The Georgia Bulldogs (6-2) take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves (3-6) this Saturday in Athens at 12:00PM.
Arkansas State…Arkansas State…where have I heard that name before? Arthur Agee, one of the two stars from the 1994 documentary “Hoop Dreams“, played his final two years of college basketball for the Red Wolves. If you have never seen the movie, check it out – it’s a great sports flick.
Despite returning four starters from last year’s team and being predicted to finish 2nd in the Sun Belt’s West Division by Rivals.com, the Red Wolves have not gotten out to the best start. Actually, their start to this season was terrible, losing their first five games of the season to Ole Miss, Missouri State, Belmont, Pacific and Pepperdine – not exactly Murder’s Row.
However, they have won three out of their last four games, with their lone loss coming in overtime to then-ranked #15 Memphis. Arkansas State coach, John Brady (former coach of the LSU Tigers), credited his team’s zone defense for keeping the came close by taking Memphis out of its offensive rhythm.
Any chance that Brady may put his team in some zone sets to force Georgia to shoot it from outside?
The leaders of this Arkansas State team are 6th-year senior guard Donald “Don’t Call Me Daniel” Boone and junior power forward Martavius Adams.
Besides providing this ASU team with leadership and the wisdom that comes from being in college for six years, Boone is also chipping in 10.2 ppg – 46.6% from the field and 34.1% from downtown – from the shooting guard position. He’s probably their most consistent outside threat, and the Georgia guards will need to be aware of where he is at on the court.
Martavius Adams, a native of Irwinton, Georgia, was selected to the Sun Belt preseason All-League Second Team coming into the 2010-2011 season. Adams has a Jeremy Price-like frame – 6’8″, 255lbs – and leads the Red Wolves in both scoring (12.7 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 ppg). He originally signed and played his freshman season with the Oklahoma State Cowboys before transferring to Arkansas State (reserve forward Malcoln Kirkland also came from Oklahoma State).
When previewing his team for this season, Coach Brady had this to say about his star player, “”I thought the last 12-14 games of the year that Martavius was as good, if not the best, post player in the league. It took him a while to get going, but the last 12 or 14 games I thought he was as good as anybody in the Sun Belt. I anticipate him picking up where he left off, and then those other guys are going to make him better because of what they bring to practice.”
As a team, Arkansas State doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well – 40.6% FG and 29.7% 3PT. Their main strengths seem to be their team defense and rebounding, hauling down 37 boards per game.
On paper, this looks like it should be a cake-walk for Mark Fox’s Bulldogs. However, there are several abnormal circumstances at play that could make this an interesting game:
1. This is the first game that the Dawgs have played since their December 7th win in Atlanta over in-state rival Georgia Tech. How rusty will their legs and jump-shots be after such a long lay-off?
2. School is officially out for the holidays, meaning that the crowd on Saturday could be somewhat sparse due to a lack of students in Athens, GA. There are still tickets available for the game for just $5 (promo code is “HOLIDAYS”), and something tells me that a lot them will remain “available”. The Red Wolves will not be entering a very “hostile” environment.
3. The game tips-off at an unusually early time – high noon (which will feel like 11am for the ASU players). Can Coach Fox can get his guys ready to start fast despite the lunch-time tip?
Hopefully Dustin Ware and Sherrard Brantley can be zonebusters again on Saturday and hit some shots from beyond the arc. The two combined for 10 three-pointers against Georgia Tech, which not only bolstered Georgia‘s scoring but also opened things up on the inside for Trey Thompkins to work.
Jeremy Price, who mustered just 2 points against the Yellow Jackets, has played phenomenal at home this season, averaging 17 points in games against Mississippi Valley State, Colorado and UAB. Look for him to get back on track against the Red Wolves after being a no-show in the game at Georgia Tech.
And finally, it’s time for junior forward Travis Leslie to snap out of his current funk. In the Dawgs‘ wins over UAB and Georgia Tech, Leslie scored a total of 8 points on just 3 of 13 shooting in 50 minutes of play. He has to find a way to stay involved in the offense when the game is running at a slower tempo, especially against zone defenses.
As far as Gerald Robinson, Jr. is concerned, well, you can see how he prepares for games here.
On a personal note, I am stoked to be heading up to Athens for this game. I can’t think of a better way to spend a cold and rainy winter day than watching Georgia play some hoops.
If you can’t make the trek to Athens, the game will be televised on CSS and available online at ESPN3.
And I know it’s early, but I noticed that Georgia is currently ranked #36 in CBS Sportsline’s RPI Ranking – this has to be the Dawgs highest RPI in years.
ESPN’s Andy Katz is plugging Georgia again with his recent article discussing how “Opportunity Knocks” for Mark Fox’s Bulldogs.