2007-08 Georgia Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #42
Conference Rank: #6 SEC
2006-07: 19-14, 8-8, 5th East
2006-07 postseason: NIT
Georgia was on the bubble well into February last season before losing three of their last four regular season games. Even finishing fifth place in a six team SEC East will not necessarily keep the Bulldogs out of the NCAA Tournament. The SEC is brutal and a .500 record in the conference could be enough this year if the team can take care of business during the non-conference portion of the schedule.
Levi Stukes and Steve Newman bridged the gap from the horrendous not so distant past of UGA and the potential bright future. Both played significant roles as freshmen and stuck around to see the team reach the postseason in 2006-2007. When the talent level at Georgia increased, Stukes and Newman did not have to do as much scoring. Yet, Stukes was still the best long range shooter on the team and averaged 12.5 points per game during his senior campaign.
For the first time in a long time, Coach Dennis Felton will not have to depend on any newcomers to make a significant contribution. Six of the returning players started at least ten games last year and two others are proven players who are expected to see significant playing time. However, there is some talent that could overtake some minutes from the returning players and it all starts with Jeremy Price. The 6-8, 270 pound freshman can battle his way through traffic in the paint and finish at the basket. Strength will continue to be added, but Price has more than most coming into the collegiate ranks. In time, he will be a consistent scorer in the paint. Chris Barnes and Jeremy Jacob will add even more depth to a suddenly crowded frontcourt. On the perimeter, the future of the point guard spot is Zac Swansey’s. For now, he has the ability to contribute off the bench. Swansey is a solid ballhandler and passer and once he integrates himself into the environment at Georgia, he will be a good one. Shooting guard Troy Brewer will be groomed to take over one of the wing positions and, at 6-5, he has the size to be a solid rebounder out of the backcourt. Brewer is known for his shooting and that could earn him some minutes off the bench as a freshman.
Who to Watch:
Even without Stukes, the perimeter is the strength of the Bulldogs team. Sundiata Gaines is not a true point guard, but he will do most of the ballhandling. Gaines averaged 10.5 points, 4.8 assists and 5.7 rebounds last season and has proven he can handle running the show despite his more natural position being on the wing. Mike Mercer is a terrific scorer and averaged 13.6 points per game, but his outside shooting is lacking consistency and Mercer must learn to find his teammates instead of taking a bad shot from beyond the arc. Mercer is recovering from an ACL injury and the Bulldogs need him to be healthy. Otherwise, UGA may struggle early and they cannot afford that if they want to make the NCAA Tournament. Billy Humphrey and Terrance Woodbury are the best shooters returning and one of them will step into a starting role on the wing after spending the majority of last season coming off the bench. Besides Humphrey being a better free-throw shooter, their numbers are pretty much the same. Both will get on the glass and both have the ability to score in a variety of ways.
What allowed Georgia to develop into a postseason team last year was the presence of an interior scoring threat. The team was way too perimeter orientated until Takais Brown showed up from junior college last year and averaged 14.2 points and 5.6 rebounds. When Brown is on the floor, it opens everything up for the talented perimeter. Dave Bliss will likely start beside Brown, but Bliss does not do too much scoring. The 6-10 center does a decent job on the glass, but it is Rashaad Singleton who could emerge and take some of the pressure off of Brown. Singleton has room to grow in the offensive department and only averaged 3.3 points last season. Singleton, a seven-foot junior, is great defensive presence and when his offense improves, he will see a lot more action. Albert Jackson showed potential during his freshman campaign and the 6-10 Earlington, Kentucky product will at least provide quality depth in the frontcourt.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Sundiata Gaines, Senior, Guard, 10.5 points per game
Billy Humphrey, Junior, Guard, 7.5 points per game
Terrance Woodbury, Junior, Guard, 7.5 points per game
Takais Brown, Senior, Forward, 14.2 points per game
Dave Bliss, Senior, Center, 4.0 points per game