By the time Georgia tips off against Iona tomorrow, it will have been 11 days since its last game — the longest stretch between contests so far.
For head coach Mark Fox, this break has allowed his team to focus on many of the issues that have been ailing the team.
“We’ve gotten a lot of work done,” he said “We’ve had very long and hard practices. I’ve tried to address some things we know we’re deficient in.”
The most obvious area of deficiency is the group’s offensive production. The Bulldogs have shot 38.8 percent from the field and have been outscored by their opponents 482-454 through the first eight games.
“Our defense has given us a chance to win, but our offensive production has not been where it needs to be,” Fox said, “We’ve got to get better on that end so we’ve worked quite a bit on that.”
Georgia had an air of confidence in the preseason, and after hanging 86 points on Young Harris in the team’s exhibition game, Fox’s group showed its potential.
Instead, the Bulldogs have lost five of their last six games, and forward Nemanja Djurisic said it’s been tough to deal with.
“It’s frustrating definitely,” Djurisic said, “but we have our heads up, we’re positive, we’re trying to get better and we are a much better team than we were seven days ago. We’ve really practiced hard, and coach is trying to make some adjustments and trying to make us play better on offense.”
Fox has no reservations sharing how upset he is with his group’s showing so far, but remains optimistic with three-fourths of the season remaining.
“There’s no question I’m disappointed where we’re at,” he said “I thought we’d have a better start than this, but we still have a lot of games to play. We’re just a quarter of way into the season so there’s a lot of game left.”
Forward Brandon Morris shares the same sentiments.
“I wouldn’t say [we’re] disappointed, but adversity comes in every form,” Morris said. “We’re just trying to stay positive about everything because we know we’re capable of being a great team, and we have a lot of games left.”
True freshman forward earning more minutes after career-high performance
Morris was a bright spot in Georgia’s 62-54 loss at Georgia Tech on Dec. 4.
The freshman forward finished with nine points and four rebounds — career highs in both categories.
For him, it was a matter of buying his time and making the most of the opportunity at hand.
“I knew when my time came, I just needed to go out there and just play as hard as I can and good things will fall into place,” he said.
Djurisic was happy to see his young teammate find some success, especially when waiting for that breakout moment can be hard to do.
“I was very happy to see that because he was frustrated,” Djurisic said. “He knows what kind of talent he is, and how good he can play. With young guys it’s hard to find patience, so when he eventually scored some baskets he was hyped up and we were all happy for him.”
The biggest hurdle for Morris to overcome has been catching up to the speed of the college game.
“I’ve been practicing way better and just adapting and adjusting to the new game of college because in high school it’s just a different level,” he said. “High school you don’t have to go as hard, and I’m just getting adapted, so I’m ready to go hard for 40 minutes.”
Georgia’s head coach saw the spark that the 6-foot-7 freshman brings, and is ready to let him off the leash.
“Brandon has earned a significant amount of more playing time,” Fox said. “He’s significantly outperformed some of the guys and earned more time, so he’ll get that.”
Bulldogs set to battle experienced Iona team
Up next for Georgia is Iona at home on Saturday, and the Gaels will certainly be coming to Athens looking for a win.
The visiting team is loaded with veterans and only four underclassmen. Iona was a 14-seed in last year’s NCAA tournament and lost in the first round to BYU.
Iona is 3-4 on the season, and boasts an explosive offense that has put up 80 or more points on four occasions.
They are a team that has been through the motions before, and will pose a number of threats to a reeling Georgia team.
“They’re a very dynamic offensive team, and one that has some experience,” Fox said. “With the young group like we have it’ll be a challenge … with their style of play, and being able to deal with guys that might be a little stronger and more experienced than you are.”