Fox Optimistic For Fourth Year

ATLANTA - Coach Mark Fox began his time in front of the crowd Monday at the annual Bulldog Club gathering at Cobb Galleria with a little humor.

Humor, that is, at the expense of host Chuck Dowdle.

"Last night I had a phone call, text message and voice mail from Coach (Mark) Richt saying to wear a red tie," Fox said. "I always wear a red tie. Chuck (Dowdle) though one time wore a blue shirt so I guess we have to remind each other because of that."

Fox went on to answer questions about his incoming freshmen class, how the 2011 season should pay off this year and more...

How do you feel about the incoming freshmen?

"We've been allowed to work with our team the entire summer and so we've been in the gym every day working on skills… I'm excited about what this group will bring."

Last years squad went through a tough learning experience -- do you think that will help the team this season?

"We started young players so we knew we would have some growing pains. When our leading rebounder went down with a knee injury (Marcus Thornton), the younger guys were able to gain a lot of experience that they can use to their advantage. Baptism by fire can be painful, but its still baptism. Maybe they were thrown into the fire before they were physically ready, but I think it'll bode well for them later in their career."

How will the addition of the two new teams change the schedule?

"The scheduling will drastically change. We hope the SEC will release the schedule soon. We're gonna play 18 conference games. With 14 teams we wont be able to play the Gators twice every year. We have a natural rival in South Carolina that we'll get the chance to play twice, but we'll only get the Gators once."

Has Donte Williams added any weight this offseason?

"Donte Williams weighed in as heavy as he's ever been – about 13 pounds heavier. John Florveous is about 18 pounds. heavier. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has moved back to his natural position, being a 2-guard. I think we'll see a team that is more physical. We are much deeper and athletic so I think we'll be able to play the style we're more used to playing."

We need the nba players ass to make that change. I don't see it chaning, although every college coach and nba coach would probably support that.

Will the team have a lot of players from the state of Georgia?

"This is a terrific state for high school players. I think we have 10 from Georgia, so I think our roster is starting to show evidence of that."

Who will be the starting center this year?

"Donte Williams started center last year, but wasn't quite physical enough. John Florveus, Tim Dixon, and John Cannon are all players who will share time. Marcus Thornton and Dante will man that power forward position, so we'll be more physical upfront."

What out of conference games will you play this year?

"We're going to NYC and will either play Indiana, UCLA, or Georgetown, which will be a good test for us. We're also gonna play Southern Cal in December in Athens, and then we go to South Forida to play. I think our strength of schedule will be good."

Whats going on this summer?

"We're going to northern Italy this year where we're gonna play three games and visit UGA's campus there. We're gonna be able to play a few games and let these guys play on the court together. I think it will give us a jump start as we start the season."

What do you know about Missouri?

"Missouri is extremely athletic. They did lose some guys off the team, but I still think they think they have a Final Four type team. They'll certainly be a great addition because they're very athletic. I think we finally have a perimeter group that will give us some flexibility defensively. "

Do you think we need a new arena?

"I really believe that if we bring the right energy to the arena and we put the right product between the lines, it'll do it for us. We do need to make sure its dressed up on the inside. To build a new arena would cost 40 to 50 million dollars. But if it's the right team between the lines then that's a start. You gotta cut your hair and take off the headbands, you gotta look right. If we fill it up and put the right product on the floor then that won't be an issue. I don't know if we need an arena quite yet. The 18 million dollars we spent was really important. I sat with Tubby Smith last Friday, and he was asking me about the state of the gym. He thought it looked like an NBA gym, so I think we've made some great progress."

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