Important hoops game for Georgia and Tennessee at Stegeman

ATHENS — Greetings from Stegeman Coliseum where I will be covering tonight’s game between the Georgia Bulldogs (9-8, 0-3 SEC) and the Tennessee Vols (8-9, 1-2).

I’ll be in a tight deadline situation with tonight’s 8 p.m. tip — the game is being televised on the SEC Network — so I won’t be doing any live blogging. However, I’ll send out an occasional tweet with details from the game if you care to follow me @ajcuga.

  • Following are a few notes and quotes about tonight’s matchup that will hopefully provide a little insight:
  • Game is first of three-game homestand. Others versus Ole Miss and Kentucky.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is Georgia’s leading scorer 14.5 ppg
  • Dustin Ware expected to get second straight start at point guard.
  • Georgia and Tennessee have split their last four games.
  • Georgia hasn’t started 0-4 in SEC play since 2009 when it lost its first nine in coach Dennis Felton’s last season. The Bulldogs finished 12-20 that season and 3-13 in SEC play and Felton was fired with 12 games remaining.

COACH MARK FOX

On Tennessee . . .

They’re a team with great athleticism and size and they shoot the ball extremely well. They’re a team that is playing at a pretty high level. Obviously they’ve played a very difficult schedule to begin with. It will be a challenge for us.”

On F/C Donte Williams . . .

“He really has shown some progress. I think if you look at the first three league games, he really went against three all-league players. He is beginning to get comfortable with scoting the ball and really matured as a player. He’s still got 2 ½ years of his career in front of him. But I think we’re startying to see he’s getting more comfortable on the floor and hopefully the game is starting to slow down for him.

“Ideally he would be a 4. He’s having to play a lot of 5 right now. And he’s done it without any complaint. He’s still developing physically and we do worry about the wear and tear on a guy with his body. You know, but he’s ideally going to be a forward.”

On forward/tight end Jay Rome . . .

“The toughest part is he missed all the breakdown drills on defense, he missed the implementation of 70 percent of our system our more, probably three-quarters of it. Then to practice two days, then be gone for five, then be gone for a couple of weeks, that’s a real challenge for any freshman. But he’s a great kid, smart.”

On team’s penchant to foul . . .

“We had three guys foul out at Vandy and a lot of it is tied to just our inexperience. We’re a step behind. When you’re a step behind your often in position to just foul. I have not been pleased with our defensive numbers and a lot of it is, instead of just getting a stop and helping our defensive percentage, we’re getting a foul. So it’s really affected our field goal percentage defense.

“But a lot of it is, you go to the Vandy game and they play differently than everybody else. Nemi aqnd Kentavious and Florveus and Dixon, they’ve never seen that system and they don’t recognize things instinctively as an experienced player would. So lots of times we weren’t in position. We were a step behind and all we did was foul.

On team dealing with losing streak . . .

“They’re great. They realize their challenge. We addressed it from Day One. When Travis and Trey both left, they realized they were in for a unique challenge and that they were going to be thrown into the fire and there was going to be some public growing pains. They’ve had a great approach and they’ve focused on getting better. . . . I thought we played well in some areas at Vandy. I thought our young players were somewhat productive. But we’re also ,making too many miustakes. So for us it’s just about continuting to learn and grow from each and go out the next night and giving it 40 minutes of all we’ve got.

“We haven’t finished the job. We go to Vandy and we do somethings well but we didn’t do it all well. We know we have some deficiencies in our team and we have to play away from those and towards our strengths. And that will be our focus.”

On importance of Tennessee game . . .

“Every game is important. I think for us we’ve played away from home quite a bit. I think it’s good to be back home and certainly you’re usually more comfortable at home. But we need to play well. We need to play well for 40 minutes, not 33, not 36. Forty. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that.

On Kentavious Caldwell-Pope . . .

“I think he’s pretty comfortable. I’ve played him way too much since Marcus’ injury. He’s played just a ton of minutes and is getting great experience. But I think he’s comfortable. He has a terrific approach to try and get better and become more complete, and he’s not afraid to look at himself and try to improve in areas he sees weakness.”

On return of Marcus Thornton from knee injury . . .

“The best case scenario would be soon. Marcus went to see the doctor today and we’ll go from there. I think we’re close. But even if we got him back soon I think it would be something we’re still pretty guarded on as far as how much we put him on the practice floor. We want to make sure we get him 100 percent healthy.”

On attitude of team:

“We realize we’re off to a slow start, but we’re not hanging our heads. There’s another game coming and we need to do everything we can doto get ready for it and try to win. As soon as it’s done, win or lose, there’s an other one around the corner from that. That’s the thing in basketball; you have to have that mentality. You don’t have a lot of time to think about it. You’ve got to learn from it and move on.”

17 comments Add your comment

bdeallio

January 18th, 2012
8:14 pm

BigDawg

January 18th, 2012
8:21 pm

Steve

January 18th, 2012
8:33 pm

i can’t believe dorks out there still say “first.” What losers.

Yawn

January 18th, 2012
8:42 pm

reality check

January 18th, 2012
8:44 pm

I didn’t know Georgia had a basketball team…..

Dawg48

January 18th, 2012
8:56 pm

Caldwell Pope is a beast!

Double g

January 18th, 2012
9:18 pm

So what difference does it make to anyone if someone happens to be first? Nada. Somebody’s gotta be first. I can’t believe dorks complain about someone being first.

What matters is UGA being able to break the streak.

Chuck D

January 18th, 2012
9:29 pm

Is Mark Fox in any trouble? As much as I love ‘em – Georgia is awful… especially on offense . I think they underachieved last year with the players they had and I just do not see much progress.

peachfuzz

January 18th, 2012
9:38 pm

UGa FB has hope. UGa BB is hopeless.

Techster

January 18th, 2012
10:02 pm

Abnerish

January 18th, 2012
10:04 pm

Mark Fox in trouble?? Really?? He lost 2 stars to the NBA in the same year and he’s only been at UGA for 3 years. Let’s see what he can do with his own players. These guys have improved this year, as hard as that is to believe. I’ve watched just about every game that’s been televised and players like Donte Williams, Florveus, and Djurisic have gotten better. I say give him time. Coach Fox is a good coach. Let’s not get impatient.

A person SMART enough to know......

January 18th, 2012
10:15 pm

12th………………Basketball is DEAD for Dwag fans I guess.

A person SMART enough to know......

January 18th, 2012
10:16 pm

Overtime and still didn’t hit 60 points? Must have been a lot of D and poor shooting.

Gainesville Dawg

January 18th, 2012
10:27 pm

Goooooo, Dawgs!!!!!!!! Best Coach in the league, Coach Fox!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gainesville Dawg

January 18th, 2012
10:29 pm

How bout them dawgs????? best coach in the SEC,Coach Fox!!! Welcom back, Thornton!

Pope UGA XXIII

January 18th, 2012
10:29 pm

As an “F Y I” for the clever posters here about UGA’s roundball team:
our two big guys left early for the NBA and so far, neither is exactly tearing
up the league. As a 40 + year season ticket holder, I’m happy to take the
“W” – particularly over Tennesse. Haven’t cared for them since the days
of Ray Mears and Bernard king.
No, we will never have the heritage of Kentucky, just like they will never
have UGA’s football heritage. Don’t be surprised if they sneak up on a
strong team and beat them. We got close @ Vanderbilt last weekend &
I anticipate will be competitive by the end of the season.
If that’s good enuff for the complainers, maybe they can go & connect
with Dennis Felton where ever he might be.

Dawg48

January 18th, 2012
10:39 pm

With Dante Williams stepping up the team will start improving.
Go Dawgs!