November 15, 2010

Price a more mature player

Jeremy Price admitted he and head coach Mark Fox didn't always see eye-to-eye.

When Fox first arrived, the Bulldog senior said the two would clash on a regular basis, due to what Price now concedes were bouts with immaturity.

But that was then. As the Bulldogs get ready to host Colorado (1-0) Tuesday night at Stegeman Coliseum (7 p.m.), Fox said Price barely resembles the player he first met just over a year ago.

"Oh gosh, it's like night and day," Fox said. "He's a man. He's a zero-issue guy right now and we probably butted heads hourly when I first came."

Changes have occurred both on and off the court.

So, what happened?

"My head was just harder than his, to be honest with you," Fox said. "But he's really grown as a person and I'm proud of him for that. I think his maturing really showed in the game the other night because he played with pretty good poise."

If he hadn't, Georgia's 72-70 win would likely have been the team's first loss.

The Bulldogs trailed 37-36 at the half and watched the Delta Devils of the SWAC twice build leads of as much as seven points, the final time coming with 3:35 on a basket by Terence Joyner for a 66-59 advantage.

But that's when Price took it upon himself to will Georgia back into the game by scoring the next eight points to give Fox's squad its first lead of the second half, 67-66.

"It felt good to get out and do what I did, especially in crunch time," Price said. "My confidence is through the roof."

Price credits his new-found maturity for making a difference in his play.

By his own admission, the "old" Jeremy Price would get too worked up over perceived bad calls by the officials and let it affect his game.

He doesn't feel that's the case any more.

"I think I'm able to control my emotions better and not let myself get too wound up," Price said. "When I'm emotionally stable I can stay in the game."

Price chuckled when he realized that statement might have sounded odd.

Teammate Travis Leslie had his back.

As former teammates at Atlanta's Columbia High, Leslie knows Price better than most. He also has a unique perspective as to exactly how far the 6-foot-8, 270-pound forward has come.

"He's just a lot more focused than he was in high school," Leslie said. "He's had his attitude problems, but he doesn't any more. He's grown up as a player and as a man."

With Trey Thompkins still out nursing a high-ankle sprain, the Bulldogs need Price to step up more than ever before.

Although Georgia struggled on the boards and was outrebounded in the opener against Mississippi Valley State 41-to-31, Price still has the potential to give the Bulldogs a boost in that very important department.

He also led Georgia with a game-high 20 points.

"Jeremy has had a great offseason and he has really stepped up like an upper-classman. That is what you expect an upper-classman to do. I wish he would have done it before four minutes to go in the game, but at least he did it," Fox said. "It was a good first outing. As ugly as it did seem, we did get the win and we can use that experience to get better."

THOMPKINS UPDATE: Fox said there's still no real timetable to when Thompkins might return, adding team trainers continue to keep a day-by-day approach. "He's kind of hit a plateau a little bit. He had been getting a little bit better, a little bit better but the last couple of days he hasn't seen as much progress as we'd like. We do have him back in practice gear, but he hasn't practiced and unless we get some miraculous news in the next five minutes he's not going to play. If there's a time for it to happen it's now, but we've got some tough games ahead. We need to get him back. We re-evaluate him every couple of days and not much has changed since the other night."

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