Fox, Bulldogs needing second option

semerson@macon.comJanuary 15, 2013 

ATHENS -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is not the problem. The star guard is doing what was expected.

No, the biggest reason for the immense struggles of the Georgia men’s basketball team is the big drop that occurs on the stat sheet after Caldwell-Pope’s 16.9 points per game.

Caldwell-Pope, the team’s star guard, is carrying the load so much that he is doubling second-leading scorer Nemanja Djurisic (8.1), and no two Bulldogs players combine to equal their leader.

“I don’t know if they’re not trying to score the ball, or they’re scared to score the ball,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We’ve got a young team, and maybe they don’t want to mess up or whatever. But we do have scorers on the team.”

That remains debatable. Either way, the Bulldogs are running out of time to find them.

Georgia (6-9 overall, 0-2 in the SEC) is halfway through its regular season schedule, entering Wednesday night’s game at No. 17 Missouri.

“I know we’re not winning the games that we need to win,” head coach Mark Fox said. “But what we’re doing, and I think we’d win more games than what we have, but we’ve invested (in the future). These guys need time. I’ve got a freshman, sophomore and freshman on the perimeter. But they need time. They’re talented players.”

Fox, addressing the future of the program Tuesday, said scoring help was on the way. The Bulldogs have signed 5-foot-9 point guard J.J. Frazier and 6-4 shooting guard Juwan Frazier. Eventually, he said, the team will get the scoring it needs.

But, for now, Fox doesn’t hide that finding help for Caldwell-Pope is the main issue. The star sophomore has been Georgia’s leading scorer in all but one game -- and the one time he wasn’t, the Bulldogs were victorious.

Often, the team’s reliable second option happens naturally, as a player or two step successfully into a prominent role. That hasn’t happened this year. The team appears done trying to let it happen naturally.

“We’ve gotta try and stimulate that,” Fox said.

Entering the season, Fox said the two most likely players to step into a larger role were Djurisic, a 6-7 sophomore forward, and junior forward Donte’ Williams. But neither has been able to come through.

Djurisic is actually scoring more than he did last year, but he hasn’t been playing well overall, according to Fox. Djurisic leads the team with 40 turnovers.

“He’s a prime candidate to give us more production, but we need him to be more stable,” Fox said. “He really hasn’t gotten in a groove all year.”

Williams (5.9 points per game) has seen his numbers dwindle. Williams’ development has been stifled by a couple suspensions -- twice for a total of three games -- for the dreaded violation of team rules.

“In those two guys’ defense, we’ve got a freshman point guard,” Fox said of Charles Mann. “They probably had the advantage of senior point guards last year, getting them the ball in better positions.”

But the biggest problem is in the post. The team can’t count on points from its tallest players, as they struggle to finish points, and when fouled they struggle to hit free throws. Williams, for instance, has been abysmal from the line (10-for-24), making it a tough strategy to feed him down low.

Fox granted that the team “doesn’t have answer yet” to the frontcourt woes, and that solving it could solve the problem of a secondary scorer -- because it would open up the floor for outside shooters.

“It would open a lot of things up,” Fox said.

And the Bulldogs need things to open up, and soon.

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