An early look at UGA’s 2013-2014 basketball season

With the start to the 2013-2014 season less than three weeks away, Georgia Bulldog basketball fans are beginning to assess the possibilities and expectations for this year’s team.  This Dawg team is comprised of a slew of sophomores and juniors (nine in all) – most of whom saw significant playing time last year – and one lone senior in Donte Williams.  By today’s college basketball standards, Coach Fox has something of a “veteran” squad on his hands.

The outlooks provided by various media sources have been mixed for UGA: CBS’s Matt Norlander and Doug Gottlieb predict 7th and 8th place conference finishes for the Bulldogs, respectively.  However, the more common estimation of how Georgia will fare in the SEC typically has the Dawgs ending up somewhere between 11th to 13th (thankfully Auburn seems to be a pretty consensus last-place pick).

Nationally, Georgia did secure one vote to be ranked in the first USA Today poll of the season, but as the AJC reported that vote came from none other than Coach Mark Fox, leaving us to wonder if his decision might have been at all biased.

Since the departure of Trey Thompkins and Jeremy Price several years ago, UGA has severely lacked any sort of an inside presence.  Heading into this season with the same cast of bigs as last year – Neme Djurisic, Donte Williams, Tim Dixon, John Cannon and Marcus Thornton – it is hard to imagine that much will change in the Dawgs’ ability (or inability, rather) to get consistent post scoring.

One factor that could certainly make points hard to come by in the paint is that UGA does not have any serious shooting threats, so teams may opt to sag off shooters and load down on the blocks.  Remember, this Georgia team struggled mightily on offense last season, finishing 307th in the nation in scoring and 287th in field goal percentage.  In addition, Coach Fox’s team will be looking to improve on these abysmal offensive numbers without the help of last year’s SEC Player of the Year – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – who is now a member of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.

While Georgia fans should be excited about sophomore guards Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines – both of whom showed a lot of promise during their freshman campaigns – neither of these guys exactly lit up the nets last season, where the two converted less than 40% of their field goal attempts.  

The Bulldogs will be relying more on Mann’s ability to get to the rim and draw fouls than his outside shot.  However, Fox needs Gaines to be a consistent shooter in the two-guard position, and hopefully for Georgia’s sake Kenny is up for the challenge.

Both of these players benefited from having a superstar on the court with them last year in Pope – someone who drew a lot of attention from opposing defenses.  This season Mann and Gaines may find it more difficult to score the basketball without the aide of KCP, yet Fox still needs them to step up and shoulder significant chunks of the scoring load.

In the words of Athlon Sports writer David Fox: “This could be a key year for Mark Fox.

Interpret however you like.

9 thoughts on “An early look at UGA’s 2013-2014 basketball season

  1. Good work, Hoop and welcome back. Implied in your post is whether CMF will make adjustments in his offense to compensate for the weaknesses outlined in your post. Will Marcus continue to get major minutes without scoring points? Will he stick with his rule that freshmen get limited playing time ? The new guys may be able to help the offense if given the opportunity. Will he continue to force the ball inside even though the bigs cannot make a layup? Will he build an offense around the players that he has, not the players he would like to have? We’ll know the answers by Xmas. Looking forward to BB season,even with the accompanying frustrations.


  2. Thanks again Hoop. Good stuff as always.

    I’ve been thinking about the coming season a good bit these days, and until they show me it is wasted effort, I believe I’ll be an optimist. Truth told, as poor a scoring team as we were last season, we really had chances of grabbing some 5 mores wins than we did. A record with those wins would have us feeling better. And we must remember, there were some games where KCP was icy cold, so we do actually know what it is like without his point production. Some of the player quotes have hinted at what we already knew. The offense last season was geared to put the ball in one player’s hands. The boys seem to relish the coming egalitarian system. And our bigs did get the ball to the rim quite a bit last year, and it was super frustrating how few fell, but the shots were often there to fall. Hopefully this time they will. I know most observers are chuckling at Fox’s poll vote, and maybe he is just trying to tell the boys he believes in them, but there is also a quiet confidence about him that might indicate he’s seen something to be confident about. (He doesn’t strike me as a fellow to burn his creditability needlessly.) All that said, it’s hard to believe that three weeks from today, we’ll have an exhibition and a season opener behind us, and be five days away from a showdown with Tech. We’ve started very slowly the last two seasons. We’ll know soon enough if it’s more of the same, or for once, we open up hot.

    …here are a few other bits of reading material if anybody missed them…

    Click to access ga_fox.pdf

    Click to access ga_dj.pdf


  3. You may well be right about struggling to score 60, in which case out “experienced” team can still have a decent season by working their tails off on defense to give up something like 56-57 points a game. Possible? Possibly, but I’ll not hold my breath.


  4. Our defense was pretty great in the second half of last season and I expect that to continue. The offense is going to be brutal once again tough. I really am intrigued by what Cameron Forte can bring to the offense. You can’t ignore his scoring prowess, even if it was at the JC level. Hopefully he can bring a similar spark to what GR2 brought a few years back as a transfer.

    As much as I love CMF, you can’t ignore the fact that he has shown little to no progress in recruiting and that is a serious concern. He’s a DGD but there will be a point (probably within the next 12 to 24 months) that McGarity is going to have to hire a MBB coach that can bring at least 1 big name to UGA every year.


      1. I have read reports that Marcus is starting at the 3. If true, this will be a problem for scoring those KCP replacement points. Surely Coach Fox would not repeat the mistakes of the past and expect a different result? I was hoping that we would see a new and more uptempo team, utilizing the new blood and last year’s freshmen. If this is really a “key year” for CMF, doesn’t he have to try a different approach to the offense?


        1. Jerry if this report is true, I think that CMF is playing Marcus more for his defense than his offense. Yeah, this could be a problem and the strategy would probably be abandoned if the offense is otherwise dismal. On the other hand, I expect that almost everyone will be looking to score more than they did last year when they were (often in my opinion) all too willing to leave it to KCP. I’m hoping that the current roster will become a much better team similar to the way the guys left behind pulled together after Dominique left for the NBA. Time will tell I guess.


  5. Now that’s interesting news. I asked Fox about Marcus last May and I specifically referenced one early season slashing drive that Marcus had made twisting in from left of the key. I mentioned that there was a collective gasp from the fans there because no one had ever seen anything like that from him before. Unfortunately, soon after, Marcus was out for the season. Fox spoke about the fact that no Georgia fan has ever seen Marcus play healthy. He told how Marcus had a regular 40 inch vertical before his freshman season, but as his knees went, so went much of his game. Fox said that just before that day, Marcus had hit a 39, and since then I heard reports of 38s, and 37s regularly throughout the summer. Thinking about how he often seemed glued to the ground, then hearing these numbers – and then remembering that beauty drive – this news from you Jerry, I find very intriguing.


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