Wrapping up 2010

I wanted to begin by wishing everyone a Happy New Year.

I would also like to take a moment to thank everyone for reading this blog and for all of your insightful comments.  I really enjoy reading what everyone thinks about upcoming or past games, and the comments are what makes this blog interactive and engaging.

Sorry for the delayed post on the Eastern Kentucky game, but I was in a cabin outside of Asheville, NC over the weekend without WiFi and thus unable to update this blog.

I did catch the game on television though, and I have to admit that I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to write about what I had just witnessed.

The Georgia Bulldogs (11-2) won the game 64-57, but it wasn’t exactly the kind of win that makes you want to stick out your chest and gloat.  The Dawgs played another inferior opponent, and once again, gave an inferior effort.

Honestly, if Trey Thompkins wasn’t on fire (or healed from his ankle injury) I think there is a good chance that Georgia loses that game.  Thompkins finished with 26 points and 7 rebounds, scoring 14 of Georgia’s 30 second-half points.  Trey did a great job of getting his shot up quickly after receiving the ball, thus avoiding any potential Eastern Kentucky double-teams.  He put the Dawgs on his shoulders and converted 11 of 16 field goal attempts to lead them to their 8th straight victory.

The only other Georgia player to finish in double-figures was junior Travis Leslie, who chipped in 14 points, including a big three-pointer that put the Dawgs up 45-43 with 11:24 left in the game.

The Colonels actually had this game knotted-up at 47-47 with under eight minutes remaining.

It should also be noted that Eastern only got seven minutes of play from 6’7″ senior Justin Stommes, a preseason Ohio Valley First-Team selection and one of the Colonels leading scorers.  Stommes was forced to leave the game early in the first half after suffering an ankle injury, and he did not return.  Despite not having one of their top scorers and team leaders, the Colonels were still able to pull within one point going into the half behind 15 first-half points from reserve freshman forward Jeff Johnson.

Johnson was virtually left alone for a majority of the half, and he made the Dawgs pay by knocking down three shots from beyond the arc.

Georgia did a much better job of sticking close to Johnson in the second half though, limiting him to just 3 points.  He led all Eastern scorers with 18 points, which was a personal best for the youngster.

The good news is that Georgia improved to 11-2 on the season and they won their 8th straight game (not to mention that the Dawgs are now 7-0 when playing in the comfy confines of Athens, GA).

The bad news is that Georgia once again looked evenly matched with a team that they should have beat the pants off of.

The days of playing lesser opponents are now over.  In less than a  week’s time, the SEC’s top program comes into Athens looking to pick up its first conference win of the season.

Both teams are 11-2, yet Georgia’s strength of schedule is currently ranked #198 in the country, while Kentucky’s is a robust #14.

What are everyone’s initial thoughts about the upcoming date with Coach Cal’s Cats?  Were the Dawgs just playing to the level of their competition in December, or are they in for a big-time wake-up call coming this Saturday?

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22 thoughts on “Wrapping up 2010

  1. I am not too worried about these close games with directional teams. Maybe we are not good enough to post big blowout wins, but that does not matter. We just need to win by 1 or more in SEC play.

    I think the Dawgs will step up to the competition and will play their best game of the year so far against Kentucky with a pumped Steg behind them this Saturday.

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  2. Clearly the next outing should tell us a lot about this team. I guess I agree with Decatur Dawg that we’ll be in this one–as long as we can stay out of foul trouble with our starters. I think the Catz will be all over Trey and that Jeremy Price will prove key in this one. I’ve been a bit mystified why the ball doesn’t go inside to him more often. My gosh, he is an aircraft carrier in there who finishes pretty well and is becoming a better foul shooter for those occasions when he dosen’t. Great as Trey can be, I think we depend on him too much sometimes when we have another effective big man (Price) on the floor. It makes me sick that Price was essentially wasted for two years under the Felton tenure.

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  3. We definitely have had an issue playing down to our opponents. I think we have the talent at every position to compete in the SEC still but we need to get more from our guards. GR2 and Dustin have been taking a back seat to Trey and Travis. Not that that is a bad thing, but the guards (GR2 especially), need to be more aggressive. Gerald is by far the best on the team at driving the lane. We are going to be seeing a lot of zone defense and Gerald really needs to penetrate the zone to make teams switch back to man. Trey is by far the most important player on the team, but GR2 is the second best at creating his own chances, and that is going to be what wins us ballgames in the SEC.

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    1. I totally agree with you about GR2…the last few games it seems like he hasn’t been looking for his own shot enough on the dribble-drive.

      Where has Dustin Ware disappeared to?

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  4. Good question on Dustin Ware.

    It’s really been a strange early season for the Dawgs, How many of our 13 games have been close so far? About 11 or so?

    Anyway, hope the students are out in force Saturday, we need to have Stegeman rocking.

    Any guesses on what the line will be for Saturday? I’m not a real gambler or anything but this game seems very hard to peg. Strong Kentucky team playing a talented but somewhat unproven Georgia squad on the road. My guess is Wildcats -3

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  5. I hate to bring a bit of pessimism to this blog, but a dose of reality to what we face.

    First, our outside game both defensively and offensively is lacking. Everything we are getting is with Price, Leslie and Thompkins. This makes us very vulnerable to those teams that play inside/outside basketball, and those teams shooting the threes..KY and Vandy.

    Second, the bench is filling minutes, but who is going to come off the bench and fill the basket if needed? Seems we have no one at this point.

    Third, I feel we are one key injury away from disaster. Any of the big three Price, Thompkins, Leslie we are in trouble. I include Price because he does all the little things that make a great team.

    Fourth, free throw shooting has been horrible. This has kept many of the cupcake teams close. This must improve in SEC play.

    Fifth, our fans. We must get home wins in the SEC. I realize the students are at home it is the holidays. But, the stands were empty. We have to create a home atmosphere that is second to none this year.

    On a positive note, we do not have the problems of Tennessee at this point, the West is bad, except I expect Miss St. to improve when players become eligible. The teams to me that look the toughest are KY and Vandy. Florida is developing but we could split games and South Carolina has an outside game but no inside game.

    Look for the Dawgs to win 9 SEC games, if we stay healthy and that is a big if.

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    1. You make a lot of good points.

      The bench has been a disappointment so far in my opinion as well…especially since Coach Fox continually mentioned in the off-season how much more depth this year’s team would have compared to last.

      The only guy that I feel gives the Dawgs reliable minutes on a consistent basis is big Chris Barnes. He has his lapses, but typically he works hard to get position on the block on offense and he blocks shots on defense. His FT shooting is a huge liability though, almost similar to a turnover when he gets fouled underneath.

      Vincent Williams – erratic and unpredictable on offense
      Marcus Thornton – not capable of scoring yet
      Donte Williams – starting to show a nice mid-range jump shot, but still way to weak on both offense and defense
      Sherrard Brantley – a “3PT specialist” that is barely connecting on 30% of his attempts

      If this what Mark Fox is going to get this SEC season from his bench, then I think 9 wins is the ceiling.

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  6. I have no idea what this team can do with all the struggle to keep and extend leads over inferior non conference teams. When the wildcats get to Athens we will find out and I am looking forward to watching that game. Trey looks to be ready and we know Travis is never afraid to dunk on anyone. My concerns are GR2 and Dustin on offense. They need to score. GR2 is trying to force the lane only to turn it over and Dustin does not even want to take a shot when he is clearly open.

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  7. The closeness of the last game was a fluke — when Eastern Kentucky wasn’t making 25-footers, they were missing them so badly that our rebounding position didn’t matter.

    Forcing the ball in to Price too often against a collapsing zone would be a mistake. We need to take (and make) more threes. I don’t know if DWare is a great shooter or not, but that’s his role in this offense and he needs to embrace it.

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    1. Totally agree about the three’s. Right now, Trey is really the only guy making them consistently. Ware’s role definitely needs to be “shooter” – especially on the kick-outs.

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    2. Oh I agree that forcing the ball into Price would be a mistake. All I was trying to say is that when Trey is in the game, even when he is on the perimeter, no one looks in Price’s direction, and he often seems open to me. I posted this before, but Ware simply does not move enough and try to create openings for himself. I remember Ricky McPhee practically running himself into the ground trying to get free. He often wore his defender out in so doing, but he was pretty good at creating openings. Neither Ware nor Brantley move like that. Secondly, our bigs are simply not attuned to the kick-out pass to shooters on the perimeter (or are so slow in so doing that the shooter is covered by the time they get the ball). I was impressed by KY tonite on ESPNU–they moved be ball crisply in a way I wish we could. Still, I think this will be a competitive game this Saturday.

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      1. Good point about McPhee. If we had him on this year’s team that would be a HUGE boost to the offense.

        Ware did step up in our biggest game so far (Ga. Tech), so maybe he just needs the stakes to be high to perform. Should be no problem there on Saturday.

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        1. If Ware doesn’t work any harder to get open, the Katz will cover him like a blanket, sorry to say. I think that Ware is a very decent 3-point shooter–as long as he is straight-up with shoulders squared to the basket. What’s more, I think that he knows that and this is one reason he dosen’t take more shots. Stated another way, he dosen’t have that shooter’s (lack of a ) conscience.

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    1. It is going to be fun.

      I am heading up to Athens early to watch the Pitt-Kentucky football game somewhere downtown, and then over to the Steg for the main event!

      I’d love to see Fox hand Calipari his first loss in Athens.

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  8. Hoopdawg,I sense the dawgs could pull an upset. This will likely be close. Maybe I am misguided, but this is a very young Kentucky team, albeit very talented, but road games in the SEC being what they are….who knows.

    Kentucky has amazing guard play, Lamb,Knight,Wiggins and Miller. You have to watch out for Lamb. He is shooting 54% in 3 pt. land (this is not a typo), amazing shooter. Inside it all starts with Terence Jones an 18 pt, 10 rebound guy. Miller shouts almost 48% on his 3’s. So where is the weakness? Well, it is not in guard play. It is usually a bad shooting night.

    Our perimeter defense WILL be the key to us winning or losing. We must play exceptional perimeter defense. I have felt all season that Kentucky is still building and the defense of Kentucky is average. They always look to push the ball up the floor, and post up for 3’s.

    Where KY lacks depth is inside, so getting Jones in foul trouble and keeping Price and Barnes out of foul trouble may be another key. Georgia must push the ball inside, draw fouls and drain the FT’s.

    Hard to 2-3 Zone and 1-3-1 matchup zone is out. Kentucky, it has to be man to man, they kill you sitting in any zone, especially with them drilling 3’s.

    We can beat Kentucky at home with a rousing effort and a wild home crowd. So every GO TO THE GAME!

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  9. I’ve been reading articles about Noel Johnson possibly transferring to UGA from Clemson. Any truth to this? Also, can’t wait for the game Saturday. If we stay out of foul trouble, the game is close, late. We will see how a young Kentucky team handles the pressure.

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  10. Any one out there watch the St.Johns game against Georgetown last night? Polee is playing lights out for St. John’s. You may recall we almost landed Polee. If this is the type of players Fox will pull in for the dawgs the future is very bright.

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    1. I did see some of the game prior to the Orange Bowl kickoff. Flipped back and forth between St john’s and Kentucky. Polee played outside and took no shots while I watched. Plus, I noted that Lavin had him on the pine at the end of the half (and during crucial minutes toward the end of the game). I did see polee make One nice finger roll in the second half. Would I like to have recruited him? Heck yeah. But I’ve seen him twice and he is not so talented that I’d have wanted him here unless he was CERTAIN that he wanted to be here. Since he wasn’t, I’m glad he is not here.

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  11. Saw today that Dawgs will play in 2011 November tourney in Kansas City on Nov 21-22. Not for sure if it will still will be called the CBE classic, but this years tourney was won by Duke and included Kansas State, Marquette and Gonzaga in the final four. Good exposure for the program for next year.

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  12. Gooooooooooooo Georgia Bulldogs! Hoopdawg, thanks for the new year’s greetings and the continued excellent coverage of Coach Fox’s team. I really enjoy your blog and am excited by the energy coming from the Bulldog Nation about the basketball team. This game is sold out. I just hope that UGA fans will buy out the tickets to the Tenn/Florida games so the home court advantage will be solid. I think even without school in session yet, the students will fill their seats. See you in the Steg on Saturday!

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