UGA basketball: beating the dead horse edition

If you want to find the reason why the Georgia Bulldogs are 3-5 in SEC play and putting up the lowest point total (64.1) in league games, look no further than the UGA guards.  The Dawgs have the worst turnover margin (-4.9) in conference games along with the lowest assist-to-turnover ratio (0.8). Successful teams are built around strong guard play, especially at the point guard position.  If you watch this year’s NCAA Tournament, you will notice a theme that emerges among the advancing teams: solid guard play.  Not to beat a dead horse, but Georgia’s guard play is its glaring weakness. It’s Achilles heel, if you will.

UGA’s wins away from Athens over Saint Mary’s and Marquette seem like distant memories at this point.  But looking back on each of those games, I have a theory as to how the Dawgs managed to pull off those upsets.  Both the Gaels and the Golden Eagles understood that they had to double Yante Maten, and they did.  However, what these teams did not do (that all the SEC teams are doing now) is relentlessly pressure Georgia’s backcourt.  Anyone who has watched UGA’s recent string of games has probably noticed that they are seeing a lot more full-court press.  When Georgia does cross the halfcourt line, opponents are pressing the Georgia guards well past the three-point line with aggressive man defense.  This increase in pressure is making it difficult for the Dawgs to get into their offensive sets, and even if they manage to there is generally not a whole lot of time remaining on the shot clock.  While SEC teams are still by and large doubling on Maten when he receives the ball on the block, they really don’t have to stress it quite as much because Georgia’s guards are struggling to get the ball to him.

All that being said, fans should not be overly frustrated with the play of Turtle Jackson and Juwan Parker.  Both of those players were 3-star recruits coming out of high school, according to rivals.com, and I’d say that each of them has met and exceeded expectations.  Turtle, who is scoring 6.5 ppg in SEC play, is not going to break anyone down off the dribble and take guys to the rim; that’s just not who he is; it’s not in his skill set.  He does get the ball up the court and where it needs to go most of the time, and he’s turned into a fairly reliable three-point shooter this season (36%), although his SEC numbers have been less gaudy (26%).  Parker is getting 9.4 ppg in conference games, and he’s hitting a robust 50% from beyond the arc, which is by far the best outside shooting he’s done during his time in Athens.  If Parker can bump his scoring average up by just 0.6 ppg, the Dawgs will have another player averaging in double-figures in SEC contests (along with Maten).

Jordan Harris and Tyree Crump were expected to shore up some of the scoring load vacated by J.J. Frazier’s departure, but that hasn’t gone according to plan.  They are COMBINING for just 7 ppg in league play.  The fact that these two players haven’t developed more to this point means either they were slightly overrated as 4-star recruits, or they haven’t been given the opportunity to grow in their first year and half in Athens.  Multiple times this season Mark Fox has lamented not having J.J. Frazier to bring the ball up or to be that catalyst for the offense.  But being that Frazier was a college athlete, Fox knew from the day J.J. set foot in Stegeman that his time with him had a limit.

Last year was one of Georgia’s best teams talent-wise under Coach Mark Fox considering he had two All-SEC players in J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten.  I thought for sure that team would make the NCAA tournament, and I was wrong (my punishment was having to endure the Belmont NIT game).  Before anyone says that Maten got hurt, remember that UGA was 6-7 in the conference BEFORE the game with Kentucky in which he sprained his knee.

With J.J. gone, Maten has tried to take on more and he’s played admirably, scoring 19.5 points and grabbing 9.5 rebounds in league contests.  He’s on the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 list.  But he’s leaving after this year.  Take Maten off this year’s team, look at what’s left and that’s the team that UGA is going to begin the year with next season.

I am in no way attempting to be derogatory about any of the current Georgia players.  It is on Mark Fox to figure out how to bolster the UGA backcourt by either recruiting and/or developing better.  I am aware of the “Mark Fox runs a clean program and he recruits the right way” argument, but to those people I say this: Vanderbilt has been to the NCAA tournament 5 times since Fox took over in Athens.  Vanderbilt does not pay its players or have a recruiting base anywhere near Georgia’s (see Atlanta).  How does Georgia create a culture of basketball success comparable to what the ‘Dores have cooking in Nashville?

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12 thoughts on “UGA basketball: beating the dead horse edition

  1. Fact is, the Dawgs have one good player. If you told the other teams in the SEC “You can have any of our players, but they HAVE to start.” Other than Maten, who would they pick?

    Crump is the best looking outside shooter Fox has on the team, but he won’t let him off the bench, supposedly because he can’t defend. Which of the Dawgs guards CAN defend? How often do you see the Dawgs guards shutting down other top guards?

    It’s not on the players. Fox recruited these guys. McGarity has watched them play. It’s on them.

    The schedule going forward is brutal. Gonna need some powerful devotion to stay strong for this team.

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  2. Players can’t play because Fox is a control freak. The players are afraid to do anything and if Crump was given the same amount of minutes as most of his other guards he would be in double figures every game and his defense is as good or better than his guards playing now. I really think fox doesn’t like Crump and looks for Crump to make just one little mistake and he yanks him out. He lets the other ones play thru all their mistakes over and over and never jerks them around like Crump. Maybe Crump and Harris need to go to a school that plays a running fast game not the slow molasses methodical game georgia plays and Georgia loses

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  3. I think the writing is on the wall with Fox. We will not be going to the Big Dance again this year. Maybe I am being naive and don’t understand Fox’s political connections in the administration or don’t understand how little the AD cares about basketball success, but the collapses we are seeing over and over again are on the coach, right? Which means that if we don’t want these collapses happening we need to do something about the coaching, right? Isn’t it just that simple?

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  4. Crump was a top100 recruit. He made top 30 all star game at Pangos All American camp and played very well at the nba top 100 camp from what I’ve heard. Would it be fair to say he held his own based on the caliber of players at those camps. How many other players on Uga roster can say that other than Hammonds?Yet Crump only plays garbage minutes at uga. Crump played well against a ranked St. Mary team and one would think he was trending in the right direction. Think kid would have more big games had Dictator Fox let him play more meaningful minutes. It appears he doesn’t want Crump to succeed from outside looking in. There are several games I felt if given opportunity Crump would have led team in scoring. I think Crump was deserving of the 4 star label he was giving. crump Made all State 3 years so I’m not second guessing the rankings.Defensively, good coaches typically can hide a players weaknesses until he gets up to par. Fox is a defensive minded coach right.

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  5. It doesn’t matter who is bringing the ball up or who is starting… Fox’s teams make the same mistakes whether a senior or a 4 star recruit is on the floor. His 9 year tenure represents inconsistent, underachieving play, teams who can’t handle the press and they always invent new ways to lose games.. The names change but the product put on the floor remains the same…

    Think about it……..How can that possibility be on the players???

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  6. After 9 years it is no longer a bug in the system, it is the system. We run the same two offensive sets robotically from game to game and seem surprised when the defense is prepared.

    Ogbeide a talented on the block player is routinely in the high post. He can neither shoot, dribble or pass from that position, yet we continue to run the offense through him. All you have to do is double Maten and let Ogbeide have the ball at the top of the key and you burn 15 seconds off our offense.

    It has nothing to do with talent, it is an offense designed to fail.

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  7. Can someone explain to me why Coach Fox keeps knocking Tyree’s defense? Macon scored 25 second half points on Turtle Jackson. Why does Tyree get blamed for all of UGA’s inability to defend the opposing team’s guards? Without question Tyree is the best shooter and in my eyes the better guard. Turtle has improved his three point shot this year, but his ball handling skills are god awful. He dribbles too long and doesnt look to create. Not sure what Tyree has done to get his minutes even more limited than they already were but for Fox to say it’s because of his defense and him not being able to lead is bullshit! He uses Hightower, because he play better “defense” but night in and night out, we blow double digit leads because we can’t defense the guards!!! Well, Coach Fox, have you ever considered playing more zone and stop playing man getting our guards exposed every night! We have the length and athletic ability to defend when in zone and force teams to shoot contested shots! UGA have lost 4 or 5 games they should have won, not sure why you accept loosing vice sacrificing “defense” for an offensive spark in Tyree Crump which UGA offense NEEDS BADLY!!!!! He says Crump needs to be more consistent, maybe he havent looked at his other guards who log 30 and 40 minutes a night and consistently log minus minutes! I’m convinced Fox doesnt like Tyree, Coach Fox your most consistent player is Yante! Crump, Yante, Ogei, Hightower, and Jordan should be starting 5…that way you have defense in hightower and jordan, ball handling in tyree and hightower with outside shooting in tyree…Fox dont want to win, Trash ass coach!

    Not being bias because Tyree is my cousin, but from a fan, COACH FOX YOU ARE TERRIBLE AND I HOPE YOU READING THIS MESSAGE!!!

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  8. No question Fox is the worst coach in college basketball, UGA girls score more points than this turtled ass offense in which a “Turtle” runs! You cannot expect to win a damn game when u have ya best gaurd in Crump that rides the bench because Fox says he cant gaurd anyone, bullshit!!!! for that matter he cant gaurd anybody from the bench. I will put my life on Tyree that he is the best gaurd UGA has hands down MAN DOWN!!! Whatever Fox has against the kid has made this season go down hill fast by not playin him. The Dawgs has one man averaging double figures smdh. Fox plays these horrible gaurds,give them all these minutes and Crump still average around 6 points a game but plays an average of 2 minutes, do the dam math!!! Fox aint shit and never will be, making fake promises ass. At best the only thing he has under his belt is 20 win seasons that equals NIT (NOT IN TOURNAMENT) free Tyree! and send Fox as to Iraq, fuckin bum……

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  9. If he starts using him the way he should have been the last two years. But I don’t see that happening he is very set in his losing ways. I have never seen a college coach who didn’t know how to adjust when something isnt working. It baffles the mind

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  10. I feel a certain comfort watching the games now. I know that late in the game we’ll have trouble handling the ball, we won’t score, and we’ll give up a big run. And it happened again today, except the K State is nearly as bad as we are on offense so they could only muster a small run to beat us.

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