Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox wasn't trying to be Debbie Downer.
He couldn't have been more pleased with Sunday's 63-54 win over visiting Bowling Green in the opening game of the Progressive CBE Classic.
However, when Fox starts to dissect his young 2011-2012 squad, his team's rebounding remains a big concern.
"It's a major concern," said Fox. "It's been a major concern since last year. It's an area where we don't have a proven rebounder that returns. We have to work at that, and we will."
The Bulldogs (2-0) survived Sunday's contest despite some obvious deficiencies in that very important department as Bowling Green outrebounded Georgia 43-28, including 19-4 on the offensive glass.
"I don't think we fought hard enough on the backboards. That sticks out with me. We did not rebound the ball well. We certainly did some nice things, but that's not one of them," Fox said. "We did compete but we made a lot of mistakes which we're going to continue to make as we go along. We had some immature plays, but we're an immature team and we've got to continue to try to grow up and grow up fast."
Center John Forveus agreed, adding that the team's early rebounding woes haven't been for a lack of effort in practice.
"Rebounding is a big focus at practice. We're working on getting better on the board on the boards and we have to in that area," he said. "We have to get tougher and get our hands on the ball, be stronger with the ball and just get the rebound. Rebounding is all mental. We just have to get tougher and grab the boards."
The Bulldogs did fare better from the floor than they did in the opening game as Georgia shot 48.9 percent from the field (22-of-45), including a 5-for-8 night by freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who finished with 11 points, all in the second half after playing just eight minutes in the first due to foul trouble.
"I got frustrated because of the two early fouls so the first half just really got away from me," said Caldwell-Pope, whose six rebounds were a team-high. "I just kept my head down and moved on and came back in the second half pretty strong."
Gerald Robinson led the Bulldogs with 15 points, nine of them coming on 11 free throw attempts.
Georgia led by as many as 16 points before the Falcons (1-1) cut the lead to five at 48-43 with 7:17 to go on a jumper by Dee Brown.
Bowling Green would get no closer as Georgia eventually pushed the margin back to 10 before settling for the nine-point victory.
Brown led the Falcons with 15 points.
"We played hard, competed and our defense got better," Bowling Green coach Louis Orr said. "Georgia is a tough team. They have strong guards, a big, physical front fourth and they're a very good defensive team. Give them credit, they make you earn what you get."
NOTES: Senior forward Connor Nolte continues to sit out with an injured hamstring. "Is it Malcolm Mitchell-bad? I hope not because we can't go a month without him," said Fox, referring to the wide receiver on the Bulldog football team who missed almost a month with a hamstring injury. "But it's been lingering since before we started practice, and Connor as you know is one of the most experienced guys we have so we need him on the floor. He won't play Wednesday, either, but hopefully in the next week we can get him back."
Senior guard Dustin Ware played with a heavy heart after the death last week of his grandfather. Ware will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala. for the funeral on Monday.
Georgia hosts South Dakota State Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]