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May 16, 2013

Scheduling a challenge

ATLANTA - Putting together the non-conference portion of your basketball schedule isn't as easy as it used to be. Especially when it comes to setting up a home-and-home series against other "big-time" programs.

Georgia head coach Mark Fox lamented that very fact during a sit-down Wednesday afternoon with reporters at the Marriott-Buckhead.

"We're still working on it, but it's not easy. With all these leagues expanding and now playing more league games, fewer teams are wanting to go home and home in non-conference, so that's a challenge," Fox said. "We'd like to get another name team to come, so we're trying to move open dates. We're working on that. I think when we added Colorado a couple of years ago we didn't add them until July, so it might take us a while."

So far, other than the annual game against Georgia Tech (Nov. 15), the Bulldogs only other home non-conference contests on the docket to date are Wofford (Nov. 11), Appalachian State (Nov. 29), Lipscomb (Dec. 14), Gardner-Webb (Dec. 18) and Western Carolina (Dec. 21).

Georgia will travel to George Washington (Jan. 3) and take part in the Charleston Classic, but for Bulldog fans hoping to see their team challenge a "name" foe, the pickings are so far slim.

Georgia was not part of the rotation for this year's SEC-Big 12 Challenge (since the Big 12 only has 10 teams). Making matters worse, with the SEC's current schedule set-up, this year three of Georgia's top draws - Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida, will each be played on the road.

"The schedule was set up a year ago, and set for three years. You know who your opponents are, just not when you're going to play. I don't think we find that out till the first of August," Fox said. "That's tough because some of the traditional name teams we're not going to have at home. That's a big of the challenge."

It's also why Fox hopes to schedule at least one big-time non-conference opponent soon.

"Scheduling has gotten harder, it seems like every year. I wish we had it done but it's just the nature of it with the expansion of the league," Fox said. "Fewer people are playing home-and-homes, and I wish more people would. It would be a little healthier with our game, and I get a little frustrated with that."

Lot of interest in assistant coach job

Fox said he's received considerable interest in his vacant assistant's job since Kwanza Johnson resigned to join the staff at Texas Christian.

"There's been a lot of interest, so we'll get a good coach in here," Fox said. "We really would like to have someone here for the start of summer school so when the players come back that person is settled and when the camps start that person is here. We can't recruit until July 10 so there's a lot of time before that."

The job vacancy is scheduled to run on Georgia's official school site until the end of the week.

"We'll look for the best total package we can get, a guy who can recruit, a guy who has the knowledge and connections to make us better and a guy who can teach the game," Fox said. "We need a good man who can mentor young men; that's important to us."

Fox confirmed that former Bulldog and current staff member Jonas Hayes, the team's Operations Coordinator, is a candidate for the job.

"Yes, Jonas is under consideration," Fox said.

Forte won't arrive until July

Fox said that incoming signee Cameron Forte won't be a arriving on campus until July due to the cancellation of the final class he was taking at Howard Junior College.

"Cameron had one class taken in May, but there was not enough people enrolled so they stopped the class," Fox said. "He's now taking it in June so he won't be on campus until the second term, the first week of July."

The team's other three signees, Kenny Paul Geno, Juwan Parker and J.J. Frazier, will each arrive on time.

"It's just a month and it's really out of (Forte's) control," Fox said. "That sets him back a month but he can lift where he is so it's really not a big deal."

Big month for Caldwell-Pope

With the NBA Draft just over a month away (June 27), its crunch time for former Bulldog Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Caldwell-Pope is currently in Chicago with other top prospects attending the annual NBA Combine, and Fox said his former star is being scrutinized like never before.

"We've had three or four teams come through and do background work. We've had a bunch of phone calls," Fox said. "He's preparing himself physically to try and show well and these workouts are really critical for him because not only has he got to prove where he belongs in the draft, but also in the interview portion. You've got to be able to handle that too and show you're mature enough, so he and I talked about that and some of the questions he was going to see and how to prepare himself to react. It's a big month for him."

Caldwell-Pope has been projected by some to go as high as 10th.

"He is projected officially by the NBA slightly better than where Trey (Thompkins) was and quite a bit better than where Travis (Leslie) was projected so I think if he has a good month, he should be in good shape," Fox said. "But just to get it the race Coach (Todd) Grantham and I were talking the other night, once you get on a pro team you've got to keep your job."

This and that

While his team will obviously miss Caldwell-Pope, Fox said his current players are welcoming the challenge of playing without him. "Our players believe in each other. Kenny (Gaines) had a really good freshman year and had an awesome spring. Kentavious was a great teammate but I think they're very confident," Fox said. Former Bulldog great Jarvis Hayes has returned to school and is currently taking classes at UGA. "I told Jonas if your brother misses class you're in charge of disciplining him," Fox said of Jarvis Hayes, who played in Israel last year.

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