Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity has been reserved up until now in commenting publicly on how this season has unfolded in Southeastern Conference play for the Bulldogs men’s basketball team.
This was a pivotal season for fifth-year coach Mark Fox, who led Georgia to a surprising tie for second with Kentucky, but McGarity has said he didn’t “want to mess things up right now,” and wanted to wait until the season is over before addressing Fox’s status beyond this season.
On an interview aired with Georgia color analyst Chuck Dowdle Wednesday morning on Atlanta’s 680 AM, McGarity had plenty to say on this season and touched on the job Fox has done coaching.
“You just see a team that’s come together and enjoys each other,” he said. “That’s what fans want to see, a team that’s giving it everything they have every night. I think you’ve gotten that out of this team and there’s been some times where that hasn’t happened and Mark’s been very up front about it and talked about it. He hasn’t dodged the bullet here.
“When we haven’t done what we’re supposed to do from a coach’s standpoint, he talks about that. And so it’s not calling out young men and things like that. Sometimes it’s challenging, sometimes it’s the obvious. I think it’s had a tremendous response there as far as the way the whole group has reacted. I’ve tried to stay out of the conversation; I don’t want to screw things up. I think sometimes ADs get in the way and they start making comments. I really haven’t talked about the season at all much before to our beat writers or anything because I really don’t want to mess things up. Probably the less I talk about things the better, but at the same time there’s some obvious things that have transpired that I think have really warmed the hearts of all Bulldogs.”
McGarity said that everybody is surprised by how the team played after a 6-6 start to the season was followed by going 12-6 in SEC play to get to an 18-12 overall record now.
“The way the coaches have led and the players have played and responded and things of that nature, I think that’s been one of the great stories of the year,” McGarity said.
More from McGarity:
On Georgia’s second-place SEC finish: “It’s on paper, it’s been documented. The team’s gotten the job done, four road wins in the SEC. Road wins are hard to come by. All those indicators. We have nothing to prove really to anyone. Basically, our team finished second and has the final part of our season entering the next few days.”
More on how the team has responded: “I think there’s no question that the team is believing in itself. I think they’ve found out when they play to their maximum ability every night with no one having a subpar night or no one taking a game off so to speak which hasn’t been the case at all. I think they realize to be successful against any team in this conference, they’ve got to be clicking on all cylinders. We’ve seen when we aren’t clicking on all cylinders and maybe don’t have that emotional edge that you have to have in this game, that’s when you struggle. But I think what you’ve seen is a level of confidence that’s really all the way down to the bench. You see the bench engaged, you see everybody wanting to win.”
McGarity brought up Fox’s example when talking about the SEC tournament, which starts Friday night:
“I’ll just take something from the Mark Fox book, `We’re just focused on the next opponent.’ If it’s Ole Miss, we know what they bring to the table. If it’s Vanderbilt, we know what they bring to the table because they’ve already beaten us at home. If it’s Mississippi State, they’re going to want to come in here and knock us out. We’re not a team that can look ahead of anyone. That’s been proven many times this year. We cannot afford to take a long look down the road as so many people would like to do. We’re not there yet. We can’t afford to do that.”
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer