Coach Fox has been notorious during his tenure at UGA for playing a lot of guys. At times, the scorer’s table can resemble a busy street in New York City with the amount of foot traffic that Fox sends through. Prior to this season, Fox boasted that this year’s team might be his deepest yet. Through 9 games, he has 10 players averaging double-digit minutes (nearly 11 with Jordan Harris just missing the cut at 9.6). In the current AP Top 25 poll, only 7 teams – Wichita State, UNC, Texas A&M, Seton Hall, Virginia, Arizona, and Texas Tech – have 10 or more players averaging more than 10 minutes a night. Is Georgia’s depth comparable to that of Villanova, Michigan State, Duke, Kentucky or any of the other 14 ranked teams? Obviously not. The Dawgs aren’t as deep as the 7 teams listed above either. So why does Fox continue to play so many guys?
Play time is over for Georgia. The Dawgs have Georgia Tech at home on Tuesday and then another home game against a tough Temple squad Friday. After that, UGA has 8 days off before the open of SEC play, which happens to be against Kentucky in Lexington on New Year’s Eve. If Georgia thought UMASS looked explosive on offense following the Dawgs’ 11-day rest for final exams, wait till they see what the Cats have in store for them the night before 2018 starts. Fox needs to settle on an 8 or 9 man rotation so that only his best players are seeing the court.
One useful stat to think about when pondering who Georgia’s top contributors are is “Points per 40 minutes” as it gives consideration to how productive players are being with the minutes that they have been given. I stretched out UGA’s points, rebounds and assists to 40 minutes for each player, and some of the results were surprising:
Points per 40 minutes:
|William Jackson II||17.0|
Rebounds per 40 minutes:
Assists per 40 minutes:
|William Jackson II||5.5|
Those numbers above make it pretty clear that both Tyree Crump and Teshaun Hightower deserve more minutes. Fox’s resistance to play Crump is bizarre, especially considering he’s a 35% three-point shooter on a team that ranks 297th in the nation in made 3PT shots per game at just over 6 a night. Turtle Jackson has been lights-out from the perimeter, where he has been hitting more than 44% of his attempts. He and Crump should be on the floor more together so that Georgia can stretch opposing defenses and open things up more on the inside for Maten.
I have one more facet of Coach Fox’s decision-making that I want to call into question before stepping down from my soapbox, and that is his use of freshman Rayshaun Hammonds. Yesterday, Hammonds spent the majority of his time on offense standing on the wing, where he would look to either dump the ball inside to Maten or move it back to the top of the key. At 6’8″, Hammonds is a potential matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. UMASS had a smaller defender on the freshman all afternoon, but not once did he head to the block to post up. I kept waiting for Fox to make an adjustment to the offense to exploit this UMASS weakness, but it never happened. Georgia regularly has Maten receive the ball at the free throw line – why not have Hammonds slide down to the block when this occurs? Or keep Maten on one block, and let Hammonds occupy the other when Ogbeide or Edwards has the ball at the top of the key. UMASS couldn’t afford to help on Hammonds in this scenario because of Maten’s presence on the opposing block. Hammonds is projected as a first-round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and Fox has to find a way to get him more involved in this team’s offensive scheme because Maten cannot be the only option inside.