July 2, 2009

Jackson says team adjusting well

It's only been a few months, but already senior Albert Jackson says he can detect a noticeable difference between former coach Dennis Felton and new head man Mark Fox.

A stickler for details, Felton demanded excellence from his players on and off the court, although his demeanor could sometimes be described as cool.

Not so with Fox, whose easy-going style has definitely been a change that players like Jackson have enjoyed getting to know.

"I think the biggest difference between them is that they have to very different types of personalities. Coach Felton, he was good at what he did but he was more of a stern guy, strictly focused on what he was trying to do on the basketball court," Jackson said in an interview with UGASports. "Coach Fox is a more light-hearted type of guy, but he's also a winner and he definitely knows how to coach basketball but he's also likes life and likes to joke a little more. It's definitely more light-hearted throughout the lockerroom."

Jackson said players have taken to Fox and his staff quite well.

Considering all the issues that helped affect last season's disappointing campaign, Fox's laid-back attitude has been a welcome change.

"I think it's grown on the guys a lot. Guys feel more comfortable a lot since the change," he said. "It's always a hard transition when you change coaches but guys have become real comfortable in just two months where they feel they can go into his office, say 'Hey, Coach, how is your day?' or talk about things other than basketball. Everyone is real comfortable with the situation right now."

Jackson, who averaged 19.6 minutes per contest, has been busy with the rest of his teammates going through summer weightlifting workouts and take part in pickup games which are held daily.

He said there's been a purpose for each and every one.

"Summer is a lot about getting your body right and getting in shape. Some guys need to gain weight, some guys need to lose weight, some guys need to get quicker, some guys need to jump higher. We do a lot of conditioning and weight training," he said. "Of course a lot of the on-court stuff is limited with the coaches but we play pickup every single day and basically every guy that's here goes into the gym for an hour a day to get shots up and stuff. You're seeing a lot more dedication from the guys as far as getting better, wanting to get better."

Better yet, Jackson said everyone seems to be on the same page.

From returnees like Jeremy Price and Dustin Ware to incoming freshmen like DeMario Mayfield and Vincent Williams, participation has been 100 percent.

That's not all.

"This is the most I've seen guys working this hard and doing all the little times like to be on time like for weights," he said. "I'm impressed with the way things are operating right now."

Jackson said he's been particularly impressed with Gerald Robinson, a 6-1 guard who transferred to Georgia from Tennessee State.

Robinson won't be available for Georgia due to the NCAA's transfer rule but has already shown that he's going to make quite the impact a season from now.

"My best comparison to him is Allen Iverson. Gerald's the same size, maybe a little bit lighter, but nobody can really stay in front of him," Jackson said. "He's a great finisher around the rim. He's long, athletic, smart player, he can pass. If you get to come and watch him practice you will be amazed because he can really play. He doesn't mind getting knocked down and getting his nose dirty."

Of the freshman, Williams has opened some eyes although he's just been on campus a couple of days since enrolling from South Dade (Fla.) High.

"Vincent Williams only played with us once but I think he's a good shooter and he has a real confident stroke. He may not necessarily be the banger of a point guard that we're used to seeing here but he's definitely an outside element that we may have been lacking last year," Jackson said. "He'll spread people out a lot because he's got NBA range easily. He's got a really smooth game."

Although Jackson laments the fact that he won't be around after this season to see Fox's program hopefully grow, the Kentucky native said he'll cherish being part of his first squad.

He'll also do whatever he can to help entice would be Bulldogs to join the program, one he's confident will finally make the University proud.

His message to them will be a simple one.

"I can definitely tell them when you win something here you will be remembered and you will be celebrated to the day you die, especially with the basketball tradition here because there's not a lot of it so you'll get a chance to make it and to shape it," he said. "We have all the best facilities, we have the best fans, the best town, best college and academically it's everything you can want. Don't let the past like the whole NCAA thing with Coach (Jim) Harrick, don't let things like that scare you away. That's in the past, that's gone. This is a new era in Georgia basketball so come jump on the bandwagon and be a part of it."

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