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‚Äôs 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‚Äôt ‚Äúwant to mess things up right now,‚Äù and wanted to wait until the season is over before addressing Fox‚Äôs status beyond this season.
On an interview aired with Georgia color analyst Chuck Dowdle Wednesday morning on Atlanta‚Äôs 680 AM, McGarity had plenty to say on this season and touched on the job Fox has done coaching.
‚ÄúYou just see a team that‚Äôs come together and enjoys each other,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs what fans want to see, a team that‚Äôs giving it everything they have every night. I think you‚Äôve gotten that out of this team and there‚Äôs been some times where that hasn‚Äôt happened and Mark‚Äôs been very up front about it and talked about it. He hasn‚Äôt dodged the bullet here.
‚ÄúWhen we haven‚Äôt done what we‚Äôre supposed to do from a coach‚Äôs standpoint, he talks about that. And so it‚Äôs not calling out young men and things like that. Sometimes it‚Äôs challenging, sometimes it‚Äôs the obvious. I think it‚Äôs had a tremendous response there as far as the way the whole group has reacted. I‚Äôve tried to stay out of the conversation; I don‚Äôt want to screw things up. I think sometimes ADs get in the way and they start making comments. I really haven‚Äôt talked about the season at all much before to our beat writers or anything because I really don‚Äôt want to mess things up. Probably the less I talk about things the better, but at the same time there‚Äôs some obvious things that have transpired that I think have really warmed the hearts of all Bulldogs.‚Äù
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.
‚ÄúThe way the coaches have led and the players have played and responded and things of that nature, I think that‚Äôs been one of the great stories of the year,‚Äù McGarity said.
More from McGarity:
On Georgia‚Äôs second-place SEC finish: ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs on paper, it‚Äôs been documented. The team‚Äôs 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.‚Äù
More on how the team has responded: ‚ÄúI think there‚Äôs no question that the team is believing in itself. I think they‚Äôve 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‚Äôt been the case at all. I think they realize to be successful against any team in this conference, they‚Äôve got to be clicking on all cylinders. We‚Äôve seen when we aren‚Äôt clicking on all cylinders and maybe don‚Äôt have that emotional edge that you have to have in this game, that‚Äôs when you struggle. But I think what you‚Äôve seen is a level of confidence that‚Äôs really all the way down to the bench. You see the bench engaged, you see everybody wanting to win.‚Äù
McGarity brought up Fox‚Äôs example when talking about the SEC tournament, which starts Friday night:
‚ÄúI‚Äôll just take something from the Mark Fox book, `We‚Äôre just focused on the next opponent.‚Äô If it‚Äôs Ole Miss, we know what they bring to the table. If it‚Äôs Vanderbilt, we know what they bring to the table because they‚Äôve already beaten us at home. If it‚Äôs Mississippi State, they‚Äôre going to want to come in here and knock us out. We‚Äôre not a team that can look ahead of anyone. That‚Äôs 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‚Äôre not there yet. We can‚Äôt afford to do that.‚Äù
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer