2011-2012 Out-of-Conference Opponents

The Georgia Bulldogs schedule for the 2011-2012 season does not appear to be very forgiving, considering this team is losing nearly 45% of its offense to the NBA.

The Dawgs will open up the season with the CBE Classic, a preseason tournament in which Georgia will actually host regional round games between November 13 to 17.  The other three hosts in this tournament are Missouri, Notre Dame and California.  All four hosts automatically advance to the Championship Rounds (regardless of the outcomes at the regionals), so there is a very good chance that the Dawgs will get a game against a team from this year’s NCAA Tournament (either Missouri or the Irish).

On December 17th, Georgia is tentatively set to travel to Southern Cal to take on the Trojans (another 2011 tourney team).

The Dawgs should also have road games at both Colorado and Xavier (another 2011 tourney team).

Georgia now has two scholarships available with the departures of Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie.  Hopefully Coach Mark Fox can find a JUCO talent to add to next year’s roster before the summer.

At the very least, he could work on getting some rematches set up with Arkansas State, High Point, Charleston Southern and Eastern Kentucky…

Tough to put a finger on Georgia’s tourney status

The Georgia Bulldogs are getting mixed reviews from several of the larger sports media outlets concerning their position (or lack there of) in this year’s NCAA tournament.

Even ESPN’s two major tournament projectors seem to be split on the subject.

Joe Lunardi, creator of the network’s Bracketology, has Georgia (along with Alabama) as one of his “First Four Out” – he only has four SEC teams included in this year’s March Madness.  However, ESPN’s “Bubble Watch” seems to think that the Dawgs could earn an at-large berth into the NCAA’s with a win in the first round of their conference tournament.

CBS Sportsline’s Jerry Palm has Georgia as a 9-seed, and Sports Illustrated’s Andy Glockner likes the Dawgs as a 10-seed.

Let’s turn our attentions back to Joe Lunardi though, and his unfavorable impressions of Coach Mark Fox’s team.

Lunardi has become a regular on ESPN’s morning “Sportscenter” show recently, and when he has discussed Georgia’s resume he has continued to harp on the Dawgs’ 3-9 record against the RPI Top 50 and their lack of quality wins.  One thing that fails to come up in his analysis of the Bulldogs is the fact that Georgia has a higher RPI than seven teams that Lunardi currently has “in” – St. Mary’s, Clemson, Illinois, Colorado, Boston College, Florida State and Virginia Tech.

I have always been under the impression that a team’s RPI was a strong indicator of their worth in college basketball, but apparently Joey L. disagrees.

The fact that he has Colorado “in” over the Dawgs is inexplicable to me – Georgia has a better overall record, a better conference record, a much higher RPI (CU’s is 76) and the Dawgs bested the Buffs without the services of Trey Thompkins earlier this year in a head-to-head match-up in Athens.

Lunardi hosted a chat at 4:00pm yesterday on ESPN.com, and I actually submitted him this same question regarding the Buffs and Dawgs – shockingly, he didn’t choose my question as one of the eight he decided to respond to.

Dawgs Improve to 2-0

Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs beat a quality Colorado Buffalo team 82-74 last night en route to their second win of the season.

The Dawgs came out red-hot, knocking down their first three shots from beyond the arc along with one of Jeremy Price’s patented three-point plays to build up an early 18-4 lead with 15:21 remaining in the first half.

Unfortunately, though, Gerald Robinson, Jr (GR2) picked up his second foul with 15 minutes left before intermission, and Coach Fox was forced to sit his starting point guard for the remainder of the half.

GR2 is definitely the “straw that stirs the drink” for this UGA offense.  In his absence, Vincent Williams got some extended playing time (8 minutes) in which he managed to shoot 0-3 from the field and commit 2 turnovers.  Williams still looks somewhat out of control when he has the ball, and seems to dribble with his head down (a characteristic not normally present in PG’s).

Colorado was able to scratch and claw their way back into the game, and the teams went into the locker room knotted up at 33-33.

GR2, Travis Leslie and Jeremy Price all had big second halves, scoring 16, 12 and 10, respectively.

Robinson looked great once again last night, scoring 21 points and dishing out 6 assists.  He’s getting his points from both the lane and outside, and he really put the team on his shoulders in the final four minutes of the game.  Fox obviously feels confident putting the ball in his hands when it counts, and GR2 responded by taking it to the basket where he either scored or was fouled – he finished with 7 of the Dawgs‘ final 15 points.  He is a real difference maker for this team – it is SO NICE to have a guard that can penetrate and create offensively.  I know I said this after the last game, but this team is going to be VERY DANGEROUS once Thompkins gets back on the floor.

Travis Leslie (“The Elevator from Decatur“) was his usual self, scoring 19 points and nabbing 8 rebounds.  I was surprised to learn that he only finished the game with 8 boards – it felt like he was grabbing everything off the rim in the first half.  Leslie did a great job of moving without the ball and getting himself into positions for easy baskets.

Jeremy Price (“The Refrigerator from Decatur”) had another big game on offense, finishing with 17 points in just 17 minutes on the floor – he was in foul trouble for a majority of the night.  Price is looking a lot more agile this season, and he’s doing a phenomenal job of finishing near the rim.

And how about big Chris Barnes?  He’s certainly not going to be asked to host any Free Throw Clinics any time soon, but the big fella contributed 9 points and tied Leslie for a team-high 8 rebounds.

The rebounding effort as a whole was much better by the Dawgs last night as they won the battle 36-32, with 15 of them coming on the offensive end.

The only real flaws that I saw were the turnovers (18), the temporary defensive lapse in the first half after GR2 had to sit and the free throw shooting (27-43 as a team).  However, it should be noted that Chris Barnes was 5-13 from the line, so the rest of the team shot 22-30 or 73.3%.

The Colorado guard tandem of Alec Burks and Cory Higgins scored a combined 36 points, but for the most part Georgia held the rest of the team in check.

This was a really good win for Georgia against what should end up being a pretty good team, and the Dawgs did it without their best player (again).  It already appears that there is a much greater level of maturity on this team, as they have successfully closed-out two tight games (games that they may have lost last season).

Buffs Visit Athens

The Georgia Bulldogs will be tested on Tuesday night as they play host to the Colorado Buffaloes in Athens, GA.

Tad Boyle inherited a nice crop of talent in his first year as the head coach of the Buffs, who are currently receiving votes (seven to be exact) for the AP Top 25 Poll.

Colorado’s guard tandem of sophomore Alec Burks and senior Cory Higgins gives the Buffs one of the best backcourts in the country.  Higgins was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team, and Burks was given an Honorable Mention.  Oh yeah, and they were both named to the Preseason Wooden Award Top 50 List, college basketball’s most prestigious award.

In his freshman season, the 6’6″ Alec Burks averaged 17.1 points and 5 rebounds per game en route to earning the Big 12 Freshman of the Year award.  This guy is a bona-fide scorer at the shooting guard position, and he is currently project to go 7th in the latest “Mock Draft” on NBADraft.net.

Cory Higgins led the Buffs with 18.9 points per contest last year.

This dynamic duo accounted for 48% of Colorado’s scoring last season.

The main knock on the Buffs last season was their lack of scoring and rebounding on the inside.  In their first game against Idaho State, Colorado was out-rebounded 29-28 in a 88-80 win – so the verdict is still out on whether their frontcourt has improved or not.

With Trey Thompkins most likely sitting again due to a high ankle sprain, the Dawgs will have to look elsewhere for an inside presence.  Mark Fox is going to need strong play out of Jeremy Price and the other bigs.

I am looking for Price to build off his 20-point performance in the MVSU game, and for him to continue attacking the basket on offense.

Last year, Georgia was a very good rebounding team, finishing second in the SEC with a +4.4 rebounding margin.

In the first game of the year against Mississippi Valley State, the Dawgs were out-rebounded 37-28.

Against Colorado, Georgia must take back control of the paint.  Senior Chris Barnes has got to step up and be a leader for this team in the rebounding department in Trey’s absence.  Barnes is 6’8″ and built like an NFL defensive lineman – yet against MVSU, he finished with 1 rebound in 13 minutes, which is inexcusable.

Defensively, I think that Georgia could have some mismatch problems with Burks and Higgins in the half-court set.  It might be a good idea for Fox to apply some full-court pressure to dictate the tempo of the Buffs’ offense.

This is a very big game for both teams – Georgia and Colorado will both be in the RPI Top 50 this season – and the winner will add to its NCAA Tournament Resume.

Not to state the obvious, but the Dawgs are going to have to play much better defense than they did last Thursday night if they want to win this one.  Colorado may have a more talented starting five than Georgia, so the Bulldogs are going to need some guys to step up and contribute.

Georgia has one player on the Preseason Wooden Award Top 50 List – Trey Thompkins – and he won’t be playing.

Who is going to make plays for Coach Fox on Tuesday night?