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March 10, 2006

Hoops: What Can Improve For Next Year

Note: This is part 2 of my thoughts on the season. Part 1 is here.

1. Shorten the Dry Spells
If we can shorten the in-game dry spells from 5-8 minutes at a clip to 3-4 minutes each, we can win more games. Just playing more consistently for 40 minutes, we would have beaten Auburn, and we would have taken UT (home), Nevada (road), UK (road) and Oregon State (road) to the wire.

One more non-conference win and 2 more SEC wins, and this team would have finished with a record of 18-12 (7-9). More consistent play within games gets us to that point.

2. Get healthy
Dave Bliss and Steve Newman are good kids and hard workers, but they are limited athletically in what they can do. I don't think that John Wooden could get much more out of them than Felton is getting. We've got to get Kendrick Johnson and Woodbury healthy. Hopefully, their games can mature enough to get the primary minutes at the C and PF spots. With those guys healthy and adding more athleticism to the roster, we can shore up the wins reference in Item #1. Additionally, if those two really come along and improve as much as Idrissi did in his Soph year, we can squeeze out maybe one more SEC win. That would get us to 8-8 and near the NCAA bubble.

[Photo: Woodbury exceeded expectations this year]

3. Sign a Juco Big Man for next season
We need to have Mitch and Murray send in Blake from downtown to give our coaches a recruiting pep talk. We need more Cadillacs and fewer steak knives. We need a Juco big man who goes around 6'8" and 240 lbs. A guy that can rebound and defend. We need a Lorenzo Hall or Anthony Evans. We're recruiting Takais Brown, and he may fit the profile of what we need. Who knows what our chances are.

Get them to sign on the line which is dotted.

4. Schedule tougher.
Next year, we will play two fewer games b/c we aren't eligible (per ncaa rules) to play back to back pre-season tourneys. That's two fewer store bought wins vs. RPI clunkers like EKU and Fordam. Even at 8-8 non-conference next year, we won't go to the big dance without a dramatically upgraded schedule.

According to Ken Pomeroy's RPI site, the Dawgs had the 230th ranked non-conference strength of schedule in the country in 2006. In 2005, it was ranked despite Felton's comments to the contrary on the radio last week, he actually scheduled WEAKER statistically this year vs. last despite better players. Although, in fairness to Felton, I should point out that had GT been as good as normal the SOS would've been markedly higher.

We have to schedule tougher next year. We don't have to schedule Duke, but we need to get some of the Savannah State, Fordham, Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominions and FAMUs off the schedule in favor of more mid-tier major conference teams like Clemson and GT.

Next year is going to be huge for Felton. If he can't get us to the NCAA Tourney in Year 4, then we have to seriously question if he's the right man for the job. That's just being brutally honest. All of the players will be his signees.

Felton and Gaines

People can say "Look at the Mess he inherited from Harrick." That's true.

BUT, you have to put things in relative terms. The team that Harrick took over in his first year went 10-20, but they made the NCAA in his second year as an 8 seed.

This 2006 team in Felton's third year is not worse than Harrick's first year team that went 10-20. And frankly, this team isn't that much less talented than Tubby's second team that got a #3 seed in the tourney. The biggest talent difference between those two teams is Lorenzo Hall vs. Dave Bliss. Otherwise, they are very similar.

I hope Felton gets it turned around.

Harsh reality says we will be opening a $30 million practice facility in two years. The weak facilities and poor administrative support excuses will be VERY tough to swallow once that building opens. And that's not a comment aimed a just Felton. It is aimed at every coach, administrator AND fan surrounding the UGA program.

Practice Facility

When we make that sort of investment, it'll FINALLY be time to stop whining and end the martyr-like mentality that surrounds Georgia Hoops. The only thing stopping us from winning once that sucker opens is having a coach that can fill it with great players.

This state has too many hoops prospects, the SEC is too good a conference, and that facility is going to be too nice for us to continue to get so little in the way of consistent results from our hoops program.

We can improve this program. It can be more. Felton can be the guy that gets us there. Whatever we do, we have to change this dysfunctional relationship between UGA Basketball and its fans that has existed for the entirety of our history.

For another take on next year, check out H.I. McDunnough's post on the Rivals message board.

This is what we all want to see more often.


Anonymous said...

Heh heh heh. The "This isn't directed only at Felton, bur every coach..." bit is funny to me. What other coach are you talking about? Landers? Yoculan? Perno? Diaz? Smith? Bauerle? with the possible exception of Landers, they are all overachievers.

No, I think it is aimed at Felton...

Anonymous said...

Felton, Landers, Durham, Tubby, Dantzler, and every long time fan of the program. They always say the same thing..."the admin doesn't support UGA hoops. Just look at our facilities."

I never said that it wasn't aimed at Felton. I said it wasn't just aimed at Felton.

There is a faction of our fan base that treats their long suffering status as fans less as a badge of honor and more as martyr status.

I meant exactly what I said.


Anonymous said...

Good recap. Felton said on his radio show that he and the staff are trying to sign one more player, and that they are seriously looking at the JUCO ranks to see if anyone is good enough to play at UGA. I would think there are many players out there that could help us out next year. Here's hoping they find one--SOON!

Anonymous said...

I really don't get the "these are Felton's players" line pwd. Yeah, they're his because there sure weren't any one else's around when he got here. I really think the "win now" stuff ignores the context.

For those who say, "what evidence is there that Felton can win," I say, the recruiting last year and this year (the commits). Mercer, Humphrey, Price and Adams are the kind of plyers we need to sign, and he's doing that.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate that Felton had to sign kids that he would not have otherwise signed. I do appreciate that.

However, the team that Harrick had in his second year included players that he would not have otherwise signed. Yet he made the NCAA tourney in his second year.

Why? Well it wasn't the Hayes twins. They did *not* participate on that roster. They didn't play until the 3rd Harrick season.

There is *no way* that Harrick's first year team was better than Felton's 3rd year team.

If Harrick could make the NCAAs in Year 2 then WHY can't Felton make it in Year 4 with better/more experienced players.

Our starting roster for Harrick's 2nd Year team that made the NCAAs:

PG - Wright (Freshman)
- recruited by Harrick

SG - DA Layne (JR)
- inherited player

SF - Ezra (So)
- signed by Jirsa and Harrick had to re-recruit him to get him to stick (like felton did w/ Gibbs)

PF - Coleman (SR) - juco
- signed by Harrick

C - Evans (SR) - juco
- signed by Harrick

His key backups were Steve Thomas (who he recruited), Chris Daniels (who he recruited) and Adrian Jones and Dryden (who he didn't recruit).

He recruited the Jucos in Year 1 and in year 2, they took him dancing.

I didn't expect Felton to recruit players in Year 1 that would take us dancing in Year 2. But by Gosh, I expect that in 4 recruiting classes, he can find us the players to get us to the dance.

Or we need to create a flaming hot seat for the guy for year 5.

Next year isn't win or get out, but it's time to produce. We're not building a sphinx.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we *should* build a sphinx. Just stop construction on the practice facility and slap that sucker together right by the Buttsmear. It could have a dog's head and room for tailgating around the base.

But seriously. The Harrick Year Two team was DA, Ezra, Evans and Coleman, plus Reshad. Which is to say, it was two guys he inherited (the guards) and two JUCO posts who could play. Not Sheldon Williams, but All SEC Third Team-type players. Was that DF's situation in Year Two? Uh, not exactly. And not this year either, through no fault of his own.

So, explain to me, who were the guys of that quality who Felton reasonably could have gotten on campus his first three years who he failed to get? I'm not aware of any, but maybe I'm missing something.

The fact is that as soon as we got out of jail, by all indications, he seems to be recruiting well. You yourself are the leading apostle of the gospel that if we could just stop being self destructive and recruit the state, we'll be win, the football fans will come to games and all will be right with the world. That is exactly what Felton seems to be doing. That's why I'm happy with him, because I think that once he gets a roster of the kind of players he's capable of getting UNDER NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES, he can win. And that's why I wish people would get off the neckties and why can't we have a pretty offense without any decent inside players.

By the way, I know I'm exhibiting the infuriatingly smug zen-like calm of the college sports message board bean that the EDSBS guys have talked about. The two most aggravating words in the English language are "calm down."

Anonymous said...

georgia tech "midddle of the pack team"(in the acc)? yeah, ok maybe this year. but just remember, 2 years ago national title game, last year beat uga by 40 pts. although, yes we did lose 7 players from those teams last year, and had a bad season with the youngest team in the acc and yes we did lose to uga. but not to worry, cause we have 2 of the top 7 players in the nation coming in 2006, "t. young #3, j. crittenton #7. not to mention the #15 player in nation for 2007, sooooo we'll see if we're middle of the acc in the years to come??????

Nathan said...

Eh, GT is probably the #4 or #5 program in the ACC year in and year out ... not quite middle of the pack, but not exactly UNC either.

That being said, GT being down this year really hammered UGa's strength of schedule - that should be different next year. Just Tech being in the top 50 of the RPI will make UGa's schedule look a lot different.

Anonymous said...

GT is most definitely in the middle of the pack. They aren't UNC, Duke or Maryland and they aren't VT, Clemson, FSU or Miami. They are in that group with BC, Wake, NCSU, and UVA that make up the middle of the ACC.

GT has nice years now and again, but anyone that thinks they are consistently among the elite of the ACC is kidding themselves.

Consistenly elite teams don't put up years like Hew?tt did.

Anonymous said...

I never said he couldn't recruit. I think he can. Last year's recruiting class was stunning given the obstacles facing him.

My concerns aren't related to talent procurement as much as it is coaching. Offensively, we're carrying a butter knife into a gun fight when it comes to coaching.

There are many folks who are willing to assume that our problem are all talent.

Sure, that's part of it.

Will his offense look better with better players? That's what they are hoping. I think it will look a little better.

But how much?

Hopefully, they are right and I am wrong. Hopefully, it's all the players fault that we can't move around or pass the ball or set screens or rebound or play consistent defense for 40 minutes a game (or even 35 for that matter).

But I don't think it's all them.


Anonymous said...

Or said another way.

Point blank....

He is going to have to recruit well enough to overcome his lack of coaching acumen in certain areas.


Anonymous said...

To compare Harrick's tenure to Felton's is plain idiotic. Circumstances were substantially different.

D.A. Layne, Ezra, and Adrian Jones. Those are 3 that Harrick inherited. Felton didn't have any guys like this to work with. And before you dismiss the talent level of these three...all three were some of the most highly recruited talents not only in Georgia but the Southeast.

To even begin to think Felton hasn't done a great job is ridiculous. Don't compare Felton's years with anyone at Georgia 'cause nobody has the same circumstances. Compare his situation with Gary Williams taking over Maryland. How long did it take Gary in similar circumstances? Fortunately, Maryland was bright enough to realize this and gave Gary quite a bit of time to build, just like Georgia should and WILL with Felton, despite the idiocy I'm reading from so called "fans."

Anonymous said...

DF is not Jim Harrick or Pete Carrill when it comes to coaching offensive basketball. There, I said it.

But, Harrick often couldn't get the ball across half court when Moses White was the PG. He didn't look so smart then. Talent is a major, major factor.

The seemingly aimless swinging the ball around the perimeter starts to look different when the defense is cheating back to help on a couple of widebody inside scorers. Then it's "Wow, Felton's offense was getting us open jumpers all night." Or, "After we hit a couple of jumpers, they stopped fronting Price, and we were able to just dump it in to him for the rest of the night. He must have had five dunks." If you have players the other side has a hard time matching up with, it can be a pretty simple game.

In year one, even without a real inside scorer, we weren't horrible offensively. Rashad, Chris and Jonas weren't great scorers, not by a long shot, but they got their points. On the nights they decided to play, we didn't go 10 minutes without scoring.

Good players playing pressure D, running, hitting the glass, knocking down some 3s, will win games.

Like just about everything in life, this is about what weight do you assign to various factors.

I guess it makes me more catholic than the Pope (and on this pwd, you the Pope), but what it comes down to is, I sincerely do believe that recruiting the state and staying clean *is in in fact enough to overcome just about anything, including less than best in the business Xs and Os*.

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