Georgia Bulldogs Basketball: A Breakdown of the 2011-12 Roster
One year after earning a No. 10 seed in March Madness and falling to the Washington Huskies, the Georgia Bulldogs are ready to pick up where they left off and earn another trip to The Big Dance.
Gone though are the two best players on the team: Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie. Both players left school early and were drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round of the 2011 NBA draft, where they'll join forces once more. Also departing from the squad were Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes, leaving the Bulldogs with a gaping void in the frontcourt.
There are a ton of new faces to learn for the Georgia faithful to learn this year, most notably the still-nickname-less Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Read on for a breakdown of the whole 2011-12 roster.
Starting Point Guard: Dustin Ware
When Dustin Ware is in the game, the Georgia Bulldogs know exactly what they're going to get from the point guard position. Ware is one of the most efficient point guards in the country, even if he doesn't play with a breathtaking style. He just goes about his business and makes the right plays most of the time.
As a junior, the 5'11" point guard averaged 8.1 points, 3.5 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. While none of those numbers stand out, the fact that Ware averaged just 1.2 turnovers per game should impress you.
Additionally, he knows when to shoot and when to pass the ball to a better scoring threat. Last season, Ware should a stellar 43.5 percent from three-point range. Those points from downtown usually came at crucial times down the stretch, proving that Ware really knew when to insert himself into the game.
It's pretty likely that Ware has a season almost identical to the one he had last year.
Starting Shooting Guard: Gerald Robinson
There is not a more fun player to watch on the Georgia basketball team than Gerald Robinson.
The junior college transfer had amazing success during his first season in red and black and looks to be the leader of the team this year. If his finish of an alley-oop during the Bulldogs' exhibition game this past week was any indication, Robinson has only gotten more athletic and should terrorize opponents while on offense.
But while Robinson possesses a good all-around game, his calling card is undoubtedly his speed. He's quick enough that my friends and I have started referring to him as "The Quickness." It's up to all of us to help that spread.
Robinson averaged 12.2 points, 4.2 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game last season. Expect him to become the top scorer on the team this year and average around 17 or 18 points per contest.
Starting Small Forward: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Even though he's more of a shooting guard than a small forward, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will likely line up in the frontcourt during his freshman season in Athens. A prized recruit, Caldwell-Pope is too talented to keep on the bench for too long and there is no way that he can displace either Dustin Ware or Gerald Robinson from the starting lineup.
Caldwell-Pope was the No. 6 shooting guard recruit in the country according to ESPN and he came in at No. 24 among all players. He's easily the best recruit that the Bulldogs have corralled in quite some time.
As confident as a freshman can possibly be, Caldwell-Pope will not shy away from the spotlight early in the season. He's a tremendous long-range shooter who will not hesitate to pull the trigger if he has anything that even resembles daylight in front of him.
The most underrated part of his game though has to be his defense. A solid on-ball defender, Caldwell-Pope is already an incredible off-ball defender. During Georgia's exhibition game, I was incredibly impressed by his ability to deny his man the ball and then lock down his man when necessary.
Caldwell-Pope should prove to be well worth all the hype.
Starting Power Forward: Marcus Thornton
Marcus Thornton is one of the few returning members in Georgia's frontcourt, but he'll have to make huge strides to hold off the bevy of recruits waiting to steal his spot from the Bulldogs' bench.
He averaged just 1.5 points, 0.4 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game as a freshman last season, shooting only 35.3 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from the free-throw line. While I was once incredibly excited about his potential, I know find myself severely tempering my expectations.
Formerly "Mr. Georgia Basketball," Thornton needs to regain the swagger that he carried himself with at Westlake High.
More than anything else, Thornton uses his will to win to produce on the basketball court. He plays as hard as he possibly can every single minute he's on the court.
We'll just see how long he can last on the court.
Starting Center: John Florveus
Another junior college transfer, this time from Hillsborough Community College, John Florveus will hope to have the same type of impact for the Georgia Bulldogs that Gerald Robinson had last year after transferring from Tennessee State.
Floveus is another athletic player who plays with a ridiculous amount of intensity. While his upside is fairly high, he will be limited by a lack of strength. That weakness will come back to bite both him and the Bulldogs when SEC play starts and he's forced to go up against much bigger bodies than the ones that non-conference opponents will throw at him.
Thanks to his long arms and seven-foot frame, Florveus will block a lot of shots and pull down a lot of rebounds. I wouldn't expect to much more from him though.
Bench Guard: Vincent Williams
There is not a more "boom or bust" player on the Georgia Bulldogs than Vincent Williams.
The lightning-fast point guard likes to try to make things happen, even when it's not in the team's best interest to do so. He may be quite adept at breaking through a full-court press, but then it's more likely than not that he'll wind up making a poor decision in the half-court set.
Whenever I see Williams handle the ball, I can't help but think of a Tasmanian Devil, running around at high speeds with reckless abandon.
Last year, Williams averaged 0.7 points, 0.7 assists, and 0.4 rebounds per game. He shot just 23.8 percent from the field, 16.7 percent from the three-point line, 22.2 percent from the free-throw line and managed 0.4 assists per contest in very limited playing time.
I have to admit that I'm holding out hope he'll improve drastically. But then again, I don't feel like there's a chance anymore that Williams will get enough playing time to make that improvement.
Bench Guard: Sherrard Brantley
While you never know what you're going to get from Vincent Williams, you absolutely know what you'll get from Sherrard Brantley.
I've watched quite a bit of college basketball, and Brantley is one of the better perimeter defenders I've had the pleasure of observing. He doesn't play too often, but when he does, you can be sure that he'll shut down an opposing guard.
On top of his defensive prowess, Brantley has a deadly long-range shot. He's got for at least a few three-pointers per game and shot 30.9 percent from behind the arc last season. That number though did go up as the season progressed.
As unbelievable as this is, Brantley made just six field goals from inside the three-point line last season.
Bench Guard: Matt Bucklin
Matt Bucklin only gets playing time at the end of games, when the Georgia Bulldogs have either blown out their opponents or don't have a chance at coming back in the contest.
But that said, he's one of the most popular players on the entire squad. You can't go more than a few games without hearing "Buck-lin, Buck-lin, Buck-lin!" chants resonating from the student sections of Stegeman Coliseum.
The rosy-cheeked local favorite might not do much even when he's on the court, but fans are always uplifted by his presence.
Bench Forward: Connor Nolte
Now a senior, Connor Nolte played his first season for the Georgia Bulldogs last year after transferring from Furman and sitting out for a year.
At the beginning of that campaign, Nolte was a crucial part of the Bulldogs' success, doing everything the team asked from either forward position, even successfully pulling of the mask look. As soon as Trey Thompkins returned from an early-season ankle injury though, Nolte found himself spending more and more time on the bench.
He only hit double-digit minutes three times for the rest of the season.
As one of the only returning frontcourt players for Georgia though, he'll likely play quite a bit more this year. After averaging 1.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 0.5 assists per game last season, Nolte will absolutely put up bigger numbers this season.
Bench Forward: Donte Williams
The last of the returning players in the big part of Georgia's lineup, Donte Williams is going to have to make a much bigger impact this season than he did last year to help mitigate the early loss of Trey Thompkins to the NBA.
A 6'9" forward, Williams averaged just six minutes per contest during his freshman season, putting up 0.8 points, 0.4 assists and 1.3 rebounds per game. But this year, he'll get many more opportunities to show off his length and athleticism.
More than anything else, the Bulldogs will be hoping that Williams can turn into a defensive force, blocking shots and crashing the boards from the power forward position.
Bench Forward: Nemanja Djurisic
I'm pretty excited to see just how Nemanja Djurisic will pan out for the Georgia Bulldogs. If my gut is correct, the power forward from Montenegro will take over as a starter from Marcus Thornton before SEC play starts.
Although he's not the most heralded recruit, Djurisic has the all-around game and body to make an immediate impact. He doesn't shy away from contact, possesses offensive moves both on the inside and the outside of the half-court set and has a great nose for team defense.
He's probably going to stay in Athens for all his eligible years and develop from a solid role-player (this season) into a low-level standout player at the end of his career.
Bench Forward: Elliott Long
A walk-on player who was redshirted last year, Elliot Long will only play in mop-up duty this season, much like Matt Bucklin.
He can play both shooting guard and small forward, but probably won't be called upon much at either position.
Don't expect to see Long on the court.
Bench Forward/Center: Tim Dixon
A 6'10", 215-pound power forward and center from Florida, Tim Dixon is the second-biggest recruit coming to Athens for this upcoming college basketball season. He will probably end up playing a good number of minutes in relief for John Florveus at the beginning of the season and could even wind up as a starter.
Dixon is a surprisingly good shooter from outside the paint and he has quite a bit of quickness for a big man. Most of that quickness though comes from the lack of meat on his bones, something he quickly needs to improve if he's going to hang with SEC centers.
The big man has already played with fellow recruit Kentavious Caldwell-Pope during AAU play, so now they'll try to see if that connection can continue at the collegiate level.
Bench Center: John Cannon
John Cannon was brought in solely to be a shot-blocking backup center. But unfortunately for the Georgia Bulldogs, he doesn't have much in the way of athleticism, which could prove to be an insurmountable obstacle in the SEC, a conference which prides itself on boasting the most athletic players in the country.
During the Georgia exhibition, I turned to a friend after seeing Cannon play at the collegiate level for just one possession and said, "This kid looks like he can't walk and chew gum at the same time." Sure enough, two possessions later, Cannon ended up sprawled out on the floor after tripping.
To be fair, that story is a little harsh. As a center, he doesn't need to able to run up and down the court with guards. The jury is still out on whether Cannon can pan out, especially since he has yet to play an official game.
Adam Fromal is a syndicated writer and Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.
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