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March 7, 2006

Comparing Felton's Third Year to Tubby's Second Year

During the 1996-1997 season Tubby Smith took a team of mostly sophomores and Juco transfers to a 24-9 record (10-6 in the SEC), the SEC tourney championship game and #3 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Despite being only his second year in Athens, Tubby recruited every player on that team who gave meaningful minutes. The team was young, and he put together a winner.

This year's Dennis Felton squad struggled mightly in Year 3. Many barriers were in Felton's way that have all been well documented. But just how different is the talent level from those two teams?

Let's look at the players from Tubby's team (as of their 1997 ability...not what they became) vs. this team.

Point Guard: GG Smith vs. Sundiata. Gaines
Points: GG avg 9.5 / Gaines avgs 10.3
Assists: GG avg 4.5 / Gaines avg 3.34
Rebs: GG avg 2.4 / Gaines avg 5.1
TOs: GG avg 2.76 / Gaines avg 2.4
Edge: Gaines. Now imagine Gaines in Tubby's offense. More assist opportunities to be certain. Defensively, I give the edge to Yada all day.

SG: Ray Harrison vs. Levi Stukes
Points: Ray avg 11.0 / Levi avg 11.7
Assists: Ray avg 3.6 / Levi avg 1.66
Rebs: Ray avg 4.1 / Levi avg 3.2
TOs: Ray avg 2.1 / Levi avg 1.86
Edge: Very close although I'd give the edge to Levi as a shooter. Especially since Harrison averaged 6 more minutes per game than Levi. Defensively, it's about even.

SF/3rd Guard: Mike Chadwick vs. Mike Mercer
Points: Chadwick avg 12.4 / Mercer avgs 10.8
Assists: Chadwick avg 1.6 / Mercer avgs 1.6
Rebs: Chadwick avg 5.5 / Mercer avgs 3.0
TOs: Chadwick avg 2.04 / Mercer avgs 1.8
Edge: Chadwick comes out on top. Chadwick was much more physical than Mercer is, and he had a much more polished offensive game comparing season to season. Mercer might be a better defender of guards.

PF - Jon Nordin to Newman
The stats are almost a wash right down the line including reb, points, minutes played you name it. Both were starters.
Edge: Wash

C - Lorenzo Hall vs. Bliss
Edge to Zo Hall. He averaged 2 more points/game and almost 2 rebounds more per game. Much better defender as well.


So among the starters, the difference isn't huge except at Center. Even when you add Adrian Jones vs. Channing Toney, the difference isn't that big. When you add Derrick Dukes (as a JR) vs. Billy Humphrey, you get a nudge for Tubby's crew there as well, but Dukes only averaged 3.5 points per game more than Billy.

The point -- the talent gap wasn't "huge" except at center. Despite the huge variance in record.

We must improve our inside play offensively and defensively with either Kendrick Johnson or Woodbury next year. And we must get more organized and fluid on offense.

The easiest man to guard is the one standing still.



Nathan said...

IMO - Ray Harrison is a much better player than Levi "I never saw a shot I didn't like" Stukes.

That UGa team was pretty darn tough, Tubby did a great job while he was in Athens building winners out of guys nobody else really wanted. Felton's doing a good job, but I'm not sure he'll ever reach the level Tubby did.

C. Paul said...

Great look and tough question. I really like Coach Felton, but the facts seem to lean towards your assessment.

Next year is critical to the Dennis Felton era at UGA - he must have a postseason birth and show real progress towards an NCAA bid in the years to come.

Great job-

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is fair to say that Felton is in his 3rd year of rebuilding at UGA. Felton's first year was a team that centered around the 4 seniors left over from the Satan era. Felton's rebuilding project truly started in Year 2. So, in my book he has just completed his second season of the rebuilding process and he has shown quite a bit of progress. He is well ahead in terms of progress if you compare his rebuilding efforts to that of Stan Heath at Arkansas. Comparing Tubby and Felton is like comparing apples and oranges. Felton is rebuilding a program that nearly received the "Death Penalty" and the punishment handed down from the NCAAs is one of top ten harshest punishments in the history of college hoops. Felton managed to have two .500+ seasons and recruit talent with a basketball tradition that is lacking and suffered a bad rap. All the Tubby and Harrick talk will die down next year, I guarantee it.

Unknown said...

Steve - that isn't correct at all. It wasn't one of the harshest NCAA penalties ever. You're not even remotely close. It wouldn't even make the Top 50 list.

We lost no scholarships after appeal and only 1 per year for 3 years pre-appeal. We lost no NCAA mandated post-season or TV bans at any point. All we lost were 2 years of vacated wins.

Everything else we did to ourselves.

The program got to this point because Jim Harrick went 3 years without recruiting a single healthy high school player who lasted more than 18 months. The worst recruiting job in any UGA sport in history.

And it's not getting any better b/c our coach doesn't demand better ball and player movement on offense.


Anonymous said...

The self-imposed punishments were the major reason why we didn't get the TV bans and post-season appearances taken away. We lost scholarships and two seasons were worth of victories were vacated. If we decided not to take a "flagellant's approach", the NCAA would have lowered the boom so to speak. The scholarships that we got back came over time, which still affected two recruiting classes. Every coach has a different style of play and the recruits that come in should fit the style of play that the coach features. Felton recruited Dave Bliss, who clearly doesn't fit the offense. The 4 out 1 in motion offense requires a good power forward/center type guy down low. Why was Jonas Hayes so successful? Imagine if we were a little deeper in Felton's first year. Idrissi is a project who still learning the system and the game, but if you didn't see offensive progress from him, then you're ignorant. Toney and Gaines have been a bit disappointing. Gaines is not driving as much... the lack of dribble penetration is a bad thing. I think the problem is that the guards can't trust the forwards with the ball. When Gaines or Toney drive the lane they know if they dish it off to Bliss or Newman they won't catch it! Have you watched them try to get a rebound? Usually 2 or 3 UGA guys are fighting for a rebound. Two of those guys are guards with one of our forwards. At Western Kentucky, Felton had guys that fit his system and those guys were talented enough by Sun Belt standards and some even SEC standards. A Chris Marcus type of a guy down low is what is perfect for the Felton system. It isn't like Felton hates offense or can't teach it, he just didn't have the right guys playing that were right for it. Rashaad Singleton and Kendrick Johnson both are guys that can fit. Rashaad is a project, but he has a lot more confidence and if he is healthy should get more time in the SEC Tournament. I think I explained the poor shot selection and failure of the offense pretty well.

To address Harrick's recruiting...
Harrick brought in Steve Thomas, Rashad Wright, Chris Daniels, and Ezra Williams out of high school. He did a great job in bringing in transfers as well he brought in Jonas and Jarvis Hayes and then Damien Wilkins. He actually did a pretty serviceable job. Granted, many of the guys he brought in were character/morale issues and a bunch of them didn't even qualify. He had quite a bit of stars coming into UGA.

Felton's first two recruiting classes were almost out of desperation. This 2005-06 class is the first real "Wow" recruiting class. In this class, Felton found guys who can fit with his system. Why is our assist/turnover ratio consistently so pathetic? Why is our field goal percentage so low? Is it the offensive system? No to both, it is because our guys don't trust each other and some of these guys are outclassed in terms of talent or just don't fit. So, our best players have to compensate (that's why we see a lot of substitutions --> dumb and selfish decisions) and thus we are 15-14 and are about to humiliate ourselves against Arkansas.

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