Rough Start for Crean
Cover Photo: Tony Walsh
By: Joshua Grosh
The first season for Tom Crean at UGA has been a rather rough one to say the least. Georgia is already solidly out of the NCAA tournament discussion as of late January/early February and is battling for even NIT qualification. So, what do we make of the season so far?
The season is not necessarily a failure outright for Georgia and Tom Crean – after all, this is a team learning a new play style as well as losing top talent like Maten last year. To add to this, the SEC is having a fairly strong year in basketball which makes the transition to a new head coach a little more difficult. The major black-eye however would likely be the late game collapses. Multiple times, Georgia had teams down but would give up leads in the second half. Then, there are games where Georgia just gets absolutely trounced like against Tennessee, Georgia State, or Kentucky. While these three teams are not atrocious (Georgia State is actually #1 in the Sunbelt), it is also embarrassing for some of the loss totals – 46 points to Tennessee, 24 points to Georgia State, and 20 points to Kentucky. Georgia shouldn’t get blown out to that extreme to say the least. However, the rough season is not inexplicable – in fact, given the struggles of last season, one could argue it was very obviously on its way to happening. Last year, Georgia struggled to find a consistent scoring threat outside of Yante Maten. Georgia has somewhat stepped up to fill that vacuum with some scoring threat from Hammond and Claxton yet there’s a major issue of consistency. Claxton has some games where he just gets completely frustrated scoring wise but is a great asset on the defensive side of the court. Hammonds has a great play on the offensive side and is solid on the defensive side. Then, when we get outside of these two, it is hard to find the next major scoring threat. Sometimes it can be Crump and Ogbeide, but consistency is again a problem.
Georgia needs major help from its guards and that will likely need to be the focus for the rest of the season in order to prepare possibly for the NIT or next season. Crump has flashes that show he can be a scoring threat – he just needs further guidance under Crean. Hopefully Hightower will also develop further with Crean as well to help speed along the rebuild at UGA. It is just important to remember what Crean came into when it comes to judging UGA. To add to this, Georgia does have a fairly strong recruiting class at this time – good enough for 39th in the country, though only 8th in the SEC. This is a rebuilding situation overall and the main goal for fans at this point should be to see some improvement by season’s end; be it making it to perhaps round 2 of the SEC tournament or making the NIT. We just need to see some flashes for hope of the next season.
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