I had the pleasure of attending tonight's basketball exhibition between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Augusta State Jaguars. While at the game representing 3 generations of RedCrake men (with my son, Trey, and my Dad), I very much enjoyed several aspects of the game which I felt I should share with the basketball faithful (and soon to be faithful) here at Dawgsports.
Since we're talking about a game against a Division II opponent and a game in which Pre-Season SEC MVP Trey Thompkins did not play due to a high ankle sprain, I'm going to limit my observations to areas which are not seriously impacted by either...
1) Welcome to the New, Improved Stegosaurus -
The changes that have been made to the exterior and corridors of Stegeman Coliseum are absolutely wonderful. While they aren't the wholesale changes many who want a completely new facility might hope for, everything from the glass panels flanking the facility to the new flooring to the new flat screen television screens to the trophy cases to the expanded concourse and columns are a massive upgrade. Aesthetic though these changes may be, the feeling I kept coming back to is that the Stege now has the air of a real basketball arena and not the feel of a facility capable of showing livestock.
I don't know what, if any, impact these changes might have on recruits and/or others, but they are welcome changes nonetheless.
That said, there are still several improvements to be finished before next Friday's opener against Mississippi Valley State.
2) Travis Leslie is a man amongst boys -
I'll just tell you right now, if you thought Travis Leslie was amazing last season its only going to get better. His hang time seemed, to me at least, even longer than it was last year and he still has a flair for the acrobatic. He's also successfully developed a pull-up jumper from 10-12 feet out that has the potential to be very effective when defenses have to plan for his ability to drive to the basket. He took several 3s which didn't fall but weren't badly off target. If he can start to hit even a fraction of those, look out.
3) Jeremy Price continues to improve -
Price had 14 points in the exhibition, which I expected given the absence of Thompkins. What I didn't expect to see was Jeremy moving fluidly through the paint both with and without the ball. Like many big men, Price has moved with an awkward clumsiness in the past. Tonight he looked like a player that has become very comfortable with his role and what he needs to do to be successful in that role. While finesse is a strange word to use when talking about someone with Jeremy Price's dimensions, that's the only word I could think of when watching Price tonight.
4) Gerald Robinson Jr. is going a be a good one -
Despite some obvious rust from not playing for a year after transferring, Robinson had a great debut game for the Bulldogs. Let me be clear: I like double-doubles. I like 12 pts from my guard. I like 10 assists even more. Most of all I liked Robinson's vision on the court as he hit all the obvious passing lanes on the mark and used some of the less obvious paths to great effect. I have a lot of enthusiasm about GRJ and I think he's going to reward that over the course of the season.
5) Mark Fox isn't satisfied.... ever -
It didn't matter if it was 22-2 at the beginning of the game or 85-48 at the end (or that we were playing a Division II school), Fox constantly had a fire in his belly. He took this game seriously, even though it didn't count. He was continuously stomping, frowning, yelling, teaching, and encouraging his veteran and new players.
Have I mentioned I love this guy?
All in all, in was what you want in an exhibition: An opportunity to see your team play (for free, no less) in a situation in which you can learn a few things about their progress with absolutely nothing at stake. Good times.
Basketball season starts next Friday night and I fully expect all of you to get off your football loving keisters and get ready for Fox and the Hounds. Georgia Basketball is coming! As this year's promotional materials ask: Where will you be?