Spotlight on Fox

It appears that CMF and his upset-minded Georgia Bulldogs have caught the attention of a few of ESPN’s more prominent basketball analysts.

Dick Vitale, also known as “Dicky V” in the college basketball world, awarded Fox with his  Co-Coach of the Week award (sharing it with Arizona State’s Herb Sendek).

Fox also got a “shout out” from ESPN college basketball analyst Andy Katz in his “Weekly Watch” edition (check it out here – middle of the page under Coaching Props To…).

CBS Sportsline now has the Dawgs at #89 on its RPI ranking, which for Georgia is a tremendous improvement from prior seasons.  Hopefully UGA can continue to climb that ladder over the rest of the season.

One last note – I made reference to the difficulty of this year’s schedule in an earlier blog and CBS apparently agrees, ranking the Dawgs’ strength of schedule (SOS) at #34 in the country!

Owls @ Dawgs Wednesday Night at 7:00PM

“I expected to get pounded, and I got pounded.”

This was the answer that Florida Atlantic Owls coach Mike Jarvis (former coach of both St. John’s and George Washington) gave the Miami Herald when asked if he expected to take some lumps entering last season (a season in which the Owls finished 6-26, his first as their head coach).

ESPN’s Andy Katz listed the Owls as a program primed to jump within their conference entering this season, even though they finished last year 2-16 in the Sun Belt Conference.   On top of that stellar record,  Florida Atlantic lost seniors Paul Graham III and Carlos Monroe who last year accounted for 46% of the offense.  The Owls record thus far through 10 games is 5-5 (compared to 4-6 last year), so I can see the marked improvement that Mr. Katz was referring too.

Mike Jarvis began this season with a very young team (the Miami-Herald did comment that his first recruiting class was “highly touted”) that is led by freshman guards Raymond Taylor and Greg Gantt.  Raymond Taylor a.k.a. “Spud Webb, Jr.” (he stands at a mere 5’6″) has gotten off to an extremely fast start and is averaging 18.2 points per game.  His teammate Greg Gantt is pouring in an additional 13.9 for an FAU team that is averaging 76.4 ppg (up from 65.0 ppg last year).

They do share a common opponent with the Dawgs, the New Orleans Privateers, whom FAU dismantled 66-48 on the road.  If you forgot, Georgia also beat the Privateers 67-59 in the season-opener in Athens…this one could get interesting if Georgia isn’t ready to play (UGA is a 10-point favorite so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it’s close).

Hoop Dawg’s “Keys to the Game”

1. Great Win…Now Get Over It!

This is a game that the Dawgs should definitely win (in my humble opinion)…but that doesn’t mean that they will.  Beating Illinois was a great accomplishment and a big step in the right direction for the program.  Now the question is: will they take another step forward, or two steps back?  Last year’s Georgia squad only had 3 SEC wins, but they were all against very good teams – Florida, Vanderbilt & Kentucky.  And guess what happened after each of those wins in the following game?  That’s right, the Dawgs lost!

I think that this game is going to be a real test of Coach Mark Fox’s ability to keep his team focused and intense.  Not only are they coming off of an emotional victory, but the Christmas holiday is only two days away (and these are college kids so I’m guessing Xmas still excites them).  If the same UGA team from last Saturday night comes to play (“one and done” defense, attacking the offensive glass) I see no reason why Georgia shouldn’t get the win.

However, if the Dawgs come out flat, don’t take FAU seriously or are still riding high from the Illinois win then things could really derail for this team.

2. Unbalanced Scoring

As I mentioned earlier in the article, FAU gets 32.1 ppg from it’s guard tandem of Taylor & Gantt (or 42% of the team’s offensive output).  I am sure that many NCAA teams would love to get that kind of production out of their guards.  The problem for the Owls this season has been when it’s only been those two doing the scoring:  In their 5 losses they have had more than 3 players reach double-figures only once; in their 5 wins they have had more than 3 players hit double-digits 4 times.

Conclusion:  if the Dawgs can keep the Owls stat sheet unbalanced (on the scoring end) they will significantly increase their chances of winning.

If you are planning on going to the game their is a $5.00 ticket promotion – click here.

It isn’t being televised so if you aren’t heading up to Athens you’ll have to follow along on 750AM.

Any more thoughts on this contest?

***I didn’t do the “Hoop Dawg Player of the Week” because Trey Thompkins was named the SEC Player of the Week for his performance against Illinois.  Congratulations to Trey for winning this slightly more prestigious award.

Georgia upsets Illinois 70-67

UGA entered into last night’s game an 8-point underdog according to Las Vegas…they left it a 3-point winner.

Albert Jackson and Trey Thompkins celebrating the big win

This was easily the best game that this team has played this year, and maybe the most complete game that they’ve played in a year and a half (ESPN”s Andy Katz put a bit of a damper on the win in his recap of the game about halfway down the page).  Thompkins and Leslie were scoring; Ware was dishing; Price and Jackson were rebounding…it was a total team effort.

Not to mention that it was done in front of a predominantly Illinios crowd.  I went to the game with a few friends, and we were amazed when we got to our seats and saw that we were in a sea of orange and blue (their cheer “ILL”…”INI” never got old).  That only made the win that much sweeter.

The Dawgs came to play from the start, opening up a 16-11 lead 7 minutes into the first half.  The teams went back and forth for the remainder of the half and the game was tied at 32 before going to the break.

Georgia came out strong in the second half and built a 44-36 lead with 15:35 remaining in the game.  Coach Mark Fox gave some of his starters a quick blow (namely Leslie, Ware & Thompkins), and Illinois closed the lead to 45-40 before Fox had to call timeout and get the essentials (namely Leslie, Ware & Thompkins) back in.

With 4:57 left in the game, Travis Leslie made an acrobatic lay-up and was fouled and the lead sat at 64-55 Georgia.  Before the free throw attempt by Leslie, Illinois called timeout to regroup.  During the timeout, Fox again took out Ware and Thompkins (and Leslie after he shot the free throw) and once again Illinois cut the lead to 64-60 following a Billy Cole 3-pointer right in front of the Illini bench.

Fox called timeout and put the starters back in, but this time it was for the rest of the game (thank goodness).  But Demetri McCamey made an amazing basket and the foul with 35 seconds left to tie the game at 66-66.  He knocked in the ensuing free throw and Illinois was up by a point with 35 ticks left.

Ware took the ball down the court and gave it to Thompkins, who took it right to the bucket and was fouled shooting.  Trey coolly stepped up to the line and knocked down both free throws to put Georgia up 68-67 with 22 seconds remaining.

Georgia then played great defense, forcing McCamey to take a tough shot that barely glanced the rim before Thompkins (again) brought down the rebound.  The Illini were forced to foul, which forced Trey to knock down two more free throws and seal the game at 70-67.

A few quick hitters:

  • Thompkins was a beast inside offensively and really owned the offensive blocks dropping 21 points/7 rebounds
  • Leslie was sensational and scoring big bucket after big bucket to end up with 17 points
  • In my opinion, this might have been Albert Jackson’s best game of his career.  He had 8 rebounds (including 3 offensive) and played really strong inside
  • The team effort on the boards was relentless.  Georgia out rebounded Illinois 35-26, and it seemed like the Illini were limited to only one shot attempt per possession all night
  • The “UGA Block Party” was in full-force last night as the Dawgs swatted 6 shots
  • Former UGA coach Dennis Felton was at the game with his son (he was sitting one aisle over from me).  He appeared to be writing on a pad the entire game, and then he left the arena with the game tied at 66-66 and 35 seconds left (bizarre).

What a game!  Anybody else got any more thoughts?  Did I leave anything or anybody off that deserves credit?