Wed, 21 Sep 2016 15:39:20 +0000Two scholarship athletes from different SEC schools put their skills to the test against each other back in May. Mackenzie Engram would have owned the bragging rights if it was a jump shooting contest. The junior is one of the top returning players for a Georgia women’s basketball team coming off an NCAA tournament trip. Evan Engram would be the one to beat if it was catching passes fired his way. The Ole Miss senior leads the SEC with 20 receptions for 302 yards and two touchdowns. No tight end in the nation has better numbers. Brother and sister this time out went at it at Topgolf in Atlanta, where players hit balls into targets to rack up points. “He did beat me, I’m not going to lie,” Mackenzie Engram said. “I wasn’t very good at it.” “We used to play video games all the time, we used to play this racing game all the time,” Evan Engram said. “She would beat me sometimes, but other than that…” A game Saturday will have higher stakes for Evan. His No. 23 Ole Miss team plays No. 12 Georgia in Oxford. Mackenzie will be there with their parents, Derrick Engram and Michelle Zelina. “She said she’s going to wear red,” Evan said referring to the color that both teams wear. “She can’t go wrong with red. She doesn’t want anybody to take a picture of her and use it against her in Athens with some Ole Miss stuff on. She has before but a lot of people are going to be looking at her this game. She’s going to go with red to kind of support both.” Both starred at Hillgrove High in Powder Springs and grew up playing a range of sports with the support of parents that also were athletic. Their father, now a manager at a warehouse store, signed to play football at Louisville and later went to Life University in Marietta to play basketball. Their mother is a nurse. Since her brother is at a different SEC school, Mackenzie is hearing it good-naturedly from some other Georgia athletes this week. “They’ve been giving me crap about who am I going with and (what) if Ole Miss loses and how Evan’s going to perform,” she said. “ She’s made the trip to Oxford more than a half dozen times to see her only sibling--Evan is 15 months older--play for the Rebels. Evan catches his sister back in Athens in Stegeman Coliseum, especially when he’s home during break from school. “Walking around Athens, I’d get a random Hotty Toddy every now and then,” he said. “Whenever she comes here, she’s taking pictures with little girls at the game who know she is.” Mackenzie started the first 14 games last season at forward but missed the final 15 games with an upper respiratory illness. She averaged 8.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. She was cleared to play in June but will have another checkup. Ole Miss offered Mackenzie and was in her final three, but she said she felt more at home in Athens. “In high school, I was Evan Engram’s sister and I didn’t want to make it seem like I kind of followed him and be Evan Engram’s sister at Ole Miss as well,” she said. “I kind of wanted to branch off and make my own name and kind of do my own thing. Plus, it’s easier for my parents to come see me play because I’m a lot closer as well.” Evan Engram didn’t get much recruiting attention from Georgia. He was a 3-star prospect. “I was kind of like what they like to call a tweener,” he said. “I was kind of too slow to be a true wide receiver and I wasn’t really that big to be a true tight end. There’s a lot of teams that didn’t believe in that and it kind of felt like not a good time for them but Ole Miss, they took a shot on me and it’s paid off. I’ve always been a competitor and knowing that and the people that doubted me and didn’t see it in me, it just kind of drove me to prove everybody wrong. Ole Miss pulled the trigger on me and it’s paid off.” Now Georgia will have to try to stop Engram. “He’s talented,” said coach Kirby Smart, who saw Engram have a team-high 71 receiving yards on three catches in a 23-17 Ole Miss win in 2014. “He runs like a receiv[...]
Tue, 20 Sep 2016 22:11:47 +0000
Home contests against five teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season highlight the Georgia Lady Bulldogs’ 2016-17 Southeastern Conference schedule, the league office announced on Tuesday.
The 16-game slate features a home and home against a pair of 2016 NCAA Sweet 16 teams in South Carolina and Kentucky, with the Lady Bulldogs traveling to Columbia, S.C., on Jan. 12 and to Lexington, Ky., on Jan. 15. Georgia will host USC on Jan. 26 and the Wildcats on Feb. 9.
Head coach Joni Taylor and her team also welcome Texas A&M (Jan. 5) and Tennessee (Feb. 5) to Stegeman Coliseum this season. The Aggies finished with a 22-10 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2016, while the Lady Volunteers made the NCAA Elite Eight after recording a 22-14 overall record last season.
In all, the Lady Bulldogs will play nine total games on national television, including the contest vs. Tennessee in Athens on ESPN and the game at Florida, which will air on ESPNU on Feb. 26. The rest of Georgia’s SEC games and home non-conference matchups will air on SECN+.
This year’s conference schedule tips off with a New Year’s Day matchup at Missouri on Jan. 1. Following the matchup against the Tigers, Georgia returns home to host Texas A&M (Jan. 5) and Vanderbilt (Jan. 8). A pair of top-15 teams from last season then await the Lady Bulldogs on the road with contests at South Carolina (Jan. 12) and at Kentucky (Jan. 15). Georgia then hosts Florida on Jan. 22 and the Gamecocks again on Jan. 26.
Following trips to Oxford, Miss. on Jan. 29 and Fayetteville, Ark., on Feb. 2, the Lady Bulldogs return to Stegeman to host Tennessee. Georgia then welcomes Kentucky (Feb. 9), before heading out to Auburn and Mississippi State for a pair of mid-February matchups.
LSU and Alabama will make their way to Athens on Feb. 19 and 23, before the Lady Bulldogs close out their conference schedule just like they started it — on the road. This time, Georgia will face Florida in Gainesville, Fla., on Feb. 26 before the SEC Tournament tips off in Greenville, S.C., on March 1.
Tue, 06 Sep 2016 18:36:30 +0000
Georgia men’s basketball fans won’t have to wait until the new year to see the team in SEC play.
The Bulldogs will get an early start in its conference schedule when they open at Auburn on Dec. 29, according to the league schedule announced on Tuesday.
South Carolina visits Athens on Jan. 4 for the SEC home opener.
The conference schedule in Stegeman Coliseum includes visits from Florida on Feb. 7 and Kentucky on Feb. 18. Georgia plays at Florida on Jan. 14 and at Kentucky on Jan. 31.
“With unbalanced scheduling, you never know what you’re going to get,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said in a statement. “The SEC is a challenging league--no matter how you slice it up. And again we have to accept the challenge of competing in this league.”
Georgia-Auburn is one of five SEC games on Dec. 29.
It will mark Georgia's earliest SEC start since it played at Vanderbilt on Dec. 11, 1990. It's the first time a conference game has been played in December since Vanderbilt hosted Mississippi State on December 19, 1991.
The SEC tournament is March 8-12 in Nashville at Bridgestone Arena.
Georgia returns eight of its top 10 scorers including guard J.J. Frazier and forward Yante Maten. The Bulldogs are seeking a fourth straight 20-win season and to return to the NCAA tournament again. It reached the NCAAs in 2014 but was in the NIT last season.
Georgia SEC schedule (home games in bold)
Thursday, Dec. 29, at Auburn (ESPNU) at 7:00
Wednesday, Jan. 4, South Carolina (ESPNU) at 7:00
Saturday, Jan. 7 , Missouri (SEC Network) at 1:00
Wednesday, Jan. 11, at Ole Miss (ESPNU) at 7:00
Saturday, Jan. 14 , at Florida (ESPN/2) at Noon
Tuesday, Jan. 17, Vanderbilt (ESPNU) at 9:00
Saturday, Jan. 21, at Texas A&M (ESPN/2) at Noon
Wednesday, Jan. 25, Alabama (ESPNU) at 9:00
Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Kentucky (ESPN) at 9:00
Saturday, Feb. 4, at South Carolina (ESPN/2) at 2:00
Tuesday, Feb. 7, Florida (ESPN2) at 7:00
Saturday, Feb. 11, at Tennessee (ESPNU) at 4:00
Tuesday, Feb. 14, Mississippi State (ESPNU) at 9:00
Saturday, Feb. 18, Kentucky (ESPN/2) at 4:00 or 8:00
Thursday, Feb. 23, at Alabama (ESPN/2) at7:00
Saturday, Feb. 25, LSU (SEC Network) at 6:00
Wednesday, March 1, Auburn (SEC Network) at 6:30
Saturday, March 4, at Arkansas (ESPN/2) at 4:00
Fri, 02 Sep 2016 13:27:40 +0000In the long time – 14 years and counting – that I’ve worked mainly as a sports correspondent for the Athens Banner-Herald, I’ve had many occasions to encounter coaches from the University of Georgia away from their respective “offices.” I’ve played a ton of basketball with Jack Bauerle and Wayne Norton and a little bit with Dan Laak. I’ve broken bread with Andy Landers and worshipped in the church of my choice with Chris Haack and Vince Dooley. Monday morning marked the first time I had an opportunity to visit with UGA women’s basketball coach Joni Taylor away from the court as we took off on a brisk jog near Stegeman Coliseum. She’d posted a Facebook photo last week with Meredith Mitchell after an early morning run, and I contacted her to see if she’d like to get together for a short workout. Before I go any further, I will say that Joni is about six or seven months pregnant with her daughter due right around the first game of the 2016-17 season; were she not with child, it’s likely I wouldn’t be able to keep up with her. But we managed a steady pace that was comfortable for both of us as we headed out for Lumpkin Street. Joni said she was running several days a week (and taking on other workouts, all with the blessings of her doctor) but also needed to take walking breaks, which was OK with me, since she also said she didn’t like to talk while she was running. During those moments when we weren’t running, we mostly talked about prenatal care, good doctors, grandparents and our respective summer vacations. Not once did the subject of basketball arise. One thing she commented on as we were plugging along is that while on the road, we’re both very much alike in one respect – we like to say a cheerful “Good Morning” to everyone we pass. And I can assure you that if you’re running with the UGA women’s basketball coach past all those bus stops on Milledge Avenue, people are more likely to respond to your hello in a positive way. When I run alone, my jolly greetings are generally ignored. After about 30 minutes, we wound our way back to Stegeman, at which point we talked a little bit about the hoop scene. Joni and her charges enjoyed a successful rookie season as a head coach, with the Lady Bulldogs going 21-10 with a 9-7 Southeastern Conference mark and a return (albeit a short one) to the NCAA Tournament. UGA bid farewell to four solid seniors from last season and Joni said this year’s experienced players will have a lot on their shoulders. When I asked Joni if the stress from recruiting, planning for the season and preparing to take on the role as a mother was keeping her awake at night, she said, “I’m sleeping well. When my head hits the pillow at night I’m exhausted. “When I’m up, my mind is all over the place and I’m trying to make plans and put things into place and take care of things and I’m thinking about the season and I’m thinking about what will get them motivated and I’m thinking about our baby girl and making sure everything is good there and I’m thinking about taking care of myself.” And part of the way she takes care is by staying physically active, which also represents a good way to clear her mind at the dawning of a new day. “Working out relaxes me, gets me settled, gives me some quiet time to think and listen to my gospel music and get centered for the day,” she said. I hope we’ll be able to get together and run again soon. I don’t know if Joni will get anything from it, but my days could definitely use some centering. [...]
Mon, 08 Aug 2016 21:29:16 +0000
Georgia has completed its 2017-17 nonconference men’s basketball schedule with an in-state opponent.
The Bulldogs will play Morehouse College on Nov. 30 in Athens. The Bulldogs have never played against the Atlanta historically black college, which plays on the NCAA Division II level.
Georgia needed to find another game to fill out its nonconference schedule.
The other games have previously been reported.
They include at home against Marquette and Texas, on the road at Clemson, Georgia Tech and Oakland (Mich.) and netural site games against George Washington and either Kansas or UAB in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Mo.
“Again, we have put together a schedule that should prepare us for SEC play and provide the strength of schedule needed for our postseason resume,” coach Mark Fox said. “With the road and neutral contests, it will be important for us to play well away from Stegeman Coliseum. And hopefully the great crowds will continue to give as advantage at home.”
UGA nonconference schedule.
Nov. 3 vs. Fort Valley State (exhibition)
Nov. 11 at Clemson
Nov. 14 UNC-Asheville
Nov. 17 Furman
Nov. 21 vs. #George Washington 7 p.m. ESPNU
Nov. 22 vs. #Kansas/UAB 7:30 or 9:30 p.m.
Nov. 25 vs. Gardner Webb
Nov. 30 vs. Morehouse
Dec. 4 vs. Marquette
Dec. 14 Louisiana-Lafayette
Dec. 17 Charleston Southern
Dec. 20 at Georgia Tech
Dec. 23 at Oakland
Jan. 28 vs. *Texas 4 p.m. ESPN
#-CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Mo.
*SEC-Big 12 Challenge.
Thu, 28 Jul 2016 21:41:11 +0000
Practices for Georgia football and men’s basketball regularly are held behind closed doors with the general public not permitted inside.
That’s what makes Mark Fox opening up his practice gym to watch the Bulldogs Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning a rare behind the curtain look. The team leaves Sunday for an exhibition tour of Spain.
Kirby Smart is opening up the stands in Sanford Stadium on Saturday Aug. 6 to view a practice as part of the team’s Fan Day.
That follows the format that Alabama used when Smart was there as defensive coordinator.
“That’s kind of the way I’ve done it in the past and to be honest with you that’s what I’m comfortable with,” Smart said. “When it comes to our fans, I want them to feel comfortable with our players, get around our players, get to meet our players, get to watch them practice. That’s just kind of a new way of doing it.”
Georgia in 2014 opened an August football practice at Sanford Stadium to students and some 2,000 were on hand. Boosters and corporate partners sometimes had access to select practices.
The basketball team is practicing eight times before leaving for Spain and Fox said he wanted to let fans see his team. Some 75 or so fans watched sitting courtside Thursday.
“I just felt like it’s the summertime, people want something to do, they can come watch us play,” Fox said. “It’s not like we’re giving away the trade secrets, you know? Just thought it would be nice for our fans really.”
It was the first chance for the fans to see freshmen guards Jordan Harris and Tyree Crump.
Fox said they have picked things up fast.
“There’s a ton for those guys to learn but I will say they’ve had a good start,” Fox said.
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Harris from Seminole County is described by Fox as a “high-flyer.” Redshirt junior Juwan Parker describes him as “a freak athlete,” who has the highest vertical jump on the team.
Harris delivered a well-timed alley-oop pass to Mike Edwards in practice Thursday for a dunk.
The 6-1, 180-pound Crump from Bainbridge “has a great feel for the game,” Parker said.
He stole a ball from J.J. Frazier during a scrimmage situation Thursday but Frazier blew by him on the other end later on a drive.
Parker said Crump has to get used to playing defense. All three newcomers--including transfer Pape Diatta from College of Southern Idaho--in fact are behind the curve defensively so far, Fox said, but that’s not a surprise.
“Coming out of high school, nobody plays D,” Parker said.
The 6-7, 220-pound Diatta is from Sengal. He’s “an excellent passer,” Fox said. “Almost to a fault.”
Diatta turned down a four-footer in practice this week, but it turned into a Derek Ogbeide dunk.
He slithered past sophomore forward E’Torrion Wildridge Thursday for an inside score and earlier stripped a ball away on the other end.
“Pape has that European type game,” Parker said. “He reminds me a lot of Nemi (Djurisic). Very skilled, pivot, pump fake. That type of game.”
Junior forward Yante Maten also compared Diatta to Djurisic, calling him “really skilled in the post and on the 3-point line.”
Sophomore guard William “Turtle” Jackson stood out the most of the up-and-coming players earlier in the summer, but he was held out Thursday with tendonitis. Wilridge looked best the next stage of the summer, Fox said.
On Thursday, sophomore Derek Ogbeide scored five straight times in the low post against Maten during one drill. Maten returned the favor finding the bottom of the net against sophomore Mike Edwards.
Fans can judge for themselves one more time this month. Saturday’s practice starts at 11:30 a.m.
Thu, 28 Jul 2016 20:29:41 +0000Officially, there are three newcomers on the Georgia men’s basketball team. Freshmen guards Jordan Harris and Tyree Crump along with junior college transfer forward Pape Diatta will suit up in a Georgia uniform during the team’s trip to Spain from Sunday to Aug. 9. Coach Mark Fox says he feels like he is breaking in Juwan Parker as well. Except for an exhibition game last November when the guard/forward could tell he couldn’t move like he wanted, Parker hasn’t played for the Bulldogs since an SEC tournament semifinal game 16 months ago. The reason has been well documented. A torn Achilles sustained on Jan. 10, 2015 at LSU kept him off the floor for much of the rest of that season. He underwent surgery that March, but he never played in a regular season game last season. The issue, Fox said, was being able to develop endurance in the tendon. No, Parker said laughing Thursday, he doesn’t feel like a fresh import. “He puts in new stuff every once in a while and I’m like `Ah, coach I wasn’t here for that,” Parker said. “Besides that, it’s all the same old stuff.” Fox now calls the Tulsa native “healthy.” Parker says he’s now at 100 percent except for some stiffness. He is still working on regaining his explosiveness. “We’re just monitoring the amount of volume that he puts on his legs each day,” Fox said. There’s been a gradual increase in what he can do to minimize fatigue, which can cause pain. One hour of practice work a day in May. An hour and a half in June. As many as two hours in July. Fox expects Parker, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining after receiving a medical redshirt to play all three games in Spain against teams made up of professional players. “We’ll just let his body be the gauge,” Fox said. “Obviously this is going to be a trip where everybody’s going to get a chance to play. Everyone’s going to get experience on the court. No one is going to play massive minutes.” Parker says there was “confusion,” and "miscommunication" regarding the timeline for recovery after his surgery with himself, Fox and the surgeon. Parker said that led to thinking he would be able to return earlier than he did. Explained Fox: “There was a window and we were given maybe the short end of that window and the window is really depending on each individual and it’s a big window and he ended up being on the back end of the window.” The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Parker started the first 14 games in 2014-15. His numbers don’t jump off the page--4.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game--but Fox said having Parker could have meant a couple of more wins for Georgia because it affected the Bulldogs’ rotation and depth. Georgia lost four-year starters Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann, but returns eight of its other top 10 players including J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten. That should mean Georgia should contend in the SEC upper division after going 20-14 last season. Parker is a veteran. He already has an undergraduate degree in business management and is on track to have a master’s degree by May in sports management. “The joke around the department is if I’m going to get my PhD or not,” he said. A sign of what Parker could mean showed up Thursday. He led the team in scoring and rebounding. “He does a lot of things,” Fox said. “I think it’s going to take him some time to knock some rust off. He’s a very versatile player, he plays a couple of different positions. He’s very stable.” Frazier, Georgia’s leader in scoring and assists, says he’s thrilled to see one of his best friends back on the court. “As a teammate, he’s going to bring so much for us,” he said. “He’s going to bring us more depth, shooting ability, rebounding ability, solid defender. We want to bring him back slowly and make sure he’s OK. To see him take care of his body the way he does, pay attention to details, looking at[...]
Tue, 26 Jul 2016 17:16:06 +0000
The Georgia men’s basketball team leaves Sunday afternoon for a 10-day trip to Spain to play exhibition games, a chance for players to see and experience a different part of the world.
Other schools are making overseas trips this summer at a time when there seems to be a different headline daily that raise security concerns, whether abroad or at home.
Arkansas, national champion Villanova and Purdue are also going to Spain. Missouri is heading to Italy. Kansas State will go to Italy and Switzerland.
The South Carolina men and Ole Miss women will travel to Costa Rica.
Only the N.C. State men’s basketball team has scrapped its plans. It postponed an August trip to Italy until 2017 due to "an abundance of caution,” according to the Associated Press. That came after a bombing in Istanbul’s airport that killed more than 40 and injured more than 200.
Georgia will travel to Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona.
“Obviously you’re mindful wherever you are, even if you’re in the United States these days,” said Georgia coach Mark Fox, who was in Spain this offseason on a recruiting trip and said he didn’t feel added risk. “It’s a different world. We’ll certainly be very precautious while we’re there. The world is a different place and hopefully it won’t stay that way.”
The U.S. State Department has a travel alert to Europe through Aug. 31 for a “risk of potential terrorist attacks throughout Europe, targeting major events, tourist sites, restaurants, commercial centers and transportation.” It recommends exercising “vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation.”
That came before an attack in Nice, France earlier this month that killed more than 80. There have been four attacks in Germany in the last week, including two claimed by ISIS.
Villanova is bringing its own security with it to Spain, according to ESPN’s Andy Katz.
There have been heightened tensions in the U.S., with a deadly terrorist attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, police shootings of a black man in Baton Rouge and another in St. Paul and killing of five police officers in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge.
Georgia swim coach Jack Bauerle, who is serving as an assistant coach on the U.S. team for the Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil, said he has no safety concerns for the games.
He will be joined there by 25 current and former Georgia athletes across all sports and three other Bulldog coaches as well as two in the Paralympics.
This is Bauerle’s fifth trip to the Olympics, twice as a personal coach and three times on the U.S. staff.
“I’ve been around the people that take care of us,” Bauerle said. “We have some pretty amazing people. And there are more people there than people will ever know that are helping. It’s incredible. Even at our own Olympic Trials, people had no idea how many people were even on deck. They look like officials and coaches.”
Georgia Tech will open its football season Sept. 3 in Dublin, Ireland against Boston College.
The first trip outside the U.S. for defensive lineman Patrick Gamble has him excited, he said even with world events.
“I don’t worry about it,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen any day.”
Wed, 13 Jul 2016 13:05:57 +0000
Georgia is putting the finishing touches on its nonconference men’s basketball schedule for this coming season.
Three more games have been added, including two home games as part of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic event.
UNC-Ashville comes to Stegeman Coliseum on Nov. 14 and Furman visits on Nov. 17. UNC-Asheville went 22-12 last season, losing to eventual national champion Villanova in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Furman, from the Southern Conference, went 19-16.
UNC-Asheville plays in the Big South Conference. Georgia has added another game against a team from that conference in Charleston Southern. It will visit Stegeman Coliseum on Dec. 17, a Saturday, according to the schedule released by that school on Tuesday. The Buccaneers were 9-21 last season.
"We're excited about meeting the challenges our out-of-conference schedule presents," coach Barclay Radebaugh said on the school’s website. "We play a variety of opponents that will prepare us in different ways for the rigors of Big South play. Our young group will have a chance to improve and really have their mettle tested as we look to build toward being at our best when the 18-game league slate arrives."
The Charleston Southern game comes three days before the Bulldogs play rival Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
It was also confirmed with an announcement on Wednesday that George Washington will play Georgia on Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. on ESPNU in the championship round semifinal of the CBE event. Georgia will play either Kansas or UAB on Nov. 22 in the CBE.
Georgia’s home slate also includes games against Marquette, Texas, Gardner-Webb and Louisiana-Lafayette, and road games against Clemson and Oakland.
Sun, 03 Jul 2016 12:11:31 +0000
Prince Avenue Christian School played host to its camp from Monday to Thursday to finish at least its eighth year.
Athens Academy hosted the James Banks Basketball Camp from Monday to Friday to finish its 15th year.
“It gets better every year. The quality of play and the kids as far as their skill sets in early ages have been tremendous,” Banks said. “It’s hard work and tiring but a lot of our former players are here. It’s been a lot of fun having those kids back and being around them. Forging a relationship with those guys has been very rewarding.”
“It’s been good,” Prince Avenue athletic director Richard Ricketts said. “We had a great turnout. The kids have done a good job listening and doing the things the way we ask. Coach (Michael) Palmer and all of the high school kids have done a good job. It’s been a good week for anybody.”
Both camps had more than 50 players attend.
“We are getting kids excited about basketball and having fun,” Ricketts said. “This is probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest, we have had.”
“It’s been extremely competitive,” Banks said. “They have done great with the stations. The games have been very close. The parity has been unbelievable. It’s been a great camp as far as the skill sets.”
Banks had several of his former players help coach his camp, which he says has about 70 percent of campers return year after year.
“A lot of them come until they are in the ninth grade. It is good to see that,” Banks said. “It’s good to know they trust me as a coach and as a person and understand we are going to work hard and have fun.”
Banks said about 80 percent of campers have gone on to play at the high school level.
“What is fun is I ended up coaching a lot of them,” Banks said. “A lot of them went to play at different schools in the surrounding areas as well. It is quite an honor to see them grow and hopefully I had some impact on them learning the game and learning the fundamentals and skill sets as well. It’s been fun.”
Ricketts had several current players helping instruct the camp at PACS, giving them a chance to be on the coaching side of the sport
“It’s good but it’s even better for the little kids,” Ricketts said. “They don’t think much of us coaches but they think the world of the high school kids. It’s win-win for both of them.”
Ricketts said several of the campers throughout the years have gone on to play at PACS.
“We have kids playing for us now that used to come to these camps,” Ricketts said. “It’s a total program. We have kids not from our school here. It’s good to let them learn and get the community involved.”
Thu, 30 Jun 2016 13:34:43 +0000Joni Taylor’s cell phone makes at least three different noises. One tone, the most prevalent during a late-June conversation with a guest in her office at Stegeman Coliseum, is probably for texts. Another might be emails. The last chime could be Facebook Messenger. Or new Twitter followers. Or Instagram likes. “My marketing plan is so much more further along after going through it a year,” Taylor, now 14 months on the job, readying for her second season as Georgia women’s basketball coach, said. There’s plenty going on. Taylor recently returned from Zaragoza, Spain where she watched Team USA in the World Championships. Her players have one week of summer workouts left. Recruiting begins July 5. All of this is done with Nov. 11 in mind. That’s when the Lady Bulldogs open the season (against a team yet to be announced). It’s also the date Taylor and husband Darius are expecting their first child. It’s a girl. There's a working list of names, but that’s not an easy decision. “That's a lot of pressure on us and that poor baby,” Taylor says laughing. “We say the names out loud and we scratch one off and add one on, but we haven't got down to one yet.” Taylor was excited/shocked when she found out in April during the Final Four. A planner for life, Taylor wanted to start trying in June or July so the baby would arrive post-season in April or May. “We both said, watch, we're going to make a plan and God's going to laugh,” Taylor said. “He is definitely laughing now.” Add another momentous check mark on Taylor’s list of impressive accomplishments during an epic stretch of life. She succeeded Andy Landers as the second full-time coach in Lady Bulldogs history in April 2015. She married Darius in August. Her team reached the NCAA tournament in March. And then her family grew one person bigger. “It's definitely what I wanted, what I imagined,” Taylor said. “You have to have a little bit of help to make that happen, but it definitely was my vision.” Life in love in the coaching profession requires sacrifice. Darius was a women’s basketball assistant at South Carolina when Joni was named Georgia’s coach. Before the promotion, Joni and Darius wrestled with the options. They could buy a house in Augusta and both commute. They could buy a house in Columbia and rent a spot in Athens. Or vice versa. “I think as an assistant if you want to have a family you have to be careful who you work for because not every head coach is as understanding,” Joni Taylor said. “So as an assistant my thought was always either I’m going to make decision to have a family or hopefully I will have my shot at being a head coach.” Once Joni got the gig in Athens, Darius couldn’t take it. There was too much of a conflict of interest. There would be no more time apart than necessary. He resigned his spot at South Carolina — a team coming off a Final Four and primed for more — and moved to Athens to be with Joni. That cut out the potential milage and lonely nights. Now, Taylor’s biggest regret is that she doesn’t cook for Darius as much as she used to. Instead she calls to ask, what do you want me to pick up? “He understands it,” Joni said. “He gets it.” Darius began his own company called Inside Out Basketball to train players primarily in Athens and Atlanta. His schedule is flexible, so if Darius often shows up at practices. He travels with the team to games. He pops in so frequently that Georgia’s players call him Dad. “It's been great to see my dream turn into our dreams,” Joni said. The baby has become the child of the entire Georgia program. The staff videoed the moment Taylor told her players. [...]
Tue, 28 Jun 2016 17:42:14 +0000One time, they didn’t speak for a year. It might have been two. Andy Landers and Pat Summitt played for the national title once. They met in two Elite Eights. Many times in the Southeastern Conference tournament. Always in the regular season. 58 games total, Georgia and Tennessee faced off with the two Hall of Fame coaches on the sideline. Every moment was meaningful. Every outcome meant something. National rankings, conference standing, tournament seeding, banners waiting to be hoisted, recruits deciding where to play. From October to April, Summitt and Landers weren’t friends. And that one time, they weren’t friends for longer than that. So, Summitt was shocked when she answered knocking at her front door at her home in Maryville, Tennessee one day close to Christmas and found Landers. Landers’ parents lived near Summitt, about two dozen miles from Knoxville, and he couldn’t get his rival out of his mind during his visit for the holidays. “I probably stayed for an hour because she had a team the (season before) that could have won it all, and I knew she was probably feeling bad and beat up,” Landers said. “But they'd be back.” Summitt and Landers are linked, through rivalry and success and as icons that pushed women’s college basketball to its rightful, respected place in American athletics. Summitt took Tennessee to the Final Four in 1982 (the first NCAA women’s tournament). Landers followed with Georgia in ’83. Summit lost in the title game in ’84. Landers lost in the title game in ’85. Finally, in ’87, Summitt and Tennessee won it all, and Landers and Georgia seemed poised to follow. Summitt didn't allow that. Tennessee beat Georgia 43 times in those 58 contests. The Lady Vols stopped the Lady Bulldogs nine times in the SEC Tournament. Four times in the Big Dance. So yeah, they didn’t have a conversation after the championship game in ’96. Fall was tense, with signing day and the season approaching. Winters were cold, with everything — the recruiting, the practice, the games, the season — culminating into focus. Even summers could be touchy because spots on the Team USA roster typically came down to contests between players from Tennessee and Georgia. Every moment meant something to someone from somewhere. So yeah, Pat and Andy didn’t always speak. “But we always got over it,” Landers said. “It was fun because you're talking about two competitors that just didn't want to admit or imagine that the other one was getting the best of them.” Summitt passed away Tuesday after living the past five-plus years with early onset dementia. She was 64. Summitt won eight national titles, 16 SEC regular season titles, 16 SEC tournaments and a record 1,098 games. What bothers Landers, who retired in 2015, the most is Summitt didn’t get the chance to leave coaching on her terms. She didn’t get to look back and take pride on the trophies and the wins and all those meaningful moments. She didn’t get to enjoy the text messages that Landers still receives routinely from former players. We can look back. Landers remembers. Summitt’s players won’t soon forget. But Landers says he’s sad Summitt didn’t get to bask in the next phase. “When you're actually in the race you're not sitting there looking and thinking about what you've accomplished or what you're accomplishing,” Landers said. “You're thinking about how to stay ahead in the race. To know that she never really had an opportunity to do that and the many other things that she would have been able to do, whether it be television or speaking or appearances or just chill because she would have been able to just to sit b[...]
Tue, 21 Jun 2016 20:28:13 +0000Georgia athletics has an official beverage. And an official wireless provider. There’s an official airline. None of that may be surprising, but look at some of the dozen other officially designated partners for the Bulldogs and they are a little more off the beaten path. UGA athletics’ official bread? Flowers Baking Company, which has the Nature’s Own brand. The official off-campus housing partner? That’s Landmark. An official yogurt? Yes. Chobani. These companies see a benefit to being on board with the Bulldogs. “There are larger sponsor platforms with professional sports, but the best benefit that anybody has associating with the college sports teams is the fact that our base is a true affinity base,” Alan Thomas, Georgia’s associate athletic director for external relations, said. “The people who follow us, they’re not fair-weather. They’re in. So there’s a great loyalty that goes in there. …People are engaged deeply with us and they don’t come and go.” Landmark specializes in student housing including as the developer of The Standard, running 909 Broad and building The Mark, a 928-bed project that will be the biggest off campus student housing development in Athens. “We think there’s value to be associated with the school that most all of our residents attend here in town,” said Wes Rogers, Landmark Properties President and CEO. “With the partnership, we get access to significant advertising opportunities so we get our properties in front of the residents.” That includes advertising in Sanford Stadium, using the UGA athletic marks and logos on promotional material and billboards and allowing Landmark to market in person at basketball game and gymnastic meets. College sports fans offer a more affluent demographic for sponsors, Thomas said. Georgia lists $3.9 million in revenue for sponsorships and licensing in the fiscal year that is just ending and $3.981 million in fiscal year 2017. Another $10.5 million is generated in revenue for multi-media with rights holder IMG, which manages and sells most of the sponsorships including official designations with approval of Georgia. Some, like Hyundai, the official automobile, are national deals with a range of IMG schools. Those that Georgia directly handles are Coca-Cola and the official healthcare provider. That had been St. Mary’s but is switching over to Athens Regional on July 1. “It has more to do with the sports medicine side than it does with the true sponsorship aspect,” Thomas said. “There is no real financial component to it…It’s more about opportunities and services.” Georgia teams may use the products of official sponsors--including official beverage Coca-Cola (the sports drink consumed is their Powerade not Gatorade), but sponsorship deals don’t necessarily mean there are “usage” deals for teams. AT&T is the official wireless provider. Delta is the official airline. Its logo is prominently displayed behind football coach Kirby Smart and basketball coach Mark Fox at news conferences, but Delta isn’t the lone airline that advertises with the Bulldogs. Southwest also has a slice. Coca-Cola’s current deal with Georgia essentially dates back to 1991 and runs through next June. Thomas figures Georgia is in the middle with the number of officially designated sponsorships compared to peer institutions “You’re dealing with a very powerful brand in the G and it benefits companies to not only be associated with the G, but have the marketing ability to use that association,” said Ryan Gribble, general manager of IMG at the University of Georgia. “It also benefits Georgia to be affiliated with those powerful brands that we partner with. It has to be a partnership that makes sense [...]
Tue, 14 Jun 2016 15:47:16 +0000On her application to medical schools, Marjorie Butler was asked to calculate the amount of hours she spent toward being a basketball player at Georgia. She included not only the team’s practices and games but individual workouts, travel time including a team trip to Italy, studying film and scouting reports, team meetings and rehab from three knee surgeries. “After three years, I was at 10,000 hours,” said Butler, a starter at point guard who plans to study orthopedics at Vanderbilt beginning in July. “That speaks very, very largely of the demands student-athletes have. There are nights we come in here, we practice until 6:30 and we get on a plane and we’re going somewhere. Then the next night we’re going back from a game, say we’re at Arkansas at 9 o’clock central time, and we might not get home until 2 o’clock and then Friday morning you’ve got an 8 a.m. class. It’s definitely a very rigorous schedule.” College administrators and athletes have been weighing reducing time demands placed on those trying to balance their sport, classes and a social life. At the 2017 NCAA convention in January, proposals to address the issue are expected to be on the table under power five autonomy. The SEC didn’t put one forward from its spring meetings earlier this month, but it continued to be a topic of conversation. The Ivy League last week approved two measures that go into effect in that conference this fall: a 10-hour window of no athletic activity following return from a road trip and a two-week “recovery period” with no team athletic activities after a season ends. That time off after the season was discussed at the SEC meetings in Destin when five current or former league athletes attended. “Some of our student-athletes think that’s great given their sport, others want to continue in a training cycle because they may have national or international aspirations,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. Sankey said there was wide support for a minimum of eight hours overnight between athletic activity. That follows “a strong majority” of athletes, head coaches and administrators who an NCAA survey showed also supported that. “We want to be very attentive to not having increased time expectations on student-athletes, but we also want to allow them to thrive academically and athletically,” Sankey said. Sankey said the sentiment he received is that the athletes want to challenge themselves in their sports to compete at the highest level. “That’s a really hard topic for everybody because each sport is so unique,” Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen said. “The time demand rules is an across the board thing right now, it’s not sport specific.” NCAA athletes are limited to 20 hours of sports activity a week in season (not including such things as time spent traveling to and from practices) and eight hours out of season. The majority of the 44,000 athletes that took part in an NCAA survey released in April wanted travel to and from competition, compliance meetings and team promotional activities to also be counted in those hours but coaches and administrators did not. Butler figures athletes she knows actually spend 35 to 40 per week on their sport and she went beyond that. Butler handled it well considering she was named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2016 and graduated Magna Cum Laude with degrees in biology and kinesiology. In football, there are more time demands in recent years with a mandatory eight hours a week now in place in the summer. That out of season focus on the sport has increased since the time when Georgia football coach Kirby Smart was a college player. “I don’t think it was a whole lot different in se[...]
Mon, 13 Jun 2016 18:45:01 +0000
The Georgia women’s basketball team has landed a verbal commitment from a top 60 rated national recruit for 2017.
Quannecia “Que” Morrison , a guard/forward for McEachern High School, gave a pledge to play for head coach Joni Taylor’s team, according to a tweet from Kirk Pointer of Team Elite, her AAU team.
Morrison is rated as the No. 51 prospect nationally and fifth in the state by ESPN.com, which described her as “among the most athletic prospects,” in the 2017 recruiting class. Blue Star lists her at No. 56 in the nation.
Morrison, listed as 5-foot-10 on her school’s roster, had 14 points and 11 rebounds in a state title win over Tucker as her team won its third straight GHSA championship.
Georgia associate head coach Karen Lange tweeted on Sunday: "The first big peice to #Swag 17 #CommitToTheG #DGD"