Georgia’s had a large variety of turnovers this season, but not apple, cherry, strawberry or chocolate. Instead plenty of basketballs have scampered toward the baseline on errant passes.
There may be some more fruitful options after Monday’s victory over Mississippi. Georgia (15-10, 6-6 SEC) had only nine turnovers in a 78-56 rout of the Rebels, and only two miscues in the first half. Taja Cole led Georgia with five, but most of those came on double-dribble violations or travels rather than live-ball situations.
That’s not a typo — the Lady Bulldogs valued nearly every possession.
“We played a lot smarter than we do sometimes, because those turnovers come from making too quick of a play or a hero play,” said sophomore Maya Caldwell, who notched a career-high 15 points. “We didn’t rush anything.”
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Georgia demonstrated cleanliness in its offensive approach and a smoother display of team basketball was the result. That’s a byproduct of the Lady Bulldogs “peaking at the right time,” head coach Joni Taylor said. There are four regular-season games remaining until the SEC tournament as the team makes a last-minute push for postseason play.
The nine turnovers against the Rebels followed a showing with 13 in a narrow loss to South Carolina. It’s a big improvement from the 29 it had in a loss at Auburn that saw Georgia leading by 13 at one point. After the devastating loss to the Tigers, there was a bout of re-evaluation and turnovers was a focal point in Taylor’s comment in regard to the “same brick.”
Taylor’s group has dialed back the pizazz a tad, and is focused on cohesive basketball. Whether that be slowing it down or gaining an understanding of where a pass should be directed, it’s beginning to pay off.
“It was carelessness, honestly. We were careless with the basketball,” Taylor said. “We have some people on the floor who can make incredible plays, and sometimes we make plays that aren’t there. We force plays instead of the easy plays.”
Georgia entered Monday’s play with an average of 17.5 turnovers per game, and had many games over 20. The performance of nine errors was the second-fewest as the Lady Bulldogs committed six in a November loss to Maryland. Those mark the lone games with single-digit turnovers, and the Lady Bulldogs improve to 9-3 in games which they commit fewer miscues.
“There was no magic that stuck out to us, but they obviously condemned us for turning the ball over,” Caldwell said. “They pointed it out, but at the same time they just keep pushing and encouraging us.”
Whatever made Georgia realize the importance of valuing the basketball, it’s allowing the team to find its true identity. There are still moments that draw the amazement of fans in Stegeman Coliseum, and most of those come from the passing exploits of Taja Cole as she had 10 assists in the victory.
Some types of turnovers can be savored, but not the type that prohibits Georgia from victory.
“If we take care of turnovers and rebounds,” Cole said, “I promise we’ll win every game.”
Robinson does it to Ole Miss, again
As Caliya Robinson was asked about her performance, she simply smiled and looked over to Taylor in an effort to defer the response to her head coach. Her performance didn’t call for many of her own words because it was mostly answered on the court.
Robinson had 24 points on a near-perfect 10 of 12 shooting against Ole Miss. Fourteen of those points came in the first quarter and she outscored the Rebels’ team in the period (13) — it set a Georgia season record for most individual points in a quarter. Robinson had any opportunity she desired, and the Lady Bulldogs were going to grant those scoring chances.
“They were leaving her open and it was disrespectful,” Cole said. “She took her shots and converted every time.”
Robinson said there were similar shooting results in morning shootaround, and it transpired to in-game action. Georgia’s advantage in the post paid off as Robinson had her fifth showing of 20-or-more points this season and the first since Jan. 10 at Mississippi State.
Last season at Ole Miss, Robinson had 28 points and 10 rebounds in a Lady Bulldog victory.
“We felt like they couldn’t stop her or (sophomore forward) Jenna (Staiti) in their zone,” Taylor said. “We were able to get some things going right away, because we thought they’d chase our shooters. They did that and it left them 1-on-1 inside.”