We once again got with Benjamin Miraski of Mid Major Madness for help on what we will see tomorrow morning when our NIT adventure continues.
1) Louisiana Tech will be coming off a very tight game with Iona (winning at home 89-88 the same night we played Vermont). That was a game that had to take a lot of energy, and will be going for a quick turnaround on the road (6 of their 7 losses this year are away from home), in a game with an odd tip off time (11 a.m., which will be 10 a.m. to boys from the Central Time Zone like in Ruston, Louisiana). How much will the game time work in Georgia's favor?
I think it is a possibility that this could be a factor. Louisiana Tech hasn't performed great when they have had to get up early to play. But there have been a few days that have passed since the Bulldogs played (and the last early game was after having played two straight days). And Louisiana Tech is used to playing at its tempo, which shouldn't cause them to be too winded going into the game.
Now, if they don't get their coffee in the morning, maybe this 10 a.m. start could be a factor, but I have a feeling they will be rested up.
2) Who are the main players for the other Bulldogs thaGeorgia fans will need to worry about?
The biggest name you need to know is Kenneth 'Speedy' Smith, the man on the point for the other Bulldogs. He landed on the first team all-conference squad in CUSA and then followed that up by being named Defensive Player of the Year. There is a reason he is nicknamed Speedy and it isn't just because of his feat. The guy is brutal on opposing teams with his quick hands that helped him be one of the best ball thieves in the country. He is more a distributor that shooter, but he can still knock them down at a good clip too.
Kenyon McNeail, who comes off the bench was the sixth man of the year. He shot over 40 percent from 3-point range and took more than 200 attempts from beyond the arc, so he will certainly stretch the defense when given the chance.
Alex Hamilton is the primary shooter for the Bulldogs and is one of the best at doing just that. He shot over 55 percent from inside the arc, which is where he is most comfortable. He also draws a lot of contact and gets to the line at a good clip, and that is with that great shooting percentage, so you are just giving him the extra opportunities to hurt you.
Michale Kyser is a board hawk inside and was also on the all-defensive team with Smith. He blocks 11.5 percent of the shots he sees, which means that Georgia is going to have to be careful when they go inside as he will have the ability to make you pay.
3) Former Ole Miss player and long time Rebel assistant Michael White has gotten things going well in 3 short years as the La Tech head coach, and is one of the hot names among basketball coaches in the southeast. His teams like to get out and run, scoring a lot of points (over 80 per game), with a deep bench, as 8 players are averaging at least 20 minutes a night and over 7 pts per game). They have some good athletes and put up a lot of 3s. What kind of match up issues will their up tempo style create for Georgia, and how can Georgia slow the game down to create favorable match ups for themselves? Will tempo decide the winner of this game?
I think that the biggest issue is going to be that they can run, which is going to test Georgia over the course of the game. It isn't just the guards, but also the big men that can get up and down the floor. This isn't a team that goes inside for its offense in the traditional sense, but it will if they are able to just wear out the Georgia front court.
This is just not a team that is built to play slowly. They like to get the ball up and then get multiple attempts on each possession. It isn't about getting the best shot. It is about getting the shot that falls in.
The best thing that Georgia could do would be to get out in a trap and at least prevent Louisiana Tech from running up and down on them. They can then settle into a man defense and force the Bulldogs to find the open shot and pass it around trying to get away. The other thing will be making sure to rebound against them. Because Louisiana Tech tries to get its point through multiple shots, they aren't necessarily concerned about making the first one. They aren't actually that good at all those threes that they shoot. Holding this team to a single shot, and then playing Georgia basketball will certainly help things.
This is definitely going to be a tempo grab, and Georgia has the ability to influence that through its rebounding and pacing.