Since Tom Crean has arrived in Athens, the buzz around Georgia’s basketball program has been the highest it has been in a long time. In just his second season, Crean has signed the 10th best recruiting class in the country. With all the new talent, and the potential No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, here are six reasons why the Hoop Dawgs can compete this season.
6 – Home Attendance
During the 2018-2019 season, Georgia men’s basketball set a single-season attendance record at Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs were averaging 8,912 fans per game over the course of the season. During conference games, the team’s attendance average was 9,611 fans per game. Crean said last season that he didn’t expect that number to be that high, and hopes it’s even larger for this year’s team. A huge home-crowd showing for the 2019-20 season could help UGA have more of a home-court advantage. Crean also said the reason he chose to take the job at Georgia was because of how passionate the fan base was, and so far they haven’t let him down.
5 – Positionless Basketball
The 2019-2020 Georgia men’s basketball roster doesn’t really possess a “big man” this season, unlike seasons in the past when the program had guys like Yante Maten and Derek Ogbeide. Coach Crean has said in preseason interviews that this season’s playing style will be “positionless” basketball, and that opens up many questions for Georgia’s second-year head coach. Last season, the Bulldogs didn’t have a true point guard, but this season Georgia won’t have to worry about that. This should open up the floor for the team to run more of a free-style offense, and also open up a looser style of play. Running this kind of style of play really helps teams in the transition from defense to offense, and on fast breaks. This year Georgia has a lot of shooters, and I think this will allow them to score more points. Also, expect to see a lot drives inside to draw contact.
4 – Tyree Crump’s Leadership:
With the departure of half the team from last year, senior guard Tyree Crump could have easily left as well, but he decided to stay for his senior campaign. Crump’s new teammates describe him as the leader in the locker room and are grateful to have him around. With just a second-year head coach in the program and 10 new faces, Crump could really teach the true meaning of what it means to be a Georgia Bulldog. Georgia’s toughest part of their schedule will be during conference play, and Crump is one of the only ones on the team that has endured the grind of it. His leadership will be an essential part of this team’s success, not only on the court but off the court as well.
3 – Key Reserves:
In his first year at Georgia, Tom Crean didn’t have much to work with. His team finished the season 11-21, and their best player, Nicolas Claxton, left for the NBA draft. Crean didn’t have much to rely on off his bench last year, but this year he does. Crean has done a good job with this year’s recruiting class as he went after guys that will fill in when needed. Freshman Jaykon Walton came off the bench as the big guy, and another freshman Christian Brown can come at guard to replace either Anthony Edwards or Sahvir Wheeler. More than likely Toumani Camara and Amanze Ngumezi will rotate in-and-out as well with Walton. Also having veterans like Jordan Harris and Tye Fagan will be helpful as well.
2 – Non-conference Schedule:
Like I mentioned earlier, the grind of an SEC schedule will be tough for this young team, but Georgia’s non-conference schedule should provide them with some competitive games. The first three games of the season went as follows: Western Carolina, The Citadel, and Delaware State. Georgia also plays Austin Peay, N.C. Central, and SMU. These games aren’t guaranteed wins, but it should provide the younger guys with enough playing time to get ready for the bigger games.
1 – Anthony Edwards’ signing should open up Georgia’s recruiting for the future:
It’s evident that Tom Crean is trying to build a successful program at Georgia, and with the signing of Anthony Edwards that might bust open Georgia’s recruiting success for years to come. Tom Crean is a players’ coach, and he has developed NBA talent before. When high school recruits are looking to make their decision they can look at Crean’s success as a coach and can look at how he has developed NBA superstars Dwayne Wade and Victor Olapido. Edwards is just another talented player on one of Crean’s rosters that he can develop into a better athlete and person. Edwards’ high-profile signing provides future players with an easier decision to make.