“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.