Our SEC14.com Hoops analyst, Mark Wise is back….and profiles one of the SEC’s up and coming teams, U-G-A.
In today’s basketball world of low scoring games and tempos more geared for baseball than hoops, it is refreshing to see a team whose offensive skills mesh and make a cohesive unit. Take Georgia.
Having done the Seton Hall game on TV, and watching UGA jump all over Florida from the opening tip last Saturday while working on radio, this team is hard to guard. The pieces fit.
In my opinion, the recipe for a good offense must contain these three ingredients:
One, you must have shooters.
Somehow people have forgotten that the court is 50 feet wide. Spacing the floor is critical. But you must have some bodies that can knock down shots. For the Dawgs, Kenny Gaines, is a catch and shoot guy (37%), who shoots a true jump shot. With with his size and elevation, can shoot over most defenders. JJ Frazier also shoots from the arc (39%) with more range and has become a cagey point guard. Nemi Djurisic gives them a stretch 4 (an American term) with a European game (He is from Montenegro). Thus, Georgia is a threat from “bonus-land.”
Two, you must establish a low block presence.
UGA has that in Senior Marcus Thornton. Finally healthy, Thornton gives Mark Fox a steady low post option who can get the tough points in the paint. He leads the team in scoring at 14.5. Thornton has added a mid range jumper to his offensive repertoire which makes him more of a headache for opposing coaches. He is playing the best basketball of his career. The Dawgs can feed it into Djurisic at times to give them a high low option who has become a DF scorer. The offense will also utilize Charles Mann at 6’5 and 215 lbs. to overpower smaller guards. So, Georgia can player power hoops with a lot of confidence.
Third, and perhaps the most overlooked, is getting to the FT line.
Analysts make way too much about FT% and way too little about FT attempts. Research is showing getting to the line is more connected to winning than what percentage you shoot. Here, Fox’s team excels. They average more than 27 attempts per game. Mann alone, because of his ability to drive and post, goes there more than 7x per game by himself. Thornton more than 5x. You get the picture. Outscoring your opponents at the line is like the football team with a great running game. You just never seem to get the ball enough.
The result of these pieces has Georgia sitting at 12-5 and 3-2 in the SEC after winning their last 3. If they had closed games better in the first two league attempts against Arkansas (4 pt loss) and at LSU (2ot loss), the Bulldogs could easily be sitting at 5-0 with a home and home vs Kentucky down the road that EVERYONE would already be talking about.
Georgia’s resume is more than solid. The RPI is 24, with a SOS of 15. Combine that with top 50 wins over Seton Hall and on the road at Ole Miss, the Dawgs are safely in the Madness. Don’t expect that to change. If anything, this is a team that could end up in the 5-7 seed line before all is said and done.
No, Georgia does not always defend at a high level. And the lack of depth could come into play if an injury occurs. But, they actually want to play games in the 70s.
And isn’t that a breath of fresh air for all of us “hoop junkies.”