Category Archives: College Hoops
Jason Smith weighs in on Georgia head coach Mark Fox following his extension.
I said before that Mark Fox should be fired, Bruce Pearl should be hired, and UGA would then become a perennial tournament team.
I was wrong.
Mark Fox should not be fired. Bruce Pearl is definitely a better coach than he is but I think Fox has proven that he is in fact worth keeping.
Now, I won’t lie to you. I had heard that very argument before and thought it was the dumbest crock of s*** I had ever heard. Most people who argued thusly cited the fact that UGA had turned in an incredible basketball season. 2nd in the SEC! Tied with Kentucky! NIT bid! How could we not be happy?
This argument is not my favorite for a few reasons:
1.) despite the incredible tournament performance of Florida, Tennessee, and Kentucky the SEC was hot garbage this year during the regular season. If the Tennessee we witnessed this weekend had shown up during the regular season for a consistent interval UGA would’ve finished in a different spot. This takes nothing away from the heart of the UGA team. They wouldn’t have finished last, by any means. But they also would not have finished 2nd.
2.) You are very short-sighted if you think that 2nd in a down SEC and an NIT bid is the best that UGA can do. In fact, I hope that we all long for an era of UGA basketball where that is almost a “failure.” Sure I hate the “what have you done for me lately?” hiring style that is rampant these days. But expectations often determine results. People that want to hold onto Mark Fox just because he beat Missouri twice are setting the bar waaaaaayyyyy too low.
Realistically, UGA should be able to recruit quality, non-one-and-done players out of Atlanta that provide the foundation for a perennial tournament program. The only thing that is holding UGA back from that goal is a tarnished image of a program mired in basketball inertia coupled with a dismal amount of fan support. (Seriously. If you are a current UGA student get your ass to basketball games. You’d be amazed at how quickly things will improve if fan attendance goes up). The key to making those things go away is a great recruiting class and, I thought, a “splash” of a head coaching hire.
I’ve since retracted on the head coaching hire. Here’s why.
Mark Fox is a really good coach. If he can become a good recruiter we might start to think of him as a “great” coach. But the line between those two things will hinge on recruiting. Now, why have I changed my tune on him all of a sudden?
For a while there I thought that Mark Fox was a decent coach who was reaping the benefit of raw talent. He was ma mediocre X’s and O’s guy but that got overshadowed by the talents of Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann.
Now I wonder if maybe we’ve had it the wrong way round this whole time. Maybe these guys aren’t any good on their own but Mark Fox manages to milk flashes of brilliance out of them. We don’t really have any definitive evidence either way.
Watching the SEC Tournament Georgia looked like a team desparate to lose. They looked like a team that was being held together by glue and duck tape and sheer will. I suppose I had always assumed that this “will” was the will of the players. After thinking it over I think I’ve been wrong all along.
I think Mark Fox has been carrying this team on his back.
It’s not surprising if you think about this guy. He lost his father the day before the Missouri game. He painted up and became one of the “Spike Squad.” He and Mark Richt are really good friends. His family is an integral part of the Athens community. There is no real reason for him to have approached this season lackadaisically. Yet, somehow we all (me) assumed that he didn’t have much of a chance at righting the ship. And somehow he has turned a team that almost had us ready to wear paper bags on our heads into a team that has a real shot at making the tournament next year.
That alone makes me believe in another few years for Mark Fox.
Now, I would be inclined to qualify that by saying he has to recruit well in the future. But even that may be an overstatement. Case in point, J.J. Frazier. In fact, the only mark against Fox (mark against Fox, get it?) is that J.J. Frazier hasn’t seen more of the spotlight.
In short, we may be waiting on Fox to get the Blue Chip one-and-done but look where doing that got teams like Duke. Maybe Fox is building something that could be great one day.
And one things for sure, no one takes time to build anything anymore.
Cut down the nets. This is the championship as far as I’m concerned.
That’s all I got/
Once again, you’re invited to join the official DudeYouCrazy March Madness Mastery Contest presented by the DudeYouPodcast.
We’ll be throwing random prizes out after each round, but what really matters is this: The winner gets a 60 minute Podcast appearance and full control over content of the episode. This could be your big break! Having 60 minutes of air time could be like The Voice meets Last Comic Standing assuming you are a good singer and/or a comedian. If not it’s a lot like a podcast!
Join via ESPN here!
That’s all I got/
Jason Smith shares his thoughts on round ball.
The offseason is like crack for me.
I love it. I love everything about it. The peace. The calm. Relief from an utterly decimated emotional life. And then there’s also the “Price is Right” of sports: College Recruiting.
What’s not to love?
This year I needed the offseason really badly. When the final seconds ticked off the clock at the Gator Bowl, sealing Georgia’s ignominious showing against Nebraska, I didn’t feel any sadness. I certainly didn’t feel happy, but I also didn’t feel any anger. There was only one emotion I felt.
This cruel, hateful, king-douche of a season was finally over. Then UGA upset Missouri in basketball.
Then they kept on winning.
Now I won’t lie to you, I’m not ashamed to admit that I love UGA basketball. I immensely enjoyed my time in Stegeman Coliseum as a student. I can honestly say that I wanted the UGA basketball team to live up to its potential almost as much as I wanted Mark Richt to win a National Title. But I was always disappointed and so I stopped caring. Instead, I used that new gap to recover from football, watch the Masters, and enjoy the sweet sound of my March Madness bracket getting blasted to smithereens.
If they keep winning I might have to start caring about UGA basketball this year, and it’s killing me.
For two reasons:
1. UGA might actually make the tournament….so that they can then lose in the first round and dash my hopes on a jagged rock.
The SEC is as down as it will ever be. It is Florida and Kentucky then everybody else, and the “everybody else” is a cringe-inducing list of tournament résumés.
UGA is currently 10-8 overall following an all-out smackdown in Rupp Arena, but there is reason to hope they still have a shot at the tournament. As I said before, everyone is beatable this year. They’ve had their shot at Florida and Kentucky and come up short, but they still play LSU twice, Ole Miss at home, and Mizzou at home. Finish third in the SEC (a real possibility if you win the games I just listed) with some decent quality wins and you could make the tournament.
Now this sets up my second reason, and you’re not gonna like it.
2.) Even if UGA were to make the tournament I still think UGA should fire Mark Fox.
But he’ll probably earn an extra year if UGA makes the tournament…only to then lose in the first round and kick my hopes in the no-no place again.
So why should UGA fire Mark Fox? One word: Atlanta.
With Atlanta as a recruiting bed UGA should make the tournament every year. Even if you only manage to grab one of the top-10 players from Atlanta you’ll have the type of raw talent that is necessary to do more than just make the tournament. If you get two a year you’re building something real. If you own the state of Georgia the sky is the limit.
It is clear from his tenure that Mark Fox and his staff can’t get UGA over the hump in recruiting. He is proving this year that he is not a half bad X’s and O’s guy, but that’s not much of an asset with the low talent level of players UGA typically attracts. You need a coach that can make a splash. Fox just isn’t that guy.
But if he makes the tournament—losing in the first round and subsequently disemboweling all of my hopes—we’ll have to give him another year.
Now, one last point.
After we make the tournament (only to lose in the…well, you get it) who should we hire?
You’re really not going to like this…
3.) UGA should go get Bruce Pearl.
Now before you say that Fox is the polar opposite of Pearl let’s remember a few things: when Fox dressed up as a member of the Spike Squad during football season he was pulling a “Bruce Pearl.”
While Fox took a laughingstock of a program (Nevada) and made them a perennial tournament team, Pearl took the same caliber team and made them an Elite Eight team and, at one point, the number one team in the country. Finally, Bruce Pearl is an insanely good recruiter. He is not, however, a good liar.
You know who else wasn’t a great liar? Jim Harrick. He and his son committed egregious academic fraud while coaching at UGA. Bruce Pearl hosted a barbeque, got ratted out by Aaron Craft, and then (stupidly) tried to cover it up. He was then fired by an athletic director that is now almost unanimously considered to be one of the more incompetent AD’s in Tennessee’s history.
I think Pearl will work out fine.
UGA basketball can be good. It might even be great one day. But until we have a guy like Pearl in a red blazer I really, really don’t want to care. If we keep winning I will have to, and it is killing me.
I need my offseason back.
ABC is slowly transitioning into live-broadcasting via iPhone and iPad applications. So now new Georgia Grad Assistant Christian Robinson and I will be able to not only watch old episode of “The Bachelor” on the app (we’ve had that capability for a while) but also watch new ones as they air.
The new wave of awesome is starting in the Philly and NYC markets and expected to expand based on negotiations with local affiliates. It’s hard to picture the “live” stream not including “live” college football. Live is live.
We may soon live in a world that allows us to watch Brent Musburger ogle Katherine Webb (a 7 at best on the College QB Star Girlfriend Scale) on our own cell phones. Technology is the best!
That’s all I got/