December 1, 2009

A constant reminder

There's barely a day goes by when Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox doesn't stop to remind himself just how young his Bulldog basketball team truly is.

Although the squad technically features a pair of seniors in Albert Jackson and Ricky McPhee, along with juniors Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes, the rest of the roster is chock-full of freshmen and sophomores.

"We have a very, very young inexperienced team and the experience we have wasn't good experience," Fox said before practice Tuesday afternoon. "That may be the wrong way to put it, but the experience that they had, they didn't experience a lot of success. We have to remind ourselves of that daily."

No doubt that Fox will be thinking about that again when his Bulldogs (3-2) entertain Coach Rick Majerus' St. Louis Billikens (4-2) Wednesday night at Stegeman Coliseum.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. The game will be televised by CSS.

There's going to be a lot of great coaches who coach in Stegeman this year, but none better than him. He is a terrific coach at both ends of the floor, he's had a legendary career and I have a great deal of respect for him," Fox said of Majerus. "He is someone, he's reached the Final Four at a place (Utah) that is not a BCS job, he's legendary, and not just on the West Coast when he was at Utah, but he is a national name and deservedly so because he is terrific at what he does."

Fox hopes his young Bulldogs will be ready.

Although Georgia comes into the contest 3-2, the Bulldogs have been anything but consistent, such as the case against Jacksonville State last Friday when Georgia started slowly before pulling out a 67-63 win.

But Fox believes his squad is starting to make some gains.

"We're a much better team than we were two weeks ago and we're a better team than we were 3-4 days ago. The unfortunate part is we've had to learn from adversity, we had to pay the ultimate price in losing to learn some lessons," Fox said. "The past couple of nights we haven't played great, but we can learn some lessons from winning, and it's easier for them to listen if they've won a couple than coming off a loss. But we have improved. Our real focus is for this group to try and get better every day, every week and I think we've continued to do that."

Barnes said being a young team definitely has its advantages.

"We do have a lot of youth, but it gives us a chance to grow as a team and learn to develop as better players," Barnes said. "I think it's a good thing to be able to develop our game and learn his style of play."

Fox is quick to admit he still gets frustrated from time to time.

In a perfect situation, Fox would love for his team to be able to go out and consistently perform every time they take the court.

But realistically, he knows it's a season-long work-in progress.

"My competitive nature probably leads me to that (frustration) a lot, I'm extremely competitive. I'm not expecting them to grow and learn things on the job, but there's no way around it, that's how they have to do that if we want to be successful," Fox said. "They have to learn on the job. So sure, we can all get frustrated, themselves included. But we have to remind ourselves that it is a long process, that they're very, very young. Sometimes that leads to a step forward a step back, two steps forward a step back but ultimately I think they've had a pretty good approach."

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