Slightly two months into his new job at Georgia Fox had one of the most important weekends of his coaching career at Georgia this weekend – the Georgia Elite Camp. A slew of players from around Georgia and the South piled into Athens for the event.
Perhaps most were coming to get their shot to impress the new coaching staff – would they be interested? Perhaps the coaching staff was trying to get a good handle on just were they were at in the recruiting process – was there anyone to toss a scholarship offer at? Perhaps it was a lot of both.
Unlike a Mark Richt Camp, where I know most high-level players by face, the basketball environment, of which I have spent a healthy portion of my competitive life, is different for me now. I don’t know who the young point guard buzzing around the perimeter is; I couldn’t tell you who #38 was, but I could tell you that he could shoot it. Obviously Fox knows much more of the details than I, which is a good thing.
What I got most out of this weekend’s event was that this is going to be a process. It seems to be that Fox grasps that some common sense is involved in coaching Fox did not pick this weekend – the same weekend as SAT testing – to have his first camp. That was something he inherited from the previous staff. He is inheriting a dismantled roster. Fox is inheriting a fan base who wants to pull for the basketball program, but has never found their rhythm in doing so because the program has never been consistent. It is sort of like Georgia fans don’t know how to pull for their roundball team because all through history that team didn’t give them anything to cheer for.
Fox didn’t do a lot of screaming and yelling during the camp. He stopped one game because the offense was not making the transition to defense fast enough – Fox was not having that. Still, most of the camp was spent watching and getting to know people there.
Making matters even more complicated is the fraternity-style living situation this staff is dealing with (or having fun with depending on who you ask). The adjustment, Fox is still living out of a suitcase and his children only completed school last week, has been a difficult one. The nights are late – in the office until about 11 PM. The bed? Not a familiar one. The clothes to change into? Most are left in the brand new basketball facility. The work? It has not slowed.
Will Georgia fans give Fox and company a chance? They need to. But patience will be a virtue. This program is not ready to win right now. The significant obstacle that is the 2009-10 Georgia Bulldog season should be understood. No matter if Fox or his coaching staff will admit it, the talent is not there to compete in the SEC this coming winter.
What must be watched now, and closely, is how well this staff of younger, capable men competes on the recruiting trail. Georgia has talent. I hate to constantly bring that up, but the state has talent. You cannot win without talent. Now Fox and company need to go get it.
And they will. In the meantime, those in Red and Black should secure season tickets now. This program will be better – it will compete at a high level – and there are only so many tickets in the Stegosaurus, after all. Also, just because you have tickets to basketball does not mean you will have your football tickets taken away from you – that is just a terrible lie. Football is still king in Athens, but just because you are good at one does not necessarily mean that you have to be poor at another.