UGA AD Greg McGarity likes direction of basketball program under Mark Fox

Georgia coach Mark Richt, here with point guard Vincent Williams, hasn't won big with the Bulldogs. He's 50-46 entering his fourth season. But AD Greg McGarity believes Fox is "doing things the right way" and building a strong foundation for the future. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Georgia coach Mark Fox, here with point guard Vincent Williams, hasn't won big with the Bulldogs. He's 50-46 entering his fourth season. But AD Greg McGarity believes Fox is "doing things the right way" and building a strong foundation for the future. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

ATHENS — The fourth season of the Mark Fox era of Georgia basketball gets under way Friday when the Bulldogs play host to Jacksonville in the season opener at Stegeman Coliseum.

Generally the fourth year of a coach’s tenure is thought to be a make-or-break time in the ruthless world of modern college athletics. As Fox himself pointed out in the preseason, this is the first year he has recruited every player on his roster.

But Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity doesn’t sound like an administrator who is looking to throw down any ultimatums this season.

“I have all the confidence in the world Mark’s going to lead our program in the right way and in a way we can all be proud of,” McGarity said. “I know how hard he works recruiting. He is all over the map and so is his staff. He’s doing it the right way with the right youngsters and not taking any shortcuts. I feel really good about what Mark’s doing.”

What Fox hasn’t done is win big with the Bulldogs. He’s 50-46 in three seasons in Athens, including 19-29 in SEC play. Only his second team, which went 21-12, has made the NCAA tournament and then was bumped in the first round. Last year’s squad was 15-17 and finished 10th in the league with a 5-11 record.

But McGarity likes the way Fox is going about building the program. He doing it mainly with Georgia players. Eleven of the 13 players on the roster are from the state. And though the Bulldogs were unable to land high-profile Atlanta recruit Tony Parker this past year (he signed with UCLA), missing out on a potential “one-and-done” isn’t necessarily the worst thing.

“Mark’s priority going in is he wanted to recruit the state and he’s done that,” McGarity said. “Are you going to get everybody in this state? No. But if you get three or four of the best kids in the state every year, pretty soon, by their junior years you’re going to have a pretty good team… . Obviously you need players, but you also need to do it the right way, so that when we do experience a little success we can feel really, really good about it.”

Fox seems to like what he has going on. It is with a quiet confidence and a tad bit of excitement that he speaks about the team he is about to unveil.

“I genuinely like our team,” said Fox, who led Nevada to three NCAA bids before coming to Georgia. “We go into the year cautiously optimistic that our team is one we think can have a real solid season. There are a lot of things we feel good about, but there are still some things we need to do in real, live action. There are some things you do in practice you need to find out if can you do it against somebody else and can you do it in front of fans on game night.”

The Bulldogs return four starters, led by 6-foot-5 sophomore guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the top returning scorer (13.2 ppg) and rebounder (5.2 rpg). Georgia will also build around 6-9 forward Donte Williams (8.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg), 6-8 forward Nemanja Djurisic (7.8, 4.2) and 6-8 forward Marcus Thornton (3.0, 4.8).

Five lettermen and four freshman signees combine to make it one of the deeper teams Fox has fielded at Georgia.

“There are a lot of characteristics about our players that I like,” Fox said. “I think we’re more mature physically. We have greater depth than we’ve had before. I think we have a number of guys who know where they can score the ball. I think we just have a better pool of talent.”

The Bulldogs will need to dip into that pool of talent to help shore up the losses off last year’s squad. In Gerald Robinson and Dustin Ware, Georgia lost two guards who accounted for almost every minute of backcourt play the last two seasons. Ware graduated as one of the Bulldogs’ best 3-point shooters of all time. Robinson was an athletic playmaker who led Georgia last season in scoring (14.2 ppg) and assists (114).

Senior Vincent Williams will step in as the heir apparent at point guard. But the Bulldogs also recruited Charles Mann out of Milton High for his ability to play that position, so there will be competition there. Caldwell-Pope will also run the point occasionally and will primarily play shooting guard after manning the small forward position a year ago.

“We think we’re going to be a pretty good team,” said the 6-4 Mann, who led Milton to the Class AAAAA state title as a senior. “We’re pretty confident. It’s hard replacing those two. We’re up for the challenge and we’ll see how it goes.”

Georgia will be favored to win the opener. Jacksonville returns three starters, including double-digit scorers Glenn Powell (F, 6-5, Sr.) and Keith McDougald (G, 6-1, Jr.), from its a team that went 8-22 season last season.

Friday’s game is the first of three the Bulldogs will play against teams from the Atlantic Sun Conference. They also play East Tennessee State (Nov. 23) and Mercer (Dec. 18).

Georgia’s next four games will be as a participant in the 2012 Progressive Legends Classic. That begins Monday night with a home game against Youngstown State, followed by a Thursday night contest against Southern Miss.

Then the heat of competition will be turned up considerably. The Bulldogs face consensus No. 1 Indiana next Monday in the brand-new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. They’ll face either Georgetown or UCLA the following night.

“I’m sure there are issues on our team, like every team, that will evolve throughout the year that you don’t realize you have,” Fox said. “It may be how much you foul or issues you have that might not have been exposed yet. We’ll address those when they come up.”

Whatever those issues end up being, Fox is going to be given time to work them out. When Florida was in the midst of building up its program at Florida, McGarity was an integral part of the process. He knows these things take time — and patience.

“Will there be bumps across the road ahead? Yeah,” he said. “But look at our history. That’s been our history. We need some stability here.”

40 comments Add your comment

Zach

November 9th, 2012
9:30 am

[...] here: UGA AD Greg McGarity likes direction of basketball program under Mark Fox ← Back to Home Tags: athletic, bulldogs, charles mann, college, focal, fourth, [...]

gomdawg

November 9th, 2012
9:48 am

Go Dawgs looking forward to round ball.

America spoke

November 9th, 2012
9:53 am

Really like the way CMF and ADMc are going about building our program! Slow and steady is the way. We just need to keep more Georgia players in Georgia, that’s all!

DawgColonel

November 9th, 2012
10:17 am

A Class Act. Mark Fox will make us proud. Be patient.

G-Dawg

November 9th, 2012
10:22 am

Let the boys speed up the tempo…too much half court offense the past couple of years. You have plenty of guys on this squad who can get up and down the court pretty fast.

JB

November 9th, 2012
10:33 am

Yep, kinda of like football. We’re fielding a team.

Southside Dawg

November 9th, 2012
10:39 am

Now if we can just get the UGA students to show up and be loud.

Fridawg

November 9th, 2012
10:51 am

I’m anxious to see how KCP does at guard this year, but I don’t think Williams will last long at PG. I bet Mann takes over by the time SEC play starts. If so, we should expect some good things. Also, I hear that Florveus is much improved. Go Dawgs!

Ron Jirsa

November 9th, 2012
11:01 am

Really looking forward to the season, you guys.

robodawg

November 9th, 2012
11:02 am

Chip, the caption should say Mark Fox not Mark Richt.

Basket what?

November 9th, 2012
11:04 am

The caption for the photo…Georgia coach Mark Richt, here with point guard Vincent Williams…i didnt know Richt wore glasses…

Timmy Dawg

November 9th, 2012
11:15 am

McGarity likes the direction? Then he would be the only one……….

Dawglasville

November 9th, 2012
11:23 am

I have to admit that I am jealous about what is going on at Tech with the addition of the new arena and the teams coming into the ACC. There really is no reason why they can’t field a top 20 basketball program every year.

Happy with Coach Fox. I wonder if Stegman will ever be retired.

John

November 9th, 2012
11:39 am

I’m sorry the students don’t want to show up for the games. Maybe you guys should get off the message boards and come see how terrible UGA basketball is. All you have to do is take a look at the blank banners in the Steg. Crappy arena + no tradition + horrible team = no student support. We have better things to do then watch this trash.. and PAY to see it.

DirtyDawg

November 9th, 2012
12:40 pm

Damn, the B-ball team has sure accumulated its share of malcontented posters here. What’s up with that? Are they Techies masquerading as Dogs, or just the usual naysayers that can’t be happy unless they’re complaining? And that photo caption that they haven’t changed…not only is it not Mark ‘Richt’…it doesn’t look like Vincent Williams either. Looks like Dustin Ware to me. Seems like the folks at the AJC just don’t really care much about accuracy or pay much attention either.

xbot

November 9th, 2012
12:51 pm

Doesn’t take Nostradamus to predict the future. Fox will achieve moderate success over the next 3-4 years and get plucked by a school that actually cares about its hoops program

1971DAWG

November 9th, 2012
1:12 pm

McGarity really likes the kool-aid that Fox is serving. How can any A.D. worth his weight like the way the program is treading. This guy can’t recruit in the state of Ga. PERIOD!! And he is a terrible game day coach. This team has nothing but projects on it’s roster, and there are only 2 players that have SEC talent. There are no top recruits coming in next year to help, and the guys that will be freshmen this year want help either. If McGarity thinks this coach and his team can compete in the SEC east, he is not the A.D. UGA deserves and needs. This coach will have his 3rd losing season out of 4, and this A.D. likes where the program is headed. Funny, his old boss and A.D. at Florida would never accept this mediocre coach or his program, but McGarity is satisfied. UGA should send this clown back to Florida before he totally destroys the athletic dept. Besides, Fox, Landers, Perno, all average to below average coaches have nothing to worry about, McGarity only fires women’s coaches.

John

November 9th, 2012
1:14 pm

Malcontented because we are terrible. Its a terrible program. It always has been. Major changes need to be made if we are serious about basketball. Its not like we are lacking resources or anything… I’d chip in a few extra dollars of tuition money for a better basketball program.

merbertmoover

November 9th, 2012
1:49 pm

@1971Dawg and John -

You guys suck. Please go away. It’s preseason, time for optimism, see how the season plays out in Fox’s first year having only HIS recruits. Can you just wait a few games before dooming the dawgs? Can you? Do you have to spew negativity before a single game has even tipped-off? Just curious

merbertmoover

November 9th, 2012
1:50 pm

and by the way, GO DAWGS!!!!

Gary

November 9th, 2012
1:52 pm

Anyone who actually watches Georgia basketball can see the strides that have been made since Fox took over. Fox showed his very first year he could take mediocre SEC talent and make a competitive team out of it. Now that he has been able to recruit a much deeper talent base, I expect we will see a very competitive team. Bloggers who think Fox isn’t a good coach based on his record at Georgia, have obviously never watched them play. He’s the best we’ve had since Tubby, and I dont want to see Fox go as Tubby did, because Georgia fans just wouldnt support their team.

John

November 9th, 2012
2:11 pm

Strides? Cause going 5-11 in SEC play last year is a huge stride. Strides? Cause landing three 3 star recruits and an unranked player is a huge stride. While Tony Parker, Robert Carter, Shaq Goodwin, Jordan Price, all leave the state or commit to Tech, and laugh at the thought of playing ball at UGA. Don’t tell me I have no idea what I’m talking about. I think going to every basketball game and scrimmage for the past few years gives me the right to do so. Idiots. STOP ACCEPTING MEDIOCRITY. Cause our one final four appearance in 1983 looks soooo good to recruits. Blank banners get you no where… Strides.. ha.

Responses

November 9th, 2012
2:13 pm

@xbot Next two years are crucial for Fox. If he does turn the program around, I don’t see him leaving. You will recall Tubby turned down Ohio State. Few coaches are going to turn down UK. Fox would possibly leave for Kansas, but if they were to offer him, it would mean the Dogs were having great success.

@1971Dawg Your definition of “average” is interesting, especially concerning Perno and Landers. While Perno has let things slip the last couple of years, going to three college world series is hardly average. He does need to show some significant improvement after disappointing in recent history.

Landers is a victim of his own success. While we are seeing Sweet Sixteens, and less, instead of Final Fours, most major schools would be thrilled to have UGA’s record, even in the relatively down years recently. I do believe his best chances of a NC are gone, but he has earned the right to retire on his own terms in my estimation, as long as he keeps fielding competitive teams. I will be excited if his successor comes close to matching his Hall of Fame career, which is winding down.

WWF

November 9th, 2012
3:54 pm

Fox’s guys at UGA play good in the first half, and then wear out in the 2nd half.

1- Lack of talent depth
2- Lack of experienced depth
3- Conditioning

Look like top 25 team in the first half every year, but bomb out after halftime.

Never is able to fix that.

WWF

November 9th, 2012
3:55 pm

1st half of games, not season.

McDawg

November 9th, 2012
4:40 pm

i’ll take five 3 stars over 2 one and dones anyday in college hoops

tony

November 9th, 2012
5:16 pm

I’m not ready to say that Fox is a good hc just yet. His team need to improve fundamentally and start winning consistently especially against quality teams. He also need to recuit better.

Dawg Bite

November 9th, 2012
8:02 pm

John, since you think UGA and CMF “suck”, why do you even go to the games? Oh, I forgot, you attend every practice as well. Maybe you just better drive over to Atlanta and watch your Jackets play. I do not think your presence at Stegman will be missed!

Natureboy809

November 9th, 2012
11:32 pm

Personally, I think Fox is doing a great job considering the hand he was dealt. Every year we see improvement out of our team as the season goes along. Obviously, he needs to start landing some bigger recruits, but if we give him some time to build some momentum, I think he will. (We really could have been helped out in that regard if Thompkins and Leslie chose to stay in Athens for another year rather than ride the pine with the Clippers.)

RaleighDawg

November 10th, 2012
12:22 am

Wonder if Greg is still liking his head coach after nearly getting waxed by JU team that was 8-22 last year ? Fox keeps this up it’s very likely that Greg will be the only person liking his head coach…

Game Changer

November 10th, 2012
7:24 am

McQuackity built nothing while at Florida.

Question: Will UGA basketball finish the SEC 11th out of 12 like 2011/12 season, NO, they may finish 13th out of 14 in 2012/13.

Basketball facilities and overall program is pitiful. Once UGA acknowledges that the basketball program a problem, things may change. Continuing to act like our facilites etc. are top of the line is nothing but ” DENIAL “.

thenumber34

November 10th, 2012
7:55 am

Game changer…the b-ball ‘facilities’ are far from pitiful. Stegeman constitutes only one part of the facilities. The practice facility is amongst the best in the country. Regarding Stegeman itself, while I do wish the seats were closer to the floor, has become a very good b-ball arena with the latest improvements. The problem is the empty seats. That makes any facility very average.

collegeballfan

November 10th, 2012
9:18 am

I agree that Fox is the guy to turn UGA basketball around. But he has a long way to go. Except for half a dozen seasons out of the last 30, UGA basketball has not mattered to anyone. Fox has to overcome that history before he can sign the top players year in and year out.

And having the UGA grads in the stands would not hurt.

jc_dawgs

November 10th, 2012
10:15 am

Fox is a good x’s and o’s coach and he’s a good fit for UGA basketball for many years to come. He tries his best to recruit the best talent from the state that he can. But…..until he starts to land more 4 star and 5 star players…..UGA basketball will continue to struggle. Except for Pope….the roster is made up of all 3 star players. Therefore…it is likely we will struggle to be good.

Dawg in Griffin

November 10th, 2012
1:00 pm

I certainly don’t doubt this guy so far. He didn’t have much when he got here, coached up what he did have, and turned them into 3 competitive, if not always successful, seasons. With his own players and the attitude he takes toward recruiting, I believe Fox will eventually succeed, and with players that that will represent the university well.

RaleighDawg

November 10th, 2012
1:46 pm

You’re right Dawg in Griffin – Fox only had two NBA’er with Travis and Trey, plus two pretty solid big men in Barnes and Price who are still playing pro ball in Europe..not to mention a couple of guards in Ware and Robinson that are playing overseas…geez, does anyone on this blog know anything about UGA basketbasll except Fox is white and Felton was black ?

Sven Ottke

November 12th, 2012
10:27 pm

Woo hoo! Does he still like it after getting your hat handed to you by Youngstown State? Ha, ha, ha. No really.

John

November 13th, 2012
9:12 am

You guys still believe in Fox? Idiots. Losing to a bunch of penguins doesn’t cut it for most sane individuals.

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