to Vermont a team-high 7 times.

Georgia escaped tonight’s game against Vermont by mostly relying on its athleticism.

Unfortunately for UGA, Georgia’s next opponent in the NIT – 3-seed Louisiana Tech – is far more athletic than Vermont and the other Bulldogs tend to play the game at a more uptempo pace. 

The Dawgs will need to be less careless with the ball against LaTech of they hope to keep playing in this tournament.

 

Written by hoopdawg

March 19, 2014 at 10:02 pm

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Georgia receives NIT bid, set to play Vermont

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It appears that the Georgia Bulldogs (19-13) basketball season will continue as the Dawgs were selected to play in this year’s National Invitational Tournament (N.I.T.).

UGA received the 2-seed and the Dawgs should host (since they are the higher seed) Wednesday’s game against the Vermont Catamounts, a team that finished the year 22-10 overall and 15-1 in the American East Conference. Vermont was the top seed in its conference tournament, but the Catamounts were ousted in the semifinals by Albany.

Other than Donte Williams and Marcus Thornton, Wednesday’s game will be the first postseason experience for this young Georgia team.

Written by hoopdawg

March 16, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Dawgs out of SEC tournament, looking towards postseason play

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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.

Written by hoopdawg

March 16, 2014 at 8:16 am

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