The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word exhibition as “a public show of something”. Notice that the definition does not contain any words like “competition”, “win” or “lose”. A college basketball exhibition game is merely an opportunity for the coaches to play their entire bench in a game-like atmosphere so that when they step on the court for real it won’t be quite as big of a shock.
That being said, I was glad to see the Dawgs win this one, and I was thankful they didn’t pull a Murray State because that would have unnerved the UGA fan base heading into Friday’s season opener against UT-Chattanooga (Murray State dropped its exhibition game in OT to NAIA opponent Freed-Hardeman). But, I’m not going to dwell too much on statistics from this one because the competition – no offense to AAU – was not anywhere near what the Dawgs should expect to see when the Mocs roll around next week. Plus, Georgia had ten guys play more than ten minutes apiece, with Fox running a multitude of various lineups throughout the night, which makes it difficult for players to get into any kind of rhythm.
I will say I was pleased with Georgia’s defense: UGA limited AAU to just 20% from the floor, and the Dawgs hauled in a Herculean 60 rebounds. Considering how many different guys played on Friday, it was nice to see that the one constant was playing sound team defense.
The biggest takeaway from the entire event was just how impressive Georgia’s freshman LOOK. There are no Tim Dixon’s or Donte Williams’s in this bunch. Turtle Jackson, E’Torrion Wilridge, Derek Ogbeide and Mike Edwards all appear physically ready to compete with SEC calibre teams, especially the bigs. Ogbeide had been garnishing a bit of hype prior to the season after CBS college basketball analyst Jon Rothstein tweeted out the following:
Oogbeide is a huge 6’8″ (listed at 250lbs), and he definitely looks capable of leading this team in rebounding. Edwards, who led UGA with 11 points, is slightly leaner, but certainly not thin, and he too should be able to contribute immediately in the paint. UGA will be just fine this year if these two frosh can combine to replace Neme’s 11 points and 5 rebounds from a year ago.
J.J. Frazier missed last night’s contest due to a possible broken nose that he incurred at practice on Friday night. However, Turtle filled in nicely, running the offense with a confidence not usually seen in true freshman. And, at 6’4″, he makes UGA’s backcourt look quite formidable alongside the 6’5″ Charles Mann.
Mark Fox might potentially have another NCAA Tournament team on his hands, considering how strong the Dawgs are at guard. More importantly, though, it feels like Fox might have finally gotten things rolling. He’s brought in a strong freshman crop following last season’s NCAA tournament appearance, and even though he loses Mann and Gaines after this year, Fox has a pair of 4-star shooting guards committed for 2016 to complement Jackson and Frazier in the backcourt.
Georgia has a difficult non-conference slate which begins next week with the Chattanooga Mocs, a team that many are picking to win the Southern Conference. A win would be a great way for UGA to set the tone early that this team has every intention of playing well into March.