MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala — The effort is always there, but learning to play with the necessary purpose is not, and that has new Georgia coach Tom Crean on edge with the season fast approaching.
“We have to become a day by day program, what that means is when you are day to day, you are all over the map, you might have a good day, you might have two good days,” Crean said. “Then, all the sudden, you turn it around.
“Consistency of effort has been good, consistency of purpose and how we get better has not been as good, and that’s the key, that’s where you make your jump.”
Crean and Georgia will get a better idea of where they are at after Thursday night’s 8 p.m. exhibition game at Alabama-Birmingham.
The new head coach says there’s plenty the team needs to improve on, starting with the most fundamental objective of the game.
“Shooting, consistent shooting, consistent range shooting, and really right now getting them to understand what spacing means to us,” Crean said, asked Wednesday the most pressing area his team needs to improve.
“It’s, ‘this is the way we want to play’, and that utilization of spacing, how we play out of the corners, how we read the ball and how we play off how we’re being played,” Crean said. “The next big thing, like right now I’m scared to death of where our transition defense would be right now.
“We don’t understand how important it is to switch ends. we’re starting to switch ends better on the offensive end, we have to go back on the defensive end with that same sense of urgency, but it starts with the shooting.”
Crean took Marquette to the Final Four (2003) and rebuilt Indiana into a Big Ten powerhouse that enjoyed a 10-week stint as the nation’s No. 1-ranked team (2012-13).
The Bulldogs are a long ways off, and Crean knows he has to be patient.
Georgia was picked to finish 13th in the 14-team SEC, but no one on the Bulldogs team is backing away from the goal of making the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulldogs have made just one NCAA Tournament appearance in the past seven years, most recently in 2015. The last time Georgia advanced to the Sweet 16 was 1996.
Last season ended in the SEC Tournament, Kentucky dishing the Bulldogs a 62-49 defeat, leaving Georgia 18-15 (7-11 SEC) and leading to Mark Fox’s dismissal.
The Bulldogs return three staters off last season’s team, point guard William Jackson, center Derek Ogbeide and forward Rayshaun Hammonds.
“I think there’s bit potential, and that was part of me having a strong interest in the job,” Crean said. “The most important thing we do right now (big picture) is we don’t get away from what do we need to be successful when it comes to recruiting.
“Not just dash in and feel we have to achieve this or that, but really get people who are going to be able to play the way we want to play moving forward.”
The current roster has shown he desire to get better, and the focus has improved as Crean has installed more of his game plan.
“They are very hungry to learn, there’s no question about that,
Mark (Fox) did a great job of bringing in young people that care and are hard workers and that’s been really good,” Crean said. “It’s been exciting to watch.”
Georgia coach Tom Crean