November 12, 2009

Fox says 'It's not about me'

Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox wants to make one thing perfectly clear: Friday night's season-opener against New Orleans is not about him.

That is why, when the public address announcer introduces the Bulldogs to the crowd at Stegeman Coliseum, Fox's name will not be among those called.

"It's not about me; it's really about this team and it being their first game together. I don't want the story to be about me, I really don't. I want it to be about these players and what they are trying to accomplish," Fox said Thursday afternoon. "That's just something I've always done. I don't think it's about the coach. I really don't. I have a role to play with this program and this team, but this is about young people having a great an experience as they can have. I don't need that introduction."

Nevertheless, while Fox may eschew the personal limelight, he is more than anxious to see is Bulldogs get off to a successful start against New Orleans, which features former Bulldog guard Billy Humphrey, who was kicked out of the program by former coach Dennis Felton.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

Sophomore Trey Thompkins said Fox's pre-game decision just one example of the steps the coach has taken to show players how much he cares and wants them to succeed.

"It just shows the type of person he is, the type of selfless person that he is," Thompkins said. "All he wants is for us to be successful. He's doing whatever he can for us to be successful. He's taken incredible strides for us to jump on board, with him, with the news staff. He's been a great role model for all of us."

No doubt, the Bulldogs were a program in dire needs of a fresh start.

Last year's season was one the program would just as soon forget, as Georgia limped its way to a 12-20 finish, fired Felton with a month remaining in the season before hiring Fox, who in five years at Nevada, led that program to four WAC titles and three straight trips to the NCAAs.

Fox didn't waste a moment upon his introduction as head coach back on April 3.

It only took a short time to realize that there was lot of change that needed to take place.

"I think the first thing we tried to address was the mentality on the lockerroom. That's the first thing we noticed," Fox said. "There were a lot of things we felt we needed to look at, but the first thing we tried to address was the approach and attitude in the lockerroom. It was a tough year for those kids and I wanted them to invest in their team and develop a positive feeling about where we're going to get this turned around."

Senior Albert Jackson likes what he's seen from his new head coach.

"Just the approach on the court," Jackson said. "Coach Fox knows how to lighten the mood more so than any other coach I've ever been around. Say we get tired, guys are hurting, he might have Coach Barnes run up and shoot a 3-pointer just to make us all laugh."

Although he's making no promises for the upcoming season, Fox said he's excited with what the future holds.

Yes, there's a certain air of mystery with what may ultimately occur, but according to Fox, that's part of the fun.

"We're a new team, 15 new players really for me and a new coach for every one of them. There are so many things to learn and experience that only the season can bring. There is a mystery," he said. "You don't know what's going to happen and what you're going to have to respond to, but that's one of the joys of the start of any season, you don't know the road that lies ahead."

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