Felton's guys overcame a sluggish first 6 minutes and 18 first half turnovers to completely demolish Wake Forest 72-50. I think it was the best the basketball team has looked since the win over Gonzaga last December.
In some ways, it's hard to know what to make of this game. Wake was predicted to finish 11th in the ACC by some pre-season publications, but they scored 80 points vs. Vandy a few nights earlier in a close loss. Personally, my optimism comes from the way Georgia looked more than the quality of the opponent.
The box score shows 18 assists on our 29 field goals. Ball and player movement (or lack thereof) has been my chief complaint during the Felton era. When you have that many makes off of assists, that's an excellent sign. It's also a good sign when you out rebound any ACC opponent 41-28.
-- The entire team played really well. Jeremy Price, Sundiata Gaines, Terrence Woodbury and Billy Humphrey all stood out to me.
-- Albert Jackson was back in action after his academic suspension. Albert was hurt for much of his freshman year so we really never got to see what he's made of. He picked up three turnovers and four fouls in nine minutes during this one, but it's still impressive to see the way he moves. We haven't had a guy with the size (6'10"), strength, agility and hand eye coordination since Terrell Bell in the early 90s. He's still raw, but it's promising seeing him move around.
-- Singleton still hasn't completely learned what his thumbs are for, and he's an offensive train wreck. However, he continues to improve as a defender / shot altering force around the basket. The guy benches 355 pounds. To have arms as long as he does and bench that much weight means you're a STRONG, STRONG dude. He's probably put on 60 pounds of muscle since enrolling at UGA. If he ever learns how to use his body, watch out.
-- The crowd wasn't impressive at all. The students in particular were absent. I realize that it's the week before exams, and this is the first non-football weekend in a while (many fans watched football last weekend as if we were playing). But still. We have to do better when we book an ACC team at home.
The win was televised. I haven't sensed much optimism around the hoops program since the suspensions began this September. Squeaking by Div II Augusta State and playing a series of tomato cans at home also doesn't do much to fuel fan excitement, hope or interest. Fans WANT to support a winner, but fans NEED to have hope.
This win was hope inspiring against a name opponent on television. Felton couldn't ask for more.
The rest of the non-conference schedule is reasonable. We head to Hawaii next for a three game tourney (the pre-Sugar Bowl build up will make that a hostile environment), and then we face Gonzaga in Seattle. There's another jobber squeezed in there somewhere before closing the non-conference schedule in Athens against a Georgia Tech that is struggling badly.
We should roll into the Tech game at 9-3 or 10-2. I think/hope school will be back in session so it should be a weeknight sellout. Win that game and the fans will have their hope / optimism restored entering the SEC schedule. Then all the team has to do is win some games to keep butts in the seats.
Who knows what this season holds for basketball. We won't beat many SEC teams committing 26 turnovers, and we're painfully young / inexperienced on the blocks. But...anything can happen.
Random Schedule Tidbit:
-- UGA has apparently scheduled Illinois for a two game neutral site contract in basketball. We play at Chicago in 2008 and in Atlanta in 2009. Nice scheduling by Coach Hermann and Felton. (ht - ssb)
-- Blowout feeds confidence - AJC
-- Gaines is a warrior - Terrence Moore
-- Georgia seizes control - Macon Telegraph