June 29, 2010

Fox gives summertime report

When Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox examines the final SEC team statistics, several aspects quickly catch his eye.

For example, although his Bulldogs finished third from the bottom of the league in scoring offense (68.1 points per game), Georgia still finished third best in field goal percentage (45.6) behind Kentucky (47.8) and Vanderbilt (47.0).

Those aren't the only interesting numbers to consider.

Despite attempting the fewest 3-pointers in the conference (.405), Georgia connected on 150 for 36.6 percent, second behind Vanderbilt at 36.8. After a slow start, Georgia also allowed the fewest defensive rebounds (31.6) and was second in rebounding margin behind Kentucky at +4, numbers Fox believes will continue to improve now that he's approaching his second season as the Bulldogs head coach.

"Whenever you go into a new season you'll typically have three or four players where everything you do is new," Fox said during the SEC's summertime teleconference. "But when you come in as a new coach, you're teaching 15 players a new system so it took us some time."

Other parts of Georgia's game still need more work.

The Bulldogs were dead last in turnover ratio, finishing at -3.29 while finishing 10th in assist/turnover ratio at a mere 0.90.

"I think we'll be a better ball-handling team but also think we'll be able to play defense where we can create turnover or two. We didn't create many (turnovers) last year so part of that statistic was our inability to create turnovers defensively, and obviously the turnovers on the offensive end," Fox said. "Obviously, that's an area where we need to get better. I think we'll have more depth on the perimeter this year and fatigue won't be as much of an issue. My three starting perimeter players (last year) each averaged over 40 minutes per game, but I don't think that's going to be a problem next year."

On paper, it shouldn't be.

Along with the returning Travis Leslie, Dustin Ware and Vincent Williams, Fox is counting on Tennessee State transfer Gerald Robinson to make an immediate impact in that regard.

"We're excited about next season. Our players have worked hard since the end of last year to improve. Obviously, this is the second go-around with this group after we spent a lot of energy trying to create the culture and attitude we wanted, and to implement our system of play," Fox said. "But again, we're very excited. We have an element of experience that we didn't have a year ago and I think we'll be able to play some upperclassmen at the same time on the floor. I think that should be a strength of ours."

Fox is also excited about the potential that freshman Marcus Thornton will bring to his program.

The former Westlake star and Clemson signee became the final piece of this year's recruiting puzzle for Fox when he joined the Bulldogs back in May.

"Marcus really gives us a boost. He's a young man who we did not have the chance to recruit when we first came," Fox said. "He had already made his decision and signed when we got here, but after he was released we were very excited to have a chance to recruit him. He's an excellent player and student, a real winner in a lot of ways. We expect him to add a lot to our team and I think he gives us certainly a variety of skills on the floor. He can play a couple of positions, so we're very excited to have him."

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