TE Jay Rome to play hoops again, and other basketball news

ATHENS – We interrupt this Georgia football panic attack to bring you this important news bulletin: It’s basketball time, or at least about to be.

The Georgia women’s team started practices this past Sunday and the men’s team gets under way on Friday night at Stegeman Coliseum. Both squads are going big with the old “Midnight Madness” theme, only rules this year will allow such events to start as early as 5 p.m. this year. The “2012 Georgia Basketbash” will run from 7-10 p.m. Admission is free and there will be lots of giveaways and such in addition to a sneak-a-peak at the team.

To that end, men’s coach Mark Fox and Lady Bulldogs’ coach Andy Landers held a joint news conference Tuesday to talk about the upcoming season. Some players are supposed to be available later.

In the meantime, I figured I’d give you a quick what-you-need-to-know update and share of some of the insights on the men’s team. So here you go . . .

GEORGIA MEN’S BASKETBALL.

  • Last season: 15-17, 5-11 SEC
  • Starters returning: 4 – G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (13.2 ppg), F Donte Williams (7.8), F Nemanja Djurisic (7.0), F Marcus Thornton (3.0)
  • Starters lost: 1 – G Gerald Robinson (14.2 ppg)
  • Other losses: — G Dustin Ware (8.1 ppg)
  • Lettermen returning: 5 – G Vincent Williams (2.9 ppg), C John Florveus (1.8), G Sherrard Brantley (1.7), C John Cannon (1.3), F/C Tim Dixon (0.3)
  • Newcomers: 4 – G Charles Mann (6-foot-4, 205 pounds), G Kenny Gaines (6-3, 195)), F Houston Kessler (6-8, 215), F Brandon Morris (6-7, 205).

MARK FOX

On general outlook . . .

“I’m excited about our season. I really like this team. This is the first team I’ve had at Georgia where I recruited every player. We have a culture amongst our team that I’m excited about. We have some new faces and, unlike last year, we return a lot of production. So this is a group I’m looking forward to coaching.”

On makeup of team . . .

“We have more pieces this year. We’re a deeper basketball team, we’re more athletic than we were, we’re a more physical group, certainly a more experienced group. We’re going to miss the experience of Gerald Robinson and Dustin Ware in the backcourt. But that’s the only keep pieces we lost and I think we just have more guys who are ready for SEC play.”

On progress of forward Marcus Thornton, who has had two knee injuries, including one at the end of this past season. . . .

“He’s right near 100 percent. He’s been doing everything in our workouts. We will continue to be very cautious with Marcus. He will probably get frustrated with me because I’m going to make sure that we proceed very slowly with him. He’s going to be cleared to practice and be ready to play and looks very good in our workouts. But he’s also a young man who has had two knee surgeries and he’s got some tread on those tires. So we have to be careful.”

How frontcourt might look different . . .

“Donte can play some at the 5, some at the 4. I think John Florveus physically is so much stronger than he was last year. Tim Dixon had a great trip to Italy. John Cannon played very well in Italy. I feel like we have four guys that can play that spot, which allows us to move Donte to the 4. Or if we want to be athletic and quick we can play Donte at the 5 and Marcus at the 4 and Nemi at the 4. We just have a lot more options at our disposal.”

On leadership provided by players . . .

“I love Dustin and Gerald. I’m not sure either were great leaders. They were terrific players but both kind of quiet kids. Leadership is an area we need to fill and we need to find somebody who’s ready to fill that void. We will not appoint a leader. We’re not going to have a vote and elect a captain. We’ve never done that. When leadership is required it will emerge. I think we saw that some on our foreign trip with some players who were willing to take the reins of our team and point it in the right direction. Sherrard Brantley was terrific in the off-season, Kentavious Caldwell, Nemi Djurisic, all those guys had some terrific moments in leadership. It’s going to take everybody.”

On expectations this season . . .

“This team will have expectations that all teams have had that are fair. We expect them to act right, play hard, represent their school the right way. I think the talent is different than we’ve had in other years. Last year we were limited with the departure of those guys early. The year before we had pieces but they were different. We don’t have a 290-pound body up front. But we have some longer, athletic guys on the perimeter. Expectaitons are unique and different for each team but some stay the same.”

On expectations for Caldwell-Pope . . .

“Kentavious is naturally a quiet, soft-spoken young man. But when the scoreboard is on and we start playing, his personality changes. He cares about winning, he cares about playing hard. Sometimes we have to slow him down. He picked up a foul or two last year because he didn’t know how to control his motor because he was so aggressive. He had a very good freshman year in so many ways, but there is so much room for improvement and he understands that. He’s going to have to shoot a higher percentage; he’s going to have to become a more efficient scorer. He was the focal point of most of the defenses at the end of last year and that will be the case again this year. He’ll be an improved player, a more physical player and he’ll play some at point guard. He’s a better ball-handler and more poised in the backcourt. Hopefully we’ll see a lot of improvements in him.”

On challenging non-conference schedule, which includes trips to New York to face Indiana and Georgetown or UCLA, South Florida for the SEC-Big East Challenge, Georgia Tech and facing Southern Cal at home. . . .

“The goal in non-conference scheduling is to create a schedule that will give you a great strength-of-schedule for your postseason resume. You don’t sharpen your teeth eating bread pudding. . . . And this is a league I think you’ll see at least seven teams in the [NCAA] tournament, maybe eight. We’ve got two more hard, tough, conference games to play.”

On new guys . . .

“It’s very realistic three of those guys could play a lot. We’d like to redshirt Houston Kessler. That was the plan when we recruited them. The other three could compete for starting positions. We have great competition for playing time, which is something we haven’t had since we’ve been here. . . .

“The year I spent at Kansas, Coach [Roy] Williams told me Dean Smith used to tell him freshmen can only learn one position. So we’ve kind of stuck with that philosophy. So Charles will play the point, his natural position; Kenny Gaines will learn the 2-guard spot; and then Brandon Morris will play the small-forward spot.”

On whether tight end Jay Rome will re-join team in January . . .

“I saw him last night and he told me, ‘Coach, I shot some jumpers the other day.’ And I said, ‘You won’t shoot any for our team; you’re going to rebound.’ We were just joking because he is a pretty good shooter. But I think Jay would like to play again. He has to stay healthy and be doing well in the classroom. But the plan is for him to continue to play.”

49 comments Add your comment

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Joey

October 9th, 2012
2:38 pm

Good stuff, Chip.

Good luck Coach Fox.

Go Dawgs!

Joey

October 9th, 2012
2:49 pm

Hope to read the following headline by Chip one day on his UGA Sports blog:

“Mark Richt Retiring to Begin Full Time Mission Work”

Athens. Mark Richt announce today he will retire from coaching after the Bulldogs’ Outback Bowl appearance in Tampa on New Year’s Day.

UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity said he begin a nationwide searce for a replacement, and stressed there would be no input on the decision, from outgoing UGA President Michael Adams.

a voice in the wilderness

October 9th, 2012
2:52 pm

might as well play roundball cause his future ain’t in football…

ARdawg

October 9th, 2012
2:52 pm

Basketball season can’t get here soon enough

Just Saying

October 9th, 2012
3:05 pm

Chill Joey…….you’re not funny!

Stiffneck

October 9th, 2012
3:09 pm

Wow, only Tuesday and no football news whatsoever.

dale

October 9th, 2012
3:09 pm

Don’t worry, my being a “true fan” means Georgia will get my money and support no matter what product is put on the court or field.

HoneyBadger Has the Munchies

October 9th, 2012
3:13 pm

Mr. Rome will get more passes thrown his way in basketball

ARdawg

October 9th, 2012
3:21 pm

When some people can no longer avoid being idiots, they become true fans

UGA Insider

October 9th, 2012
3:31 pm

Chip,

Please post a blog regarding how terrible the UGA special teams unit is. I stated this summer we were the worst in the county and I stand by that statement.

Joey

October 9th, 2012
3:32 pm

I thought it was realistic. I’m a lifelong Bulldog fan (not a Bulldog coach fan) who is making a comment in the “Add your comment” section.

And that will be the headline one day – though it may be 5 years away, that’s probably what Mark Richt will leave coaching to do.

UGA Insider

October 9th, 2012
3:35 pm

Joey,

I heard today from a source that Adams has named himself to a very prominent UGA board that will still give him control over the UGA football program basically.

No change coming soon.

UGA Insider

October 9th, 2012
3:37 pm

This is the last year Adams will get my money although I will always support the team.

Joey

October 9th, 2012
3:37 pm

You are mistaken UGA Insider.

Our special teams are “solid.”

You know who said it . . .

dale

October 9th, 2012
3:42 pm

Not only are our special teams solid, but my source advised me they were going to watch the SC film and get better.

Hanky Panky

October 9th, 2012
4:09 pm

DRAFT JON GRUDEN FOR UGA HEAD COACH.

AltamahaDawg

October 9th, 2012
4:11 pm

Love me some Georgia B-Ball.

tjhook

October 9th, 2012
4:13 pm

It’ll be interesting who will have the best basketball team in the state this year. Georgia, Georgia Tech or the MERCER Bears, who happened to win 27 wins last year. Just curious since Georgia and Mercer have played each other in the past couple of years.

tjhook

October 9th, 2012
4:13 pm

win 27 games*

Joey

October 9th, 2012
4:25 pm

Didn’t I read last year, no more East/West in BB? So that means no more playing UK and UF twice per year anymore?

Joey

October 9th, 2012
4:27 pm

No more trips to Vandy’s freakish arena every year?

Joey

October 9th, 2012
4:35 pm

Insider, at least Adams will only have one vote (of 6 or 12?) instead of, THE VOTE, as Emperor of UGA.

All this is down the road, though, so maybe his fat ass will be too busy ruling some Caribbean island he purchased while in power to meddle in UGA athletics . . .

VADAWG

October 9th, 2012
4:36 pm

next head coach at UGA……….Kyle Whittingham (Coach at unversity of Utah)……..

Ted Striker

October 9th, 2012
4:37 pm

Good column, Chip. Thanks for your hard work.

VinceVanGo

October 9th, 2012
4:37 pm

I think that at times Ware & Robinson actually hurt the teams flow last year. I think V. Williams & S. Brantley can hold down the guard positions until Mann & Gaines are ready to contribute. I like the front court players and think they will be very competitive. I think this team can be very exciting and compete in every game. And don’t forget. Coach Fox actually does coach up his players and seems to get more than there is out of them. Go BBall Dogs!

a voice in the wilderness

October 9th, 2012
5:41 pm

go to collegefootballnews dot com and read the following article:

Mitchell: Why Mark Richt Should Be Fired

Joey is correct.

Greg

October 9th, 2012
5:56 pm

Any of you who think the basketball team is going to ease some of the frustration from football season are sadly mistaken. Who is Fox kidding with these comments? First year he has had all of his own players and he and his staff should be ashamed of themselves. Our front court talent might be the worst in the conference and our experience in the backcourt is Vince Williams and Sherrard Brantley???? Gerald Robinson carried the team to most of the wins they got last year and now he is gone. I like Fox as a coach, but you gotta bring in the talent to compete at this level. KCP is the only guy on the team who would be more than a very limited role player on an NCAA tourney quality team.

Chuck UGA

October 9th, 2012
6:50 pm

Joey, hope that headline story would also read “there will be no input from the athletic department board members except through formaling an OK to hire a new coach. Anyone over 55 involved with UGA Athletics the past 25 years or longer will also not be allowed involvement.”

lord saban

October 9th, 2012
7:07 pm

35 7. Bwahahahahaha

Big Bubba dawg

October 9th, 2012
7:27 pm

Awesome, I didn’t even know we had a basketball team. Does anyone know where they play? Maybe I will have to go to a game sometime.

Nh gamecock

October 9th, 2012
7:28 pm

35-7

Do an article about how Uga recruits feel after that loss sat night

Nh gamecock

October 9th, 2012
7:30 pm

Big bubba lol think they play on the blacktop somewhere he should be catching balls from am instead of shooting hoops

LakeDawg

October 9th, 2012
8:08 pm

The black cloud of the Ray Goof curse will not lift. UGA is going to keep Richt around at least two more years.

Brian Motter

October 9th, 2012
8:31 pm

My daughter goes to UGA – love em for football, I’m a homer. But I also like Mark Fox. He just feels right. I went to IU, BLEED RED, b-ball is religion in Indiana. And my father is the last surviving member of IU’s 1940 NCAA Championship team. So I love college basketball the most. I expect great things from Mark Fox. Give him time…you watch.

LakeDawg

October 9th, 2012
8:54 pm

Brian Motter

I agree. Fox is a keeper. Give him time and the recruits will come. He already has the coaching part down.

Brian Motter

October 9th, 2012
9:22 pm

I root for IU first in basketball, and UGA second. I would love to see UGA set up a home and home with IU. Would pay to see that. And that is the type of scheduling UGA needs, I think, to grow the basketball program. They have Kentucky, need other great name opponents. If you want to run with the big dogs…build it/showcase it, and they will come.

sogadog

October 9th, 2012
10:16 pm

Basketball is not the issue this week. The headline this week is a significant majority of Bulldawg fans lost confidence in Mark Richt Saturday night and want to see change.

SEC BOYZ

October 9th, 2012
11:06 pm

Fire CMR…
Bobo too..

I want rings not avg. football

the dog

October 10th, 2012
6:02 am

@SEC BOYZ

i wouldn’t call what we have now “average” football.

the dog

October 10th, 2012
6:04 am

i call it “below” average.

Joey

October 10th, 2012
8:04 am

I did go read that article, A voice in the wilderness.

Thanks. Below is the link:

http://cfn.scout.com/2/1227765.html

Auburn Grad

October 10th, 2012
8:22 am

Grew up as and still am a UGA fan. Went to Auburn for Engineering.

I remember those days in the 50’s when UGA only played about 3 games at Sanford because nobody attended. Thirty thousand was a great crowd. Many years UGA would play a “home” game at night at Grant Field, after a GT day game, hoping to draw some Atlantans.

Winning a national Championship is overrated. The stress turns the fans into idiotic zealots like the ones egging Murray’s house, poisoning those trees in Auburn, or perormimg some simulated (I hope) sex act on one drunken fan by another drunken fan.

My last trip to Sanford, sitting on the UGA side, 40 yardline, was primarily listening to “fans” using the “F” word for this that.

If that’s what football is about, maybe there should be a reevaluation.

esaun

October 10th, 2012
8:22 am

sad to say, but uga basketball will win mythical national title before the football team unless AD handles his buisness

Nick

October 10th, 2012
9:16 am

Good luck to Coach Fox and the guys. Tourney bound….

Joey

October 10th, 2012
9:16 am

Auburn Grad, let me get this straight? Winning a BCS Title would give the millions of UGA fans “stress”? And would make us all act like the one Bama fan who poisoned Auburn’s trees? Or the one LSU fan who faked a sex act on the passed-out Bama fan?

That’s the dumbest crap I’ve ever read.

Secondly, if you are offended by hearing the F-word you better not attend any sporting even – even on the high school level, concert, political rally, basically any gathering of people other than a church service.

Lastly, in the 50’s, 30,000 in Sanford Stadium would be called a sell-out or very close.

G Marmalard

October 10th, 2012
11:24 am

No more excuses, fire the bums!

The Sham

October 10th, 2012
1:20 pm

@Chip: Great opening line… very appropriate and hilarious!

I am concerned about one thing CMF said though:

“I love Dustin and Gerald. I’m not sure either were great leaders. They were terrific players but both kind of quiet kids.

Is this an accurate quote or am I misreading it as a dig on the former players? I thought they were our leaders last year, especially Robinson? I trust CMF’s opinion if that is accurate, I was just curious to know if I understood it correctly…

Tech ster

October 16th, 2012
3:21 pm

Now just how many points was it that South Carolina scored against the dogs? 35? 45? I know it was a bunch.
………..What a butt kicking.