Mark Fox thinks highly of Michigan State.
In fact, as a voter in the coaches poll, Fox ranked the Spartans No. 1 in his preseason ballot. While Michigan State is starting the year out as the No. 2 team in this particular poll, the fact Fox’s Georgia squad gets to go against the Big Ten power will provide a good test before the 2017-18 college basketball season tips off.
“The chance to play a road game as an exhibition, I think, could be a very valuable lesson for us,” Fox said. “We’re not going to have a shootaround and we’re not going to be able to go into the arena and we’re not going to have a scouting report, and all that, that you would normally have. But it’s still going to be as much of a road game as we can possibly make it.”
The teams agreed to this exhibition format to raise money for the Red Cross in its efforts to provide relief to victims of Hurricane Irma. The proceeds will be split 50-50 between the programs, with Georgia choosing to donate its share to the Red Cross of Georgia. Michigan State will donate its portion to Red Cross International Services.
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This exhibition against Michigan State comes Sunday, only a couple of days after Friday’s secret – or not so secret – scrimmage against Clemson. NCAA rules dictate coaches aren’t able to talk publicly about these scrimmages.
But with the Bulldogs having that game before the Michigan State exhibition, which required an NCAA waiver, there won’t be any game prep going in. Neither team will be expected to run its usual plays while getting experience for a lot of its roster.
“We’re going to try and get everybody to play significant minutes so we can find out how they respond in that environment,” Fox said. “We have a really good idea what Yante Maten can do. We’ll be a little bit protective of his minutes. But all these guys, especially on the perimeter, with so many guys battling for time, they deserve an equal opportunity to see how they play against somebody else.”
Fox said he was in discussion with a few programs about a playing in a scrimmage to raise money for charity. One program, he said, reached out with the idea of playing in Jacksonville around the time of the Georgia football team’s game against Florida.
With big football rivalry taking place this weekend, Fox knew he would have to agree to a road game, which is why the Bulldogs ultimately decided to take on the Spartans in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The teams chose Grand Rapids after attempts to play in Detroit and East Lansing, Michigan, fell through.
Forwards Maten and Mike Edwards will be able to play in front of their families as they are both from the state of Michigan. Edwards said his family made plans to attend the moment this scrimmage was announced.
“It’s a great test, one of the best tests you could ever ask for,” Edwards said. “They’re one of the top teams in the country. To test our skills against them and see what we’re made of is a good experience for us.”