Welcome to the first of many Georgia basketball live blogs. Here at Stegeman Coliseum for Georgia’s exhibition game against North Georgia we’re all hoping the Dawgs don’t fall victim like Syracuse a few days ago. I can update 5 times per half and once at halftime.
I was planning on an quick pregame interview with a fan but it’s really loud in here. The band has been playing as well as some music over the PA. I’ll try and come up with a solution soon because it’s something I’m very interested in starting.
First impression: UGA is a lot bigger than NG. I’m pretty excited to watch some of the young guys play. Of course, you should know I do have a big man-crush on Dustin Ware so I’m looking forward to his dominance.
Not too much different from last seasons warm up. The team did huddle up at halfcourt for a little pregame speech. It was difficult to see who was leading the discussion and I’ll be interested to see where the leadership comes from on this team. However, the team did seem into it, nothing fake, and strong team chemistry will be vital for a season that could see a lot of struggles.
Starting 5 for the Dawgs:
Very surprised that Leslie made the starting squad as he’s a guy who saw very little time last season. It’s obviously not clear if this is the team Coach Fox will start when the game is not an exhibition. And with Albert Jackson still injured, we don’t know if he’ll start at center.
Update 15:08 I love the way this team came out of the gun. They’re running hard and extremely active on the boards. They’re moving exceptionally well at a much better and more enjoyable pace than last seasons Felton-bore-me-to-death style. Trey Thompkins has thrown down a two handed slam after some good ball movement and Travis Leslie just posterized a poor North Georgian with a one handed thunderdunk. Some things haven’t changed though: Chris Barnes still looks painful shooting free throws. Dawgs lead 8-2 after a Dustin Ware (<3) steal.
Update 12:03 Chris Barnes looks very polished offensively Of course, we have to keep this game in context. It’s North Georgia, and I’ve already noted the big difference in size. This team is going to be scary on the break. Dustin Ware just had a slick no-look pass to Travis Leslie who jumped on his trampoline for a very athletic layup. Drazen Zlavoric and Ebukah Ayanorah have checked in. Those two need to refrain from checking in at the same time ever again. Wayyyy to hard to spell for a live blog. McThree and Leslie took seats. Tyler Whatley just came in for Thompkins and Jeremy Price is now in for Barnes. So it looks like we’ll see a lot of different looks. I’ll guess that we just saw the first team running and I was very impressed. Now we’re seeing a bit of second team action. Interesting that Ware is still running point. There’s not really a good backup for him this season after Zac Swansey transferred and Corey Butler graduated. Ah yes, the first Jeremy “Big Dawg” Price two handed slam of the season. Dawgs up 17-4
I snapped a couple of pictures from my camera phone. Of course I forgot the digital camera. What were you expecting? You can click the pictures for an enhanced shot that actually turned out a lot better than I thought they would.
Update 6:17 We’re now getting our first look at Vince Williams and Demario Mayfield. Well most people did. I was too busy working on a photojournalism Pulitzer to pay attention. My deepest regrets. I will say that once the first team sat out the game slowed significantly. North Georgia still can’t really score so it’s a non-issue. But now the first team is back in a the train is back on the tracks. Leslie just THREW the hammer down on a massive dunk. He reached back so far he could have scratched his knees. This guy is an incredible athlete. Incredible. Dawgs up 28-12.
Update 4:06 My WUOG colleague of the High Noon Sports show who’s covering the game for the Red and Black correctly points out that the talent disparity is too great to really learn anything from this game. Which is not 100% true as I’ve learned that humans can fly. Leslie just annihilated the rim on a beautiful alley-oop from Dustin Ware. Brilliant. But again, we’re not sure that could happen against an SEC caliber opponent. Georgia’s getting almost every rebound offensively and defensively and making most of the put-back opportunities. Unless it involves Barnes shooting from the charity stripe. Dawgs lead 32-12
Update 25.1 seconds The second team is back in the game: Williams, Draz, Ebukah, Price and Mayfield. Williams looks pretty good defensively. He’s staying in front of his guy well. They’re not really crashing the boards as well and look like they’re lacking direction and need a scorer. Who’s going to take over for this lineup? Someone will need to in order to get some more PT and to solidify this roster. They’re all showing flashes of brilliance and head scratchers. Draz is a bit too ancy on defense and gets pulled off the court by fakes but also nailed a three from the corner. His development as the athletic wingman is key. Ebukah made a strong move in the lane but was then called for a foul trying to keep up with his man. Dawgs lead 42-20.
Update at halftime My overall impression was a positive one. The first team was moving well and connect with each other. The second team was a mixed batch, but that’s to be expected. I have a feeling we’ll see a lot more of those guys in the second half as Coach Fox will need to evaluate who he can count on to come off the bench in meaningful games. I also challenged Matt Bucklin to score so he could be my post-game interview. So far, nothing doing. Halftime score is 45-20 Dawgs.
Update 15:30 The second half begins with a defensive stop as NG can’t inbound the ball. The first team is in and they are just so fast and athletic. There are a couple of concerns as I look back over on the first half. The outside shooting consists of Ricky McThree…and that’s it. I don’t know what will happen when he needs a breather. And if teams run the zone against us we’ll be in trouble. The second is the hack-a-Barnes strategy will he highly effective. Brutal. Travis Leslie hasn’t been much better and with his main weapon being flying in the lane for a layup, he’ll be an easy target for a foul.
The dominance is continuing here with NG really unable to score or rebound. McThree hit a deep two with his foot on the line so he came back down the court and made sure this one counted for all three points. Leslie then made another athletic layup on a transition play. Will I get tired of those? No. Not ever. But you’d have to imagine in a closely contested game you’d always keep a man on Ricky and just foul Leslie in that situation. Ball movement will be very key in getting these guys looks. It’s worked in this game, but what exactly does that mean? Dawgs up 58-22
Update 12:44 Ugh. This is getting ugly. The second team is in for Georgia (still no Bucklin). NG just double-dribbled on a breakaway which I didn’t know was possible. Then Tyler Whatley couldn’t hold onto an inbounds pass. Work in progress.
Vince Williams looks pretty quick on the court. I’m not sure if he’s big or strong enough though. They turned down the AC in Stegeman just to make sure he doesn’t get blown away. NG is pressing and doing one of the more annoying things in basketball, yelling “Ball Ball Ball” in the passers face. I’ve seen that ploy work exactly 0% of the time. Oh you want the ball? Well, here you go! Dawgs up 60-27
Update 8:14 The battle for backup point guard is pretty interesting. Vince Williams is smaller and quicker and, so far, has made better decisions than Ebukah. However, Ebukah is bigger and stronger and would be more of a force when rebounding and limiting the opposing point guard. So far, Vince is the one who mainly runs the point and Ebukah is the two, but neither one has displayed an outside shooting touch. Draz has shot the ball pretty well. His basketball IQ is often called into question but if he can “do less” (to quote Forgetting Sarah Marshall — just for you Nolte!) I think he can be quite effective shooting the ball. Dawgs lead 68-33
Update 5:20 The first team is back in and magic is happening. Leslie with another thunderdunk, Ricky with some good outside shooting and Ware with a nice putback layup. Much easier to watch. Thinking about it, there’s a lot you have to pay attention to when defending Georgia. There always has to be a body on Leslie to prevent tip-ins/slams for easy buckets and momentum and you have to keep an eye on Ricky’s outside jumper. That’s all before the All-SEC forward Trey Thompkins. If Dustin Ware can facilitate the ball movement like I think he can, Georgia could be a tough team to stop. Fox is utilizing the talent on this team far better than Coach Felton last year. This team is light years ahead. Trey Thompkins just swatted a dunk attempt. This is the Leslie-only-fly zone. Stay Out. Dawgs up 73-40.
Update We have our first Matt Bucklin sighting! Huge. Now he’s just got to score to be eligible for the post game interview. We’re clearly winding down here in a game that’s been a major blowout. Again, it’s difficult to know what exactly to take from this one. But in general, the outside shooting could be a bit of a concern. Other than that, Georgia really executed as best they could. Sometimes it’s pretty easy to lower yourself to the ability of the other team. That was clearly not the case tonight. Unfortunately, Buck his missed the scoring deadline as Georgia SID has just asked for post-game interviews. Ricky McThree is actually taking the ball up court rather than Bucklin who just picked up a foul to ruin his Trillion.
You can tell it’s garbage time when there are 6 white players on the court. I’m almost blinded.
Your final score is 87-53 Georgia.
Thanks for reading.
Here’s Coach Fox’s post game presser. I would have asked some of the players questions but my feet are really smelly and I had to bail.