January 29, 2013

Are more wins ahead?

For a team looking for a little confidence, Saturday's 59-52 win at Texas A&M couldn't have come at a better time.

Now, the question is, can the Bulldogs (8-11, 2-4) follow up with further success?

At least the schedule seems somewhat workable. After Wednesday night's home game with Auburn (7 p.m., CSS), Georgia travels to South Carolina (Saturday), followed by a trip to Tennessee (Feb. 6) and back-to-back home contests with Texas A&M (Feb. 9) and Alabama (Feb. 12).

"I think these next four games are very important to us," junior Donte Williams said."I think we're in position to win them all if we just play hard and compete and maybe build a little winning streak."

Head coach Mark Fox said beating the Aggies in College Station certainly qualifies as a good start.

"I think that it's always important to win to build confidence," Fox said. "That's really obvious, but I think the thing that they see is the last six halves of basketball they've played pretty good, especially in five of them they played well enough to win, so they've been a little bit more consistent. But you still need the rewards of a good victory like that."

There was also another positive sign.

"We've just grown up to a certain degree but that doesn't mean that we have had our share of teachable moments," Fox said. "For instance, at A&M, we had a lot of guys contribute. I think we had 10 guys score and 10 guys getting a rebound which is a sign of more guys chipping in."

The more players contribute, the more confidence grows.

As the season has moved along, although mistakes continue to be made by the young Bulldog squad, their comfort level has started to become more apparent.

For example:

"The three freshmen (Charles Mann, Brandon Morris and Kenny Gaines) have relaxed a little bit and know they can be aggressive," Fox said. "(Against Texas A&M) Brandon was aggressive, got to the foul line. I think a lot of guys know where they can potentially get a basket from and they're trying to hunt those opportunities. But I also think that Kentavious is starting to emerge as a leader. He's a relatively quiet kid but he's really trying to grow in that role."

Visiting Auburn (8-11, 2-4) bears a lot of similarities to the Bulldogs.

Like Georgia, the Tigers only have one starter - senior guard Frankie Sullivan - averaging in double-figures (16.7), although Auburn does start three seniors while the Bulldogs have just one (John Florveus).

"They're athletic, they've got good team speed and they've got a lot of guys who can score. They've been in and out so finding consistency in their minutes has probably been a challenge because they've got so many guys, but I think they have three seniors starting which is probably somewhat calming for them," Fox said. "I think they're way better than their record. They've had some close SEC games, they've had a schedule that's not been real easy, either. They've played at Arkansas and almost won there, they've played Kentucky and Ole Miss .They're a dangerous, dangerous team."

NOTES: Caldwell-Pope remains the beacon of light for this young Georgia team. Thus far he's the only Bulldog to have started all 19 games and to be averaging over 30 minutes per game (33.6, 2nd in SEC). He ranks among the SEC leaders in nine of the categories for which statistics are kept. He has taken 27 percent of the team's 924 field-goal attempts, and 41 percent of its 3-point attempts. KCP also leads Georgia in rebounding (6.4) and steals (46, 2nd in SEC, 16th in NCAA). ... Mann and Shaquille Johnson (AU) were teammates last season at Milton High in Alpharetta. The Eagles won the Georgia Class 5A championship in their lone season together.