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April 24, 2013

McGarity's Comments on Fox's Need for Improvement

There has been some of talk lately about Greg McGarity's recent comments that he wants to see improvement from the basketball team. 

At a high-level, I agree with what McGarity said when he told Seth Emerson:
"It's like any other program: You look for continuous improvement. We do not with any coach set any type of minimum wins, things of that nature. Coaches have enough pressure on them anyway," McGarity said. "And even if you ask the coaches they would probably say the same thing, as far as continued improvement. That's the challenges that lie ahead with every sport. How do we improve every year, how do we get better."
Conceptually, he's right. As Nick Saban says, program building is a Process, and he doesn't want to be backed into a corner with a win total hanging over Fox.  The need for improvement is a reasonable expectation. Honestly, an NIT bid would probably be enough to begrudgingly have me accept giving Fox a sixth year despite the overall snail's pace of progress and improvement up to this point.

However, McGarity's comments to Anthony Dasher have lead me to just stare in disbelief at the small, incremental vision for the program articulated by McGarity.

Right now, when you are competing against the storied programs in college basketball and Georgia has had such a fertile recruiting ground, you need someone to take that leap. Kentavious took that leap. I'm not really sure where Charles (Mann), Kenny (Gaines) and Brandon (Morris) … I know there were a lot of schools involved in their recruitment, so they kind of took a chance on Georgia.

First off...I don't think we need to out recruit UK, Duke, UNC or Florida or any other regional storied programs....for now. But we should be able to out recruit the parade of historic also-ran programs who are coming into the state and picking off talent. We shouldn't be left days before signing day fighting with Lamar (who I assume is a college) for kids in Mississippi or fighting off UNC-Wilimington and Western Carolina for kids in North Carolina. Those aren't "storied programs."

McGarity's attitude is the same defeatist look at the program that Vandy's administration held for their football program for decades. The idea that we'll slowly dig our way out of this if kids will just "take a chance on us" is an uninspiring message.

The last thing we need is our AD articulating our opponents' anti-home state recruiting pitch against us.

You don't hear James Franklin complaining about how hard it is to win at Vandy.  He walked in the door, and he said that he expected to start punching people in the mouth right away. He immediately promised that other teams would "know they played Vandy" after the game. He told his players, his admin and his boosters that he wasn't taking a backseat to anyone.  He brought an exciting level of physicality to the team, and he's working his balls off on the recruiting trail.  Franklin's obnoxious, arrogant no excuses approach has resulted in 15 wins in 2 years and a staggering 9 wins last year.  That's roughly the hoops equivalent of making the Sweet 16 for us.

At some point, we need an administration and/or coach that will go out on a limb and expect more from top to bottom for hoops. You can't reinforce the message points of the competition who is trying to position us as a Tier 3 BCS destination.

People bash Damon Evans as an AD and for good reason. But when he shared his vision for hoops he talked about where the Gators were until the early 90s and where they are now in basketball. He said there is no reason we can't replicate that model. Then Damon spent $42 million on bball facilities to support the program.

When Spurrier got to SC he said "why not us". Just because the Gamecocks never had success didn't mean they never would. All he talked about was the future. Spurrier didn't dwell or wallow in the past. He moved forward.

If all we do is constantly talk about how hard it is to win here and hope for a slow grinding climb out of the cellar it will not happen. There is too much apathy to dig out of this mess slowly.

It's going to take a kick in the pants to break us out of this spiral. We need a lot more than an AD making it sound like top recruits coming here are taking a risk in doing so.



ChilliDawg said...

There has always been something about Athens and basketball that didn't connect. They say winning is everything, and for GA basketball, you're gonna need a lot of it to get the enthusiasm level to start drawing crowds.

I think you have to harken back to the Hugh Durham days to have any semblance of a successful basketball program and even Hugh couldn't compete against the Kentucky's of the world when it came to recruiting (especially big name centers). That said, Fox is in that space between a rock and a hard place. His job is made worse by having his best players bolt to the NBA before they're ready (see Leslie & Thompson). It remains to be seen if Fox can build a program like Hugh, but the clock is ticking. That said replacements with "build skills" are pretty rare at the college level (see Ga Tech and SC as examples). So unless we can "get a crane" to extract Shaka Smart or Brad Stevens (guys who seem to get more from less) and place them in Athens, Fox will be in place for a while.

Erik said...

Tubby Smith and Jim Harrick got the program up and going at a high level very quickly. Go ahead and make jokes about Harrick's ethics (I know I do) but that doesn't mean he wasn't 1 of 2 coaches in the last 18 years to take our program to a level approaching the top of college basketball.

All this excuse making makes me absolutely sick. I would have pulled the plug on Fox 2 months ago. Then again, I never would have hired him in the first place.

Tyler Dawgden said...

Those comments make me think about a story from my childhood about a friend who wasn't book smart. One day we are sitting around and an adult was talking about those of us that would go on to college. He called all of us out by name and how he thought we'd do in college, but he neglected to mention this one family friend.

Of course, she was put out, to which the adult replied "But books ain't your thing."

McGarity is laying out the case that Fox has been feeding him for two years about how hard it is to recruit these 'star' players. Recruiting those start recruits ain't our thing or so the thinking goes.

But why?

Georgia is a 'took a chance' program because we don't consistently produce quality basketball under the current coach. Very few players want to play in a system that is seemingly designed to win games by keeping the score limited, that focuses on the 65-58 blowout. Furthermore, we don't have a strategy for when we don't get those players.

I love Mann, Gaines and Morris. I sincerely hope Geno is that one diamond in the rough that every other coach at colleges not named after my mailman missed on.

But hope only gets you so far.

Paul Westerdawg said...

Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart aren't the only good young coaches out there.

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