Toney - Mercer have funny-looking jumpers

ATHENS – Georgia sophomore Channing Toney is thankful Mike Mercer joined the team this year to provide the Bulldogs some much-needed depth. He also can take some comfort in the fact that he no longer has the most unorthodox jump shot on the team.

It's not even close, either. When Mercer shoots the ball, he looks like a man trying to wiggle up a chimney – arms high and close together, wrists twisting at awkward angles.

"I would describe his shot as kind of a corkscrew," Toney said. "It's kind of a screwball that has a rainbow arc. I think it's one of the top three ugliest forms on the team, including myself. I think Dave Bliss has a pretty ugly shot, too."

The problem with Mercer's shot, other than its aesthetic issues, was illustrated in consecutive possessions of Wednesday's loss to Tennessee. He hit a 3-pointer with 19:26 left in the second half to pull Georgia within two points then came down on the next possession and missed the rim entirely from behind the arc. The next trip? Another miss.

At 40 percent, Mercer has the worst shooting percentage on the team. His success rate fluctuates as wildly as his arms when he's taking the shots. Against Clemson and Western Carolina, he had 22 and then 17 points. In the next two games, he had four and three.

Against the Volunteers, he had 15, so he may be due another double-digit game today when Georgia (10-5, 0-2 SEC) takes on South Carolina (9-6, 0-2) in Columbia, S.C.

Mercer admits his shooting form may be too flawed to ever work on a consistent basis.

"I'm a streaky shooter," he said. "It depends on how I'm feeling that day."

Mercer has a theory about the origin of the eyesore.

"I guess when I was young I wasn't strong enough to get the ball to the basket, so I had to make some adjustments, and it just stuck with me," he said.

As he grew and his game developed, he was so successful driving to the basket and making plays in the lane that his awkward outside shooting never bothered any of his coaches.

Georgia coach Dennis Felton is considering making Mercer completely overhaul his shooting form, he said, but there's almost no chance that would happen during the season.

"He has actually shot it better than we expected," Felton said. "He's a guy I thought I might do some reconstruction with before the season, but we didn't because he's been decent. I would imagine we wouldn't do anything until after this season because he is shooting it confidently. That's a big part of shooting."

Mercer wouldn't balk at a change, he said.

"I'm sure over the years, he'll work with me," he said. "You can't change your shot in the middle of the season. That'd really mess you up. It takes a lot of hard work. You can't develop habits and break them in one day. I think I'll be able to do it, though."

Messing with a player's form is a tricky business, said Channing Toney, the owner of a less-than-textbook jumper himself.

"People used to make fun of my form also, but I stayed with my form, so I think it's important for him to stay with it," Toney said.

Players whose game takes them as far as college basketball can become very attached to their style, guard Levi Stukes said.

"A lot of people have the kind of shot where people say, ‘Wow, how'd that go in?' But everybody shoots the ball differently," Stukes said. "I guess it's just for a person to find a comfortable shooting touch and then work on it and work on it."

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