Da' Dream Makin' Cold Blooded Sausage

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Monday, February 20, 2012

How much leash is left on Mark Fox?

CorbinDawg brings up an interesting topic for discussion today. He recaps a conversation regarding current basketball coach Mark Fox, and his increasingly insecure job status. Now, as the preeminent Fire the Coach website in the Dawg blogosphere, we couldn't let this slide without some sort of commentary.

All in all, we agree 100% with Corbin. Mark Fox, despite a disappointing season, and increasingly disappointing season, can not be let go within the next 12 months, if not longer. Now, there are some excellent coaches possible to be had if we're willing to pay them at or near Mark Richt money (cough*JoshPastner*cough) who've proven they can recruit with the best out there and also coach a little game too. But that's a discussion for another day, if and when an unfortunate time comes.

We've gone on record with our like of Mark Fox. He's a good coach to our eyes, although warts have certainly been shown this season as well as in the past. And considering the long unstable and lacking support environment surrounding Georgia men's basketball, you have to give the man an honest opportunity to fail before pulling the trigger on his tenure. Hell, Dennis Felton got 6 years of showing complete incompetence before we parted ways, and while his recruiting may not be any better, Fox's coaching and PR skills have been vast improvements over his predecessor.

But that recruiting is an issue. We've said it before, and we'll say it again, regarding the tie between coaching and recruiting, the best driver in the world ain't winning Talladega in a Honda Accord. You have to have the horses to succeed in college basketball, and that's recruiting. You need coaching too, but having talent to work with can cover up coaching issues (see Billy Donovan at Florida) a lot easier than coaching can cover up talent issues. And therein lies Fox's biggest concern. We disagree with Corbin in the sense that we think there is a growing discord with this staff and that increasing number of the relatively very small contingent of basketball fans are not pleased and getting concerned with the direction of the program. But that is not the same as saying a coach should go.

Plain and simple, Georgia has long had issues with men's basketball. A big part of those issues are an obvious lack of support administratively and a willingness to cut and run at the first sign of trouble, often hurting the kids within the program. By cutting Fox loose this soon, we continue that pattern of cut and run behavior and lacking support through difficult times. But make no mistake, this is a difficult time. We have a problem in terms of talent with this team, and while there are some solid role players in the incoming recruiting class, we have yet to land a star aside from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and whiffed in a huge way on a very talented group in 2012 despite being in prime position to pounce on that class. We desperately need to reload with a talented 2013 class to get things back on track.

And again, that's the issue, can we recruit those 2013 kids, after whiffing so badly in 2012? Do we have the connections as a staff with the people we need to have relationships with in state and in Atlanta, to get the talent we need to succeed? Mark Fox has done a good job cleaning up the mess he was left with, but is he the right coach to take this program out of the problems of its past? We just can't say right now. What we can say is that things aren't working, and changes (perhaps to his staff, or perhaps in the way his staff operates) need to be made to correct the current failures.

We have a good group of role players developing, around a legit star in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. What we don't have is a second star to complement KCP or for him to complement, and a confidence that things will continue to improve in the future.

11 comments:

  1. Fox is 4-15 against ranked teams, Richt is 0-9 in 9 last ones.

    They both make a living, beating up on losing unranked teams, and losing to ranked teams.

    McGarity likes it and rewards it with longer contracts.

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    1. Depends on how you define "ranked", because Richt beat several teams last year that were ranked when we played them, but the loss (humiliating as some may have been like Auburn) caused them to fall out of the top 25. So he has beaten ranked (at the time we played them) teams as recently as this past season.

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  2. Why not add James Banks to the recruiting staff? He was high school All-American out of Atlanta, starred on UGA's only Final Four team, including being East Regional MVP when they beat an immensely talented UNC team, played professionally, both here and abroad, & is currently coaching high school ball in Athens. I just cant imagine a finer individual to send on a home visit to recruit a kid for Georgia. He's a rare, high quality human being, and has achieved at every level of basketball. Give him an opportunity.....

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    1. He'd be one of several names, including Jonas Hayes (currently an assistant at Belmont Abbey, a college in Charlotte, North Carolina) that could possibly help. But it's all up to Fox. It's his staff, he has to work with these guys on an intimate basis, so it's solely his decision on how his staff is set.

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  3. We needed an assistant coach with local AAU ties. Without recruits you're nothing in basketball. And all of the top recruits in GA play AAU ball. Fox gets one year, if no improvement he needs to go. There is too much talent here in the state not to field a competative team. 4 years is plenty of time to see if he's capable.

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  4. If the team record next February is like this February,Fox's seat will be right warm.I remember when UCONN(with Coach Jim Calhoun)was getting out personneled and kicked around.He started getting great players by telling them to come to UCONN and play against the best teams with the best players in the country.It worked for him and the rest is history.

    Fox has the X's and O's...he sure could use some horses...

    later,old dawg

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    1. Calhoun may not be the best example, considering his suspect past and AAU deals.
      http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/columns/story?id=1673114

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  5. The 2012 recruiting class is an unmitigated disaster. How does a lousy program like Auburn come into the state and steal three players rated as highly as any player UGA got. Not to mention the players YECH walked away with. I was very excited about the progress Fox was making until this came down. If you can't out-recruit Auburn in your own state, you've got serious issues moving the program to a level above 11th best team in a poorly respected basketball conference. Just sayin...

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    1. Well Tony Parker has said he will "shock the world" and we're still on his list. That would be a huge pick up and cause me to retract everything I've said regarding recruiting. Of course, when kids say "shock the world", they usually pick a leader, which would be Ohio St or Duke and not be a shock at all. Then there's Charles Mitchell, which I doubt, but he'd be a good addition.

      Auburn's got 2 players, not 3, in Shaq Johnson and Jordan Adams. Agreed, it'd be nice if we snagged one of those two. We didn't really pursue Johnson if I'm not mistaken, and we're hot and cold in our pursuit of Adams.

      But as for Tech's recruiting, it's simple, they made connections we haven't, bringing in Pierre Jordan, and hiring Abdur-Rahim and Dollar to the staff.

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  6. Mr. Sanchez,

    Due to a busy than normal work and personal life schedule, I have not been able to make up to Athens for a game this season, and living in Macon, it is hard to find games on TV, especially the midweek games.

    But the biggest problem I see now that the team needs is a big man who is a half way decent scorer down low. Donte Williams has played well, but he is not the answer. The Dawgs need a reliable big man.

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    1. Unfortunately I've been the same regarding work and life. After season tickets for years, and 100s of games, this is the first season in at least 15 years I won't be able to catch a tip in Steg. Growing old stinks.

      But curious, is it really that hard to catch games on TV in Macon? Do you have a dish or something that keeps away CSS? I'd assume games like tomorrow's, on the SECN (likely SportsSouth or Fox Sports, among other possibles) would definitely be available in Macon.

      And while I'd agree on the big situation, I like what I've seen from Donte, and some of the flashes both Marcus and Nemi have shown. Nemi in particular has to eliminate the bad and more consistently bring the good plays, but he has the soft touch, width, and footwork to be effective down low next season, and Donte the same with another year to mature, and hopefully add some more girth and strength. But while a Price or better option in the post would be a big help, we need better perimeter scoring too. Gerald has the quickness, but struggles at the rim and lacks an outside shot. Brantley has been nowhere close to expected. I've loved what I've seen from KCP, and think for next year Gaines and Mann can help fill the penetration shoes of Robinson, but we desperately need some more makers from outside. We need improvements outside as well as inside.

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