January 17, 2011

New challenge for Fox

Teaching his team how to win was one of the first challenges facing Mark Fox when he first arrived on the scene as Georgia's basketball coach.

Learning how to deal with success is now part of the curriculum.

At 13-3 overall, 2-1 in the SEC, the Bulldogs are dabbling in territory unfamiliar to recent Georgia hoop teams. But as the Bulldogs get ready to host arch-rival Tennessee Tuesday night (7 p.m., ESPNU), Fox said Monday his squad is starting to understand what that means.

"The thing now is just to try and develop an attitude where you expect to be successful then be able to deal with it," Fox said. "In athletics you have to learn how to deal with adversity, but you also have to learn how to deal with success and that's the next challenge for this group."

Thus far, the Bulldogs appear to have responded to whatever challenge Fox has placed before them.

After having its nine-game win streak snapped with a 73-66 loss at Vanderbilt last Wednesday, Georgia rebounded with a 98-76 trouncing of Ole Miss in Oxford.

To find an equal offensive performance by a Georgia team against an SEC foe, you have to go all the way back to 1995 when the Bulldogs tallied 101 points against Florida.

There's more.

Not since 2001 has Georgia tallied 53 points in a half against an SEC team. Not since 1998 has Georgia shot free throws that well in an SEC contest (26x27). All five starters also scored in double-figures against the Rebels, the first time that's happened since early in the 2003-2004 campaign.

The Bulldogs' 13-3 mark is the team's best record at this junction since the 2002-2003 season.

"I think it shows how good we can be when we play well," junior guard Dustin Ware said. "That's something we've been focusing on all season. All we do is try to get better as a team every time we play."

Fox, however, wasn't ready to call Saturday's effort against the Rebels the high-water mark in terms of performances by his team.

On the contrary:

"No, oh no, oh gosh no," Fox said. "Offensively we probably played as well as we could have played but I wasn't pleased with our defense. We did play well offensively."

Neither will he allow his Bulldogs to look ahead any further than their game against Tennessee (11-6, 1-2), the first of three straight home games Georgia will play before going to Kentucky on Jan. 29.

"For us it's one at a time. It's completely one at a time. In this league you get yourself in trouble if you take it more than one game. We've got our hands full on Tuesday night. They're very good, but we're back at home," Fox said. "I was ready to be home. That was a pretty long time to be on the road."

Fox isn't kidding.

After originally slated to fly out of Athens, last week's snow and ice took care of that, forcing Georgia to bus to Nashville for last Wednesday's game.

The Bulldogs then thought they would be able to fly out of Nashville back to Atlanta, but were later told that wouldn't be a good idea either and were further advised to bus the rest of the way to Oxford, Miss.

Fortunately, Fox said the team was prepared.

"We called guys that morning and told them to pack for a long trip just in case. We thought we would be coming back. In fact, I already had my bag here, then had to send somebody for me to get some more clothes," Fox said. "But we were told not to fly because of the ice and with no plane the next day and with school cancelled, we were advised just to bus over to Oxford."

But as Fox pointed out, the extra time together might not have been a bad thing.

"I think there were some plusses. It gave the guys an obstacle to deal with as a unit and it gave them some time to think," Fox said. "Anytime you are with your team for any length of time, it further enhances chemistry and those types of things."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!