NCAA nuggets: UGA’s Kenny Gaines says ’50-50′ that he’ll play

Georgia coach Mark Fox and the Bulldogs find themselves on a big stage in the NCAA Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte. (Photo by Chip Towers)

Georgia coach Mark Fox and the Bulldogs find themselves on a big stage in the NCAA Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte. (Photo by Chip Towers)

CHARLOTTE — This here is what they call a “quick blog.”

I’m here at Time Warner Cable Arena where there has been a whole lot going on this morning and continues to be a lot happening. Georgia has already had its NCAA Tournament press conference and open practice this morning and Michigan State, the Bulldogs’ opponent, is meeting with the media as I type this.

I’ve got a whole lot of writing and reporting to get to and will be posting that stuff throughout the day. In the meantime, I wanted to share some of the pertinent news that came out of this morning’s access to the teams and the arena.

Kenny Gaines is going to play

Now how healthy he is and how effective he’ll be is a matter of debate. This past Sunday, after the Bulldogs’ tournament selection was announced, Gaines said there was a “4,000 percent” chance he’d play in Friday’s game against the seventh-seeded Spartans despite his sprained left foot. In the locker room before Georgia’s practice Thursday Gaines was saying it’s now  “50-50” whether he’ll play.

“I’ve still got a ways to go,” Gaines said. “I’m just trying to rest it as much as I can before game time. It’s like 50-50. I think I’m gonna play but it’s up to the doctor and coach.”

Now I’m no mathematician, but either Gaines’ percentage of playing went down 3,950 percent or there’s a 2,000 percent chance that he will play.

“He obviously was very excited Sunday and the moment probably got the best of him,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “He’s doing everything he can. He had treatment last night; he had treatment this morning before breakfast, the trainers are doing a great job trying to get him back. I anticipate we’ll be able to use him, but it’s something we’re just having to deal with.”

I believe the reality is that nobody’s is sure just how effective Gaines, the Bulldogs’ No. 2 scorer and No. 1 perimeter player, will be. He looked OK during Thursday’s shoot-around, though it appeared his patented long-range shot was a little off. But all-in-all he Gaines looks ready to go to me.

Juwan Parker likely won’t play

Conversely, there appears little to no chance that Juwan Parker will be able to play Friday. The junior small forward didn’t want to come right out and say during locker room interviews but his coach said it for him.

“Juwan Parker will be dressed for the game but, in all likelihood, it will be for emergency-use only,” Fox said. “He had another setback and he’s been through a lot.”

Parker, who has a chronic Achilles injury that will require surgery at season’s end, tried to come back and play in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals and was cruising along fine in the first half against Arkansas until he got the foot stepped on and left the game in tremendous pain.

Not having Parker in and of itself is not an issue. But the cumulative effect on Georgia’s perimeter rotation is problematic, especially when going against a triple-threat of guards the likes of which Michigan State deploys. Sophomore Kenny Paul Geno will get his sixth straight start at the “3 position.” But ultimately it will likely mean more time for  J.J. Frazier at point and more time for Charles Mann at the 3.

J.J. finding his range

Speaking of Frazier, the sophomore guard had scored in double figures in seven of eight games — including 37 points against Mississippi State — midway through the SEC schedule. The he broke his hand against Texas A&M in one game, then had an orbital socket fracture and concussion against Auburn in the next.

It will probably come as no surprise to know Frazier’s production went down after that. He has scored in double figures just twice since.

But Frazier got rid of the plastic mask in Nashville and proclaimed his left hand healed coming into Charlotte and he’s finally starting to feel like his old self.

“I can actually shoot the ball like normal,” said Frazier, who is averaging 9.8 points and 3.5 assists per game. “Ever since I hurt my hand I’ve had to adjust my shot, but now it’s healthy. The mask is off; my face is healthy. I’m looking for one of those games. I’m due for it. My rhythm is coming back and I’m excited.”

Scene and heard …

Georgia’s NCAA-allotted, 40-minute shoot-around at Time Warner Arena was not where the Bulldogs sunk their teeth into preparation for Michigan State. That will come later Thursday afternoon when they get in a workout at UNC-Charlotte. … That practice will be closed. The ones at the arena are open to the public and, in the case of traditional basketball powerhouses, can be heavily attended. That wasn’t the case for the Bulldogs, who had only a couple of dozen fans watching on Thursday. But UGA is expected to have a good turnout for Friday’s game. According to assistant athletic director John Bateman, the Bulldogs sold out their initial allotment of 350 tickets and then the additional maximum of 200 for the 12:40 p.m. game. “We sold all we could get,” Bateman said. “Hopefully more of our fans will come support us through other means. We have a lot of fans in the area and, of course, it’s not doesn’t take long to get here.” Charlotte is about a three-hour drive from Athens, four from Atlanta. …

The Bulldogs are sharing their locker room this week from some team called “Duke.” … Also playing here in downtown Charlotte this week are Belmont, Robert Morris, San Diego State and Virginia. … Fox was asked here about the comments of Georgia Tech’s Brian Gregory, who said Michigan State’s Tom Izzo called him asking advice on how to beat the Bulldogs. Fox’s response was predictable. You can read it HERE IN JEFF SCHULTZ’S BLOG.


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