Head Coach Mark Fox
On the loss: “It’s a hard fought game, tough loss. Really a tough loss. Have to credit Alabama. They made the plays late. We just didn’t close the game. We had some chances at the foul line, for instance, and but really, we didn’t rebound the ball in the second half. I thought for the first time maybe all year we saw some signs of fatigue in the gut of the second half. But you have to give Alabama credit, they played really hard and won the game.”
On calling the time-out in the final seconds of the second half: “We wanted to get the ball in the front court for that reason alone. Didn’t want to have to go the length of the floor because of their pressure. I thought that we would have a little more time than 0.8. I thought we would get the timeout with a couple seconds. As a matter of fact, I think when I first hollered, it was around 2 seconds, I think I was trying to glance at the clock, but the referee went to the monitor and obviously got it right. Ended up with 0.8. The ball went in. So, sure, I mean, I wish I hadn’t called it, because the ball went in. But, you know, that’s a tough, tough break.”
More on fatigue and how that may have affected free-throw shooting down the stretch: “I probably should have played more guys. But this was a hard-fought game and I rolled the dice with those kids who have carried us so far this year. But their pressure wore on us. Second game in two days, and you really didn’t see the effects of it, I don’t think, until the second half. And then we coughed it up a couple times just with some turnovers we hadn’t had all year. Threw one in the corner right there out of bounds that they got and went in there and we just fouled them. And we haven’t made that play in a while. But you got to credit their defense for being pretty relentless. And I don’t know if fatigue was a factor on the free throws, we missed a handful there in the gut of it.”
On whether or not his team is NCAA tournament worthy: “I think we’re a tournament team. I don’t think we had to have this game to be in the NCAA tournament. Our RIP, I think, going into the day was probably – when we started the tournament it was in the 30s. But a top 40 RPI, a top 40 schedule, a winning record away from home, a winning record in the SEC. And we avoided bad losses. So I think the things that the committee has traditionally asked us to do, I think that we have put together a resume that answers all those questions, and we don’t have a lot of negatives on there. So I think that we are a tournament team. If I don’t call that timeout and the ball goes in, you know, you don’t get to ask that question. That’s how close it is. But this team, I think, they have put themselves in a position to get serious consideration.”
On Alabama’s increased pressure in the second: “They were really good defensive team. They really started trying to pressure the ball a lot and trying to keep it out of my hands and out of Gerald’s hands. I thought Trey really did a good job of handling for us, but in the end they just made the plays and we didn’t.”
On whether or not he heard the whistle when he let off his shot with seconds to go: “No, I honestly didn’t. I thought it was a clean shot, but then I saw kind of the referee waving it off, so I knew coach had called a time out.”
On whether or not Georgia is an NCAA team: “To be honest with you, it would be nice to be in the tournament, but that’s out of our hands right now. I can’t tell you whether we are or not. Hopefully we can be selected. It will be a great opportunity if we do get it, but that’s not up to us anymore. We have done everything we can.”
No matter how you quote it, this is a bad loss for Georgia. When Travis Leslie finished an alley-oop dunk from Gerald Robinson with 7:33 remaining, Georgia, by all accounts appeared ready to wrap this game up, and send the tape to the NCAA selection committee.
But somehow, someway, Alabama found a way to not only get back in this game, but win it in over time.
Here are a couple reasons that happened:
-After the Oop: After Leslie’s highlight reel slam, Alabama went on a 19-5 run to close the half, including a 10 run from 5:20 to 3:19. Like I said, most college teams would see that type of a play, see the scoreboard, and just start unlacing their shoes. To their credit, especially to head coach Anthony Grant, this team kept fighting.
-Meeting the press: In an attempt to slow down Leslie and Georgia’s offense, Alabama went to a full-court press most of the second half. It forced 9 turnovers in second half and in overtime. However, that’s kind of a wash seeing that Alabama had the same amount. Instead, Alabama’s press pushed Georgia up the floor, making them uncomfortable when they finally got in their sets. Just really forced a lot of bad looks. Grant tried to run the press in the first, but Georgia handled it a lot better. Anytime you get Trey Thompkins and Gerald Robinson bringing the ball up the floor on a regular basis, you’re not playing good offense. Nothing against those guys, but it makes your offense uncomfortable again and again. That eventually adds up. As in being on the wrong side of 19-5 run wrong.
-Free throws rear their ugly head again: After Georgia went 5-5 in the first half, Georgia went 7-13 for the rest of the game. While that is not necessarily terrible, a lot of those misses came towards the end of the game, often on the front end of a pair of free-throws. Make four of those, I’m blogging about how Georgia could beat Kentucky.
Just some quick thoughts on the two major themes of this loss. The first one is why this team lost and, in my opinion, lost a lot of close games. Fox mentioned fatigue.
Now, from my perspective, this has been a problem for this team almost the entire season. Fatigue affects a lot of things in basketball in addition to just being slow. Shots fall short, free throws clank, hands get reckless and either cause a turnover or force a silly foul, you start blowing 10+ leads.
If so, it’s because these are a lot of factors that have attributed to Georgia’s close losses this season. Whether it was Tennessee, Xavier, Florida, or Alabama. I’ve never once gotten the feeling that this team was in great shape to win. Now the Florida game was a bit different, that tip-in by Trey sent a rush of momentum Georgia’s way into the first overtime. However, after Florida forced a second OT, it was extremely apparent this team was tired. In all the games Georgia has blown a big lead, they’ve had a real problem hiding their disappointment. Almost as if they were just as surprised and frustrated as their fans were.
Now, the big questions are why this team is fatigued. If you’re looking for answers here, you’re not going to find them. I’m not a physical trainer. However, I do find it kind of interesting that in all of these games where UGA is up big and blows a lead, they are as good as done. Not trying to criticize, just referencing the scoreboards.
Now that Georgia is out of this thing, I’ve been using the opportunity to hang around the event, get the opportunity to see guys like Coach Calapari and Bruce Pearl in person, and how they interact with the media. Extremely charismatic, if you wondering.
Coach Cal’s presser was interesting because he referred to Georgia and how they played a tough game against Alabama. Even more, he said they deserve an NCAA bid. I don’t have the exact quote, but he referenced the SEC in general, how all of the teams are extremely competitive amongst each other.
Just thought that was interesting. Although, I’m not sure Coach Cal is the guy you want making a case for you to the NCAA. On anything.
Here’s the thing. I’ll say the same thing I said to James and Dayne on the Friday Pre-Game Show. I’m not a numbers guy. Joe Lunardi could be Albert Einstein for all I care. So, the question now is whether or not this team passes the “eye test”. Can this team, in one game, compete with the league’s best? In my mind, yes. They have competed in almost every Top 25 match-up they have played in. And not just SEC games. Notre Dame and Xavier had a tough time with the Dawgs. In basketball, you need the ball to “bounce your way” sometimes. That hasn’t happened in any of their competitions.
Get this team in the tournament, they have a shot to compete. Probably not for a national title, but enough to cause those March upsets we all know and love.
Alright, that’s enough from me. I’m disappointed UGA is out because I really had a good feeling heading into the weekend. Unfortunately, it’s over. Guess I’ll just have to watch basketball for free now. Total bummer.