Tyree Crump arrived at Georgia as a decorated offensive weapon who can really shoot from from behind the 3-point line.
But if players are going to get considerable playing time early on for head coach Mark Fox, they better be able to play well on the other side of the floor, too.
In Georgia’s last outing against Marquette on Dec. 4 — an 89-79 loss at Stegeman Coliseum — Crump did not get into the game. With the Golden Eagles shooting the ball considerably well from the perimeter and scoring points in bunches, Fox decided not to insert Crump into the game.
A lot of that had to do with Crump still learning defensive concepts at the college level. Crump, who scored a game-high 16 points in Georgia’s previous game against Morehouse, said he wasn’t surprised by Fox’s decision. Crump knows he has to improve defensively if he’s to see more minutes against better competition.
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“Really, defense is effort,” Crump said. “You’ve got to want to play. I don’t mind playing. You’re just caught up in it. You didn’t have to play it in high school. You’re the best player and it covered up everything.”
Crump was a sharp-shooter in high school at Bainbridge but admittedly didn’t press as hard on the defensive end. That won’t cut it at Georgia, even if his range is exceptional on offense.
Senior J.J. Frazier went through a similar situation when he was a freshman. While Frazier wasn’t as heralded of a recruit out of high school, Fox did take an interest in Frazier early on when he started practicing with the program.
But it took some time before Frazier started logging double-digit minutes. While he wanted to play more in the moment, Frazier later realized it was all for the betterment of his career.
“Of course you’re frustrated if you’re a competitor and you want to play,” Frazier said. “But it’s something you have to learn. (Crump and freshman Jordan Harris) are learning. I tell them all the time to just stay ready because eventually your number is going to be called. But if you’re not mentally attached to how you’re supposed to play or how hard you’re supposed to play but then you won’t ever play. I think our freshmen are mentally attached and waiting on their chance.”
Harris only saw two minutes of playing time against Marquette for similar reasons. Frazier hasn’t gotten too involved in discussing minutes with the freshman guards but did say he’ll offer occasional encouragement.
“When I see a little frustration or a little self-doubt I just remind them I’ve been through the same thing and you can look at me as an example,” Frazier said. “I think they take that and run with it, knowing if you do what you’re supposed to do that Coach will play you. Coach will give you a green light and everything will work out.”
Crump understands his defense has to improve if he’s to log more minutes. It’s something he’s reminded of constantly.
“When you come in, you have to play D or you won’t play,” Crump said. “That’s the main thing. If you don’t play defense, you won’t play at all.”