Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mark Fox Tries to Turn the Ship Around

His will not be an easy job. With the firing of Dennis Felton, there was some serious work to do, and still more to be accomplished. But Mark Fox is taking on the task, trying to move forward.

The good news is that Dustin Ware is in place. Travis Leslie can play. Howard Thompkins has skill. Jeremy Price, Ebuka Anyaorah, Drazen Zlovaric, Chris Barnes, Albert Jackson, Demario Mayfield, all give Fox something to work with.

Further, the players that Felton attracted to the program were and are fairly good students. During their tenure under Felton, the players became used to the drill of studying and going to class. Other than Travis Leslie, all players were in good enough academic standing to avoid any concerns about eligibility to play. There would be no penalties from the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate requirements.

Although Swansey and Brewer announced they were leaving before Fox was hired, there was no appreciable drain in talent, since Swansey was the back-up point guard who averaged 4 points, and Brewer would not have played much, if at all. The roster was in decent shape.

So Mark Fox had four jobs to tackle right away:

a) recruit someone at point guard
b) keep players on the roster who were already there (Leslie and Thompkins, specifically)
c) install a new offensive set
d) build his staff

He has accomplished or is well along the way in accomplishing all four immediate jobs. Good start.

Now can Fox turn that good start into wins? He was a pretty consistent 20-game winner at Nevada. Looking just a bit closer, however, Nevada did not go even to the NIT last year, and were bounced from the CBI tournament in the first round. Further, during those 20-win seasons, Nevada did not have to play Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Tennessee twice a year.

Nevada did beat Georgia twice under Fox, but Georgia was not one of the elite SEC teams. For example, one of those victories was a narrow win in Nevada over a rebuilding Georgia team that prominently featured Steve Newman and Younes Idrissi. In that game, Nevada shot 32 free throws, to Georgia's 11. The score was 60 to 58 with 2 minutes left to play. Nevada won by 6.

Can Fox make UGA a consistent 20-game winner? To get us there, Fox will have to accomplish the next four jobs.

a) Make Georgia a really good fundamental team-- offense, defense, free throws
b) Install an offensive and defensive system that takes advantage of match-ups, creates easy buckets for Georgia, and gives our team an upper hand late in close contests
c) Train up the players that are on the roster, and make them excel given the ability they have
d) Win the recruiting battle for the best players from Georgia

Emphasis on the last point. Then repeat the process.

Fans will quickly start getting excited again once the team begins to recruit very well and consistently rack up victories. Let's all pull for the team and hope that Fox can take us to the next level.

Go Dawgs.

1 comment:

Mr. Sanchez said...

Personally man, I'll always put emphasis on c) development over d) recruiting. Of course, recruiting matters, but give me the best collection of high schoolers and I'll never beat a seasoned team of collegiate sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Player/team development is as important as recruiting Burger All Americans. Besides, if he proves he can develop talent and make kids better players and better people, the talented kids will come. In this state, the talented Burger boys will come. But first things first, prove you can coach. Prove you can do "c", then "d" will take care of itself.