Wise: Talking UGA….hoops?! Yes we are!

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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.”

Hoops: “Show me Something” Tuesday Roadies for Ole Miss, LSU, UT

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Going into tonight’s action, three road teams have a chance to make a statement not only to the rest of the SEC but for RPI purposes, also. As documented here SEC looking good for Tourney  Ole Miss, LSU and Tennessee are in the good “gray area” for capturing an at-large bid in March.

The Rebels (46 in RPI) travel to Georgia (28th) to face those “Hairy Dawgs” who just knocked off Florida at home Saturday. This is a HUGE road moment for Andy Kennedy’s club.

Meanwhile, speaking of the Gators (69th & on outside at moment), they host the “Bayou Bengals” (54th)  at the O-Dome. Road wins against good teams are something the committee wants to see. Time for LSU to step up.

And finally, about an hour after those tips tonight,  South Carolina who is way down in the RPI (110) and SEC standings, will host the Vols (50th), who need to protect their spot and win, as well. Committee also looking at bad losses this time of year and this would damage the Big Orange for now.

Time to “Show me Something”

 

Hoops: SEC thinks it can Dance!

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One of the great debates as conference play cranks up in January and heads to March, is which leagues will have a “Bushel” and which the “Scraps” come time for the bids to go out?

12 months ago, the SEC was staring at a sobering reality that even though perennial stud teams Florida and Kentucky were shoo-ins, the rest of the 12 in the SEC? Not so convincing.

Tennessee eventually did enough to barely get in “First Four” in Dayton and then played their way to the Sweet 16. But, that was it.

3 out of 14 teams.

About 80% left out. The Kardashians have a better marrying average.

Now to 2015.

If you haven’t been paying attention, Kentucky is still VERY much Kentucky and they are absolutely in the Dance and a legit Final Four contender.

Now, for the best news for the SEC in several years? There are possibly 6 others who can be there with the Cats.

Explanation time:

As I write this on January 15th, there are SIX SEC teams with an RPI in the top 57. That’s the #1 indicator that the Selection Committee looks at for how strong your wins are. As for strength of schedule? Including Big Blue, there are also six league teams in the top 60.

What do those two signs mean as SEC play continues? It means that teams like Arkansas, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee who are in both of the categories above, are not only in good shape themselves, but when borderline teams like Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and Texas A & M are playing them, it helps their resume’ build if they win.

That’s the key. Many strong teams in conference means wins by and against them, within the conference , impress the selection committee.

Still lots to sort out, but it’s easy to see that SEC has at least 5, probably 6, and maybe 7 spots coming for the NCAA Tourney.

And the Kardashians can’t keep up with that!

 

Hoops: Who stops Kentucky’s unbeaten quest?

Please Welcome Brand New Hoops Contributor, Mark Wise. Mark has over 30 years over D-1 coaching and broadcasting experience. Almost 20 of which, he has spent covering the SEC. Here’s his first column on the #1 question regarding SEC Hoops this winter.

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40-0? Seemed silly last year. Not so much this year for the Bluegrass Boys.

As we enter league play this week in the SEC, the question gets louder and LOUDER, who can beat Kentucky and how could it happen?

Continue reading

Mitchell: Gone Bama Gone

Sugar Bowl Alabama

Albert Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We don’t know if Al was a Bama fan, but his words are a great segue for discussing the Tide coaching staff’s performance in the Sugar Bowl.

Head coach Nick Saban and his minions were materially out-coached on New Year’s Day in the Big Easy.  From start to inglorious finish.

Even trailing 21-6 in the second quarter, the underdog Ohio State Buckeyes had nearly twice as many total yards and were seemingly moving the ball at will.  Their fault was in turning it over twice, and struggling to convert in the red zone.

That would soon change.  Continue reading

SmackCast preview of Sugar Bowl

Happy New Year! As you sift through assorted empty liquor bottles, confetti and half eaten pigs-in-a-blanket, we here at SEC14.com get ready for the titanic showdown on the Bayou.

Earlier this week Russ and T.J. examined the match-up. Will Alabama’s balanced explosive offense dismantle Ohio State? Can the Buckeyes weapons do damage against the Tide? Why does Russ believe OSU isn’t playoff worthy?

Hear the answers below!