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NCAA Tournament 2011 Previews: Mark Fox And Georgia Face Tough Test Against Washington

Georgia head coach Mark Fox has done a solid job turning the Bulldogs program around in just two short years. Georgia failed to qualify for postseason play in 2009, Fox’s first year at the helm. But a year later, Fox has the Bulldogs back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008. Really though it had been since 2002 since Georgia last turned in a complete season worthy of a ticket to the Big Dance. (In ’08, if you recall, Georgia shocked the SEC by winning the conference tournament as a No. 6 seed and made the field of 65 as a 14 seed).

Georgia’s opponent in the first round is a Washington Huskies team that loves to run and is no stranger to getting hot at this time of year. The Huskies sneaked into the tournament last year by winning the Pac 10 Conference tournament, then made a surprise run to the Sweet 16 before finally being bounced. The Huskies are again Pac 10 Conference tourney champs, and again should be considered a dangerous out because of their stellar guard play and experience.

Fox joined WQXI in Atlanta on Monday to talk about if he felt his team was slighted by receiving just a 10 seed, what he sees in the Huskies as he prepares his team for their first round matchup, and how he’ll get his team ready to play late in the evening on Friday night. (Partial transcription via: SRI)

If he was surprised Georgia was a #10 seed:

“I don’t know. I felt like if you look at the teams that we probably had a resume that was stronger, so I felt very confident going in. The seeding process, because of the rule, teams not being able to play teams in their own league sometimes it can be a little bit skewed. So I am not sure if I felt like we should be a 10, 11, 12 really did not care, just wanted to get in.”

What it is about Washington that jumps right out at him:

“Well they are a great offensive team. They are scoring a boatload of points, almost 85 points a game. They got great speed and athleticism, so I think from the standpoint of just pure talent they rank pretty well with everybody. They have a very good backcourt, a terrific lead guard in Isaiah Thomas, they have big, athletic frontline players. They have had a team that has been explosive all year so we will have to gear up for that.”

How he is going to get his team to adjust to playing later than normal:

“That is a little bit unique. Fortunately with today’s generation I don’t think they go to bed as early as I do so I am going to have to adjust my schedule more than the players do, but we will adjust it a little bit this week. Probably practice a little bit later as we start getting near the end of the week and then just at that time you have got to be willing to play any time, any place. I don’t care if the game is at midnight, when you are in the tournament you have got to get ready to play.”

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For more Bulldogs coverage leading up to the Big Dance, be sure to check out Dawg Sports.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.