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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hoops Notes: Fox Leans on Richt for Input

From Roy Williams to Bobby Knight to Rick Barnes, new Georgia coach Mark Fox said he has gotten some important advice from plenty of the elite coaches in college basketball before deciding to head to Athens.

Since he has been at Georgia, he has already met with several of the top SEC coaches, too, including Mississippi's Andy Kennedy, LSU's Trent Johnson and Kentucky's John Calipari.

But the one coach Fox said he has been most excited about spending time with is Georgia's football coach, Mark Richt.

"There's only one Mark in town," Fox joked, "and it ain't me."

Fox said that he first met Georgia's football coaches on the day he was hired, spending some time with Richt and several of the assistants.

Since then, he has talked with Richt several times, including during some of the stops the two have made on the school's Bulldog Club tour, which began two weeks ago. At one point, Fox said, the two scheduled to meet for about 15 minutes and ended up spending nearly three hours together. Richt even set up an impromptu tour of Sanford Stadium for Fox's son, who was visiting Athens for the weekend.

It's a relationship Fox said he embraced immediately and said that he has always relied on coaches from other sports for input and advice, and to have a staff as good as Richt's nearby makes the process even easier.

"They understand how to win at Georgia," Fox said. "There's a lot of things if you're smart you can use from each other."


There are no hard feelings aimed at former Georgia recruit Daniel Miller, who had committed to the Bulldogs under Dennis Felton but was granted his release by Fox two weeks ago and has since signed with Georgia Tech.

Fox said he met with Miller and his family, and while he would have honored the scholarship offer made by Felton, he was also happy to allow Miller to explore other options.

"I think he wanted a fresh start, and that's understandable," Fox said. "I told his family and him that I'm not going to stand in your way. That wouldn't be the right way to begin."

Fox said he was not aware of Miller's intent to sign with Tech, but said he was not interested in limiting the former recruit's options regardless.


A few days after losing Miller, Fox added a new name to Georgia's commitment list for 2009.

Point guard Vincent Williams, of Homestead, Fla., was Fox's first commitment since taking over at Georgia, and he said Williams fulfills a key role on the offensive end of the court.

"One of the things we felt like this team needs is to become a little bit more offensive – well, more than a little bit," Fox said. "Trey (Thompkins) can score a lot of different places, but unless we can stretch the defense and isolate him, he's going to have a tough time. … Vincent can shoot the ball. He can score."


Williams' signing leaves three available scholarships for the Bulldogs, but Fox said he doesn't plan on using them all this year. With Albert Jackson as the team's only senior, Fox said it's important to help even out the classes and maintain some flexibility for the future. More importantly, however, he wants players who will fit at Georgia.

"We want to recruit players who can help us win, not just play here," Fox said.

Fox and his staff had just nine days to recruit this year, and they hit the ground running, stopping at as many as seven schools in one day. New NCAA restrictions that prevent coaches from attending post-season basketball tournaments for recruiting has made things more difficult, but Fox said they haven't given up on landing a last-minute addition.

"We'll look at transfers if we can," Fox said. "We're looking internationally. We'll keep looking because you never know what you're going to find."


One of the biggest headaches of Fox's brief tenure at Georgia has been the schedule. The Bulldogs are already tied into several road and neutral-court games in their non-conference schedule, but the trick has been finding some competition willing to come to Stegeman Coliseum next season.

Georgia has return dates at Virginia Tech and Missouri to fulfill home-and-home agreements that began last season, and the Bulldogs will play Illinois in a neutral site game at the Gwinnett Center as well. They'll also head to New York for a date with St. John's as part of the new Big East-SEC challenge. Georgia Tech remains the only major non-conference game set for Stegeman, and that has been a concern for Fox.

Fox also announced that Georgia would not participate in the Diamond Head Classic, a new tournament hosted by Hawaii, due to the extensive travel. The Bulldogs had initially been scheduled to appear.

Georgia needed eight games to finish out its schedule for 2009-10 and Fox said he is close to agreements with four schools already.

"They wanted to wait and let the new coach make the decisions, which is one of the things I give the administration credit for is they didn't go ahead and schedule a bunch of games," Fox said. "But we're behind. … We have some serious work to do in getting some games, we have some major work to do on the schedule, and that's not going to be solved overnight."

Fox said the schedule would not likely be finalized for a while yet, noting that during one season while he was at Nevada, the final game on the slate wasn't set until October. Fox also said he would not agree to any two-for-one agreements in which Georgia would play a team on the road twice in exchange for one home game, but said he may consider a home-and-home deal with teams he would normally want to visit Stegeman twice.

"I think that we want to play some teams from other BCS leagues," Fox said. "We want to be on TV. We want to be able to certainly take advantage of playing in a big league and playing at home."


Up next on Fox's schedule is finalizing his staff, which will include one more assistant and support staff. He also wants to evaluate the team's summer lifting programs and finish up the schedule. Overall, however, he said his first month has been pretty productive.

"I don't think I've had a bad day," Fox said. "We've enjoyed every second of it."


Ball-U_Dawg Triangle said...

Great info. on what Fox has been up to. Sounds like he has been busy.

dw said...

Great work. Thanks for the information!