New rules help UGA’s Mark Fox get young hoops Dogs ready for season

Georgia coach Mark Fox feels new rules that allow coaches to work with players over the summer, coupled with a team trip to Italy in August, will help the young Bulldogs develop quickly for next season. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Georgia coach Mark Fox feels new rules that allow coaches to work with players over the summer, coupled with a team trip to Italy in August, will help the young Bulldogs develop quickly for next season. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Got a few minutes with Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox on an SEC teleconference call yesterday. The Bulldogs’ fourth-year coach, coming off a 15-17 season in which they failed earn a postseason tournament bid, sounded upbeat and confident about the prospects for the coming season.

“This is a team I’m looking forward to coaching,” said Fox, who is 50-46 (19-29 SEC)  since coming to UGA from Nevada. “Unlike last year where we had lost so much productivity, this year I think we go in returning a great deal of the previous team and I think we’ll have a group that will certainly be more experienced. As they mature physically and get a little older and work in the weight room, they will also be more physical, which was certainly an issue for us a year ago. We’re excited about the upcoming year and how hard these guys are working.”

Fox said that all four of the Bulldogs’ incoming freshmen — guards Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann and forwards Houston Kessler and Brandon Morris — are enrolled in school this summer and working out with the team. Georgia is able to take advantage this year of new NCAA legislation that allows coaches to work with players in groups during the offseason. Previously they had only limited access to players individually.

“I think the new rule is terrific,” Fox said. “It has allowed us to immediately address things in their individual games we think need to be adjusted or improved or enhanced. And so we’ve taken full advantage of trying to spend some time with them in the gym and working with them.”

Georgia lost its starting backcourt from last season with the graduation of seniors Gerald Robinson and Dustin Ware. For that reason there is a lot of excitement and nervous anticipation about the development of Gaines and Mann, both highly-touted prospects. But Fox said people shouldn’t discount the abilities of lettermen Vincent Williams and Sherrard Brantley, each of whom has extensive playing experience. And he also hopes that sophomore Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who made freshman All-SEC playing the 3-spot this past season, will be able to play more at the 2-spot this season.

“Vincent Williams started a third of our games at the point and he’s going to make that position with Charles very competitive,” Fox said. “I envision Kentavious being able to play quite a bit at the 2-spot, his natural position, this year, which will make that position very competitive with he and Kenny and Sherrard. So I think the thing we have is competition at those spots.”

That said, Mann (6-foot-6) and Gaines (6-3) bring a different element of size and athleticism to the guard positions.

“It will certainly look different, but they’ve got to earn those spots,” Fox said. “. . . Those guys are bigger and more athletic than we’ve seen since I came to Athens. That’s one of the things we wanted to be is bigger and more athletic. I think Kenny and Charles will provide a future of long athletic guards. And they’ve gotten off to a good starts and are working hard. But they’re still going to be freshmen and, as you know, they’re still going to have some growing pains. But I think they’re both terrific kids and will be very good players for us.”

With so many new players in the fold, Fox is particular thankful for a preseason trip to Italy in August that will allow the Bulldogs to have 10 extra practices before departing and playing teams overseas.

“The summer is one for us that, if we use it right, can be very productive for us,” Fox said. “To this point, I think the month of June has been just that, extremely productive, and we’ve gotten a lot of things done. I think the trip to Italy will allow this team hopefully let the new guys get an idea of how we’re trying to play and hopefully make them more comfortable when the year starts next year.”

32 comments Add your comment


June 26th, 2012
3:11 pm

I like Coach Fox a whole lot.


June 26th, 2012
3:18 pm

This is a big season for CMF for a lot of different reasons. One of the biggest reasons he needs to have a big year is to convince in-state coaches and players to keep UGA on their radar. He has snagged a couple of good players recently, but the big fish have eluded him thus far. Here’s hoping for the best for CMF and UGA!


June 26th, 2012
3:19 pm

If Georgia will just stick with Coach Fox and if he won’t be given an offer he can’t refuse at a “Basketball” school, I think UGA Basketball is going to become extremely respectable and a regular Post Season Team.


June 26th, 2012
3:21 pm

If he can duplicate what Coach Tubbs did, we could nickname Stegeman Fox’s Den!

Floundering Fox Hounds Batman!

June 26th, 2012
4:24 pm

This year will prove that this Fox clown was a bad hire. He hasnt been able to recruit the home state talent and wont have anything to show for it this year too. Wonder if McGarity will fire this guy when his team wont be “In the Hunt”. Will he grow a pair and do what South Carolina did to Darrin Horn when he underachieved?

German Shepherd Dawg

June 26th, 2012
4:33 pm

Fox is no clown–he’s a terrific basketball coach who has milked great performances out of relatively mediocre talent he inherited. He’s recruited well, and I think we’ll forget about Tony Parker pretty soon. I like the Kessler kid they got instead. Good lineage.


June 26th, 2012
4:41 pm

@floundering, you must not be watching the games. Fox has done a great job with what he has. If Leslie and Thompkins stay last year instead of sitting on the bench for the Clippers, Georgia’s season would have been a lot different. Sure it would be nice to keep the talent at home, but who wants to waste a lot of time on one and done players like Kentucky?

Mark Richt

June 26th, 2012
5:22 pm

Fox is a good coach! Extend his contract so he can take me to Waffle House!

Fox will get it done

June 26th, 2012
5:24 pm

Just give him the time…one more solid recruiting class and they’ll be competitive in SEC East. And, they’ll make NCAA trip annually.

Paul in NH

June 26th, 2012
5:49 pm

“Those guys are bigger and more athletic than we’ve seen since I came to Athens”

I thought Leslie was pretty darn athletic at the 2 position.

Double Zero Eight

June 26th, 2012
6:12 pm

UGA has a good coach. The key is recruiting
and retaining the talent.


June 26th, 2012
7:45 pm

Fox is an excellent coach and was a great hire. He gets the most out of his players. While yet to land a blue chipper, other than Pope, he is certainly upgrading the talent. He will do a lot with this bunch in year two. If UGA is smart and hangs on to him, he will start pulling in those Blue chippers. Everybody needs to remeber that UGA had zero BB cred on the street. It takes time.


June 26th, 2012
7:49 pm

Typical UGA cool-aid drinkers on this blog also. For anybody to say this guy has gotten so much out of the talent he inherited is a joke. The guy inherited 2 NBA players from Felton, and he couldn’t win anything with them. He loses them to the NBA, and he is stuck with the marginal talent he recruits, and he has another terrible season. He can’t recruit any big time talent again last year, and he will have another losing season this year. He has no guards at all, and if he thinks that Vincent Williams and Brantley are SEC guards, he is even more of a clown than i thought. These 2 guys were terrible last year, and the 2 freshmen coming in, are nothing to get excited about, and they will be lucky to contribute at all this season. So what players does UGA have that will be stars in the SEC? The answer is none. Pope is a terrible shooter, and he turns the ball over too much. And he is the only player on the roster that is even close to SEC talent. So after this wonderful head coach and recruiter has his 3rd losing season out of 4 years, what will all the UGA cool-aid drinkers say?? On Fox is a good guy and who cares if he can’t win 50% of his games, we at UGA only care if he is a good guy, and if he is good on tweeter. LOL!!

UGA Fan Foreva

June 26th, 2012
8:07 pm

@1953dawg That may have been the single stupidest thing ever. Austin Rivers and Kentavious Caldwell- Pope were ranked the two best shooters in their classes, so I have no clue what games you were watching!!

Floundering Fox Hounds Batman!

June 26th, 2012
8:14 pm

Well the kool aid drinkers are out in full force I see. SHOW ME THE Championships! They are NONE and wont be any time soon. Sheeple Sheeeple Sheeple……..


June 26th, 2012
8:52 pm

I was hoping the new rule would be going to class is optional and drug testing is not mandatory. Dang.

Milledgeville Dawg

June 26th, 2012
9:05 pm

I agrre with CMF. UGA will be very much in the mix this year with new talent and returning letterman. I’m telling all now, look out for UGA come late fall and winter. We got a good team.

Al B

June 26th, 2012
9:13 pm

Looking forward to the season! We can do this, Coach!! Go Dawgs!


June 27th, 2012
12:55 am

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June 27th, 2012
9:15 am

I hope the recruits come through. Fox is good on X’s and O’s, but we need the talent, and fans need to show more consistent support in order to draw the biggest recruits.


June 27th, 2012
10:44 am

Coach Fox is going to move this program in the right direction. Reminds me of Tubby Smith except that Fox works longer hours. We need to be realistic about what happened the last 10 years at UGA. Our BB program was a mess and now we have one of the top facilities in the nation with a coach that is full of passion and fire. Were top players suddenly going to start calling us after the Harrick and Felton days? Does not seem likely, but Mark Fox knows how to get our program back on track. Too bad that a few people are very impatient and truly ill informed. I’m a long term donor and I can tell you first hand that we are in good shape.


June 27th, 2012
10:59 am

@ Gary…Fox has done a great job with what he has. If Leslie and Thompkins stay…”

Exactly. Of course other programs lose great players early also. But Leslie and Thompkins ended up on the bench; should have stayed.

I was gonna say, “KCP is gonna be key.” But, it’s gonna take all of em, not just KCP. They have a long way to go after how they ended up last season. But, we saw flashes last year; and several games came down to the wire against some very good teams. A couple plays here and there in most of their losses might have totally changed the season.

Back to the topic: new rules. They apply to all teams; not giving the Hoops Dawgs any advantage.

Homepage | MrSEC

June 27th, 2012
1:15 pm

[...] 22.  An NCAA rule change is a great help to UGA hoops coach Mark Fox. [...]


June 27th, 2012
2:09 pm

Do any Dawg fans remember it took Coack K about 7 years to turn Duke into a Basketball power. Yes we have not won any championships in the last 2 years but quit bitching and let Coach Fox turn this thing around. Our complaints will not help him recruit or coach, which means that we need to be a help and not a deterrent. Love, to the DAWGS, Cullowheedawg

old dog

June 27th, 2012
2:25 pm

Chip, you shuttin’ me out??


June 27th, 2012
8:45 pm

We are fortunate to have Coach Fox, he will get this program winning on a consistent basis. I say give him support and let’s see how the next few seasons unfold. Georgia has never been a basketball power house so yes this will take time to get it right.

Upstate Dawg

June 28th, 2012
12:10 am

Replacing the backcourt will be tough but between Williams and Brantley and the new guys, we should be able to swing it. Listening to Coach Fox instills enthusiasm and confidence. Sic ‘em, Dawgs!

old dog

June 28th, 2012
8:21 am

I made ac omment yesterday about sitting on the floor when Hugh Durham was at UGA….it got blocked……..cannot imagine why…..but I do support Fox and feel he will take us to the next level.

Mandrell Dawg

June 28th, 2012
10:54 pm

I like Coach Fox a lot also. I just hope that McGarity gives him the time to allow Fox to make this program not only respectable, but special as well.


June 30th, 2012
9:17 am

It’s good to see a few more comments supporting coach Fox. Now, if the students will get with the program and attend the games… It was embarrassing last year to see all those empty seats in The Steg on TV, especially compared to seemingly full venues for our road games. Anybody have the average attendance for SEC bb games last year? I would bet we’re near the bottom.


June 30th, 2012
9:39 am

Fox is a nice guy..Wish him luck but Georgia is a Football school.end of story…The SEC Basketball crown is permanently resting in Lexington..


July 1st, 2012
10:12 am

@cats … sorry, not ‘end of story’. Other SEC schools with good football programs have had good runs in BB too. NC? No way…or near-impossibel. But UGA winning the SEC tournament? Quite possible….IF we hang in there with CMF and support the program.
Go Dawgs!!