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Georgia Tech vs. uga: Q&A Preview with Dawg Sports

Prior to the game against uga, we sat down with Jeremy Attaway from Dawg Sports to get his perspective on the matchup.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Jackets take on uga tomorrow, looking to remain undefeated and move to 3-0. Before the game, we sat down with Jeremy Attaway from Dawg Sports to get his insight on what he expects when Clean Old Fashioned Hate tips off in Athens.

FTRS: Georgia currently sits at 3-0 to start the year, but has been a little bit shaky in a couple of those wins. What are your thoughts on how the team has played so far?

The trend has been generally upward. This still looks like a team trying to mesh, which makes sense given that it lost its leading scorer/rebounder from last season and is starting three to four new players consistently. Still, Georgia has not really looked out of control even when those first couple of wins were sort of close. Given the team’s early season struggles under Mark Fox, that’s a promising development.

FTRS: What are the expectations for this team this season? Is the NCAA tournament the goal? Or is this still a rebuilding year?

You don’t sign a consensus top three recruit like Anthony Edwards with designs on a multi-year building project. Bulldog fans want to make it to the tournament, and I think will be a bit disappointed if that doesn’t happen. But long term the feeling is that this is the year for Tom Crean to establish proof of concept in Athens, build on the players who remain after Edwards heads to the NBA, and see how far this thing goes.

FTRS: From a bigger picture perspective, what are fans thoughts on the program now that we are one year into the Tom Crean era? He obviously has shown an ability to recruit early, but are there any concerns with the 11-21 record last season?

It was pretty obvious from the jump last season that Tom Crean was trying very hard to fit some square pegs into round holes. It’s hard to imagine two more disparate styles of play than Crean’s slashing, high scoring attack and Mark Fox’s patient halfcourt offense. Crean kept several upperclassmen on the roster who really did not fit what he wanted to do, but it seems he felt turning over the entire roster in year one didn’t make as much sense as turning his recruiting attention to 2019. So he took his lumps in year one knowing no one expected an immediate turnaround.

Some of those veteran players graduated, some have left of their own accord. This year’s UGA squad includes nine freshmen and a graduate transfer. As a result it’s easy to see this as a squad that should be better next year than this assuming they can replace Edwards (which should be a big deal, as discussed below).

NCAA Basketball: SEC Basketball Tipoff
Georgia Bulldogs head coach Tom Crean speaks at the SEC basketball tipoff at Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook.
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

FTRS: How has Anthony Edwards looked in his first three games as a Bulldog?

As advertised. Edwards led the ‘Dawgs in scoring in his first two collegiate outings, and while he had a bit of a tough shooting night against Delaware State, it almost seemed as if the plan all along was to use that game to work on some other aspects of the offense.

Edwards is exactly the player Crean wants, aggressive on defense with the ability to drive to the hoop and finish. As his catch-and-shoot game on the perimeter improves he could become an even bigger weapon down the stretch.

FTRS: Who is the most important player on this team outside of Edwards? Which player is a potential x-factor?

Junior forward Rayshaun Hammonds is likely the most productive player outside of Edwards, averaging 14.3 points and 11.7 rebounds a game. He’s looking a lot more comfortable moving without the ball this season than he did last year, and has been very physical on the glass.

But the potential x-factor could be freshman guard Sahvir Wheeler. Wheeler is averaging 12 points and 6 assists per game and the Red and Black just look different to me when he’s in the game. Ultimately I think Wheeler becomes the spark plug for this team.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi at Georgia
Georgia Bulldogs forward Rayshaun Hammonds (20) shoots over Mississippi Rebels guard Breein Tyree (4) during the second half at Stegeman Coliseum.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

FTRS: What is your prediction for the game. Who wins and why?

Georgia’s not seen a team as deep as the Jackets, nor a defensive presence inside like James Banks. If Banks has a game then I could see the Bulldogs being stymied offensively, and Lord knows we’re not winning this one on the defensive end. I’m tempering my expectations until Coach Crean forces me to do otherwise: Jackets 81, ‘Dawgs 74.

Many thanks to Jeremy for taking the time to answer my questions. Make sure to check out some uga coverage over at Dawg Sports.