Tickets – check; wallet – check; gas in car – check…only thing left to do is before I head out to the game is to talk about it.
I wonder how much time Mark Fox spent previewing this year’s out-of-conference schedule before he accepted the job as head coach of the University of Georgia Bulldogs Men’s basketball team? Did he realize that before his first UGA team even enters into SEC play that he would take on Virginia Tech, St. John’s, Illinois, Missouri and Georgia Tech? For all those Joe Lunardi Bracketology fans out there, the Illini, Red Storm and Yellow Jackets are all currently listed as IN the projected field for this year’s tourney (and in my opinion the Hokies will make it too when it’s all said and done).
But what’s done is done, and the schedule is set…time to take on the Illini.
And without further ado, here are the Hoopdawg’s “Keys to the Game”:
1. Defense (clap, clap), Defense (clap, clap), Defense (clap, clap) – Most of the preseason attention (which was minimal & local) circling this year’s team focused around new head coach Mark Fox’s Triangle Offense. While I am excited to see more of this offense and how it operates, I can’t ignore what has been the strong point of this UGA team so far this season – the defense. The Dawgs are holding opponents to a mere 63.6 points per contest which ranks 84th out of the 347 Division I teams (or better than 76% of the country). And don’t look now, but Georgia is beginning to resemble something of “SWAT Team” on the defensive end, averaging 5.6 blocks/game (ranking 28th in the country!). As I mentioned in my last post, Illinois shot terribly in both of their two losses this season. If Georgia can maintain the same defensive intensity it’s shown through the first 8 games, I truly believe this one will go down to the wire.
2. Thompkins, Leslie and Ware – Oh My! (pretty cheesy “Wizard of Oz” reference) – The Bulldogs haven’t had one game this year in which Thompkins, Leslie and Ware have all had good shooting/scoring nights (check the box scores if you don’t believe me). For the most part, it’s been Leslie and Thompkins that have been consistent…but the couple of games that Ware was scoring, one or both of these other two guys were off. Tonight’s game against Illinois would be a great time for this trio to all post good offensive efforts.
3. Home Court Advantage – Winning college basketball games on the road is hard…very hard. The fans are physically located very close to the court, and I believe that basketball players can feel the crowd’s energy and feed off of it. Now I realize that this game isn’t in Athens, but it is only 41 miles away and should have the same feel as a game being played at “The Steg”. Hopefully a good number of Georgia fans turn out for the game tonight to help this team seize the momentum early…
A few people commented earlier in the week that they had tickets…anybody else going?