Hoops insider: Can Fox and Georgia fashion a fast finish?

For the record, Georgia is unbeaten since Mark Fox got ejected at Tennessee. (AP photo)

For the record, Georgia is unbeaten since Mark Fox got ejected at Tennessee. (AP photo)

Hoops Hysterics

1. Does Georgia have a chance to finish strong? Winning at Mississippi State on Saturday gave the Bulldogs their first victory of substance since they beat Notre Dame in November, and this week offers an opportunity to consolidate gains. They face South Carolina, which is awful, on the road, and then get Vanderbilt at Stegeman Coliseum on Sunday. Win both and it’s possible Mark Fox’s team could finish 7-9 or even 8-8 in SEC play.

2. Which is the nation’s most disappointing team? Aforementioned Vandy has shooters on the perimeter and size underneath and experience everywhere — its contributors are either seniors or juniors, which rarely happens in contemporary college hoops — and still it has lost eight games, five of them at Memorial Gym. Ranked seventh in the preseason ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, Vandy didn’t receive a single vote this week.

3. Which is the nation’s biggest sleeper? Every season brings one of these — a team that pops up on the RPI radar for no apparent reason. Southern Miss is 21-4 and is tied with Memphis for the lead in Conference USA, which doesn’t really register anymore. The Golden Eagles didn’t crack the Top 25 in either major poll this week, but they’re 12th in ESPN Insider’s RPI. How? Don’t know. Their three biggest victories were over Memphis, Colorado State and Ole Miss.

My Super Sweet Sixteen

1. Kentucky: Trailing with four minutes left at Vanderbilt, the Wildcats shut out the Commodores the rest of the way. Which takes some doing.

2. Syracuse: The Orange handled Georgetown and UConn at home last week and passed an even sterner test at Louisville on Monday.

3. Missouri: The Tigers are 3-0 against Baylor and Kansas, the other Big 12 powers, and they left no doubt against the Bears on Saturday.

4. Kansas: An impressive rebound. After losing narrowly at Missouri, the Jayhawks beat Baylor by 14 points in Waco.

5. Duke: The astonishing Austin Rivers-led escape from Chapel Hill on Wednesday left the Blue Devils in a three-way tie atop the ACC.

6. Michigan State: No one doubts that Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is the best coach in the business, but Tom Izzo is clearly the second-best.

7. Ohio State: Just when folks were thinking the Buckeyes were the best March bet, they got smacked at home by Michigan State.

8. North Carolina: Losing by 33 points at Florida State was bad. Blowing an eight-point lead at home against Duke was even worse.

9. Wichita State: Should have seen the Shockers’ emphatic road victory at Creighton coming. They’ve lost once since New Year’s Eve.

10. UNLV: The Rebels lost by two points at San Diego State in January. On Saturday they beat the Aztecs in Vegas by two points.

11. Baylor: On the one hand, the Bears haven’t lost to anybody except Missouri and Kansas. On the other, they’re 0-4 against those two.

12. Louisville: The Cardinals had rebounded from their New Year’s sag to win six straight before falling to Syracuse on Monday.

13. Georgetown: The Hoyas pushed Syracuse to overtime in the Carrier Dome before losing and have a kind schedule from here on.

14. Saint Mary’s: The Gaels suffered a thudding loss at Gonzaga on Thursday, and now they face Murray State on Bracketbuster weekend.

15. Murray State: Speaking of whom … the Racers’ giddy unbeaten season was derailed by a home loss against Tennessee State.

16. Florida State: Should have seen the loss at Boston College coming, too. As well as they defend, the ‘Noles struggle to make a basket.

Dropped out: Florida, Creighton, San Diego State.

By Mark Bradley

67 comments Add your comment

Sonny Clusters

February 14th, 2012
9:57 am

ChopAttack

February 14th, 2012
9:58 am

I’m a UNC fan… The loss to FSU was way, way, way, way worse. I’m fairly confident we can beat Duke at Duke.

Dawgs97

February 14th, 2012
9:59 am

When’s the Spring game?

Send'em Uhauls

February 14th, 2012
9:59 am

No way… I expect we choke against South Carolina and we will do it also again in football. Our whole athletic program at UGA stinks.

Mark Bradley

February 14th, 2012
10:02 am

Kudos to Sonny.

Sonny Clusters

February 14th, 2012
10:06 am

Having a coach that is Fair and Balanced should propel this team to greatness. We was always Credible, Compelling, and Complete when we was playing ball. We was the South’s Standard Ballplayer and we Covered our Man like the Dew. We suspect this is all the UGA team needs. Still, this is a town of EPIC Collapse now. Instead of 14 consecutive little signs in the outfield our baseball team is likely to be remembered for an EPIC Collapse . . . and perhaps that is as it should be. We hope the new deer dogs and retro jerseys will pay off for the Braves. Pitchers and Catchers report in 5 days.

Sonny Clusters

February 14th, 2012
10:09 am

“Which is the nation’s biggest sleeper?” We think that may have been Chino Cadahia at the end of the dugout with his cap over his eyes (and this was before the days of incessant cap tipping).

ashvillle dawg

February 14th, 2012
10:11 am

North Carolina keeps losing key games. Not as good as advertised.

True Dawg Fan

February 14th, 2012
10:12 am

Send’em Uhauls

February 14th, 2012
9:59 am

Dont say our when you arent a UGA run along little troll

True Dawg Fan

February 14th, 2012
10:13 am

DawginLex

February 14th, 2012
10:14 am

UK is the best team right now. Teague has grown into a point guard.

UNC is next in line IMO

Then Syracuse

Duke is way overrated and will be exposed as a fraud in the dance.
Same with Kansas

Vandy will win a game in the NCAA’s this year.

Ohio state and Michigan state will get their act together.

Mizzou and Baylor are frauds too

Final Four
Kentucky
North Carolina
syracuse
Ohio state

Others to watch

Michigan state
UNLV

Sonny Clusters

February 14th, 2012
10:14 am

Okay, we know this is not a baseball blog, but soon the Braves will be down in Florida playing golf, and deep sea fishing, and going to the Daytona 500 and maybe working a little bit on baserunning and throwing to the cutoff man. We hope we’ll see a much better baseball team this year. Chipper says they were pretty good through August but we was thinking they were horrible in September and those games count, too. It’s hard to believe how Lowe they could go.

Send'em Uhauls

February 14th, 2012
10:15 am

True Dawg fan… Stay off the kool aid please. Demand better!

Mark Bradley

February 14th, 2012
10:16 am

Sonny is, I believe, having difficulty putting distance between himself and the doings of September.

Mark Bradley

February 14th, 2012
10:17 am

You might recall that I touted Wichita State in this feature last week. I hope you’ll forget that I also touted Florida and West Virginia.

True Dawg Fan

February 14th, 2012
10:18 am

Send’em Uhauls

February 14th, 2012
10:15 am

ahhahahahahahaha tell us your real team, bc you arent a UGA fan clown. most likely you are a techie nerd.

True Dawg Fan

February 14th, 2012
10:19 am

Send’em Uhauls

February 14th, 2012
10:15 am

ahhahahahahahaha tell us your real team, bc you arent a UGA fan c l o w n. most likely you are a techie n e r d.

Send'em Uhauls

February 14th, 2012
10:28 am

Hey True Dawg fan… Just wait and watch our(UGA) football team underachieve as usual again next year. I mean really its no big secret if you’ve been paying attention.

True Dawg Fan

February 14th, 2012
10:39 am

Send’em Uhauls

February 14th, 2012
10:28 am

Wow you have no clue what you are talking about. What coach has ever won the NC in his first decade asa coach??????

Get over it, he has it under control.

To me you are no UGA fan so say you are all you want but someone who cries like this is no Dawg. Run along little troll

AtlantaWarrior

February 14th, 2012
10:43 am

I think you’re right about the Golden Eagles being the biggest sleeper but you selected the wrong Golden Eagles. Marquette’s Golden Eagles are 21-5 with two of those losses coming on the road in close games against Syracuse and Georgetown. They’ve won 9 out of their last 10 and you should show them a little more love if for no other reason than they feature likely All Big East selection Jae Crowder a native of Villa Ricca (also on the team is Stone Mountain’s Jamail Jones).

DC

February 14th, 2012
11:23 am

Nothing more exciting than reading about UGA college basketball…….

GTPhenom

February 14th, 2012
11:29 am

Kentucky looks like the best team right now. But that doesn’t always pan out when it comes tourney time. It wouldn’t shock me one bit to see them in the Final Four, but I also won’t be shocked if they get knocked out by an upstart team in the Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight. Syracuse right now is playing very, very well. As is Michigan State, and, going out on a limb here, I think they end up being the last Big Ten team left. They’ll outlast tOSU if you ask me. Duke always has a chance with Coach K taking care of things. UNC scares me. They are the kind of team you hate on the bracket, because they have enough talent to legitimately compete with, and beat anyone, but also have shown lapses in their play this season (FSU . . .) All I really know is things are gonna be fun come tourney time!

SSIgator

February 14th, 2012
11:29 am

Sonny Clusters -

“working a little bit on baserunning and throwing to the cutoff man”

Are you serious? Why in the world would they want to mess with the formula that gets them all of those little signs? If they start doing what you suggest, they might even advance to the next level and that would certainly create havoc with the players hunting and fishing plans for the fall.

y3ll0wjacket

February 14th, 2012
11:34 am

Mark,

Figuring guard play is key for the big dance, which teams rate highest? Kansas lost narrowly at Missouri, they should beat them handily at home 2/25. My current final four: KY, SYR, OH ST, MI ST. I think the Big 12 teams are lacking come crunch time.

Honest Abe

February 14th, 2012
12:01 pm

Coach Fox HAS to get Marcus Thornton more involved in the offense. Thornton CAN score. Marcus has to start looking for his shot, going to the basket. At times, he has displayed a decent spin move and a good short jumper. The guy averaged 26 a game in HS. He has offensive skills. He has to start going to the hoop. Good things will happen.

Homepage | MrSEC

February 14th, 2012
12:02 pm

[...]  Georgia could still finish 8-8 in the SEC with a red hot [...]

McDawg

February 14th, 2012
12:12 pm

lets see how they do w/ S. Carolina before getting too excited-the losses to ole Miss and Auburn hurt

Boom Boom

February 14th, 2012
1:02 pm

CMF has done a great job considering all of the players he lost last year. He is a smart coach and gets the most out of his players. The Dawg Nation is lucky to have him. Does he know anything about football? We could sure use a good play caller on the offensive side of the ball.

FlJacket76

February 14th, 2012
1:06 pm

True Dawg Fan, You’re not that naive, are you? NC in their first decade…..Miles, Saban, Meyers, Chizik, do I need to continue?

Gordon

February 14th, 2012
1:24 pm

I see UGA going 3-3 the rest of the way and finishing 6-10. Their last 2 games have been very impressive. After the Tennessee game, I thought they might finish 2-14.

dmr

February 14th, 2012
2:16 pm

Well, that settles it. SEND ‘EM UHAULS is a bonafide moron.

Hoopster

February 14th, 2012
2:20 pm

1. No………as in no way. As stated here before, Fox does well with other people’s talent (see Nevada, Felton’s recruits at UGa) but when the onus is on him………………it’s Jirsa-like material.

2. UNC

3. The Shockers!!

Paul in NH

February 14th, 2012
2:43 pm

What coach has ever won the NC in his first decade asa coach??????
—–
Urban Meyer, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer, Gene Chizik, Les Miles, Dennis Erickson, Larry Coker,

SteveW

February 14th, 2012
3:03 pm

Looking at our roster, and the strength of the rest of the SEC, I predicted 2 SEC wins for the Dawgs this season, so we’ve already surpassed my assessment.

That being said, whenever you have 2 Srs. like Robinson and Ware, and a developing star like KCP, good things can happen. 7-9 is now not inconceivable, and neither is an NIT berth. An NCAA berth may be stretching some.

But really a great job of coaching at UGA. Besides Pope and Robinson, we’re not that talented. Coach Fox is building a program at UGA – I hope we give him enough time to complete the task.

SteveW

February 14th, 2012
3:06 pm

Next season, we’ll have a pretty deep team, but still lacking in experience. But we’re getting there. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with Donte Williams development. He’s turning into a solid PF in the SEC, and he’s only going to get better.

Buckeye

February 14th, 2012
3:24 pm

Dog ball?

Yawn.

harold

February 14th, 2012
3:27 pm

EVERYONE OUT OF DIAPERS KNOWS THAT GEORGIA IS HAS NOT BEEN—–AND NEVER WILL BE COMMITTED TO BASKETBALL. THIS TEAM JUST SUCKS!

P_The_Ricker

February 14th, 2012
4:15 pm

harold….you hack!

we have an AD who attends every b-ball game and is close to the action. Whether fox makes the grade and impresses mcgarity or a different coach is brought in, uga will receive proper resources and support from the athletic association to prosper under mcgarity.

you’ve been put on notice

Gravy Train

February 14th, 2012
4:59 pm

Coach Fox needs to get these boys in the weight room stat! Many of the boys on the team are “long” and athletic, but they get pushed around way too often. Shaved birds? Maybe watching some film on Larry Johnson at UNLV or Corliss Williamson at Arkansas. Learn to play like men in the paint.

Monger

February 14th, 2012
5:03 pm

Can we please Fire Mark Fox already?? How many years are we gonna give him a pass? This is essentially his first year with HIS players, as he won all those games last year with Felton’s boys. He obviously feels no need to recruit a decent Center or a couple of hard-nosed 7 footers that can rebound? He has to be held accountable for yet another losing season in only his 3rd year. If next year is as bad and pathetic as this one, he has to go. I mean 4 seasons to turn it around, you have 3 LOSING seasons of the 4 and you not only show zero improvement, but regress horribly every year after the 2nd? He has to go if next year is this bad or worse…

Monger

February 14th, 2012
5:14 pm

PLEASE FIRE MARK FOX NOW!!!!

UGA is ranked 296th in the NCAA with a meager 61.4 points per game.

UGA is ranked 236th with a mind-boggling low 33.5 rebounds a game

UGA is ranked 290th with a pathetic 11.2 assists a game.

UGA is ranked 322nd with a .395 field goal percentage…

We are paying this guy millions of dollars for these results, for leading one of the worst offenses in the NCAA (if not THE worst), for having to go in to OT to beat Winthrop, for compiling a 3-7 SEC record…that just blows my mind. Also, this is his 3rd year as the leader of the program, so their should be NO excuse. He won last year with Felton’s players, now we are seeing the players HE recruited, and how awful they are, and just how lost as a coach he is

P_The_Ricker

February 14th, 2012
5:19 pm

Monger

February 14th, 2012
5:03 pm

your comment is a walking contradiction and all over the place.

you 1st state that he only won last yr b/c he had Felton’s boys. then you go on to reference that he’ll have 2/3 losing seasons after this year. of course your prediciton of year 4 is probably as accurate as an assumption that you actually attended uga.

you can’t not give credit to a coach for winning w/ another coaches players, but then also blame him for losing w/ those players.

either the clock started for Fox on the date of hire or after all of Felton’s recruited players have left.

you’re an idiot!

LagDawg

February 14th, 2012
5:31 pm

I’ll to agree with some. I like CMF but, he is not recruiting well enough for UGA to compete year in and year out. The players are tall but, they lack size and strength. UGA needs a true PG and a big PF and C. He has to do a better job recruiting in order to take UGA to the next level and from the class that’s coming in, the size is still lacking.

kb

February 14th, 2012
6:09 pm

Lagdog, UGA still has a strength and conditioning program , hopefully the tall skinny players will gain some weight and strength and be better when they’re not freshman or sophomores. Caldwell Pope is going to be very good soon. 7 freshmen 2 sophomores and 1 juco player in his first year at UGA.

Beast from the East

February 14th, 2012
6:39 pm

Kentucky is the best in the country. I’ve seen my Gators go on the road to Ohio State and lose a close one. I’ve seen them lose a close one at Rutgers and yet another close one at Syracuse. The only game they were totally outclassed was at Rupp. Suffocating defense from a very long and athletic group. Now my Gators are battling through 3 tough injuries and are going to have to fight hard in order to secure a spot in the big dance.

[...] last week.  I mean, Georgia must be hot if the AJC’s local bandwagoner/hot-air blower Mark Bradley felt compelled to mention them for the SECOND time this season (24 games [...]

LakeDawg

February 14th, 2012
8:32 pm

Honest Abe

February 14th, 2012
12:01 pm

Coach Fox HAS to get Marcus Thornton more involved in the offense. Thornton CAN score. Marcus has to start looking for his shot, going to the basket. At times, he has displayed a decent spin move and a good short jumper. The guy averaged 26 a game in HS. He has offensive skills. He has to start going to the hoop. Good things will happen

———————————————————————————————————————————-

I hope Fox can bring Thorton along. I was surprised at how little offensive game he had. He shot the ball from his shoulders. You can get by with that in HS when you’re 6′7″, but not in the SEC. He seems to be improving, with better moves and a better shot. Hopefully by next year he will be able to knock down shots with his new shooting motion. If that happens, he could be a load.

SSIgator

February 14th, 2012
9:35 pm

All you have to do is look at the number of posts in response to this article and you can see the level of interest in UGA basketball.

Nate

February 14th, 2012
10:44 pm

Thanks for the ‘Ville props Mark. That loss to ‘Cuse last night was excruciating.

Monger

February 14th, 2012
11:10 pm

P_the Ricker– What??? Really? You have no reading comprehension skills AT ALL. I did not give him any credit for winning with Felton’s players, the same way I would not give myself any credit if i became the coach of the Heat tommorrow, i would be more lucky than deserving of credit. I pointed out that now that he doesnt have the crutch of Felton’s players anymore, we are seeing his true recruiting and coaching ability OF HIS RECRUITS!! You are aware that every single Freshman, Sophmore, and Junior on the team are his recruits (and none of them above 6′9 as well), and we have one of the worst teams in the league. The Seniors- Gerald Robinson, Dustin Ware, and Connor Nolte are the only thing keeping this lousy team from being 0-10 in the SEC, and they are Felton’s players!!! How can you defend him? That is insanity to defend a coach who is in his 3rd year of a job and not performing?? 3-7 with the players he has recruited over the last 3 years…thank god for felton’s players that we aren’t the laughing stock of the league, and arent 2-16 right now. You are truly dumb sir…learn how to read…