NEW ORLEANS - It was a different selection Sunday for the Georgia men's basketball team: The drama was gone, and the players and coaches knew their season was over, instead of last year's will-we-or-won't-we pins and needles.
Moments after Friday's quarterfinal loss to Vanderbilt, the eventual SEC tournament champion, Mark Fox looked back on the season of transition, and looked forward to next season. Here's a link to that story.
A few items that didn't make their way into that story:
- It is hoped that forward Donte Williams and guard Kenatvious Caldwell-Pope will put on some more muscle in the offseason. The NCAA has passed legislation allowing coaches to work with players in the weight room. Fox sounded pretty happy about that.
- Georgia will also have an offseason trip to Italy, which not only means four exhibition games and team-bonding, but 10 more practices state-side before the trip. So Fox will basically have the team all summer.
- Here is Fox's full quote when I asked if this season ended up being more frustrating than anticipated:
“I don’t think it was more frustrating. I knew when those guys both left we just lost so much. We were just so young, and so inexperienced. When Marcus got hurt in the Furman game I almost got nauseous, because there was one of the only experienced guys that we have, who’s now gonna struggle all through the rest of the year. That was the one thing that was really frustrating, because injuries are part of the game but this team wasn’t able to absorb one. Being able to build a rotation was a challenge.
- Caldwell-Pope's role as the lead scorer is only expected to increase.
“He was our leading scorer for a long time this year. I don’t think he’ll see much difference in the defense. I think he’ll have more help around him. He’ll be a much, much more efficient player next year. Obviously he’ll be much more stronger and the game will really slow down for him in Year 2.”
- Fox on the point guard situation:
“There’s gonna be a lot of competition. Vincent has had some great moments for us. Charles has had a great year (in high school.)
Fox also pointed out that all three signees made it to the state championship game.
- Fox said he had “great respect” for how Thornton played through his knee problems.
“Once he’s healthy and gets his legs back he’ll be – he’s a guy who has great leaping ability who hasn’t been able to use that this year – he’ll be stronger.”
- Finally, departing guard Dustin Ware was bullish on the team's future:
“The building blocks they got. Guys like Kentavious, Marcus, Donte, everyone else, so many others left.“It’s just gonna keep growing. Keep going, keep getting better, keep improving, eventually to the point where they’re gonna win a championship. I’ll be their biggest fan, I’ll be right there rooting for them.”