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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Q&A with Mark Fox

Mark Fox joked during his address to fans in Macon yesterday that he was just a warm-up act. They were all there to see Mark Richt. There was certainly some truth to that sentiment.

But, at the same time, Fox is working on boosting interest in his program, too, and he even got a good sales pitch from Richt as well. But with a thin roster, reaching out to fans has to be about more than winning. I talked to the new Georgia basketball coach about just how he plans on handling that challenge -- along with a few other key issues facing the hoops team.

David Hale: You've been out on a number of these Bulldog Club meetings now. Obviously you can't promise a Sweet 16 to fans for the upcoming season, but you also want to get people excited about Georgia basketball again. So sort of a two-part question: What has been the reaction you've gotten from fans so far, and what is the message you've been giving them?

Mark Fox: Answer one is that the response has been great. People have been very welcoming and have really embraced me and our message. I think for our players and our fans, we certainly have some work to do. But it has to start with the right mentality of our team, and what I've tried to express to people is that we need to play the game a certain way. We have to play the game hard, we have to act right, and we have to put forth an effort that people are able to appreciate. That should be the first thing that a fan looks for, whether you're picked to win a championship or not. So that's what we're focusing on right now is to create that level of effort and passion, and if we can do that, hopefully people will appreciate the effort our kids are putting out.

DH: With all you have on your plate from the schedule to recruiting to putting your staff together, how important is it for you to be out and talking to fans and building that relationship between the program and a fan base that has drifted away?

MF: It's important to have fans there just because the noise stays indoors, so the fans make a huge difference in college basketball. I don't know if it was half full last year or less, but we know there's room for improvement there. What comes first -- the chicken or the egg? Well, we need both. Hopefully we'll get some people come back and help us, hopefully our team will play the right way, and attract people to return and bring some friends with them.

DH: I know you've discussed this a bit, but do you have an idea of when you might hear a final decision from Trey Thompkins on his future?

MF: Trey's been great. He has finals this week and is focusing on that.

DH: But you plan on sitting down with him and discussing what his plans are soon?

MF: All of our guys will have an exit interview. We'll meet with all those guys this week and map out their future, and Trey will be in that group.

DH: There have also been a few guys, including Travis Leslie, who have had some problems in the classroom. Are you confident you'll have all your players available for next year?

MF: I will say that we have had a good academic month. I've been pleased with the approach of the last couple weeks. Until we see grades, I don't know. I do think the kids have had a good approach the last month and are making progress. I'd like to be cautiously optimistic in that area.

DH: So having been here for a month, how much of a handle do you think you have on the program now -- what needed to be improved and a plan to get it done?

MF: I think we have a great understanding of where it was. There is a lot of potential in this program, but we have a lot of work in front of us. There are a lot of things that correlate to winning that are in place. The practice facility is unbelievable. But we have to develop things in the right way, we have to operate the program in the right way so we can improve, and hopefully continually improve until we get to a point where we're winning. Hopefully if we do it right, we get to a point where we can sustain success. That's the long-term objective.


Anonymous said...


thanks for putting up this q&a. i'm very excited about the Fox hire and as a big UGA basketball fan, i've been following his early moves. i know uga is a football school but post as much basketball content as you can, i love reading about our team .. and i'm sure there are a few others who feel the same way.

Ben said...

recruiting this state has to be his #1 priority! Putting a fence around it.