Fox likes high expectations for Georgia team led by Frazier
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Mark Fox and his players understand another NIT berth won't be enough for this Georgia team.
Fox has built a winning program with three straight 20-win seasons and three straight winning records in Southeastern Conference games. But his only NCAA Tournament appearances with Georgia came in 2011 and 2015. He has sufficient talent and depth on his roster to add a 2017 NCAA berth to that list.
''No one rises to low expectations,'' Fox said. ''I think you should expect yourself to be successful. ... We really don't spend a lot of time on outside opinions, but I think internally these kids expect to have a solid team. That's a good attitude to have in your locker room.''
Asked about Fox after a 20-14 finish and second-round NIT loss last season, athletic director Greg McGarity said he remained confident the program was on the rise under the coach. ''Otherwise there would be a different story line,'' McGarity said.
Georgia was picked fourth in the SEC this month by a media panel, and senior guard J.J. Frazier made the preseason All-SEC team. Frazier is the SEC's leading returning scorer, at 16.9 points per game. Forward Yante Maten averaged 16.5 points. Maten's 8.0 rebounds per game rank second among the league's returning players.
That's a nice foundation for a team which must replace longtime starters Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines.
Frazier's leadership adds strength to that foundation.
''We probably have the best leadership we've had since I've been at Georgia,'' Fox said. ''J.J. Frazier is a natural leader. I think he's now experienced enough to know exactly what we want to do. Usually what he says is what they need to hear. He really cares about winning and playing the game the right way.''
Some other things to know about Georgia's 2016-17 season:
RUST REMOVED: After missing last season which recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, guard Juwan Parker used Georgia's preseason summer tour of Spain to regain his game form. ''He was able to knock some rust off,'' Fox said. Parker earned a starting job two years ago before the injury, and could be the favorite to start on the wing this season.
LANDERS' KEYS: Forwards Derek Ogbeide (6-8, 245) and Mike Edwards (6-9, 225) showed potential but lacked consistency as freshmen last season. Ogbeide, a strong rebounder, ended the season as a starter. Fox said former Georgia women's coach Andy Landers says the sophomores are his possible keys to the season. Fox said his ''good friend'' Landers has attended ''a couple'' practices and even joined the trip to Spain. ''Andy keeps saying if those guys who were freshmen last year take a step forward, you guys have a chance to have a very good team,'' Fox said. ''I think there's a lot of truth to that.''
MORE THAN A SHOOTER: Frazier is best known as a 3-point shooter, a skill which overshadows his all-around play. He ranked among the SEC's top 10 leaders in eight categories last season, the most of any player, including assists, steals and free throws. Listed at 5-10, 155 pounds, Frazier was third on the team with 4.6 rebounds per game.
NOT FORGOTTEN: Georgia returns eight of its top 10 scorers from last season, but the missing two were important. Gaines and Mann combined to average 24.1 points last season. ''I think we lost a lot more than people realize,'' Fox said.
BARCELONA BULLDOGS: Georgia was 3-0 on its Spain trip. Fox said the practice time was valuable but also important was ''the camaraderie that is established or strengthened.''
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