Georgia gearing up for home basketball opener

Coach Mark Fox’s Bulldogs have three quick tune-ups on their schedule – Jacksonville, Youngstown State and Southern Mississippi – before this team flies to Brooklyn, New York for what might be the premiere preseason college basketball tournament of the season:  The Legends Classic (note: Youngstown and Southern Miss are technically a part of the field as well, but neither can travel to the finals up north).  This tournament features #1 Indiana, #13 UCLA and Georgetown, and the Dawgs drew the Hoosiers as their first opponent on November 19th.

However, something tells me that if this Bulldogs‘ squad cannot afford to look ahead too much, so hopefully the task at hand for Fox’s team is starting the season off with a win against the Dolphins on Friday night in Athens.

After scouring the web to learn more about this Jacksonville team that finished just 8-22 a year ago, it seems that the aggregate prediction from numerous Atlantic Sun basketball previews is that the Dolphins should finish 7th or 8th in their 10-team league.  The ‘Fins (if I may be so bold) lost their leading scorer from a year ago – Aloys Cabell – yet, they will return three starters from that team, including senior point guard Russell Powell, whom Yahoo Sports deemed as the league’s “Best Playmaker” in its preseason assessment.  Powell, a native of Newnan, Georgia, dished out 4 assists per game last year to go along with 8.3 points per contest.

I have two major concerns regarding Georgia’s progress from last season to this one:  replacing Gerald Robinson, Jr. and finding consistent offense inside.  Robinson, who led the Dawgs in points and assists a year ago at 14.2 and 3.6, respectively, played the role of catalyst, floor general, leader, etc. for Coach Fox last season and his statistics and on-court presence will not be easily replaced.  Georgia must have someone – Vince Williams, Kentavious-Caldwell Pope, Charles Mann – step up and become the guy who handles to ball during crucial possessions to create offense late in games.

The Bulldogs return the same cast of bigs – Donte Williams, Neme Djurisic, Marcus Thornton, John Florveus, John Cannon and Tim Dixon – who combined for just 21.2 points and 17.7 boards per game throughout the 2011-2012 season.  If Georgia hopes to improve upon last year’s 15-17 (5-11) record, then Coach Fox desperately needs improved paint production from the latter four players so that Williams and Neme aren’t the only inside threats.

As I mentioned in the last post, the 2012-2013 season marks the first in which Fox will be leading a team solely-comprised of players that he brought to Athens.

Hopefully they are able to get off on the right foot on Friday.

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