A new season of college basketball tips tonight in Athens: coach Tom Crean’s second season on the sidelines begins with a 7 o’clock game in Stegeman Coliseum versus Western Carolina.
From Chip Towers, AJC…
The coolest thing about Georgia’s 2019 basketball roster is the versatility of the 14 players listed there. For Tom Crean, that’s also the scariest.
The Bulldogs’ second-year coach is venturing into a space he has never filled before in 30 years in the game. And, no, it’s not to manage a team comprised of nine newcomers.
It’s to field what he calls a “positionless” basketball team.
And Crean is not kidding about that distinction. In the Bulldogs’ preseason prospectus, the position listed next to all 14 names is “B.”
That’s as in “basketball player,” as opposed to guard, forward or center.
“It’s not, ‘I’m a point guard’ or ‘I’m a 2 man.’ We’re not a position team,” Crean said this week. “For us, especially for a bunch of young guys, it’s going to be to really, really get that versatility down, so we can call it on the fly eventually. … We’re going to play a lot of positionless basketball.”
So how does he direct each player where they should be on the court? Crean has an interesting concept for that as well.
He calls it the “leopard system.”
“You’re in different spots, right?” Crean said with a grin. “You come down and you say, ‘you’re at the 3-spot, you’re at the 4-spot.’ I wanted to teach that because I wanted them to get an idea of what it’s like to move around.”
After going 11-21 in his first season at Georgia and losing sophomore Nic Claxton to the NBA draft, Crean found himself having to completely rebuild the roster. They Bulldogs signed six top 100 prospects – led by No. 2-ranked Anthony Edwards of Holy Spirit Preparatory School – and also brought in Donnell Gresham, a 6-foot-2 graduate transfer from Northeastern.
The only returnees are Rayshaun Hammonds, Jordan Harris, Tyree Crump, Tye Fagan and Amanze Ngumezi.
“I got everybody’s names down pretty quick, but it can still be confusing sometimes on the court,” said Hammonds, the leading returning scorer at 12.1 points per game. “I’m used to seeing Nic and Derek (Ogbeide) out there. … I feel very old now in only my third year. But it’s been fun.”
The Bulldogs can only hope the good times carry over to the court. The fan base is certainly excited about it. Georgia has sold out its season-ticket allotment of 5,750 for every game this season. UGA students also are expected to use all 2,000 of their allotment per game, so Stegeman is expected to be packed out.