Mark Fox has Georgia Basketball trending in the right direction


Mark Fox has the Georgia Basketball team on the verge of their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011, but that’s just the start of the good he’s done for this program.

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When Mark Fox took over the Georgia men’s basketball program in 2009, to say he was taking over a mess is putting it lightly. The previous year’s team under Dennis Felton had finished the 2008-09 season with a 12-20 overall record, going just 3-13 in SEC play.

Georgia was having trouble getting recruits to even consider coming to Athens, and the memory of the 2008 “Dream Dawgs” in the SEC tournament wasn’t enough to keep anyone satisfied.

Fox was charged with re-energizing and restocking the Georgia program, and his success at Nevada pointed to him being able to do it.

As with many coaching changes the first year under Fox, and the players he inherited, was a struggle. The Bulldogs finished 14-17 and 5-11 in SEC play. It was a small step in what would become many small steps for a program trying to redefine itself.

Since that first year, the Bulldogs have had a few ups and downs, an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and in the NIT. But what fans might not see on the surface for all the numbers and stats is that Fox has people looking at Georgia in a new light.

The better recruits are starting to place Georgia on their short lists, and games against powerhouses like Kentucky are no longer viewed as “gimmies” for them. Georgia will come to play, and will play physical ball and force you to beat them rather than just winning.

The program’s trend is in the right direction. Last season the Bulldogs finished 2nd in the SEC, and were a win or two away from being invited to the second NCAA Tournament under Fox. This year, Georgia has picked up where they left off and is almost assured of being invited to the tourney, even being called a “suddenly dangerous team” coming out of the SEC by Sports Illustrated.

Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia Bulldogs /

Georgia Bulldogs

What you have to admire about the job Mark Fox has done, is that he hasn’t given in to pressure to change the way he coaches or his approach to recruiting. He knew coming in that the process of rebuilding the UGA basketball program was going to be a long path, and not a quick fix.

If you look at the Naismith Award watch lists, you won’t find any Georgia players there. If you look at the team stat rankings, you’ll struggle to find the Bulldogs at all, other than in rebounding stats. Fox’s philosophy isn’t about individual stars or impressive numbers. He focuses on the matchups against any given team, and finding a way to use them to his advantage.

He is also becoming a seminal influence on the character of this team and its players. There’s a toughness and refusal to give in that had been missing for many years.

If Georgia makes their way to the NCAA Tournament this year — and they should — they’ll likely turn some heads, and shine even more light on the job that Fox is doing with this program. That will only be good for recruiting, which in turn, will keep the trend headed in the right direction.

A national championship contender? No, not yet. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility if Fox continues to manage this program the way he has in his first six seasons.

Baby steps, fans. Baby steps.