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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Off to the NCAAs ...

Well not me. I leave Thursday morning. But the Georgia men's basketball team was set to climb on the bus for the three-hour drive to Charlotte on Wednesday afternoon.

The Bulldogs will check in their hotel, have dinner in the Queen City, then have their big prep day on Thursday: An early afternoon practice at an off-site location, the NCAA press conference at 6 p.m., then the shootaround at the arena a short time later.

Before they left Wednesday, head coach Mark Fox and players met with the media. A few notes and quotes from the session:

- Players agreed with the notion that a weight seems removed now that they're in the tournament. That was their goal for so long, and they never seemed "in" until their name was called. Now that it is, according to Trey Thompkins: “I feel like there’s no pressure on us anymore. We’re in the tournament now, and there is no bad team in the tournament.

“Definitely," Leslie said when asked if the weight was now off. "Going in (on Sunday), the bracketology, everything we saw was basically that we were out. Or we were just praying and hoping to be the last four in. But we got the No. 10 seed. I’m just glad we got the opportunity to get in the tournament.”

- In scouting Washington, Fox said the Bulldogs aren't quite sure what to expect from the Huskies as far as personnel. That's because head coach Lorenzo Romar - who was an assistant at UCLA to Jim Harrick before Harrick came to Georgia - is liable to mix up his starting units.

But one player they figure will see lots of time is guard Isaiah Thomas, the 5-foot-9 all-Pac 10 selection. Thomas hit the shot that won the conference tournament on Saturday night. Fox couldn't come up with an apt comparison, even after facing smaller guards like Florida's Erving Walker.

And Fox had a bit of an eye-popping quote when asked if Thomas was like former Washington guard Nate Robinson - also 5-9, now an NBA veteran.

"He's better than Nate," Fox said. "He's a better player than Nate. And Nate obviously is good enough to be a pro. But Isaiah's a terrific player."

- Fox shrugged off the late start time - at least as far as Georgia players.

"There's two ways to look at it: If you're from Washington you're probably saying, 'Hey this is a great thing, we're playing at 7 o'clock our time. They have the advantage coming East," Fox said. "Most young people don't go to bed at the same time I do. So I'm more worried about me than I am them."

- Fox has plenty of experience coaching in the NCAAs, so he's started prepping the team on some of the differences. For instance on Tuesday they had a longer water break in practice to simulate the longer timeouts during tournament games.

Senior Jeremy Price, the only player on the team who has stepped on the court for a tournament game (Chris Barnes was injured three years ago) said he's also been briefing his teammates.

"The intensity of the game is going to pick up," Price said. "The competitiveness is going to pick up. There's not a bad team in the tournament."

- Finally, a good finishing quote from Fox on what the NCAA appearance - no matter what happens Friday - means for the program:

"Now instead of selling the vision we can sell the accomplishment. It's a big step forward for us and now we can move on."


bigeasydawg said...

The 49ers and Bearcats should settle this "Queen City" issue on the court.

PTC DAWG said...


Calif Dawg said...

It be interesting to see if they play better without that "weight" or play like they are just happy to have been there. Not that I want a football playoff, but look at all the school time the basketball players miss, yet they use being away from academics as the primary reason they don't have a D1 football playoff.

Andy said...