ATHENS — Season No. 4 for Georgia men’s basketball coach Mark Fox gets under way tonight at 7 p.m. at Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs play host to Young Harris — coached by former UGA interim head coach Pete Herrmann — in an exhibition game. Georgia’s regular-season opener is Nov. 9 against Jacksonville.
Asked what he hoped to see out of this first public outing, Fox said: “Certainly we want to be able to just play in front of a crowd, relax and learn how to play in front of people. That’s really not something we’ve done to this point yet.”
Georgia’s a little ahead of the game in that respect. The Bulldogs played four exhibition games in Europe late this summer. “We had a good crowd in one game,” Fox said, “but none of them spoke English.”
The Bulldogs will be trying improve on last year’s 15-16 season with four returning starters and four freshman newcomers. Georgia’s frontline of Donte Williams, Marcus Thornton and Nemanja Djurisic comes back intact. Leading scorer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is also back and will play more in the backcourt as a shooting guard.
The chief order of business is settling on a point guard. Senior Vincent Williams is the heir apparent to Gerald Robinson but freshman Charles Mann has been impressive as well and will be given some looks.
“I think we have a chance to be good,” said Thornton, who is coming off of knee surgery. “It’s going to take a lot of different factors for us to be that but we have a lot of great pieces. We have a team that loves to be around each other. I look forward to competing with these guys.”
Guard Kenny Gaines will be among four freshman signees getting their first action at Stegeman.
“It’s really a dream come true,” Gaines said. “I know a lot of people say that they’re not really nervous and they’re just ready to be out there and play, but I am a little bit nervous. I’m just going to be trying to make sure I know all the plays offensively and, defensively, I want to remember all the tendencies that we’ve been working on.”
Everybody in Georgia’s camp is looking forward to welcoming back Herrmann, who served six seasons as the Bulldogs associate head coach under Dennis Felton before finishing his last season in Athens as interim head coach. Herrmann resurrected the Young Harris basketball program after decades of dormancy.
“When I went to Kansas State to be an assistant coach I took over the office that he vacated,” Fox said. “I took over his desk there and then when he was interim coach here I stepped in and took over his desk a second time. He’s a good man and this was a game that he really thought could help his team. Pete and I have had a good friendship and tomorrow can only enrich that.”