Charles Mann continues to live at the line

Charles Mann is undoubtedly the center point of Georgia’s offense, and he is a major factor as to why his Bulldogs are averaging 7 more points per game in conference play this year as compared to last, despite losing SEC Player of the Year Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Mann is the proverbial straw that stirs the drink – look no further than his second free throw attempt – which he buried – that secured a thrilling home victory last Saturday in a crucial showdown with the Ole Miss Rebels.

It was fitting that Mann won the game from the line, since he tends to spend so much time there.

Currently, Charles is 16th in the nation in free throw attempts with 202 on the season, and he is taking nearly 9 shots a night from the charity stripe.

Mann’s ability to get to the basket and draw contact from the point guard position is a coveted skill in the world of college basketball.  His aggressiveness can put defenses on their heels.  He can also use his driving ability to get his team back into games – much like he did last week when Georgia trailed early to both Missy State and Ole Miss.  

When the Dawgs were struggling to convert baskets in the first half in each of the aforementioned games, Mann took the ball to the rack, got fouled and converted points from the line – he cut the Missy St lead to under ten, and he got his team to within three against Mississippi, all from the free throw line.

Over the past six SEC games, Mann’s free throw percentage has been slightly above 76%, which is a dramatic improvement when compared to the fact that he was converting only 60% of his attempts from the line through the first six league contests.

Mann has been so prolific in his capacity to generate free throw attempts that he is already halfway (372) to the all-time record of 744 held by former Georgia-great Laterial Green.  Considering that Charles is in the midst of just his sophomore year, I would say that he has an excellent chance of surpassing Green’s mark, should he remain at UGA for all four years.

Charles Mann SEC Award and #7 Florida looming

First off, congratulations to sophomore Charles Mann for being named the SEC Player of the Week for his performances in Georgia’s wins over Missouri and Alabama. Mann averaged 20 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the victories, and his 18 free throw attempts against the Tide were the 4th most in UGA history for a single game.

As the Dawgs prepare to take on the #7 Florida Gators on Tuesday night, I would like to point out a couple interesting tidbits surrounding the game:

1. Florida will be playing without leading scorer Casey Prather for the second straight game. Prather, who is averaging 17 points per game this season, is still dealing with pain and swelling in his bruised right knee.

2. The Gators have won 24 games in a row in Gainesville at the O’Connell Center, tying a school record. Remember that just last Wednesday Georgia went on the road and ended Missouri’s 26-game home winning streak.

3. Speaking of the O’Connell Center, UGA has dropped the last 11 meetings inside that facility. The last time Georgia managed to upend Florida in Gainesville was on January 19, 2002 when Jarivs Hayes poured in 23 points en route to the 84-79 Dawgs’ victory.

How does everyone see this game playing out?

Georgia tops Appalachian State 71-53

The Georgia Bulldogs used 13 second-half points by Charles Mann to pull away and topple the Appalachian State Mountaineers, snapping a four-game losing streak and pushing their record on the season to 2-4.

More importantly, though, the Dawgs are now 2-1 against the Southern Conference already this year.  With games remaining against Chattanooga and Western Carolina, Coach Mark Fox has a legitimate opportunity to prove that his team could finish in the upper echelon of this season’s SoCon.

In regards to yesterday’s contest, Georgia looked fairly mediocre for the game’s first 20 minutes, allowing a 1-4 App State team to knock down 4 three-pointers before intermission – UGA took a narrow 33-32 advantage into the break.

The teams exchanged the lead a couple of times during the first minute out of the half, but then the Dawgs went on a 12-1 run that extended the UGA lead to 47-37 following a Neme Djurisic lay-up with 12:32 left.

The Mountaineers were never able to cut the lead by less than 8 points during the remainder of the game, and Georgia cruised to a 71-53 win.

Friday’s game was by far Georgia’s best defensive effort since the season-opener (against Wofford), limiting the Mountaineers to just 53 points on less than 33% shooting from the floor.  After yielding the 4 three-pointers to App State in the first half, the Dawgs tightened up around the perimeter for the final 20 minutes and they did not permit another basket from beyond the arc.

UGA entered this game with the 255th worst defense in the country – allowing opponents more than 76 points per game – so Friday’s performance on the defensive side of the ball was much-needed for Coach Mark Fox’s team.

Georgia was led offensively by Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines, who scored 14 points apiece in this one.  As mentioned, 13 of Mann’s 14 points came after the break, with the sophomore failing to notch a field goal until nearly 4 minutes had eclipsed in the game’s second half.  

Mann did the majority of his damage on Friday from the free throw line, where he connected on 8 of his 10 attempts.  Unfortunately his teammates were not as proficient from the line, making only 6 of their 13 shots from the charity stripe.  As a team, UGA shot just under 61% on free throws, which is somewhat disappointing since Fox mentioned before the game that the coaching staff had really emphasized that segment of the game this week in practice.

In addition to Mann and Gaines’s scoring, Neme also chipped in 10 points, marking the fifth time this season that Georgia has had three or more players finish in double-figures.  

Charles Mann continues to be a bright spot for the Dawgs – averaging 16.3 ppg on the year – and he has scored in double-digits in each of UGA’s first six contests.  In addition, Mann is shooting nearly 8 free throws per game, which is the result of his ability to drive the ball to the rim on a  consistent basis.

CMF may have the best point guard in the SEC on his team.



Dawgs host in-state rival Georgia Tech on Friday

Trae Golden, a native of Powder Springs, Georgia, transferred to Georgia Tech from Tennessee this past summer so that he could be closer to home and his ailing father. The result: the Yellow Jackets had a Second-Team All-SEC point guard literally fall right into their laps.

The former Vol has been productive early, averaging 14 points per game against Prebsbytarian and Delaware State. The senior led Tech in scoring with 16 points against DSU on 7 of 10 shooting from the floor. Golden provides Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory the perfect complement to a team that returned four starters from a year ago.

The good news for Georgia fans is that in Charles Mann’s only encounter with Golden last season he managed to limit Trae to just 4 points on 1 of 10 shooting from the field. Golden struggled to find good looks against the taller point guard, and he likely will find the view unpleasant again Friday night in Athens against a more-seasoned Charles Mann.

Prior to the season, Georgia Tech was projected to finish slightly below the middle of the expanded ACC.

To date, neither of these teams has played much competition. Friday night’s game should serve as an early barometer for both team’s coaches to get an idea about what kind of squads they have on their hands for the 2013-2014 season.

The Yellow Jackets’ roster has several players who passed on scholarship opportunities from UGA along with senior center Daniel Miller, who originally signed to play for the Dawgs before defecting after Dennis Felton’s departure.

Coach Fox’s team will not be low on motivation.

Fox Adds Another Guard to the 2012 Backcourt

Kenny Gaines of Whitfield Academy chose Georgia over in-state rival Georgia Tech, as well as Clemson, South Carolina and Iowa.

He will join Charles Mann, who picked the Dawgs over FSU last month, as the second member of Fox’s 2012 recruiting class.

Coach Mark Fox is beginning to win recruiting battles over prominent college basketball programs, and more importantly, he’s keeping the local talent in state.  This fall Georgia fans will witness the debut of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a member of the 2011 ESPNU100 and one of the most highly-touted UGA basketball recruits in recent years.

ESPN Recruiting describes Gaines’ strengths as follows:

He’s one of those point guards with excellent strength, a strong upper body and low center of gravity. We like him as a distributor. Will use his body to get into the lane and finds teammates. He can play honestly behind the 3-point line. Should be a solid assist man.

I happened to see Gaines play (by chance) last season when his Whitfield team played at Paideia High School in Atlanta (my girlfriend is an assistant coach for the Paideia Varsity Girl’s Basketball team, and I stuck around for the Boy’s game).  I did not know anything about either team prior to the game, but I was thoroughly impressed by a big, physical guard on the  Whitfield squad – who it turns out was Kenny Gaines.  He has a nice touch from the three-point line, and he is very strong on the offensive glass.

Gaines will be a four-year player at Georgia with a lot of upside, and I am pleased that he will be in Athens in 2012.

Fox Lands 4-Star Commitment

Milton High School point guard Charles Mann (6’5, 190lbs) committed to Georgia yesterday, giving the Dawgs their first commitment for the 2012 class.

The Atlanta Journal’s Michael Carvell lists Mann as the state’s top point guard prospect.  He is currently slated at #88 on ESPNU 100’s 2012 College Basketball Recruiting Rankings.

Mann will join Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for the 2012-2013 season in what looks to be a very big UGA backcourt – Pope is listed at 6’4″.

With the additions this off-season of John Florveus (7’0″), John Cannon (6’11”) and Tim Dixon (6’10”), it is becoming pretty apparent that Coach Fox is transforming the Georgia basketball team into a taller, leaner version of itself.