MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. — Tom Crean says his Georgia basketball team is nowhere near ready to play a game entering its Thursday night scrimmage at Alabama-Birmingham.
To summarize Crean’s take at the SEC preseason media event on Wednesday: the shooting isn’t consistent, the spacing is off, the team struggles to get back in transition defense and there’s not enough purpose behind the effort.
“We don’t have anything close to a set starting lineup right now,” Crean said. “They are competing against one another, but there’s not enough consistency.
“We’re not there yet. Maybe that’s good, maybe that bad, but that’s where we’re at.”
The Bulldogs return three starters off last season’s 18-15 (7-11 SEC) team, including senior point guard William “Turtle” Jackson.
Jackson, the leading returning player in scoring, assists, steals and 3-point makes, sounds confident enough.
“I look forward to us coming out with a whole lot of energy, playing hard on defense and getting into our system very quickly,” Jackson said. “It’s a different system, it’s a different style, so it’s learning those new plays instead of the plays we’ve been running for three years.”
Crean said Wednesday he wants to be realistic with his expectations, understanding he’s challenge the players with a lot of new concepts.
“Obviously you want to win, but right now we’re not even close to being prepared to play a game when it comes to different situational things, some of the Xs and Os parts of it,” Crean said. “So we have to go out there and make sure we don’t give too many keys to what’s going to be important.
“They have a really fast backcourt, and we have to make sure we do a great job of getting back in transition.”
UAB recorded its third 20-win season in the past four years last season, going 20-13.
Crean put his team through tough offseason practices, and he’s eager to see how they hold up against a Blazers team that’s expected to push the tempo.
“The bottom line is can we play under fatigue, without trying to take the game into our own hands individually,” Crean said. “Can we continue to trust the ball movement, trust the system and not have guys that go off in their own direction (because) that’s not the way we’re going to be able to play.
“I’m looking for consistency.”