Saturday, January 3, 2009

Missouri visits Athens today

The Dawgs start a treacherous stretch of games today with a visit from Big 12 power Missouri. The Tigers were briefly ranked last week, before a loss to Illinois in St Louis dropped the to the ranks of "others receiving votes." Still, Missouri has put together an impressive non-conference run this season, with their only other loss coming to #22 Xavier in Puerto Rico. The Tigers beat Southern Cal (ranked at the time) in Puerto Rico, and whipped Cal by 27 at home.
Missouri sports an impressive frontline with 6-8 Demare Carroll and 6-9 Leo Lyons, the team's two leading scorers and rebounders. Both of these guys are also seniors. Expect to see Price and Jackson both play more minutes than usual today for UGA, as the Dawgs' two best low-post defenders. Swingman 6-7 (senior, again) Matt Lawrence is their 3rd leading scorer, and attempts the most 3-pointers on the team, by far.

After those 3, you get into some guards that are putting up numbers not overly impressive. Marcus Denmon and Kim English are 2 freshmen scoring about 7 ppg, but neither shoots the ball well. Former Wheeler high schooler JT Tiller and junior Zaire Taylor get the most minutes in the backcourt. Taylor is the team's defacto point guard, with about 3 assists per game and a 3-1 assist to turnover ratio.

This team is coached by former UAB head man Mike Anderson, who coached for years under Nolan Richardson at Arkansas. Naturally, he likes to play the same "40 Minutes of Hell" style that college basketball fans in this part of the world are so familiar with. The Tigers will extend the defense full court quite often, and when they get the ball they probably won't be looking to hold onto it for very long. If UGA is shooting the ball well, this might play right into the Dawgs' hands. Virginia Tech liked an up-tempo style, and it allowed UGA to stay in the game until the end. I happen to believe that the fewer half-court sets the Dawgs run, the better off they are offensively. If Price and Jackson can get up and down the court to hang with Missouri's two best players, this might just be the kind of game the Dawgs could steal at home.

Dustin Ware needs to play under control. Resist the urge to take it the length of the court himself. Keep his backcourt mates involved in the process of getting the ball over the halfcourt line.

It will be interesting to see how Trey Thompkins plays today. He's been terrific this season and is easily UGA's best player. But with predictably few halfcourt sets, he'll probably have to get involved on alot of stickbacks, and a few spot up 3-pointers. I don't see the Dawgs getting as many opportunities to go to him in the post as they might be used to. Trey will also need to play solid defense.

There is a possibility that both Swansey and Woodbury are back today. This is huge, of course. You need all the capable bodies you can get in a game like this.

Two players to watch today. First, Travis Leslie. This kind of style of play (if the Dawgs choose to get into an up and down game) might suit him well. Secondly, let's see if Drazen can get into one of his already legendary "rhythms", assuming he even gets into the game. Missouri's style of play often leads to alot of open looks behind the arc. McPhee might be another who could benefit. Woodbury as well if the ankle isn't gimpy.

Hard to predict anything with this team, but I expect the Dawgs to play well today, and perhaps even keep it close to the end. Having everybody healthy will be paramount to pulling off any upset today.

Dawgs are 6 point underdogs for today's 1 PM tip-off. Fox Sports Net will carry the game live, and the Georgia Bulldog Radio Network will have Scott Howard and Jeff Dantzler on the air.
Go Dawgs (and Falcons.)


A Free Man said...

I got my Ph.D. at Mizzou and can say with some authority that they are NOT a Big 12 power these days. It's all relative, I guess....

Amanda said...

Welcome to Athens! Have a nice day! Amanda Vanderpool