(Blog post No. 10)
Georgia women’s golf looks to build off strong fall
By Jordan D. Hill
For Georgia women’s golf head coach Josh Brewer, one moment stood out from the Bulldogs’ fall string of tournaments.
It happened after Georgia finished second in the season-opening Cougar Classic in Charleston, S.C. Although the team did not claim victory, Manuela Carbajo Ré could not hide her emotion during the ride home. After three long years of inconsistency and mediocre finishes, the success by the senior and her teammates left the Argentinian with a smile planted on her face.
The emotion caught Brewer’s attention as the team van headed home to Athens, Ga.
“We all had that moment at Christmas where we get the gift we wanted and we’re so excited,” Brewer said. “She didn’t say a word, but I could see her in the mirror smiling. I don’t have kids. I’ll never forget her face as long as I live because I was so happy for her.”
Carbajo Ré and Brewer have plenty of reasons to grin. Georgia had a strong start to the season and followed up the second in South Carolina with a third-place finish, a victory in Chicago, Ill.///STYLE ERROR: NEED COMMA/// and a fifth-place showing at the Stanford Intercollegiate. The win in the Windy City Collegiate Classic featured a record-breaking performance by freshman Bailey Tardy, whose 12-under tally set a new school and tournament record.
“I’m very proud of them,” assistant coach Whitney Young said. “They’ve all worked hard. It’s been fun for coach Brewer and me because we’ve been able to sit back and watch them compete.”
As strong as September and October were for the Bulldogs, the next two months may determine how far the team advances at the NCAA regionals in May.
The Georgia golf team technically began its offseason with the close of the Stanford Intercollegiate on Oct. 20. From that point until the first week of school in January, Brewer and Young cannot mandate any practices or workouts; instead, it’s up to the players to handle their preparation.
Freshman Jillian Hollis believes the timing couldn’t have been better for the aches and pains shared by several Bulldogs. With four tournaments on the docket before SEC///STYLE ERROR: SPELL OUT ON FIRST REFERENCE/// championships begin on April 15, it’s crucial the team adequately heals as the calendar turns to another year. Otherwise, the remaining months of play will eliminate the optimism built by the program’s strong start.
“Towards the end, I think all the playing really took a toll,” Hollis said. “I got sick the last day of our last tournament and Bailey didn’t even come to the last tournament. It’s really good for us to take a little bit of a break and decompress.”
Some head coaches may be on edge due to the break, but don’t count Brewer among them. He’s talked about the competitiveness among the team members///ADD THIS/// even before the season began. He said the drive will fuel the players to work just as hard during these bye weeks. Six different players competed for the Bulldogs in the opening four tournaments. He said he///ADD THIS/// believes this will motivate all 10 players on the roster to fight for playing time in early 2016.
“If you really take three months off and you Snapchat a teammate and see your teammate is practicing, it’s like, ‘Dang, If I don’t get out there, I might not play,’” Brewer said.
The Bulldogs head coach also saw extra incentive on the schedule. After Georgia hosts its Lady Bulldog Invitational on Feb. 6, the Bulldogs leave the country eight days later for the Lady Puerto Rico Classic. For Brewer, the unique trip should be more than enough to keep his players working hard for a fast start when the season resumes.
“We go to Puerto Rico over Valentine’s Day,” Brewer said. “I love Athens, Georgia, but I sure as heck would rather be with my friends in Puerto Rico that time of year.”
Edited by Emily McLanahan
(Blog post No. 9)
Georgia men’s cross country relies on 2 years of training at NCAA regional
By Emily Giambalvo
With the yearly occurrence of NCAA championships, an entire season of training produces a team’s success. But if the University of Georgia’s men’s cross country team qualifies for the top meet this year, it will be the culmination of two years of preparation.
A few of Georgia’s top male runners did not compete last year, and Georgia coach Patrick Cunniff said it was a strategic move. While some like///SUCH AS/// Zack Sims sat out with injury, others like///SUCH AS/// Sid Vaughn redshirted a year solely to improve the chances of having a strong team in 2015.
On Nov. 13, the Bulldogs will race at the NCAA South Regional Championship///STYLE ERROR: LOWERCASE/// in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where they can earn spots at the national championship. The men qualified for three consecutive years beginning in 2011, before failing to advance last year.
“Having the guys sit out and having them sit out on purpose, in some ways ending a streak, it’s as much about making that year count, make all the work that we did in the two years since we’ve been [to the national championship] count,” Cunniff said.
The men will run a 10-kilometer race, and the women will run 6///YOU CAN USE 6K, SINCE IT’S THE SECOND REFERENCE TO KILOMETERS/// kilometers. On both sides, the top two teams automatically qualify to the NCAA championship.
“It’s kind of like being in the NCAA tournament,” Cunniff said. “You’ve got to advance or go home.”
After the top two schools from each of the nation’s nine regions secure spots, 13 additional slots are allocated based on number of victories over the already-qualified schools. If the fourth-finishing team at regionals qualifies in this manner, it automatically pushes the third-place team into the championship. That’s how Georgia’s women qualified in 2012.
While the men said they are eyeing the NCAA championship, Cunniff said the women’s goal is to finish in the top eight.
“[The women’s team is] relatively inexperienced when it comes to the championship season,” redshirt sophomore Morgan Green said.
Only three of the eight women traveling to the regional meet competed in the same race last year.
“Last year was kind of a surprise that I was even at regionals,” Green said. “Now, I feel like I’m ready for it and prepared.”
On the men’s side, seven of the runners have experienced a regional competition. Only freshman Stephen Martinez will be new to the meet.
Cunniff said that the Bulldogs’ training for the entire season — and in the men’s case, two seasons — has pointed toward this regional meet.
“Regionals is something that I don’t want to be my last cross country meet ever, so there’s pressure in that,” senior Steven Spevacek said. “But we’ve got a good group of guys that believe we can qualify for nationals.”
Visual recap of the five races that Georgia competed in prior to the NCAA regional
Edited by Jordan Hill
(Blog post No. 8)
by Emily M. & Bryan M.
(Blog post No. 7)
UGA Men’s Basketball May “Experiment” Entering Season in Flux
by B. A. Marseille
UGA men’s basketball head coach Mark Fox spoke at a press conference Tuesday about this year’s team’s lack of identity as it prepares for its exhibition game against Armstrong Atlantic//LOOKS LIKE IT’S MORE COMMONLY CALLED ARMSTRONG STATE// on Nov. 6.
“Right now, we’re just really focused on trying to become proficient at something,” Fox said. “So far in two weeks [of practice] we feel like we have made a dent in it, but only a dent.”
The Bulldogs are coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons for the program’s third time in 110 seasons. Their last and only three straight 20-win efforts came in the 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons.
This is not the same team that finished 21-10 last season.
Georgia lost two starters and over 40 percent of the team’s production in three major statistical categories (points, rebounds, blocks) with the graduation of seniors Marcus Thornton and Nemanja Djurisic.
Their departure shifts the strength of the Georgia basketball team to its backcourt. Guards Charles Mann, Kenny Gaines and J.J. Frazier finished first, third and fourth in minutes per game, respectively, last season.
Those three also bit by the injury bug//CLICHE//, each playing through snags//THESE ARE MORE THAN SNAGS// including concussions (Mann ), foot fractures (Gaines) and a broken face (Frazier).
The backcourt will welcome freshman guard William “Turtle” Jackson II, a lanky, creative floor general at 6-foot-5 who just finished a 108-14 prep career at nearby Athens Christian Academy.//FACTUAL ERROR — ATHENS CHRISTIAN SCHOOL//
With a pool of talent who can plan?? on and off the ball, Gaines says the team has the opportunity to play a more unconventional lineup.
“If I were the coach, which I’m not,” Mann said. “I would play four guards and one big, just because we have so many good guards.”
The strength of the backcourt juxtaposes the lack front court experience— //NEED FIRST NAME ON FIRST REFERENCE//Maten is the only big who played over 15 minutes per game last year — and Fox said that health is the main roadblock keeping the team from playing small in the preseason.
“We haven’t practiced with a four-guard lineup yet, but if we could get healthy that might be something that we experiment with,” Fox said.
The team will likely feature a traditional lineup to start the season, with two post players and three guards on the wing. This means incoming freshman Derek Ogbeide and Mike Evans will have to learn on the fly, as they both feature skill sets that favor an uptempo playing style.
“This year with Derek at 6-8 and Mike at 6-9 as freshmen coming in, we’re bigger and more athletic up front,” Fox said. “From an athletic standpoint, those guys fit right in. It’s like a wild colt, you have to get them trained.”
Success lies //IN// how fast they turn their raw talent into wins, for a team aiming to “Raise The Flag” and change its legacy with another NCAA Tournament appearance.
“I think that the program has been a little bit of a roller coaster historically,” Fox said. “We have to get away from that one day.”
—Edited by Elizabeth Crafton
Georgia equestrian, golf and cross country: Mid-season update (blog post No. 6)
Produced by Elizabeth Crafton, Emily Giambalvo and Jordan Hill
Across all sports, Georgia has won 41 national championships. Six of those have been earned by equestrian, and men’s and women’s golf have won two and one, respectively.
(Blog post No. 5)
Georgia women’s basketball prepares for challenges in new era
By Emily McLanahan
The Georgia Lady Bulldogs basketball team held their///GRAMMAR ERROR/// first practice this week, officially marking their///GRAMMAR ERROR/// public debut for an anticipated season. With an almost entirely new coaching staff, new goals for team performance, and new faces on the roster, the Lady Bulldogs have much to prove.
The most obvious and exciting development for Georgia women’s basketball is new head coach Joni Taylor, who is entering her 14th year of coaching. She served as Georgia’s associate head coach for the past three seasons. Taylor replaces longtime head coach Andy Landers, who announced his retirement after last season.
New staff members that join Taylor are associate head coach Karen Lange, assistant coach Chelsea Newton, director of player personnel Jon Bollier, and graduate assistant manager Tiffany Clarke.
As far as the changes on the court, we///AVOID USING “WE” IN JOURNALISTIC ARTICLES/// can expect a different on-court strategy.
“Joni wants to be more fast-paced, more of a transition team than we have in the past,” said director of basketball operations Meredith Mitchell, who is also a former Lady Bulldog. “She wants us to provide an offensive spark.”
The Lady Bulldogs welcome three new faces to their roster this year. Forward Caliya Robinson and guard Amber Skidgel enter as the lone freshmen this year. Transfer player Shanea Armbrister from Darton State College is currently recovering from a meniscus injury and is anxious///ATTRIBUTE THIS/// to return to the court in a few months.
With Shacobia Barbee coming back after a leg injury alongside four other returning seniors, the team is expected to perform and excel in this new era for
coach Taylor. According to senior forward Merritt Hempe, these changes are fuel for the team to grow together.
“Off the court we are becoming closer of a team and more of a family,” Hempe said. “We are ready for this season.”
Edited by Jordan Hill
(Blog post No. 4)
Georgia men’s cross country regains depth in 2015
By Emily Giambalvo
After failing to qualify to the NCAA championship last season, the Georgia men’s cross country team has regained some of its top performers.
At the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown last week, the Bulldogs finished fifth in a field of 21 teams. Senior Steven Spevacek earned the team’s fastest time and placed 13th overall, and senior Zack Sims finished 25th.
While Spevacek competed for Georgia last year, a few of the team’s top runners – such as Sims and Sid Vaughn – redshirted in 2014. Georgia distance coach Patrick Cunniff said the return of these athletes may prove beneficial in the postseason.
“Hopefully we’ll finish a lot higher than we did last year at both SECs (Southeastern Conference championships) and regionals,” Cunniff said. “Particularly for the men, the goal is definitely to be at nationals and run well.”
An injury///SPECIFY THE INJURY/// prevented Sims from racing during last year’s cross country season, but he was able to compete track in the spring.
However, injury is not the only reason for athletes to redshirt a year. Cunniff said the decisions about who redshirts each year are entirely strategic.
Vaughn returns this year after a redshirt season, but unlike Sims, it was a deliberate choice in order to maximize the team’s potential in 2015.
“We really felt like we had a much better chance to have a good team this year and so we sat him out, rather than use up his eligibility,” Cunniff said.
Since the men’s team has a strong roster of upperclassmen this year, Cunniff said “almost all the freshman will probably redshirt.”///HOW MANY FRESHMAN ARE THERE?///
Among all Georgia sports, cross country has the highest percentage of athletes who have taken a redshirt year at some point during their collegiate careers.
Now as the Bulldogs approach the second half of their season, race distance continues to increase. The team started the season with a 5K,///STYLE ERROR — SPELL OUT “5-kilometer” ON FIRST REFERENCE/// followed by a few 8Ks. The regional competition will be the first time the team runs a 10K, and if Georgia’s men qualify to the NCAA championship on Nov. 21, they will run another 10K.
Since athletes entering college are accustomed to running 5Ks throughout high school, the additional year from taking a redshirt season gives the men time to acclimate to competing longer distances.
“It just takes a lot of maturity, and almost without exception, male athletes should run their best in their fifth year, so you often want to get them there,” Cunniff said.
Click here for the interactive version of this infographic.
Edited by Bryan Marseille
(Blog post No. 3)
Georgia equestrian looks to live up to No. 1 preseason ranking
By Elizabeth Crafton
This Friday the girls///ATHLETES/// of the top-ranked Georgia equestrian team begin their regular season, and the excitement is evident among everyone on the team.
“During our team meetings this week, I honestly got chills,” junior Rachel Kolb said. “I know that’s cheesy. I think we’re all chomping at the bit.”///THE CLICHE IS ACTUALLY “champing at the bit.” EITHER WAY, DON’T USE IT, ESPECIALLY IN AN EQUESTRIAN STORY.///
The meet against Texas A&M will serve as the season opener for both teams, who last met in the final round of the 2015 Southeastern Conference Championship.///STYLE ERROR — LOWERCASE CHAMPIONSHIP/// The Bulldogs were crowned SEC champions after beating the Aggies 12-5 in the final round, capturing the program’s first SEC title.
The red team took the 15-5 win in the team’s scrimmage this past Friday. Head coach Meghan Boenig was pleased.
“What was impressive to see was the lack of errors,” Boenig said. “We are really prepared. I think it was one of our better scrimmages ever as far as consistency and level of competitiveness.”
Kolb also mentioned that it’s a great experience for the freshmen, adding, “Some of [them] are picking things up so quickly and learning so fast, so it’s really exciting to see.”
The Bulldogs’ new assistant coach, Laura Brainard, adds some interest for this week by being a recent graduate from A&M.
“I’m incredibly excited to be going against Texas A&M since it was my home base for over five years,” Brainard said. Kolb added that Brainard provides “a new set of eyes,” especially for the Western riders.
After losing steam///CLICHE/// last year and unable to clinch a national championship, the team is ready to start the season off strong.
“We’re very, very fortunate to be a group and a team that is consistently fighting for a national title,” Boenig said. “Being hungry is always part of it.”
///NEED A TRANSITION BETWEEN QUOTES FROM DIFFERENT SOURCES///“It’s been a month or so since we started practice and we had the scrimmage last weekend,” senior Jessica Dencker added. “We feel like everyone’s prepared and we’re all excited to start the season off right.”
The No. 1 ranked Georgia equestrian team kicks off its regular season Friday when it hosts No. 7 Texas A&M at home in Bishop, Ga. at 10 a.m.///MOVE THE RANKINGS UP TO YOUR LEDE///
Edited by Emily McLanahan
(Blog post No. 2)
Charles Mann and Georgia men’s basketball begins preseason work
By B. A. Marseille
It’s just another day at the office///CLICHE/// for Charles Mann.
A gaggle of Bulldogs begin their stretching routine behind the basket in Stegeman Coliseum Thursday afternoon. Elastic ropes are scattered on the floor. One player adjusts a brace on his left knee. Another asks a trainer to assist with a leg stretch. Echoes from the squeak of sneakers bounce off a sea of empty seats in the arena.
Individual offseason workouts began this week for Georgia’s men’s basketball team. Last season had mixed results from Mann and a Georgia team that finished 21-12.
Georgia ended the season ranked fourth in the Southeastern Conference and entered the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011. One of only two players to play in all 33 games last season, Mann’s efficiency dropped across the board with his increased minutes and workload.///INCLUDE TIME SPAN OF DROP HERE///
“I came up short,” Mann said. “I didn’t reach the individual goals I set for myself. As a team we exceeded, with more room to grow. But last year is over with.”
Players typically train with another teammate at the same position; today, freshman guard William Jackson II joins Mann. Assistant coach Jonas Hayes runs the players through a gauntlet of drills during the hour-long session. Players zigzag through ball-handling drills, then run around the three-point///STYLE ERROR/// line during a catch-and-shoot routine named Shooting Star.
Sprint, pivot, swish.
Sprint, pivot, swish.
Sprint, pivot, clank.
Mann works on shooting in the corner and developing a more consistent pull-up jump shot. Last season Mann took 53.3 percent of his shots in the paint, but his shooting percentages dropped as he moved further away from the basket. He must expand his range, with the loss of production inside from forwards Marcus Thornton and Nemanja Djurisic.
Even after a workout of launching hundreds of jump shots, the senior guard said shooting drills aren’t the hardest coming out of the offseason.
“Running,” Mann said. “Anything that has a lot of running. I’m not in the greatest shape right now.”
Mann said head coach Mark Fox particularly wants the team to improve its assist-to-turnover ratio. Despite a drop in shooting efficiency, Mann managed to increase his assists last season (97 to 119) while slightly decreasing turnovers (113 to 106).
The Bulldogs start team practice the first week of October and open the regular season at home against Chattanooga on Nov. 13. For a team with the goal to win its first SEC tournament in eight years and make a repeat appearance in the NCAA tournament this spring, the journey starts now.
A lot of that responsibility falls on the productivity of Mann, a pre-season Coaches’ All-SEC first-team pick a year ago. He knows it, but doesn’t let the pressure get to him.
He watches with a smile as Hayes ends the session with a seated three-point///STYLE ERROR/// shot from the first row.
“I’m just ready to get back to playing basketball, having fun my last year.”
Edited by Emily Giambalvo
(Blog post No. 1)
Georgia women’s golf aims to overcome disappointing season
By Jordan Hill
Georgia head women’s golf coach Josh Brewer is a competitor. It’s a constant inner drive that brought him to Athens three years ago to run his own program. While he sits behind his desk, he mentions he’s up for a quick race to the door. He’s only half–joking when he says it.
His competitive nature is matched by his frankness when discussing his team’s play in 2014-2015.
“We failed,” Brewer said. “There’s no other word you could use; we failed last year. It starts with me because I’m the coach. We’ve had four months to really figure out what we can do a little differently.”
Georgia was uncharacteristically bad last season. The Bulldogs struggled through the middle part of the year before coming together late, finishing second at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic in March and winning at Seton Hall in April. Georgia could not replicate this success during the SEC Championships///SPELL OUT SEC ON FIRST REFERENCE; DON’T CAPITALIZE CHAMPIONSHIPS///, however, and missed the NCAA Regionals///DON’T CAPITALIZE REGIONALS/// for the first time since 1992.
Brewer went to work during those four months. He signed three of the top 30 high school seniors ///COMMA///according to Golfweek///COMMA/// in Bailey Tardy (No. 9), Jillian Hollis (No. 17) and Rinko Mitsunaga (No. 29). He also adjusted his style of coaching, increasing the responsibilities for his players by allowing them to practice more on their own. His thinking is simple: the///CAPITALIZE FIRST WORD AFTER A COLON IF IT BEGINS A COMPLETE SENTENCE/// want to win is either there or it isn’t.
“I have to have people that are self motivated,” Brewer said. “There’s a lot of energy in the building right now. They’re out here on their own where I don’t have to force them.”
The results are already showing. Georgia’s “red” team dominated the Cardinal Kickoff Classic on Sept. 8, defeating players from Louisville, Tennessee and Georgia State. The team, featuring junior Harang Lee, senior Manuela Carbajo Ré and the three freshmen, won the tournament by 15 strokes. While it only amounted to a scrimmage for the teams, it may be a precursor to Georgia’s return to prominence.
Not that Brewer needs a fast start. He’s already seen signs that the team is generating team chemistry that was previously missing. A solid finish at the Cougar Classic that starts on Sept. 11///FACTUAL ERROR/// is desired, but not required. He knows this team has the makings of something special.
“It may not pay off this week,” Brewer said. “It may not pay off next week. It’s going to pay off in March, April and May when we’re playing for SEC and national championships.”
Edited by Elizabeth Crafton