Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Mark Fox returns subtle fire at Brian Gregory before tournament


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There were two things you could safely assume after Georgia's Tech's Brian Gregory said earlier this week that he was pulling for Michigan State against Georgia in the NCAA tournament and had passed along the Jackets' past keys to success against the Dogs to the Spartans' Tom Izzo.

1.) Georgia coach Mark Fox would be irritated by some of Gregory's comments; 2.) Fox's return fire would be subtle, just enough to let everybody know what he thought but not so much to distract from his team's return to the NCAA tournament.

Confirmed, confirmed.

Having lost four straight to Tech, Fox was asked Thursday if he was concerned about anything Gregory might've shared with Izzo.

"I don't know," Fox said after a pause. "They (Michigan State) have had lot of success over there in post-season play so I'm sure coach Izzo knows how to prepare his team. I'm not sure Tech has had the same success. But they've had success versus our team the last couple years. We're all trying to get any advantage we can get."

Fox declined later to publicly expand on his comment about Tech's overall lack of success. But the look on his face said enough. Most assumed Izzo would phone Gregory when the tournament brackets came out Sunday night, and that Gregory would be happy to help. But Fox likely felt some of Gregory's comments, and glee with which he delivered them, were a bit over the edge.

Like: "You can quote me on this: I gave him (Izzo) everything.”

Like: "... There a lot of green blood in my veins."

Like: "There might be debate on a lot of things. But there’s no debate on who I want to win that game."

Fox and players arrived in Charlotte Wednesday night for their first practice and news conference Thursday. All seemed loose and in a good mood, embracing the underdog role against Michigan State. While the Spartans will be playing in their 18th straight NCAA tournament (including six Final Fours and one championship), the Dogs will play their first tournament game since 2011. They haven't won in the tourney since 2002.

So, yes, Tech has had more recent postseason success in basketball than Georgia, reaching the national title game in 2004. But Fox can hold this over Gregory: He's here and Gregory isn't.

UPDATE: For a full column on Georgia's first-round game against Michigan State and how they will be lead by senior Marcus Thornton, who has overcome so much, click here.


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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.