February 10, 2009

Trying to focus

As the losses continue to mount in what's shaping up to be one of the more forgettable seasons in recent Georgia basketball history, interim coach Pete Herrmann admits his job is getting more and more difficult.

With a losing streak that now stands at 10 games entering Wednesday's contest at Tennessee, the veteran coach said he's having to come up with new methods in order to keep the Bulldogs (9-14, 0-8) focused and not completely throw in the towel.

Tip-off Wednesday is set for 8 p.m. Georgia returns home Saturday at 3:30 to host Florida.

"In taking over for Coach (Dennis) Felton I walked into a situation where emotionally we were struggling and having to try to keep the players going after wins," Herrmann said during the bi-weekly SEC teleconference. "It obviously gets tougher as you go along and I think we've got to appeal to them in the interest of the game they've played since they were little.

"We've got to do that every day. I won't shirk what I can do to build them up and stay positive about our situation and the opponents we have coming up. But if you can't get excited about playing Tennessee (14-8, 5-3) and Florida (Saturday) then you should be playing another game."

For Georgia, the Bulldogs' problems remain the same.

Inconsistency on offense, spotty rebounding and turnovers continue to keep Georgia winless since a 72-52 victory over Kennesaw State back on Dec. 31.

Take Saturday's 79-68 loss at South Carolina, for example.

The Gamecocks led 41-25 at halftime, and pushed the lead to 20 points a minute into the second half before Georgia got within 66-53 with 7:56 to play only to be held to just one field goal over the next four minutes.

Terrance Woodbury led all scorers with 20 points, and freshman Trey Thompkins notched a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds for Georgia which also got a boost from Zac Swansey who came off the bench to score 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting. However, a poor night from 3-point range (4-of-17) kept the Bulldogs at bay despite out-rebounding South Carolina 37-34.

"We've got to try to avoid those 6-0 8-0 runs because when you turn the ball over in the backcourt or near midcourt you have trouble defending because they have the numbers which is something both Tennessee and Florida have done to us in the past," Herrmann said. "If your team is built on defense and rebounding you've got to put your team in position to do that and that means keeping it to half-court sets. We've even tried to get our players to even take five-second counts and don't throw the ball up and leave numbers in the open court against you."

Georgia dropped an 86-77 decision back on Jan. 10 Tennessee, which is shooting 51.8 percent over its last three games. Eight players are shooting .500 or better during that span for the Vols, who rank second in the conference with 80.2 points per game.

In comparison, the Bulldogs are at the bottom of the league in scoring at 65.5 points per game, one of four team categories (assist/turnover ratio, field goal percentage and scoring margin are the others) that Georgia ranks last in the SEC.

"We still talk defense, rebounding and sharing the ball, which is something we basically work on every day," Herrmann said. "We just talk about doing something to get better every day. Obviously, we've still got to solve our problem with the turnovers, which were a major problem Saturday at South Carolina."

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