Welcome to the Bulldawg Illustrated Hoops Season Preview. We may not be real smart, but we’re very passionate. We’ve learned in college sports that volume can sometimes mask intelligence or lack thereof. So let’s get crunk!
First up, Mark Fox is a heck of a coach and UGA chances of landing a better one are below 20% in my unscientific opinion. The margin of error is about +/- 2.38%. While I’ve heard for several years that Mark Fox can’t recruit, he had no passion, and isn’t a good fit for UGA, I’ve argued otherwise. He seems to be a good fit for the program and community. As far as recruiting, he’s had some misses. However, he has had us in several conversations for players we normally wouldn’t have been in the running for. Plus, he just landed two 4-Star recruits from South Georgia last week, and several recruiting people said it’s the best backcourt combo UGA has ever landed.[su_spacer size=”40″]
Plus, whether you don’t know or are just dishonest, a lot of the misses come from a program that doesn’t get a lot of support from fans or administration. Fox may be the only reason we’re on some lists. So the “He Can’t Recruit” train has left the station. Please find another argument to make, naysayers.[su_spacer size=”40″]
All of that said, this is a what have you done for me lately profession. Last year was great because it included an NCAA bid. However, it wasn’t all beer and skittles because Coach Fox was dealt a doozy by the selection committee with Sparty in the first round. At least we played them tougher than anyone else did until they lost in the Final Four. But that was then, and this is now. UGA lost two of the best leaders the program had ever seen in Nemi Djurisic and Marcus Thornton last year. Their experience will be sorely missed. They’re solidly etched in the Damn Good Dawg” category. But we have two more seniors ready to shine. Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines are both All-SEC preseason this year. They’re a dynamic duo that should average 25 plus a game between them. I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about them because we already know what we’re getting. If Charles can shoot 70% from the free throw line plus limit his turnovers and Kenny stays healthy, then they’ll probably both be on the year-end All-SEC team.[su_spacer size=”40″]
Just below these two guys are Yante Maten and JJ Frazier. Maten has added some solid weight to his frame and will be looking to build on a successful freshman campaign. He is really good around the basket and can get to the free throw line with consistency. We need Yante to average a double-double this year, which he will and play solid defense down low. He has a high ceiling and should increase his production as things play out. Crowd Favorite and Little Tough-Man JJ Frazier will again be wowing the crowds with his speed, quickness, and long range threes. He’ll shoot 40% from the floor and three-point line this year as well as near 90% from the stripe. Last year he had a broken face, broken wrist, and concussion in a one week period. JJ merely said, “I got this.” He just slapped on a clear, custom-made Jason mask and only missed one game if memory serves. When you’re listed at 5-10 155, you’re closer to 5-8 145. So we need him to stay healthy just like Gaines. I’m looking for him to have a 3-1 assist to turnover ratio this year. Also, his 37 last year in Starkville were more points than anyone else in the scored in one game. So he’s a time bomb waiting to go off.[su_spacer size=”40″]
So we all know we have four solid players. However, you need five on the floor and at least three or four competent subs not only for game days but to also make guys better in practice. While I think this year Georgia may have it’s best depth in a while, half of it is young, and the other half pose more questions than answers. I’m not going to bore you with boilerplate drivel. I’m just going to give you my quick impression of each remaining player in an honest and terse commentary. First up, the returning group of contributors.[su_spacer size=”40″]
If Juwan Parker were happy with his first two years at UGA, I’d be concerned. He’s averaged less than five a game for his career. He’s only played out of necessity at times. While Coach Fox has always seemed high on him, talent is lined up behind him. It’s time for a breakout year, or he will see his playing time severely decrease. He’s dealt with some injuries, and that may play a part. But as far as injuries go, see JJ Frazier. Since most outlaws go by three names, Kenny Paul Geno may be a dead-eye shoot. Or, he may be a guy that can elevate and score around the basket. He may also be a guy that has a problem staying on the floor. I’ve seen flashes of all three. He averaged 11 minutes a game last year but had a tough time scoring consistently. Like Parker, he needs to put it together or his minutes will decrease. I believe Houston Kessler will be asked to give UGA quality minutes this year. We need his size and experience on the floor. He can step out and hit a three if needed as well. He’s obviously the son and nephew of two UGA greats, Chad, and Alec Kessler respectively, and hopefully as smart as them. We don’t necessarily need his points, but we do need his rebounding and defense. If he can provide those two, then we are good! Osaden Iduwe didn’t play much at all last year, so I don’t know anything about him. He’s 6-10, 240. Like Kessler, if he can provide solid defense and rebounding, he could earn some minutes. If not, he could be in the same boat with Parker and Geno. Osahen Iduwe is a sophomore and nearly seven feet tall. He saw very limited action last year. I just don’t know enough about him to give you any useful info. I do know we need at least two of these guys to step up and deliver, though. I just don’t know whom it will be. Or should that be “who”.[su_spacer size=”40″]
Next up, the freshmen. There are supposedly four that will play for sure from everything I hear. We’ll start with Turtle. Please don’t let the name fool you. There’s nothing slow about William “Turtle” Jackson. This guy has superstar written all over him. An Athens product and former UConn commit, he decided to take his parents’ advice and stay close to home. Thanks, Mom and Dad from the Bulldawg Nation. Turtle can fill it up and will be a joy to watch. He will take over games at times. Maybe not at the level of KCP, but he’s dynamic. E’Torrion Wilridge is a little bit of a wildcard, but I don’t mean that as a slight. I mean it in the sense of most everything you read says he’ll be a solid, four-year contributor. However, one or two recruiting people think he’s a superstar in the making and was just a late bloomer. Either way, he should see meaningful minutes this year. Mike Edwards was the number six player in the state of Michigan last year. Just like Maten, the UGA staff got the kid to head south. Between the coeds and the weather, what would you do? Be glad Dawg fans because he’s another solid guy that should contribute this year. The loss of Nemi and Marcus opens up the opportunity for the big guys. He led the team in scoring in the only exhibition game this year. So let’s hope that’s a sign of things to come. Last but not least is Derek Ogbeide. He’s another big man like Edwards and is supposedly a defensive presence. We will need that this year with the loss of Thornton. Again, like Edwards, Iduwe, and Kessler, the opportunity for Big-Man minutes is there for the taking. We’ll see who takes advantage of the situation.[su_spacer size=”40″]
Ok, we know our talent level is high, and our depth is solid. We just need three or four guys to contribute behind our four studs. If we get that and stay healthy, then I think we’ll end the regular season with 19 or 20 wins with a very respectable strength of schedule. One thing I’d like to point out is the real wild cards on our schedule are Auburn and South Carolina. They are two of the five SEC teams we play twice. Two years ago, everyone begged to play them twice. Now, not so much. They’ll both be tough teams this year, and we need to play them 2-2 at the very worst. I only bring that up because outside of Kentucky, there could be a significant power shift in the SEC this year. It should be interesting to follow. Who knows what happens to Florida without Donovan? Ben Howland and Rick Barnes are trying to turn around train wrecks. LSU and Vandy are in the preseason Top 25. Plus, we play at #22 Baylor in the middle of our SEC schedule. That’s crazy. All things said this team should make the NCAA Tournament a second year in a row. If they don’t the season is a disappointment in my opinion. So let’s tip this thing off! Tonight at 7 pm in the Stegasaurus! Come on out. Don’t make excuses. I’m ready. I hope you are too![su_spacer size=”60″]
[su_spacer size=”40″] Go Dawgs!!!
[su_spacer size=”40″] Go Dawgs!!!