Reconciling UGA’s 3 conference losses by looking at the strength of the SEC
The SEC is without a doubt a much better conference today than it was five years ago. The league currently has 10 teams in the RPI Top 50, according to NCAA.com. The conference had 12 recruits from the 2017 class land on the ESPN100 – no other league had more. The SEC’s level of play has reached new heights for the conference, and ESPN analysts are projecting that as many as 8 teams could make this year’s NCAA Tournament. In short, it’s not an easy place to play night in, night out.
All of Georgia’s losses this year – Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina – have been hard for fans to reconcile. At Kentucky, UGA once again held a lead late into the game (up 53-49 with 5:19 remaining) only to see the Cats surge ahead and eke out the victory. In Columbia, the Dawgs flopped and flailed on offense, and they didn’t play a whole of defense in the second half either in their loss to Missouri. Last Saturday, Georgia’s offense was inept, and the Dawgs yielded 18 offensive boards to the Gamecocks, who rolled out of Athens with the win.
In those aforementioned games, Georgia certainly did not play anything close to its best basketball, especially on the offensive side of the court. However, I could rationalize each of those losses as such:
Kentucky: since John Calipari took the reigns of the Wildcats, only 5 teams have won inside of Rupp Arena. His teams have played well over 100-something games in Lexington under Coach Cal, and they’ve only lost 5 of them.
Missouri: the Tigers just knocked off #21 Tennessee at home last night. They’ve beaten Florida at home this season, too.
South Carolina: Frank Martin’s team could be hitting its stride as they followed up their road win in Athens with a stunning upset victory at home over #18 Kentucky on Tuesday.
To be clear, I’m not making excuses for how the Dawgs played in any of these games. For sure, Georgia needs to clean things up on offense (and possibly push the tempo), and whether they have the guards on the roster to make that happen remains to be seen. But fans should acknowledge that these are good teams that beat Georgia, and these losses may not be as devastating in the long run as they might have felt when they occurred.
Comparing Rayshaun Hammonds to former UGA 4-star forwards and others
Rayshaun Hammonds, who started the first 16 games of the season for Georgia, was not a starter on Tuesday night in Baton Rouge. Against the Tigers, the freshman only logged 14 minutes; he’d been averaging over 26 minutes a game prior to this one. Logic says that Coach Fox was punishing Hammonds for his lack of effort and aggressiveness against South Carolina, a team that blanked him (though he did haul in 7 boards).
Here’s a look at Hammonds stats so far this year:
Here are the freshman year numbers for some of Georgia’s most recent 4-star bigs (and one 3-star who is still playing for the Dawgs):
Marcus Thornton (4-star)
Trey Thompkins (4-star)
Jeremy Price (4-star)
Yante Maten (3-star)
At this point, Hammonds’s stats are sitting somewhere between Maten’s and Price’s. Maten’s jump in scoring from freshman year to sophomore year was incredible as he averaged over 16 ppg in his second year in Athens. Price, however, never averaged in double-digits during his UGA career, but that was because Thompkins and Travis Leslie (and later Gerald Robinson, Jr.) were doing the majority of the scoring. Next year will be a big one for both Hammonds and UGA as he will be called upon to shore up a bulk of the points that will be abandoned by Yante’s departure.
Other SEC 4-star bigs from the 2017 class
Dan Gafford (Ark): 12.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg
Jeremiah Tillman (Mizz): 8.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg
Chuma Okeke (AU): 7.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg
Rayshaun Hammonds (UGA): 6.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg
Darious Hall (Ark): 4.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg
Chase Johnson (UF): 4.3 ppg, 2 rpg
Alex Reese (Bama): 3.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg
Ejike Obinna (Vandy): 3.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg
Galen Alexander (LSU): 2.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg
Mayan Kiir (LSU): 2.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Derrick Walker (UT): 1.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg
Ibrahim Doumbia (SC) 0.5 ppg, 0.9 rpg
Isiah Jasey (A&M): 0.3 ppg, 0.4 rpg
Isaiah Stokes (UF): DNP
While other factors are certainly at play here (playing time, scheme, roster talent, etc.), statistically speaking, Hammonds is outperforming the majority of his 4-star forward peers.