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Improving Georgia Basketball for 2017-2018

Calling the 2016-2017 basketball season anything more than a disappointment would be a lie. Though contributors Marcus Thornton and Nemanja Djurisic departed, Georgia returned much of its on-court production and added talented freshman Jordan Harris and Tyree Crump. A victory in the NCAA Tournament was supposed to be the next step and the goal of this season, and instead Georgia settled for a first-round loss in the NIT.

Things must change or Mark Fox’s time in Athens will soon come to an end. With that in mind I have compiled a list of necessary improvements needed for the men’s basketball team to be playing in a post season tournament that isn’t the NIT.

Before I begin, I want to take a second to say what this article isn’t. This isn’t an article detailing the failings of the athletic departments and the lack of support the basketball program receives. This isn’t an article calling for Fox to be fired. This article focuses on on-court improvements that can be made before and through next season.

  • 1. Play better defense.

Mark Fox is a defensive minded coach and defense is the one thing Georgia hangs it hat on. However, for what should be the strongest unit for Georgia, the performance over the past two seasons has been underwhelming. By adjusted defensive efficiency, Georgia’s ranking over the last three seasons has been: 22, 46, and 45 this year. Adjusted defensive efficiency considers opponents and tempo. Georgia is often locked into low scoring battles, but that likely has something to do with the slow pace that Georgia plays with on offense that limits the number of possessions in the game. For all the problems that Georgia exhibits on offense, the most necessary improvement is on the defensive side of the court

  • 2. A new offensive voice.

Watching the Georgia offense has been frustrating for years. The offense is slow moving, uncreative, and the ball often sits at the perimeter for far too long. Fox’s system is a version of the triangle offense. The system is based on spreading the court, forcing the defense to move, and allowing players to make quick decisions based on the defenses movement. Up above you’ll notice how I described Georgia’s offense as slow moving. Yeah, that is an issue considering the system. That slow-moving nature can be attributed to the system taking years to learn and Fox’s hesitance to allow players to make decisions for themselves. This creates a bad match of system and philosophy. The overall result is that players often look timid and indecisive. I’m not necessarily calling for a new hire on the staff, but that may be necessary or Fox may just need to listen to the suggestions of his assistants more. The fact that Fox’s system takes years to master brings us to the next point.

  • 3. Play the young guys.

For everyone that watched this year, the biggest frustration may have been seeing Tyree Crump sit on the bench game after game. Crump was likely the third best scorer on the roster, but throughout much of the season he barely saw the court. Next year Georgia will be bringing in 4-star Forward Rayshaun Hammond. Hammond is considered the most talented recruit for Georgia since KCP. Having the most talented roster of his time at Georgia won’t do Fox any good if he refuses to give that talent minutes. At some point, the talent on the court must be more important than system fit.

  • 4. Shorten the rotation.

Starters are starters for a reason, so imagine the confusion when the Georgia starters were consistently subbed out after just a few minutes on the court during the season. Fox’s questionable rotation resulted in 10 players averaging 9 or minutes a game; 12 players averaged 6 or more. The rotation needs to be shortened to 8 or 9 players. Shortening the rotation allows players to develop and understand their roles by getting more experience. With a shorter rotation, players can become more comfortable and develop on-court chemistry with their teammates. Kenny Paul Geno and Houston Kessler, two DGD’s, should not have averaged the minutes that they did this year. Georgia is already considered talent deficient when compared to blue-bloods and giving minutes to less talented players just widens the gap.

I would love to say that I always enjoy watching the Georgia Men’s Basketball team. But the truth is that this team, often due to the coaching decisions, is extremely frustrating to watch. Many of us wanted to see UGA move on from Mark Fox this season or in seasons past, but the reality is that Mark Fox will be coaching the basketball team for the upcoming season. Hopefully, Fox admits that changes need to made and upon reflection adapts himself and his system to the needs of the players on his roster. I don’t know when the basketball program will receive the support it deserves, but I do know that I’ll be hopeful and rooting for the dawgs as next season begins.


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