Dawgs Hold Off Jaspers to Clinch 7th Place

Trey Thompkins blocked Kidani Brutus’ three-point attempt with time expiring to seal a 61-58 win over the Manhattan Jaspers, ensuring that Georgia was not in fact the worst team in this year’s Old Spice Classic field.

The Dawgs came into this game favored by a whopping 17 points, but actually trailed the Jaspers 53-50 with just five minutes remaining in regulation.  When Manhattan took the lead at 48-46 following George Beamon’s break-away dunk, it was the first time the Jaspers had held a lead in a game since they were up 6-4 on Wisconsin on Thursday.

In the first half, Georgia’s offense didn’t look all that bad.  The Dawgs used their superior size and athleticism to exploit the Manhattan defense.  Georgia’s star players – Trey Thompkins, Travis Leslie and Gerald Robinson, Jr. – combined for 29 of the Dawgs’ 37 first half points.

Manhattan was scrappy and continued to fight the entire first half though, and the teams went into the break with Georgia leading 37-30.

Almost as if on cue, the Dawgs came out of the half with a flatness that is starting to become a trademark of this team.

The Jaspers showed some full-court pressure, and Georgia proceeded to turn the ball over five times in the first five minutes of the second half (the Dawgs finished the game with 17 turnovers in all).

Manhattan used a 1-3-1 zone defense to rattle Georgia’s offense, resulting in more turnovers and missed shots.  The Dawgs were ice-cold again from beyond the arc, hitting just 1 of 12 three-point attempts.  Coach Fox looked as if his head might actually pop off due to excessive frustration.

But alas, the Dawgs hit the shots when they needed to in the game’s final three minutes and were able to get the win, salvaging something from the team’s trip to Orlando.

The Jaspers were led by Brutus’ 16 points and 7 rebounds, along with George Beamon’s 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Trey Thompkins led Georgia with 18 points and 8 rebounds, but he also led them with 5 turnovers.

Following the game, Thompkins said, “We can go back and get back in the lab and know that at least we left out of here with one win.  That Manhattan win was one we needed just to get out of the sort of a daze we were in as a team.”

When the Dawgs get back to Athens and “get back in the lab”, hopefully they can find the answers to some of these problems:

1.  Zone Offense – The Dawgs should expect to see A LOT more zone defense in the future based upon the way they handled it down in Orlando.  GR2 has shown that he can be a zone-buster and penetrate into the lane, but somebody on this team has to step up and start hitting some outside shots.  In the last three games, Georgia made just 12 of 55 three-point attempts, or merely 21.8%.

2. Depth Issues – Coming into the 2010-2011 season, depth was not supposed to be a concern for the Dawgs.  On the contrary, it was supposed to be one of the strengths of the team according to Coach Fox.  At the moment, I’m not really sure just how deep Georgia’s bench really is – Marcus Thornton and Donte Williams are freshmen, and they are playing like it.  Sophomore guard Vince Williams makes me nervous every time he touches the ball, and fellow guard Sherrard Brantley is throwing up shots at an alarming rate, despite making just 4 of 18 from the field so far this season.

Connor Nolte and Chris Barnes are the only players coming off the bench that are giving Coach Fox consistently solid minutes.

3. Lackadaisical After The Break – At the Old Spice Classic, Georgia was outscored by a total of 29-14 in the first 5 minutes of the second halves of its games against Notre Dame, Temple and Manhattan.  Coach Mark Fox has to find a way to get his starters focused when they come out of the locker room following intermission.  Last season, Georgia led at the break of six SEC games that they proceeded to lose.

Hopefully a return to Athens and Stegeman Coliseum will be just what the doctor ordered for this Georgia team.

The Dawgs need to have a good week of practice and get out of their “daze” before their game this Friday against the UAB Blazers (4-1) – a team coming off a 70-65 overtime win against Arkansas (not to mention the Blazers whipped the Dawgs 72-56 last year in Birmingham).


Katz and Scheduling

Mark Fox might need to take ESPN College Basketball Analyst Andy Katz out to lunch.

Remember back in May when Katz listed Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs in his “revised Top 25 for the 2010-2011 season“?

In a more recent publication, Katz highlighted Georgia’s Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie in a piece he did on potential 2011 NBA Draft Prospects.

This guy is big on the Dawgs!

But for Georgia to live up to Katz’s lofty “Top 25” expectations, they are going to have to work their way through another tough out-of-conference schedule.  On July 1st, Xavier coach Chris Mack tweeted “Get your plane tickets to Athens, GA for February X fans…“.  Cincinnati.com confirmed the tweet on July 2nd – Georgia will play Xavier at home in February 2011.  ESPN’s Andy Katz has Xavier listed just outside his preseason Top 25 list, but don’t be surprised to see the Musketeers nationally ranked when February rolls around.

The Dawgs also play host to UAB – a team that whipped Georgia last year in Birmingham, AL and finished the season 25-9 and just missed getting an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Saint Louis is on Georgia’s schedule again next season as well.  Last year the Billikens gave the Dawgs a game in Athens in a 64-56 loss.  The Billikens ended up 23-13 and 11-5 in the Atlantic 10 during their 2009-2010 campaign.  ESPN’s Pat Forde is high on Saint Louis next year, especially since they return every player along with colossal coach Rick Majerus.

Of course the Dawgs have their annual showdown with Georgia Tech…However, next season’s match-up is back in Atlanta where Georgia hasn’t won since the 2000-2001 season (thanks to 28 points from D.A. Layne).

Probably the most intriguing part of the Dawgs 2010-2011 schedule is the Old Spice Classic tournament, which will be held in Orlando, Florida over Thanksgiving weekend.  Georgia will join a field that includes Boston College, California, Manhattan, Notre Dame, Temple, Texas A&M and Wisconsin.  Five of the eight teams in this season’s group (Cal, ND, Temple, Texas A&M & Wisconsin) all reached the NCAA Tournament last year.  Temple and Wisconsin are already on CBS’s Top 25 for the preseason.

The Georgia Bulldogs compete in the SEC East, which has to be one of the toughest halves of any conference in the country.  The Dawgs will play national powerhouses like Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee twice.  Throw in the remaining SEC schedule along with next season’s out-of-conference warm-up and its starting to look like Mark Fox’s Dawgs are going to have their work cut out for them.