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Friday, December 12, 2008

UGA Hoops Notes (12/12)

After missing Georgia's first four games of the season, freshman Trey Thompkins has quickly shown fans why he was so highly recruited coming out of high school, racking up double figures in points in his first three games.

Still, his recovery from a litany of preseason injuries has hampered his progress, and for all his impressive moments, Thompkins has shown a good bit of rust, too. He has played 25 minutes a season high in each of his past two games, but is just four-of-17 shooting, a product of poor conditioning, he said.

"Once I get back into the shape I usually am in, my game will start coming around," Thompkins said. "I know my shots are there, I'm just too tired to hit them right now."

As for his health, however, Thompkins said he's feeling as good as he has since arriving at Georgia. Prior to the season, Thompkins had suffered a leg injury, a stress fracture in his foot and an ankle injury, which prevented him from participating in a full practice until the second week of the season.

"I'm back physically," he said. "No problems right now, it's just conditioning."

-- Two days after a devastating loss to Illinois in which the Bulldogs failed to score in the game's final seven minutes, center Albert Jackson said he was simply hoping his team would show improvement against Virginia Tech its final game before a 10-day break.

As it turned out, however, the Bulldogs did more than improve they battled from behind in the final minute to win the game which made the long break a bit more bearable.

"It makes it a little bit easier on us in practice for sure, but it's good for the morale of the team," Jackson said. "If we had come in having lost three games in a row, we'd be wondering what's going on. Instead of spending 10 days recollecting, we can spend 10 days looking to the future and what's coming next."

As important as the win was, senior Corey Butler said, it was how Georgia won that may have been the most significant lesson to come from the game. The Bulldogs executed nearly flawlessly in the game's final minute, battling from behind just days after several players admitted the team had given up against Illinois.

"It shows that we should have that kind of patience and that kind of poise every game," Butler said. "I'm proud of the guys, the coaching staff, everybody for buckling down and doing what we were supposed to this time."

-- The long stretch of off days between games is both a blessing and a curse for the Bulldogs, depending on whom you ask.

Jackson said the break gives the players a chance to work on some fundamentals and build some chemistry that may have been lacking due to so many early season injuries.

"This is a time of improvement, a time that our young guys and even some of us older guys needed so we can build that chemistry," Jackson said. "I think when we come back we're going to be an even better team than we were before the break."

Thompkins, on the other hand, isn't quite as enamored with the extended vacation from game action. With his health improving and the Bulldogs landing a big win, he would just assume keep the momentum going.

"I'd rather play games," Thompkins said. "I hate practice, but Coach Felton is a practice guru. He likes to work on our stuff as much as we can. He's loving these (off) days, and he wants us to be enthusiastic about it, but it's kind of hard. We play for game time, but we love getting better, and as you can see, when we get better, we win games."

-- Against Mississippi Valley State last month, freshman Drazen Zlovaric earned 20 minutes of playing time. He responded with 16 points and six rebounds. In the three games since, however, the 6-foot-9 forward from Serbia has played just 10 minutes and hasn't scored a point.

That's the type of inconsistency Zlovaric knows he has to work through, but he hopes Georgia's remaining non-conference slate will give him a chance to show off his skills a bit more often.

"I'm making progress, and I think I'm getting better," said Zlovaric, who is averaging 7.5 minutes per game this season. "I think I'm going to get more chances in the upcoming games because we don't play high Division I schools, so this could be my chance to show what I can do and have a more regular role."

-- Butler's team-high 11 points against Virginia Tech last week wasn't the only flashy part of his game. The senior was sporting a brand new haircut a Mohawk he said was supposed to be the first of a two-part Bulldogs fashion statement.

"I was growing the Afro, and I decided I wanted to do something with it before I cut it all off, so I decided to do this," Butler said. "Terrence (Woodbury) was supposed to get a bald head if I got this, but he chickened out on me."

Making matters worse, Butler said, was that Woodbury was actually at the barbershop when Butler arrived for his trim, but he still refused to shave his head.

"I'm a little disappointed in him," Butler said. "I told him I wasn't going to pass him the ball, but of course, I always pass Terrence the ball."

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