Posted: 12:24 pm Thursday, March 6th, 2014

How is UGA winning? Start with Mark Fox 

By Mark Bradley

Mark Fox, shown in incredulous mode. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Mark Fox, shown in incredulous mode. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

ATHENS

For those still wondering how the Georgia Bulldogs, who were 6-6 in non-conference play, hold third place in the 14-team SEC with one regular-season game remaining, here are two words: Mark Fox.

He’s an adroit tactician. His team tends to get good shots. (Probably more good shots per game, I submit, than any SEC team save Florida, which has a splendid coach in Billy Donovan and way better players than Georgia.) Watch the Bulldogs coming off timeouts and note how often they’ll run a set that yields a high-percentage look. Now watch other college teams and see how seldom they do.

The knock on Fox is that, with the exception of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, he hasn’t signed a big-time player in his time at Georgia. (And this, we note, is his fifth season.) It would be nice to see what Fox could do with talent on the level of, say, Tennessee’s. It would be nice to see how many more of those good shots the Bulldogs could make with better players taking them.

But maybe I’m missing the point. Maybe Fox is among those coaches — and there are always some — who do their best work with less. Maybe bigger talents would be less receptive to being coached. An instructive moment came in the second half of Georgia’s rout of Mississippi State on Wednesday. Kenny Gaines, Georgia’s best player, eschewed a layup on a fast break to feed a trailing Nemanja Djurisic, who wound up making a slightly more difficult layup.

This prompted an immediate Fox timeout to impart a message imparted many times already: Respect the game. “We’re having some success,” Fox would say afterward, “and we have to learn how to handle having success.”

That bit of good coaching in an otherwise unmemorable game offered another reason why Fox is indeed a good coach. In yet another down year for the conference, Georgia’s attention to detail has elevated it. Other SEC programs have better basketball players, but not many play better basketball.

64 comments
DawginNY
DawginNY

Unfortunately we don't have a single top 50 win.  Mizzou was in the top 25 when we beat them the first time and top 50 (RPI) the second time.  But they have continued their slide, which is why we need a crack at Kentucky in the semis. 

HotDawg
HotDawg

This a fun team to watch. Great kids. On and off the court.

Adamsran
Adamsran

Outstanding article Mark. 


Dead on....


Losing one Senior. 


Winning convinces talent and just as important, convinces AAU Coaches...

HotDawg
HotDawg

You can see the young talent maturing this year.

Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann are only Sophomores. Marcus Thornton is finally healthy.

These players were big recruits in high school.

The one and done players are great, but it leads to much inconsistency.

UGA is building a TEAM of really good players that will be around for the long haul.

If Mark Fox can recruit a couple of the so called "one and dones", to go along with a solid team, that might get them into national contention.

Next year they will have a team of seasoned veterans. This will be the time to add some big time recruits to the mix.

And stop with all the negative comments.

So the SEC is down. We all know that. But give the team some credit for what they have accomplished. Considering where they were at the beginning of the season. And the all the bottom of the conference predictions.

With the conference being so down, why didn't another team take advantage like UGA did?

Great season Dawgs and looking forward to a better one next year.

Keep up the momentum.

hoopsdog
hoopsdog













as usual, I think TampGator 1"s comments are right on the money. Couldn't have said it better myself.

TampGator1
TampGator1

I think Fox is one of the better coaches in the SEC, and I would not be surprised to see a more successful basketball program come after him after this year.  And, by the way, the best player on the Florida basketball team was a 2-star recruit coming out of high school.....Scottie Wilbekin.  And Billy Donavan has worked very hard to make him that kind of player over the last four years. Florida is very good this year because they have 4 senior starters (only one super recruit...Patrick Young.....that have worked their butts off to become good, team players and not just individual talents showcasing their individual talents on the court (Kentucky the last two years).  I would take Fox over Calapari as a coach any day of the week.  And he would be able to recruit at Kentucky.      

Gordon82
Gordon82

After this season, Fox will have had 3 losing seasons in five and 1 NCAA appearance (first round loss).  Those are Paul Hewitt numbers, who Mark used to regularly bash.  Hewitt got there by recruiting well and coaching poorly, and Fox the opposite, yet Fox gets handled with kid gloves.

59bulldawg
59bulldawg

I like Fox and hope he stays in Athens for a long time. He's a quality coach and an even better person. And I don't give a crap how down the SEC is this year. He's kept the team motivated and playing well for the most part when some teams would have simply mailed it in.

dis_g
dis_g

And wth are you not writing about GA state?

dis_g
dis_g

Oops, just read a few of the other comments, and realized that had already been pointed out.

dis_g
dis_g

Here are some other words, Mark, the SEC sucks in basketball this year.

LevelHeadedDawg
LevelHeadedDawg

I think that the poor recruiter label isn't valid, I know the story says except for KCP but he has been the biggest recruit in 20 years and that spans a few coaches that people would label as good recruiters. Also people forget Marcus Thornton was mr Georgia basketball when he picked uga. And last year tony parker(no.6 nationally by recruiting sites) picked ucla over uga - a traditional powerhouse over a poor recruiter. So given time and good results the big recruits will look more to uga, but we as fans also have to support the team as well as we do the football program. because as much as you want to say how he can't recruit it sure is a hard sell to play in front of 2-3k when those other coaches get paid to recruit and its easy to point to our shortcomings as a basketball program.

midtowncowboy
midtowncowboy

75% of winning at the Major D1 level is getting the players.  The rest is BS.

midtowncowboy
midtowncowboy

They are "winning" because they got to the easy part of their schedule, SEC play.  Anything else is spin and BS.  The SEC sucks this year.

BullFrawgs
BullFrawgs

MB is smoking crack again. UGH is winning because 1/2 of the SEC is clearly horrible. Get over it.

RingtheBell
RingtheBell

Stop saying build a new arena NOT going to happen!!! Have any of you been to the the Steg this year,it was rocking for the Ole Miss game and yes there were some empty seats, student section was full. what needs to be done is lower ticket prices some,that will get buts in the seats and help with recruiting.

slydawg
slydawg

Bad argument. I doubt there are a lot "bad" coaches coaching in Div 1. They all know the basics and are "adroit" tacticians. They all could do better with better players; look at Paul Hewitt back in 2003. It's getting what you have to perform like it should when the lights come on. Who the heck coaches and plays for Wichita St.? VCU? Gonzaga? Virginia? George Mason before Hewitt? Florida Gulf Coast? I mixed in some teams from different years but you get my point. Brad Stevens was probably the best coach in all of college basketball. No one can argue that. Also, Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines are not exactly chop liver also-rans. Billy Donovan gets All American meatheads to play together and perform. So I guess he does less because he has more? If Fox does more with less, then making the NCAA tournament should be an afterthought. Fox and Gregory would both look like geniuses with Florida's roster? No, misuse of talent exposes weak coachewith

MoistDawg
MoistDawg

i am convinced that if the powers that be at uga would actually spend some real money on the hoops facilitys (and not just putting some makeup on that dump stegman) we would be at the top of the sec with uk and floriduh every single year. we should be hanging banners at stegman AND sanford.

At home in Larryville
At home in Larryville

I think Fox's career turned on losing Thompkins and Leslie to the NBA early, similar to how Ray Goff never could recover from losing Garrison Hearst and Andre Hastings after 1992 (or from Robert Edwards' broken foot).  If TT & TL had stayed, that team could have been really good and begun to build some consistency in the program.


Yeah, he hasn't recruited anyone big-time except Pope, but he's not going to land the one-and dones playing in the Steg with apathetic community and student support.  He's got to be able to land that next level of player, coach them up and let them play together, like's he has done with this team.   It would be nice if he could find an assistant to teach a more exciting brand of offense.


IMO, Georgia needs to do a couple of things.  One, try to get the Tech game back in Atlanta at Philips.  The game at the Omni was always a nice tradition and felt like a big game in December.   Two, play some big non-conferene games at Gwinnett in December like they did with Gozaga a few years ago to get some extra exposure in Atlanta.  Believe me, the UGAA isn't relying on December games in the Steg to finish in the black. Last, renovate the Steg much like Tech with AMC or build a whole new arena altogether.  The Steg just looks old and small on TV.   


And if Fox can't do it, go get Ron Hunter, who seems to have the recruiting connections UGA needs to get in-state and even some out-of-state talent.

Rawmilkdrinker
Rawmilkdrinker

2013 group is similar to 1983 Final Four "team", after losing a big name player Dominique Wilkins to the pros, played as a team and kicked tail. Maybe the 2013 Foxhounds, playing as a team without a big name (KCP) will do the same. 

BCB
BCB

If UGA played the AAU game they would get better recruits. College basketball is a shady business.

PoliticalOutsider
PoliticalOutsider

UGA football has earned their reputation by being a consistent top 15 team for the past 40 years or so. UGA basketball has not earned the same respect.

That said, Mark Fox is an outstanding coach and a fine man. And recruiting has been his only weak spot. Usually half of his team comes from some intramural team. And I can't completely blame Fox. A college coach friend of mine tells me the problem is the AAU basketball leagues. He says the AAU coaches are basically these kid's agents and sell them to the highest bidder and the UGA refuses to "pay to play". So, the way I see it is UGA has two choices. Either show up with a brown paper bag of cash and buy Fox some players or do what Bulter and Gonzaga do and sign a bunch of hard nose, smart, coachable white boys and let Fox coach them up.

It's a disgrace to the Georgia AAU that the rosters of out of state teams are filled with Georgia kids, (along with a few former AAU coaches) while UGA plays with a few left overs and some kids off the intramural teams.

P_The_Ricker
P_The_Ricker

only ~5,000 fans at the game last night.  that's a shame!!!

sad that the students and local fan base can't get enough incentive from an over-achieving 3rd place team to go watch them play live.  Since the fans are obvoiusly uninterested in what's taking place, the athletic dept should do some better marketing to help further promote the team.  better halftime shows than a musician, free promotional pizza, 1/2 off tix for wearing red, etc, etc, etc.

huge "black eye" for recruiting when a good product only produces a half-filled arena.  especially when you consider that the 1/2 filled arena is already one of the smallest in the sec....or bcs conferences.

jeffreyd
jeffreyd

While I would like to see Fox bring in better recruits, I can understand why they're not choosing Georgia. When they're probably only going to play 1-2 seasons in college, why would a top recruit want to play at an ok team like Georgia when they'd have a chance to play for something big with Duke, Kansas, Florida, Kentucky, etc.

GTBob
GTBob

They are winning because the SEC is a complete train wreck in basketball. There are two somewhat decent teams in the SEC and they both beat UGA by 20+ points.

HotDawg
HotDawg

AAU is the evil side of basketball. They're like the mafia.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Tampa, I believe Fox is at UGA for the long haul if he can win with consistency.

When he was hired, UGA and Fox mutually spoke of the position not becoming a springboard for the next job. It is a major University that can handle and is seeking that stability.

Florida is a prime example. Donovan could have jumped ship with many offers, such as Kentucky. But stayed and maintained. Kruger did get something going in 90's and left for pros. But Donovan didn't feel the need to leave a football school. And has done very well. I respect that.

The grass is not always greener on the other side. And alot has to do with a coaches personality and personal desires.

I believe Mark Fox is the kind of person that would love to build UGA into a national contender and remain content to coach there the remainder of his career. Or at least most of his career.

Just a hunch.

ShovelPlease
ShovelPlease

@Rawmilkdrinker One difference between the 1983 team and this one is that the 1983 made the NCAA tournament.  The current team is not even on the bubble.  Quite a gap there.

DawginNY
DawginNY

@PoliticalOutsider, you post sounded great until you had to say "white boys," as if we don't have some hard-nose, smart, coachable black players.  What a disgusting thing to say.

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

@jeffreyd Agreed. Hard to find a coach that is good at both X's & O's as well as a quality recruiter that would take the UGA job. Why would they? College B ball in the current format is at best a stepping stone for these kids. Worse and more so than football.


Tubs and Harrick were as good a combo as we have ever had and Harrick is a proven cheater and slime ball.


Fox reminds me of CPJ only a better person. Can coach but isn't a dynamic recruiter given the circumstance.

P_The_Ricker
P_The_Ricker

@GTBob so the #1 team in the country is "somewhat decent?"

your opinion is always fun to laugh at.....rather than taking seriously

jeffreyd
jeffreyd

@GTBob  Tech lost to 2 SEC teams that aren't even Florida or Kentucky.

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

@GTBob I agree Bob about our team winning but Florida is more than "somewhat decent" and Kentucky is that at best.

jeffreyd
jeffreyd

@twelveofthirteen Harrick was a slimeball, but he was a good coach/recruiter. My freshman year was in 2002-2003, when we beat a top 3 Florida team at Stegeman. We were poised to at least make some noise in the tournament before all of those sanctions. Consequently I was doomed to endure awful UGA basketball teams for the rest of my college career.

Wolfman2
Wolfman2

@P_The_Ricker @GTBob  Florida is a very good team in a sub-par SEC.  In basketball it is hard to judge teams until the NCAA sweet sixteen and all the teams are very good.  They could win it all or get upset by another very good team. In basketball its all about matchups in a game.  And yes, GT has been pretty bad this year.

GTBob
GTBob

I phrased that poorly. How about this. One really good team, one somewhat decent team, and a whole bunch of bad teams. Is that better?

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@jeffreyd

And somehow GT managed an easy victory over UGA in Athens.

What does that prove?

GTBob
GTBob

GT has been awful all year. What is your point?

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

Nah. One great team in each. One

Pretty good (Clemson lost to SC again and was blown out by FSU) team in each. The 9 bowl teams (7 when you take the two out again) only had to win 6 games mostly against each other to make a bowl. Their bowl record wasn't good either (again minus the two). Being in the "top 50" isn't saying much and not really accurately judged which is why the real rankings only go up to 25.

It is a very similar situation. Hard to tell just how good Florida is playing in the SEC just like nobody was real sure about FSU and rightfully so as it took a last minute drive to beat an Auburn team that was clearly not even the best in the SEC.

GTBob
GTBob

The ACC just won the NC, won two BCS games, sent 9 teams to bowl games, and had several teams in the top 50 of most computer rankings. The SEC in basketball might only send two teams to the NCAA tournament and their RPI is well below every major conference along with the Atlantic 10. There are only 2 SEC teams in the top 45 RPI. The SEC in basketball is far worse than even the AAC in football. They aren't even moderately close to the ACC.

GTBob
GTBob

Nah, it's similar but the ACC in football, is a pretty big step ahead of the SEC in basketball.

P_The_Ricker
P_The_Ricker

@GTBob much better.  though our opinion separates in that I think ark, tn and uga are average teams, as oppose to bad teams.  after review of the scores from last night, the remainder of the conference is bad.

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

@GTBob pretty much the identical twin to the ACC in Football. FSU, Clemson and then garbage.

jeffreyd
jeffreyd

@PaulinNH When did I say anything about UGA being a good team here? I was just pointing out that the person saying the SEC is a "train wreck" saw his school lose to 2 SEC teams, and not even the ones that are "somewhat decent"

GTBob
GTBob

Jeffery, I'm not sure what you have been reading, but I pretty frequently acknowledge that GT is cruddy.

jeffreyd
jeffreyd

@GTBob  You just always seem to bash other teams while failing to acknowledge that yours is cruddy.