After a nearly four-hour delay getting out of Athens, according to coach Mark Fox, the Georgia men’s basketball team finally arrived in St. Louis.
“We are kind of in a very adjusted schedule for what we planned on doing (Tuesday),” Fox said. “We had to forfeit our earlier practice.”
Despite the change in schedule, Fox assures that the team will be prepared for Wednesday night’s SEC Tournament game against Vanderbilt, which defeated Georgia 81-66 early in February.
Looking back, senior guard Juwan Parker said Georgia’s main adjustment will come on the defense.
“Our goal now is to take away that 3-point line,” Parker said. “It is definitely something that we didn’t do a good job of that the first game.”
During the regular-season meeting Vanderbilt made 11 3-pointers and had five players score in double-digits. According to Parker, the defense needs that new focus on the outside shot Wednesday, but Fox said the focus is on offense.
“We have had some costly turnovers late, so we have tried to teach the young guys who made some errors to look at them and learn from them,” Fox said. “But you have to play a complete 40 minutes.”
During the past few weeks — and months even — the future of Fox’s job at Georgia has been the biggest question mark for the team. In regards to what the future will hold for Fox, he said that conversation hasn’t been had.
“I have not been told that we have to win a certain number of games or advance to the tournament. I have had no communication like that,” Fox said. “But I would really like this tournament, like I have tried to have every game be over the last nine years, be about our team and these kids, trying to help them find success, where it is not about the coach.”
Tuesday was a day about one player in particular, not Fox. Yante Maten was named the SEC Player of the Year by The Associated Press and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association District IV Player of the Year. When given the chance, Maten relayed Fox’s role in his development.
“He trusted in me a lot for a lot of his offense and defense,” Maten said. “It means a lot when someone has that much faith in one of their players.”
Despite the noise of possible coaching changes, accolades and awards, the SEC Tournament begins Wednesday, and Maten said the goal is simple for his final SEC Tournament.
“Right now,” Maten said. “The focus is on trying to get as many wins as possible.”