Fox faced tough call in ‘heartbreaker’ loss to Gators

Jeremy Price said it was a mental collapse, not fatigue, that doomed the Dogs in the second OT against Florida. (Associated Press)

Jeremy Price said it was a mental collapse, not fatigue, that doomed the Dogs in the second OT against Florida. (Associated Press)

Lots of debate among UGA fans after Tuesday night’s game over whether the Dogs should have fouled Florida’s Erving Walker at the end of the first overtime rather than letting him make an admittedly surprising 30-foot 3-point shot.

Georgia was leading 85-82 with 6.7 seconds left and the conventional thinking in such situations is that you foul, give up a couple of free throws and get the ball and the game.

But Georgia didn’t foul Walker and didn’t even cover him that closely, apparently relying on distance and the long odds against him making the shot.

Coach Mark Fox maintained after the game that it was his decision not to foul. Partly, he said, that was because “we have always trusted our defense.”

But more to the point was “the way the rebounding was going in the second half,” he said. While Dogs had dominated the glass in the first half, the Gators beat them 33-23 on the boards after that. Fox obviously was concerned the Gators would deliberately muff the second foul shot, get the rebound and tie the game up that way.

It’s a tough call either way. If he really trusted his defense, then shouldn’t he have trusted they’d get that crucial rebound? Or was he actually playing the odds correctly considering how unlikely that Gator shot was?

And then there’s another question. Did Fox really make the decision not to foul? Florida’s Walker said he thought he heard Fox “say something” about fouling “so I just tried to take the three before they could foul me.” And the ESPN crew calling the nationally televised game seemed pretty convinced that Fox wanted the Dogs to foul but couldn’t communicate that to his players.

Maybe they were mistaken; or perhaps Fox was just covering for his inattentive players after the loss.

To me, though, the more disturbing development was the way Georgia came out in the second overtime, turning the ball over three straight times and allowing the Gators to go up by nine, pretty much putting the game out of reach.

Fox said he thought his Dogs “looked fatigued” in that second overtime, but the Dogs’ Jeremy Price said he thought it was “more mental than physical” and that the Gators’ tying shot “took away a lot from us.”

If Fox was correct, then perhaps Mark Richt isn’t the only Georgia coach who needs to take a harder look at his strength and conditioning program.

If Price is right, and I think maybe he is, perhaps having lost that way will teach this team about mental toughness and what it takes to win a game like this.

If so, down the road Georgia might win one of these “heartbreakers,” as Fox called Tuesday’s game. In order to make the NCAA tournament, they’re probably going to have to do just that.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

101 comments Add your comment

Phil

January 26th, 2011
10:43 am

UGA Student

January 26th, 2011
10:44 am

What you probably couldn’t see on TV was Fox and what he was yelling when they inbounded the ball. He was telling them to be sure not to foul. He wasn’t covering for the players after the game. It was his call, one that if he did foul and we won the game, he’d be a hero. But if we had fouled then they did what you described, we’d be wondering why we gave them the free points. It was a lose-lose situation.

What??

January 26th, 2011
10:45 am

You have to also consider that Ware fouled out. I think UGA has a really good team but not a lot of depth. That will certainly reveal itself in games like this that go into multiple overtimes.

dea

January 26th, 2011
10:45 am

And it was to the gators. Makes it tougher.

Phil

January 26th, 2011
10:45 am

If there is such a thing as a good loss, then this was it. It will make UGA stronger and more focused in future games; especially in protecting the glass. That was the difference in the OT sessions.

What??

January 26th, 2011
10:46 am

Ware fouling out takes a lot out of our ability to move the ball around effectively. The really sad part is Trey missing the front end of his 1-and-1 that could have iced the game in the 1st overtime.

Uga the Ocho

January 26th, 2011
10:50 am

Second! That said, I think it was more of an emotional letdown after Walker’s 30-foot rain-maker that did them in.

I remember John Calipari saying that after Mario Chalmer’s trey that sent the 2008 title game to overtime, he new his team had no chance in the overtime because it was such an emotional dagger.

Walker’s 3-pointer seemed to have the same effect. I agree with CMF the Dogs need to get over that hump in these types of games, but I’d rather be in those situations than not be in games at all a la the previous coaching regime.

Ron Roberts

January 26th, 2011
10:51 am

Seems to me the officiating just didn’t spot the fouls as well for one team vs. the other, frankly. I hate crying over officiating, but we got hosed vs. Tennessee and there were a lot of missed foul calls last night, too.

That being said, we lost this game coming out cold in the 2nd half. We missed about a half dozen easy shots.

DTC

January 26th, 2011
11:01 am

Isn’t it good to be talking about the good of the UGA basketball team, instead of the ineptness of the previous coach? Mark Fox IS a great coach, and with his recruiting and quality coaching, UGA should be even better next year, and probably the following years. I just hope he is as devoted to our school, longterm, as he seems to be, He is definitely a keeper.

Frank Lane

January 26th, 2011
11:05 am

Depth problem I think

Matt

January 26th, 2011
11:06 am

I really like Coach Fox and think he has the program going in the right direction but he made a critical coaching error that cost us the game. He should have called time out after Price made the second free throw. That way we could have set up our defense or he could have at least told them to foul before they got down the court. This loss could be the difference in us making the NCAA tournament.

Spike

January 26th, 2011
11:07 am

A very tough loss. The Dogs did not quit. What are the damn odds that that guy would make a thirty foot three pointer with a second or two remaining? Hindsight is what it is.

Dale

January 26th, 2011
11:10 am

The 3pointer was kind of like the end of the TN game, you gotta PLAY those last seconds! You have to TAKE the game. The other team is still playing and you’re assuming the clock will run out.

Junkyard Dawgs

January 26th, 2011
11:13 am

I hate that UGA lost this game. However, I saw a lot of bright spots for our future. Georgia played with great passion last night and came up short. Stegeman seemed like a nut house last night with the intensity from the student section. I have never seen a UGA basketball game with the crowd fully into the game. I really think Mark Fox will have UGA as a top ten basketball team sometime next season. Look for the Dawgs to beat the crap out of Kentucky in the next game.

SidArnwine

January 26th, 2011
11:13 am

UGA is still the best team inthe SEC. Wait till we spank UK in Lexington.

Junkyard Dawgs

January 26th, 2011
11:15 am

Lost games like this will only make them work harder and become more focused. UGA has plenty of games left to prove they belong in the tournament. I think this Georgia team can at least make the sweet 16.

St. Bernard

January 26th, 2011
11:20 am

Ware fouled out. That’s what happened in the second overtime.

NewnanDawg

January 26th, 2011
11:22 am

UGA student is correct. I sit right behind the coaching end of the bench and Fox was emphatic about not fouling. I also think that we were caught off guard on how quickly that shot was taken. Had he come a step or two closer to the basket first, we might have been in position to get a block. In the past we were never in a position to even have these discussions, so I’ll get over this one knowing we’ll do the heartbreaking on the road very soon.

2 shout outs – Congrats to Vincent Williams for some high quality minutes and getting his outside shot going. 2 – Big thanks to the students for really getting the Steg rocking this SEC season – keep it up, it’s awesome!
Go Dawgs!

girldawg

January 26th, 2011
11:24 am

Tough game to lose but it was still a great game. There is serious room for improvement with the 3 point shot. If you want to see how 3 point shots are made watch the Delaware Fighting Hens they can do a clinic on them I have never seen so many 3 point shots made flawlessly and I am not joking they can shoot some 3’s.

Confused Officiating

January 26th, 2011
11:25 am

As a coach in a different conference who watched the game I have become a bit worried about officiating in close games this season. The Tenn/GA game call could have gone either way considering the time in the game in which it happened. However, the call that bothered me the most about this game last night was the illegal substitution and stoppage that took places after Parsons 3 in doube OT. Play was stopped while UGA was bringing the ball down the court after the Parsons 3 ball. There was no timeout called and the officials stopped play to allow Walker to come back into the game, and then an inbounds for UGA was allowed. I have no idea why the commentators did not point this out or why Fox didn’t make this more of an issue. Heartbraking loss for UGA but still a good team who can compete with anyone.

Road Scholar

January 26th, 2011
11:28 am

Even as a Tech fan, I have been impressed with how UGA has developed their BBall TEAM, something that Tech hasn’t done until the past 2 weeks. Your players play under control, know their roles and limitations, and feed off each other for energy. Unfortunatelt they ran out of gas in the 2nd OT. Want to trade coaches? Please?!

schmeckdawg

January 26th, 2011
11:30 am

For the love of Pete, can’t we beat these a-holes in anything besides gymnastics and equestrian events! I am so sick of losing to these people!

Ceasar

January 26th, 2011
11:32 am

Damn shame!!!!

Colorado Dawg

January 26th, 2011
11:42 am

That 2nd OT was hard to watch after they clawed their way back into the game in regulation. Not that I’m happy with just being close, but I am glad to see the team being competitive in the league again. Yeah, we need to win those games, but Walker’s shot was just amazing and hats off to him for making it. It was a heck of a game and if they can bounce back and beat UK on the road on Saturday, we’ll all forget about this one. Go Dawgs!

Dirty Dawg

January 26th, 2011
11:50 am

Confused Officiating is right. I didn’t ‘get it’ either and wondered what the announcers were thinking – or more to the point, not thinking. Perhaps it was the ‘color’ guy, one more time, talking about how Georgia just ‘had to win that game if they were going to be a serious player in the SEC East’…and way too many times the camera’s were on the announcers when the game was going on. I mean I like Nesler but announcers should not only be ‘heard but not seen’…they should be paying closer attention to what’s going on.

Along that same line, why didn’t they allow more time on the clock following the Florida kid’s tying shot at the end of the first OT? The clock on the back-board clearly showed, at least, another half-second which would have given Georgia a bit more time to get a better pass and catch to try and get the kind of shot off that Florida did later.

hind tit

January 26th, 2011
11:51 am

Basketball is a game of highs and lows. The dogs sent it to overtime making up six points in just over a minute giving them a high and the gators a low. The dogs had what they thought,just as the gators had,a win when the gators made a desperation three to tie the game. Gators had the high and the dogs had the low that they could not overcome. Adrenalin can only last so long but this starting five can play with any team in the nation but depth plays a problem for this team just as it does for most teams because of the exit anytime a player wants to rule.

Still Tourney Bound

January 26th, 2011
11:57 am

Confused Officiating – I believe the stoppage of play in the situation you described was because of the shot clock. When the play was stopped, the shot clock showed 25 seconds. I saw the ref walk to the table and put three fingers up twice, and the shot clock was reset to 33 seconds before play resumed. Now whether or not the substitution should have been allowed in that situation, I do not know for sure. But that wasn’t the only questionable call of the night. The refs were not consistent on when whether they wanted to let the kids play or call ticky tack fouls. To be the home team, the refs have not given UGA any so called ‘home team advantage’ in the last two Tuesday night games.

Another thought I have about the last second shot which may or may not have already been mentioned. Vincent Williams played some good minutes off the bench last night, but Ware fouling out really hurt us. When Florida in-bounded the ball, Williams was too aggressive and overran Walker, which gave Walker more freedom to run right up the floor, and meant we had one less defender to defend the shot. With Williams playing behind Walker, Walker had all the room he needed as the rest of the UGA players had their own guy to worry about being left open. Had Williams played it safe, and stayed between Walker and the basket, it would have made the shot even tougher by having someone that could at least semi-challenge the shot without fouling. I may be own my own island alone here, but I see Williams defense on the play as the main difference on that play.

Jack

January 26th, 2011
11:59 am

UGA has a good, not great, basketball team that will most likely make it to the NCAA Tournament but will not advance beyond the round of 32. It’s team is a mid-level SEC team in a mid-level conference. It is also a team that is 2-3 since play began in this mid-level conference and is a team that has already lost two home games to teams that may or may not advance to the tournament.

UGA has one splendid player who will be a NBA lottery pick and one good point guard. UGA also has two gifted athletes (Leslie and Robinson) who are pretty good basketball players who often make spectacular plays followed by out-of-control play.

UGA has a pretty good coaching staff, better than its football coaching staff. The coaching staff appears to have the ability to recruit good, not great, players and coach them up. In contrast, the football coaches appear to have the ability to recruit the “cream of the crop” year in and year out. Period.

IF UGA returns to the NCAA Tournament next year without its star player, did I would upgrade the coaching staff to excellent

The national media perception of UGA appears to be more positive than the actual performance of the team.

Dogs suck

January 26th, 2011
12:01 pm

Haha another win by UF in this rivalry, maybe next time, NOT!! And everybody who thinks UGA has a CHANCE at beating UK at rupp arena is just an idiot, GO GATORS!!

G

January 26th, 2011
12:02 pm

I agree with not fouling. I mean the kid hit a 25′ shot, falling to his left. I think UGA was surprised he heaved it up so early.

This team lacks 2 things:

1. They don’t have a guy who can make an outside shot, including the three consistently. Ware and Robinson are not those type of players and Leslie is a slasher.

2. They are not a good post defensive team. They need a big man who can block shots and be a presence. Price is not quick enough and Thompkins cannot do it all as a lot of teams pull him away from the basket.

Fox is solving both of theses through recruiting. The guy can coach! It is only his second year or we could go back to winning 4 games a year.

OakhurstDawg

January 26th, 2011
12:03 pm

I gotta think that games like this one and the Tenn game will come back as positive experiences in the conference and hopefully NCAA tourneys. Manage the momentum and own it late.

Woof Woof Woof for having a basketball team to talk about !

Hang in there guys…ya’ll are playing great and have plenty of time!

Jerry

January 26th, 2011
12:04 pm

Fox looks like he just recruits well, and let’s them play, playground style basketball.

It looked like there were no called plays on offense, and the defense wasn’t effective.

You HAVE to foul ahead by 3 with 6 seconds to go—HORRIBLE DECISION there by Fox.

Fox looks like a good recruiters, but poor strategist, and poor tactician.

Jerry

January 26th, 2011
12:04 pm

Georgia has also had WAY too many close games. Yes, they’re 5-2 on games decided by 2 point sor less, but they need to learn how to get alead, and keep it, just like the football team, same error.

PHIL

January 26th, 2011
12:06 pm

Just a lucky shot, nothing else to say about it. Other than did you see the forearm to the back that ware took on the layup at the end of regulation? NO CALL?

PTC DAWG

January 26th, 2011
12:10 pm

A big road win or two will cure their ills. UT and UF would be a nice place to start.

The Stegman Stooges

January 26th, 2011
12:11 pm

Fox needs to recruit smart players. This goes for the football program as well. Too many highlight reel watching wannabees in our sports program. at UGA

Lowcountry Bulldawg

January 26th, 2011
12:11 pm

I am not going to be the armchair QB after the teams performance. Many years have I longed for the BB Team to perform at that kind of level. It was a hard fought game and could have gone either way. Hats off to the team and performance.

Timmy Dog

January 26th, 2011
12:12 pm

I can’t believe people are in here whining about the officiating. We got our hats handed to us in the 2nd OT. Stop complaining. Now let’s get Kentucky again…..yeah, right. Like that’s gonna happen.

The Cameron Crazies

January 26th, 2011
12:13 pm

Mark Fox needs to take a page from coach K on how to win the big ones.

hind tit

January 26th, 2011
12:15 pm

I agree. When you have six seconds left you have to stay between the player with the ball and the goal. Not only that you stay between all players and the goal in this situation.

GEORGIA GATOR

January 26th, 2011
12:18 pm

Never seen an arena empty so fast!!!!

GEORGIA GATOR

January 26th, 2011
12:19 pm

like rats on a sinking ship!

GT Dad

January 26th, 2011
12:23 pm

Tough loss Dawgs! You guys should still hold your head high – you have a solid team and a very good coach.

LAKE OCONEE DAWG

January 26th, 2011
12:25 pm

GET USED TO IT, COACH FOX:
THESE DUDES GONNA SECOND GUESS EVERYTHING YOU DO…ITS ALWAYS THE COACHES FAULT WHEN YOU LOSE ONE, NEVER THE PLAYERS….AND WHO WOULD EVER THINK THAT A GUY WOULD MAKE THAT SHOT….GUESS COACH RICHT AND HIS STAFF NOW HAVE COMPANY….COACH FOX, YOU’VE DONE AN UNBELIEVABLE JOB WITH THE BASKETBALL TEAM, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, BUT ALWAYS EXPECT THIS TYPE OF RESPONSE FROM THIS BLOG….

saban

January 26th, 2011
12:28 pm

Tough break losing to Central Florida. Odd seems to me you lost to them in football also.

Oh well puppies just another daddy to add to the list.

'94 UGA Grad

January 26th, 2011
12:28 pm

There is no excuse for letting another team even attempt a 3 pointer when you’re up by 3 with seconds left. You have to foul in that situation, no question about it. Hugh mistake by our coach although I still think he’s a good coach.

Ben

January 26th, 2011
12:28 pm

Fox blew it. You definitely foul in that situation. No ifs and or buts about it. He even had a timeout he could have used to make sure nothing went wrong.

LAKE OCONEE DAWG

January 26th, 2011
12:29 pm

GEORGIA GATOR:
YOU GOT LUCKY, DUDE…THATS THE REASON WE LOVE FLORIDA AND SOME FLORIDA FANS SO MUCH, THEY HAVE NO CLASS, EVEN IF THEY DO LIVE IN GEORGIA….GLOATING AFTER THE MIGHTY GATORS PULL ONE OUT OF THE FANNY….GO GLOAT SOMEWHERE ELSE…..

59bulldawg

January 26th, 2011
12:30 pm

Tough loss for sure. This team is still very much a work in progress and no one should expect us to win every game. But we are competing and we have the right man leading the program and I’m sure the team will learn from this and only get better! Fox is the best roundball coach at UGA since Tubby and as an alum I’m happy with the direction of the program!

Good Ol' Bill King

January 26th, 2011
12:30 pm

Hey! Y’all like how I act like I care about UGA basketball? I’m not different from your typical bUlldog fan.

I’m just a dumb hick who went to Valdosta State but like to folLOW THE DAWGS!!! I’ll make it over to Athens for a game one day!

Yours,

Bill