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Crean era begins at Georgia with 3s, earrings for everyone

April 10, 2018

Georgia's Nicolas Claxton, wearing an earring, speaks with reporters during an NCAA college basketball media availability, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, in Athens. Ga. Georgia's players says they’re embracing new coach Tom Crean and his new rules. Claxton said earrings wouldn’t have been allowed under former coach Mark Fox, who was fired. (Ap Photo/Charles Odum)

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia’s post players are handling the ball. Everybody is shooting 3s.

And earrings are in.

Welcome to the Tom Crean era.

Less than one month into Crean’s stay as Georgia’s coach, players say they’re embracing the new coach and his rules.

Especially the part about earrings.

Center Nicolas Claxton and guard Tyree Crump each wore earrings while speaking with reporters on Tuesday. Each said that fashion choice wouldn’t have been allowed under former coach Mark Fox, who was fired immediately following an 18-15 finish this season.

Crump said the new fashion code under Crean gives players more room to be themselves.

“It don’t matter what you wear or how you wear it as long as you’re being respectful and being presentable,” Crump said.

Asked if players like their new fashion freedom, Crump said, “Yes. Being able to be us, that’s the best thing.”

Claxton said players are buying into Crean’s demanding offseason workouts, which he described as “radically different.”

“We’ve embraced it,” Claxton said. “I feel like everybody is getting used to it and it should be good for all of us.”

Crean said the time spent with his new team has been his biggest emphasis. He is taking a more relaxed approach to filling his staff.

On March 15, Georgia hired Crean , who was given a six-year, $16 million contract. He was 356-231 in 18 seasons at Marquette and Indiana from 1999-2017.

Last week, Crean hired assistant coach Chad Dollar , a former Georgia Tech and Auburn assistant who spent last season in that role at South Florida.

Dollar, the son of former longtime high school coach Don Dollar, brings deep Atlanta recruiting roots to the Georgia staff. Dollar’s local ties became even more important when Georgia assistant Jonas Hayes on Monday accepted a position as an assistant at Xavier.

“We would have loved to have him stay but I totally understand where he is on this and he wanted to have something for his growth,” Crean said of Hayes.

Crean is emphasizing the 3-pointer in offseason workouts, even for post players. It’s the Bulldogs’ introduction to the style of play which made Crean successful at Indiana and Marquette.

“The shooting percentage, that has to go up,” Crean said. “You can look at a lot of different statistics but the shooting percentage has to go up.”

The 6-foot-11 Claxton may have enough versatility in his game to handle a few 3s but he laughed when asked about power forward Derek Ogbeide’s introduction to perimeter shooting.

Overall, Claxton said the new style should be a hit with players and fans.

“I think that should be a lot of fun for the fans and of course for us to be able to play a different style and up-tempo and using all of our abilities,” Claxton said. “I think it’ll make us harder to guard with the court being more spread out.”

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