Fox, Dawgs Meet with Press

ATLANTA - Georgia coach Mark Fox, Trey Thompkins and Dustin Ware met with the SEC media Wednesday.

COACH FOX: Well, we're excited to be here for the SEC tournament in the Georgia Dome. And the people here at the dome have been terrific. We're excited about the opportunity to play here in Atlanta.

I've been real pleased with my team all year of the way they have continued to work and get better, and I think that we have had that same focus this week. So we're excited about the tournament.

Q. Mark, what is your observation on how conference tournaments are affected by the different motivations different teams might have - some playing to get into the NCAA, some playing for seeding, some probably knowing this is the end of the line. How do you think that affects how conference tournaments play out?

COACH FOX: I think a conference tournament is a new beginning for everybody. I think that those teams in position to be in post-season play, that the season-long body of work probably has much greater impact than the three- or four-day tournament.

But if your body of work hasn't put you in a position to be in post-season play, the league tournament gives you new life and everyone has a chance. So I think it really refreshes your team and the mentality in your locker room. I think the same for everybody.

We got a little extra bounce in our step this week just because it's a new season, and I think that we're probably not the only team that feels that way.

Q. Trey, how is your foot feeling, and talk a little bit about the progress of the team. And it seemed like maybe you flattened out maybe just a little bit as a team and there was some health issues there, and not everybody not totally happy, but talk about that for us.

Trey Thompkins: First of all, it's a blessing to be here at the tournament. But as far as my foot goes, I'm a hundred percent, ready to go and compete.

As far as the team, we're a fighting team. Like coach said, we'll never give up, we'll keep going forward. We're happy to be here this weekend and we're going to compete just like everybody else is expecting to compete and we're going to give it our best shot.

Q. Coach, you addressed with your team earlier this week about the NCAA tournament. What was your message to them? I know you want them to focus on Auburn, but what did you tell them about the big picture with the tournament?

COACH FOX: Really this week, we haven't talked about it. Outside of the fact that we need to focus on beating Auburn, that's been it.

We had talked about it previously, but just because it's something that they're in position to accomplish. At this point our entire focus all week has really been about Auburn and we haven't talked about the NCAA tournament much, if at all.

Q. Trey, how frustrating or disappointing have all the injuries you've had to deal with this season been and are you as healthy now as you've been this season?

TREY THOMPKINS: Right now I feel like I'm more healthy than I've ever been. Coach Fox and our training staff have done a great job of keeping me up to path and ready to play. But as far as frustration, I wouldn't use "frustration," I would just say a little bit of a disappointment maybe wishing things could go a different way.

But that's how things were planned and I can't control that. I'm just going to keep playing.

Q. Dustin, just curious in the shoot-around out there, what was the depth perception like for you as far as shooting in a big building like this for the first time?

Dustin Ware: Yeah, it's definitely a little different shooting in a big arena, but it's still a court, goal is still 10 feet. So it's the same old thing, just getting out there and just preparing yourself and getting ready to play.

Q. The key against Earnest Ross who also had a big game against you last time?

COACH FOX: I'll take that. He's a terrific player who had a great game against us the first game, and he earned a lot of those baskets. He's a versatile scorer, he's shooting the three very well, he puts the ball on the ground and attacks the basket very well. He really has matured throughout the year.

The key for us really is, when you get a great player like that you don't shut him out, you just hope to shut him down some. He's certainly someone who, in the first game, we didn't do a very good job on. And we'll have to do a much better job staying attached to him tomorrow afternoon.

Q. Trey, coach mentioned the tournament and having new bounce in your step and whatever. Do you think you guys are a little more loose now or is it pressure to do what you need to do to make the NCAA or somewhere in between? What do you think?

TREY THOMPKINS: We have done our best with staying away from pressure. We left that up to everybody else. We just focus on things that we can control. And right now the only thing that we can control is playing this game at 1 o'clock. Hopefully there is a future for us, but we'll take care of what we can take care of.

Q. Coach, I was wondering, of all the teams you coached before, I know every team is different, what is it about this particular team that maybe stands out from other teams you've led before?

COACH FOX: That's a good question. I really feel like every team is unique. The chemistry in every locker room is different. I think what I've really enjoyed about this team is there's been a great unselfishness about them. I think every guy in our starting lineup has had 20 points at some point this year and at no time have we sensed that one guy cares more about scoring than anything else. And not one time have I sensed that a guy on our team is not trying to make the next guy better. That, I've really enjoyed.

I think we have great chemistry.

They have enjoyed each other all year long. And I've had other teams that were that way, but what's been maybe most unique about this group is that these guys hadn't won as a unit before. And for them to face as many challenges in turning a program around as they have, they have faced those head on.

And they went into uncharted territory with a great deal of trust in their coaches and each other. And that's really been a joy to experience.

Q. Mark, there's been a lot of talk about reseeding or doing away with divisions this year. What's your stance on it and would this season affect the way you look at it because of where you ended up?

COACH FOX: Well, I voted to change the format last year. I supported that a year ago. This season hasn't changed my stance on that. I really feel like we need to take a hard look at it.

And we have got great leadership in this conference, and I think that if we do go to one division or reseed the tournaments or both, that it has to be done the right way. I think that it's not out of the picture to think that scheduling will change. If you go away from divisions, why should you still schedule with divisions?

I think there's a lot of things that have to be evaluated and that's for the leadership to handle, but I think it's probably time to take a look at it.

Q. Does your mindset in terms of how you use your bench change in a tournament setting, in terms of substitutions, etcetera.

COACH FOX: I think yesterday was the first day we have had everybody really healthy to practice. I felt like, Hey, we got our rotation back. So I think our bench will be important. I don't know if the tournament changes it as much as finally being healthy. Hopefully that will change it. It's just been hard probably the last two weeks, too, because you don't practice with everybody. You're patching, got an assistant coach who is practicing just so you have 10 guys.

And that's been the challenging thing. I don't know if we're healthy, per se, but we're healthier and I think that we have had a chance to practice with everybody and hopefully we can return to playing more guys.


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