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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hoops Notes (1/27)

OK, I know you'd rather read about football, but come on... what better do you have to do? (Besides, I'll have some football stuff in a few hours...)

-- Things obviously look pretty bleak on the court right now as Georgia is in the midst of a six-game losing streak, including an 0-4 start to SEC play. But head coach Dennis Felton is working hard to keep his team's confidence (and maybe his own) up as the Bulldogs embark on a tough stretch of schedule that includes four road games in their next five.

"This is obviously a defining stretch in our season right now because it's the first time we've strung together the kind of losses we have right now, but my way of seeing it is that we're not that far," Felton said. "As bad as we've played to dig ourselves such a big hole in that last game (a 67-61 loss to Mississippi State), we stayed with it, fought back and it was anybody's game.

"We have to not be blinded by the fact that we're in a stretch of games where we've come up short, but instead be encouraged that we're close and we still have so much room to improve."

-- While Felton works to keep the team in good spirits, the strong second half against Mississippi State in which Georgia's offense looked about as aggressive as it has all season probably did as much for the atmosphere in the locker room as anything.

Afterward, freshman Trey Thompkins said that the team has wanted to play more aggressively on offense rather than "running a million sets."

But that of course begs the question -- why were they doing this sooner?

It's hard not to wonder if there's a bit of a divide in terms of philosophy within the team, and Thompkins' rationale for why the team has played well at points and terribly at others seems to underscore that sentiment.

"When we play together, and we're all on the same page, and we all have the same motive, we're a great team, we can make a lot of things happen," Thompkins said. "But it comes down to us being together and staying positive and confident, knowing that one of these days we're going to get that win we need and keep it going."

The obvious inference there is that -- on what appears to be a pretty routine basis -- the players do not have the same motives and aren't on the same page.

Why might that be? Thompkins still isn't sure.

"Everyone has their times when they get negative," he said. "As far as what it is, we're trying to figure it out. Every day we take time and sit down and say, OK, fellas, what is it?' We approach a different angle every day."

-- While Georgia has struggled in SEC play so far, no one has had a tougher time than Thompkins.

The freshman forward, who is averaging 13 points per game, has just 20 points total in his last three contests and is a dreadful 7-of-32 shooting. He missed two wide-open 3s in the final minute against Mississippi State last Saturday that could have made a huge difference in the game, and he has seen his playing time diminish in each of the past two contests -- not even seeing the floor until more than eight minutes had run off the clock against MSU.

Despite his reputation as a high-school phenom, Thompkins said his struggles are not unprecedented, and he remains confident that his shots will start falling soon.

"I've had it before, and I know I'm going to have it more," he said. "It's no confidence shaker or nothing like that just something I've got to get through."

-- Senior Terrance Woodbury hasn't been much better than Thompkins over the past two weeks, but the cause of his struggles is a bit more obvious.

Woodbury is battling through injuries to both ankles, limiting his mobility despite playing through the pain. Felton said Woodbury received an injection in one ankle Monday to relieve some of the pain, and did not practice Tuesday. He'll get another injection Thursday after Georgia's game against Florida in Gainesville and will again sit out practice on Friday.

-- Georgia's struggles could be particularly problematic for the fragile psyches of the young players on the roster, but freshman point guard Dustin Ware said the team's veterans have done a good job of rallying the youngsters.

Asked by reporters for the best advice he had received, Ware's answer brought about a good-natured chuckle -- even if his point was well taken.

"Best advice: To not focus on the media or anything but just go out and practice," Ware said. "Hate to say that to y'all, but that's it."

-- Georgia is still without an SEC win, which has been the source of much consternation and a healthy dose of discussion about Felton's job security, but senior Corey Butler reminded media that, while the team is surprised by the slow start, most outsiders didn't have high expectations to begin with.

"We were projected last, so I don't think they expected us to win too many," he said. "It's always a challenge to win in a great conference like the SEC, but we'll get there. I have no doubt about that."

-- The 0-4 start to conference play hurts, but it's even worse given the grueling slate that lay ahead for the Bulldogs.

Georgia will play four of its next five games on the road, including a contest Wednesday against 17-3 Florida. The Dawgs will then play at Alabama, which recently made a coaching change, followed by a home date against West-leading LSU before heading on the road again to face South Carolina and Tennessee, two teams battling for tourney bids.

"It's a test to see what type of team we are," Thompkins said. "It's a test to see how we're going to respond, whether we're going to lay down or man up and play as a team and grind one out and keep on going with it."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'll say it again - Felton has lost the team!