After the Bulldogs defeated Oklahoma, 54-48, in double overtime at the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual and Alabama knocked off Clemson, 24-6, in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, they’ll meet in the Jan. 8 CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T. Smart now has opportunity to try to dethrone his mentor a lot sooner than anyone expected.
“I think Kirby has done a great job there,” Saban said. “They play with discipline. They’re really sound. They’ve got a good coaching staff, and they’re doing a good job with recruiting. I think he’s done a fantastic job.”
We might not get the all-SEC national championship game featuring teacher versus pupil, but it’s evident Saban was an important influence when it came to designing the blueprint of a Georgia program that might now be his biggest threat in the SEC.
“I worked for him for 10 years and never realized how hard that seat is until I did it,” Smart said. “You take it for granted when you’re working for him. When you did your job and did your job to the fullest, he wasn’t ranting and raving at you. He was driven. He wanted to win. We had that in common.”
For Ayton, it’s the part of his game that needs the most work.
Ayton’s block rate of 5 percent is in Jahlil Okafor territory. It ranks among lowest for centers taken in the top 10 this decade. Compare him with Texas phenom Mohamed Bamba — another likely top-five pick this year — who is posting a block rate of 16.8 percent.
It’s a question of instincts, not physicality for Ayton. A player like Marc Gasol doesn’t have anything close to his physical tools, but he’s a master at reading the floor and knowing MLB Jerseys Cheap where he’s supposed to be. Ayton is still figuring it out.
The secret about Ayton is he’s always been more comfortable guarding the perimeter than the rim. As a recruit playing for Cal Supreme on the EYBL, he paired with a shot-blocking center in UNLV star freshman (and fellow McDonald’s All-American) Brandon McCoy. At Arizona, he’s sharing most of his minutes with another true center, Dusan Ristic. That won’t be the case in a modern NBA that keeps Wholesale NFL Jerseys Free Shipping trending smaller. Someone Ayton’s size is going to be the five by default.