ATHENS — The Georgia basketball challenges could be attributed to the brutal league slate assigned by the SEC office.
Already, the Bulldogs (9-8, 1-4 SEC) have played the three top-ranked teams in the league in Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn, and next up is a road trip to red-hot LSU.
Georgia coach Tom Crean hasn’t mentioned the schedule since it was released in the preseason, instead focusing on what he can control, which would include the roller coaster play of forward Rayshaun Hammonds.
The talented 6-foot-8, 235-pounder from Norcoss is the Bulldogs leading scorer this season — except when he isn’t, which would be against the better teams this season.
Hammonds has been held scoreless in losses to Tennessee and most recently at home against Florida, running into foul trouble early in both games, offering little help to his teammates in other capacities.
Georgia was outscored by 18 points with Hammonds in the game against the Gators, as shown below in the plus-minus category for UGA players:
“I am going to look around and see what we can do to help him and I talked to him a lot,” Crean said. “I am not down on him at all, I want him to continue to learn and want him to understand he is a lot more than just a guy who shoots and scores.”
But yes, Crean admitted, “him not scoring and us not scoring are together.”
Hammonds has at times shown the sort of growth and ability many projected when he was rated the No. 51 player in the nation by the 247Sports composite.
It’s far too early for Hammonds to be considered a bust, especially when others have noted the growth they’ve seen from him under Crean’s direction.
“I thought (Nicolas) Claxton and Hammonds have both blossomed this year under Coach Crean and that staff, and I told them both that after the game,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “They ask Rayshaun to do a lot, they don’t have a lot, they are kinda point guard by committee.”
Hammonds’ issues involve fundamentals and decision making, Crean indicated.
“Sometimes right now he makes the read and people are just lining up for the charge because he is going to go right into their chest,” Crean said following Saturday’s 62-52 home loss to Florida. “He is not low enough when he makes the move.
“I am going to have really spend some time and be creative, look for creative ways to get him the ball in better spots than we are right now because we need him to score.”
Georgia is 3-1 in its last seven games Hammonds has scored in double figures, and 0-3 when he’s been held to single-digit scoring.
Rayshaun Hammonds against SEC teams
0 points Vs. Tennessee 0-for-4 shooting (0-of-2 from 3) 1 turnover
19 points Vs. Vanderbilt 6-for-13 shooting (2-of-6 from 3) 3 turnovers
9 points Vs. Auburn 2-of-6 shooting (1-of-2 from 3) 5 turnovers
11 points Vs. Kentucky 3-of-8 shooting (1-of-5 from 3) 2 turnovers
0 points Vs. Florida 0-for-4 shooting (0-for-2 from 3) 4 turnovers