Let's switch out focus for a moment. We've been all BIG GAME BIG GAME BIG GAME BIG GAME BIG GAME BIG GAME BIG GAME for a while now. And that's great. But tonight we have a game of medium proportions ahead of us. Cal MBB takes on Georgia in the Progressive CBE Classic in Kansas City, MO. This should be a good tournament for Cal. We are guaranteed two games, one today against Georgia and one tomorrow against either Notre Dame or Missouri. All great teams that should give Cal a great opportunity to grow as a team. And hopefully get some wins!
Tonight, Cal takes on the Bulldogs. To learn more about these Southern gentlemen, we turned to MaconDawg of SBNation's UGA site "DawgSports." These guys eat, drink, and breath Georgia MBB, so they are definitely the people most knowledgeable here. They were kind enough to answer a bunch of questions about the upcoming game. It looks like their team is one in transition as they lost some key players to the professional sporting organization formerly known as the NBA. I'd like to think that Cal has the advantage here, but one never knows. Many thanks to MaconDawg for his (or her) answers to our questions. Check em out after the jump. And here are our answers to their questions. GO BEARS!
1. Who is the #1 person on offense and the #1 person on defense for the Dawgs that Cal fans should know about?
Actually, if you folks figure out who our go to guys on offense and defense are could you give us a heads up? With the loss of Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie to NBA purgatory (not to mention big men Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes to graduation) Georgia is a team trying to find itself. Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a former McDonald's All-American who's averaging 13.3 points per game and seems to be finding his shot. Caldwell-Pope is a quick jump shooter who also has the ability to dribble and drive. He's second on the team in scoring behind his backcourt mate Gerald Robinson, Jr. with both averaging a tad over 13 points per game. Sophomore forward Donte Williams is averaging 3 blocked shots per game and should be a growing presence down low, and Robinson is a quick-footed defender who does a good job of contesting shots on the perimeter.
2. What kind of offense does Georgia play? Motion? Post-centric? Run-N-Gun? Slow it down - what's your style? Same question for defense.
Georgia runs a variant of the triangle offense Phil Jackson used to amass 10 NBA championships with the Bulls and Lakers. It's designed to allow ballhandlers a little room for innovation, and worked out well with Leslie and Thompkins, who provided a great high/low presence last season and were both capable of creating their own shot. This year, however, with a scarcity of experience in the post, the 'Dawgs appear to be utilizing more of an up-tempo style. It's still the triangle, but calibrated to make use of our experience outside of the paint.
3. If you were Cal, how would you attack the Georgia defense and how would you try to slow down the Bulldog offense?
Georgia is inexperienced in the post and perhaps a little vulnerable there. We're still figuring out exactly who we can rely on, and have gotten into foul trouble at times. If I were Cal I'd attack with the group of veteran guards you guys have. I just don't know that we can win a free throw shooting contest. The key to stopping the Georgia offense is going to be forcing bad shots. Sadly, this hasn't been very difficult for our opponents so far. We've had stretches when Robinson especially has seemed to be pressing to make something happen. I think as the season goes on an the big men get sorted out that will be remedied. But we're not there yet. As a correlary to that, the Bulldogs have not rebounded well in the early going, and that's exacerbated those poor shooting stretches. Defensively Georgia will pressure the ball a good bit. If Cal can break that pressure, the 'Dawgs will likely be in trouble.
4. With the early loss of Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie for the NBA, where are you picked to finish in the SEC and nationally this year? Are you looking to meet, miss or exceed your expectations based on early results?
SEC writers picked Georgia to finish 8th in the SEC this season. That's a little disappointing, but not unreasonable. The SEC East alone boasts 3 preseason top 10 teams: (Kentucky, Vandy, and Florida. Alabama brings back talent from a squad that finished strong in 2010-2011 and Mississippi State looks like a team that could surprise a lot of people based on their start. Tennessee has all the talent Bruce Pearl brought in, though they'll be settling in under new coach Cuanzo Martin. Georgia basketball fans are not expecting much this season other than progress as the year goes on and the team gains experience. A trip back to the Big Dance would be a very pleasant surprise, and any other postseason berth would be nice, but certainly isn't guaranteed. 2012-2013 really looks like the year when Mark Fox's Hoop Hounds could make some things happen.