Men's basketball: Georgia fine tunes issues during 12-day hiatus

Gabriella Audi/The Red & Black

Sophomore forward Nicolas Claxton grimaces as he fights for the ball during a game against Texas Southern University on Dec. 3 in Athens.

Tyree Crump and Nicolas Claxton used the same word to describe the past 10 days of practices for the Georgia men's basketball team.

"They've been intense," Claxton said.

The Bulldogs haven't played a game since Dec. 3, a 92-75 victory over Texas Southern. They then took a hiatus from games in order to allow the players to focus on final exams.

Now finals are over, and it's all basketball until the start of the new semester on Jan. 9.

"Just to not have school and just focus on basketball, that's awesome," Crump said. "You've got more time to watch film, you've got more time to practice, work on your game, whatever you've got to do to get prepared."

While the focus of the past couple weeks has been exams, the lack of game action has also allowed the Bulldogs to focus more on themselves as a team. Claxton said the Bulldogs competed against each other a good amount in one-on-one drills.

"It's actually good for your body, just getting that break before we start SEC play which is really a grind," he said. "You can really fine-tune some things from the first eight games of the season."

Claxton also noted the team focused specifically on rebounding, a facet of the game that will be tested in Georgia's next game on Saturday at home against an Arizona State team that ranks seventh in the country in rebounding margin.

But even though no games means more practice time, the Bulldogs still benefit from the rest the layoff provides.

Georgia head coach Tom Crean said the break between games, which will reach 12 days by the time the Bulldogs take the floor against Arizona State, is the longest he's been a part of as a coach.

He and the coaching staff have tried to do a good job of adding in competitive elements to practice, including using different types of scrimmaging and even bringing officials into practice.

"I think how intense, how energetic Arizona State plays, I think that'll get everybody's attention real quick," Crean said. "There won't be much time for letting the cobwebs come out. We're going to have to be rid of that quickly inside of this game or we'll be in a hole right from the beginning."

The 12-day layoff is easily Georgia's longest stretch between games this season. While it has been beneficial both in terms of rest and additional practice time, the Bulldogs are ready to get back to competing.

"We've been getting after it at practice, so we're most definitely ready to get back on the court in front of our fans," Claxton said.

Printed with permission from The Red & Black independent student media organization, based in Athens, Georgia. For more UGA sports news, visit www.redandblack.com/sports.

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