South Carolina basketball beat writer David Cloninger looks at every other team in the SEC as the season approaches.
2012-13 record (SEC finish): 15-17, 9-9 (T-8th)
Coach (record at school, years; overall record, years): Mark Fox (65-63, fifth year; 188-106, 10th year)
Top returners: F Nemanja Djurisic (7.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg); G Charles Mann (6.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg); F Donte Williams (5.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
Biggest losses: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (18.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg; Vincent Williams (5.0 ppg, 1.6 rpg); Sherrard Brantley (3.3 ppg, 1.2 rpg)
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Mark Fox has done some good things. Mark Fox has done some really good things.
He’s had three NBA draft picks in the past three years (Travis Leslie, Trey Thompkins, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope). He’s had a 20-win season and an NCAA tournament appearance in four years. He’s kept Georgia’s program out of the sanctions of the Jim Harrick era and (mostly) the losing of the Dennis Felton era, with three sub.-500 seasons, but one winning SEC season and another at .500. It’s Georgia basketball – that’s about as good as it’s going to get.
So why is there a sense of foreboding about Fox’s future?
Perhaps it’s because even with that NBA talent, Georgia has only had that one NCAA tournament season, and that was a 21-12 record (9-7 SEC). Perhaps because, like Florida, Georgia likes to win and win a lot in all sports, and it wants a highly visible sport to finish much higher than middle-of-the-pack in the SEC.
Look, I certainly don’t think Fox’s seat is the hottest in the league (that would be Tony Barbee’s at Auburn, with maybe some sparks around Mike Anderson at Arkansas, Frank Haith at Missouri and Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt IF they have bad seasons). But the signs are all there for his chair to feel a bit warm.
The team isn’t expected to do much, after losing KCP. The team has one senior and six freshmen. The leading returning scorer from a 15-17 team, Nemanja Djurisic, averaged under eight points a game.
And then there’s this (Desperate?). Some applauded it as Fox showing a lot of school spirit, and it was cool to see somebody taking up Bruce Pearl’s old mantle. The way I looked at it was that Fox has had four previous years to do something like that, and didn’t. Perhaps by doing something publicly, he warms the public to him in case he has another bad season.
Expectations are low, so a winning season would be a huge boost for Fox. Perhaps this all goes away.
Then again, speaking of Pearl, he’s available in August.
2012-13 record (SEC finish): 28-7, 12-4 (3rd) *NCAA Elite Eight
Coach (record at school, years; overall record, years): Andy Landers (823-275, 35th year; 905-296, 39th year)
Top returners: G Khaalidah Miller (7.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg); G Tiaria Griffin (7.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg); G/F Shacobia Barbee (7.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
Biggest losses: Jasmine Hassell (12.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg); Jasmine James (11.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg); Anne Marie Armstrong (7.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
SEC rules – Tennessee will be Tennessee and Georgia will be Georgia. The ol’ “don’t rebuild, just reload” principle.
The Lady Bulldogs lost three starters from an Elite Eight team, but it’s still Georgia. Andy Landers hasn’t been coaching for close to 40 years and not learned how to replace lost stars.
Georgia will be another top-five team in the SEC, and another NCAA tournament team, and probably win at least one tournament game, which it’s done in 10 of the past 11 seasons. With a soft non-conference schedule to ease them in (the only tough game is Ohio State, and that’s at home), no reason to think they won’t again be formidable in the league.
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