Two weeks ’till tip-off
Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs received two votes in the “Others receiving votes” portion of the initial USA Coaches Poll of the 2012-2013 season.
That statement should both excite and surprise you as a Dawgs‘ fan, though I would imagine that most Georgia basketball followers would be leaning more towards the emotion of “surprise”.
This season marks the first in Fox’s tenure in which the team on the floor is totally comprised on his players. Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie are long gone, spending a majority of their time watching Chris Paul and Blake Griffin play for the Clippers. Gerald Robinson, Jr., last year’s leading scorer and floor leader is making ends meet in Europe.
From here on out, Coach Fox will be guiding the guys that he recruited to Athens.
A large portion of this team’s hopes and dreams ride on the shoulders of sophomore Kentavious-Caldwell Pope – not an extremely profound statement. KCP tallied up 13.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game as a freshman, and Georgia will need that and more from him this year if they hope to be competitive in the new 14-team Southeastern conference. Last season, Pope’s shooting came in spurts and at times could be streaky – he ended up making under 40% of his field goal attempts. This year, however, the Dawgs must have KCP creating more offense off of the dribble so that he can be relied upon for buckets down the stretches of games.
The biggest question mark entering this season remains the same question mark that Georgia dealt with before last season – will UGA have enough capable bigs to establish an inside presence on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court?
Donte Williams made phenomenal strides from his freshman to sophomore year – he went from 0.8 points and 1.2 boards as a rookie to 7.8 points and 5.1 rebounds as a second year player. If Williams can make similar improvements heading into his junior campaign he could become one of the more effective forwards in the conference. Hopefully he has developed his ability to play on offense with his back to the basket, which would make him a much tougher defensive assignment.
Who is going to join Donte in the paint and become a regular contributor?
As far as point guard is concerned, I think that the Dawgs will be set up pretty nicely with Vincent Williams. Though Williams has never held the position on a full-time basis, he did start a majority of the games last year before the start of SEC play. Last season, Williams looked much more settled and in control with the ball compared to his sophomore and freshman seasons when he typically appeared reckless and turnover prone. Having a senior at the point guard position in college basketball today is a blessing, and Williams should be competent enough and prepared to quarterback Fox’s offense this year.
I predict that of the three freshmen – Kenny Gaines, Charles Mann and Brandon Morris – Gaines will be the player most likely to have an early impact on this team. I was fortunate enough to see Gaines play twice in high school the last two years, and he is a strong athlete that likes to defend and shoots the ball pretty well.
I don’t have any season projections (superstitions), but I would love to hear what you guys think about the upcoming team/season.