Q&A With J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics McGarity
March 28, 2017
By John Frierson
UGAAA Staff Writer
Georgia's J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics, Greg McGarity, looks at the Bulldogs' men's basketball program and sees progress and stability, as well as untapped potential.
McGarity, like coach Mark Fox and the many Bulldogs fans out there, wanted more from the 2016-17 season than 19 wins and a postseason appearance in the NIT. Like everyone, McGarity wants annual regular-season and Southeastern Conference success and NCAA tournament bids.
At the same time, McGarity sees the progress that has been made in Fox's eight seasons in Athens. The Bulldogs have finished with an SEC record of 9-9 or better each of the past five seasons, with a combined mark of 51-39. Compare that to the preceding five seasons when Georgia had a combined SEC record of 26-54.
During Fox's tenure the Bulldogs have an overall record of 145-118 and reached the 2011 and 2015 NCAA tournaments.
Georgia's recent five-year run in the conference, without a losing record in league play, is the best in program history. The closest win-loss record over a five-year stretch in recent decades was when the Dogs went 48-42 in SEC play during one of the program's peak periods, from 1982-83 through the '86-87 season.
The Bulldogs won 19 games and went 9-9 in the SEC, but fell short of their goal of reaching the NCAA Tournament. Georgia was selected for the NIT, but playing without starters Yante Maten and Juwan Parker (who averaged a combined 27.5 points and 12.1 rebounds per game), the Bulldogs fell in the first round to Belmont.
What's needed now, McGarity said, is "the next step" in the program's development. McGarity talked about that and more during a recent conversation:
Frierson: What are your thoughts on this season, Coach Fox and the future?
McGarity: As I stated prior to the SEC Tournament, I am in support of Mark leading our team. My support has not wavered and our staff is fully focused on helping Coach Fox and the returning and incoming student-athletes prepare for the 2017-18 season.
With nine lettermen returning that experienced significant playing time last year, and a strong recruiting class joining them, we are in position to be very successful next year. We missed the signature wins this season and that hurt us with our postseason aspirations.
Moving forward, winning those games against top RPI teams will be pivotal. I know we'll have a schedule that will provide these opportunities next season. Mark deserves credit for success in many areas of our program; we have a basketball staff and a group of young men that are committed to improvement in all areas of the program. Everyone associated with Georgia basketball is working hard to be more successful in elevating our program.
Frierson: What stands out to you about where the program is right now?
McGarity: What hits me is that we've been at .500 or better in the SEC for five consecutive seasons. The winning foundation has been set, has been established, with five straight years of SEC play at .500 or better, and now it's time to take the next step into postseason play.
That's everybody's aspiration, not just Mark's or our team's; it's everyone's desire, and we're no different, but we've got opportunities that we need to take advantage of next year.
We've got a winning foundation right now, a winning culture, because of our overall record and especially our SEC record. We just need to take the next step in our program. We've been to the NCAA Tournament twice and we know what it feels like and what it takes to get there. Now we just need to get to the point that we're making consistent appearances.
Frierson: What do you say to the fans who might be wondering when that next step will occur?
McGarity: I appreciate the strong support of our basketball program by many of our fans, and I also acknowledge the disappointment expressed regarding our performance. I realize it's a mixed bag of opinions but I know our staff is fully committed to doing everything possible to be successful in our program.
Frierson: How much different is Stegeman Coliseum going to look next season?
McGarity: The Phase 2 interior renovation in Stegeman will be absolutely fantastic. The installation of new seats, all black, and the center-hung scoreboard-video board; the new lights, new sound system, new graphics and branding throughout the east, west and north sections will inject new life into Stegeman Coliseum.
Our fans will notice the dramatic improvement in the environment and we are very eager to start this project after the spring commencement ceremonies.
John Frierson is the staff writer for the UGA Athletic Association and curator of the ITA Men's Tennis Hall of Fame. You can find his work at: Frierson Files. He's also on Twitter: @FriersonFiles and @ITAHallofFame.
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