UGA WBB legend retires
Teary-eyed and staring at the banners from SEC championships and decades of NCAA tournament appearances, Andy Landers wore a solid black shirt with "Georgia" stitched in red over his heart — right where it belongs. The only full-time coach the Lady Bulldogs basketball program has ever known retired after 36 seasons, in which he missed the NCAA tournament only three times and earned national coach of the year honors four times. And after one of his most tumultuous seasons, he was ready for an exit. “I still have a lot of fire and I still have a lot of energy but we’re not reaching the level of success that we should,” Landers said. The nearly 20 minutes of press availability was intertwined with life lessons and advice. Because that’s how Landers answers questions. Whether it’s winning, losing or retiring, Landers finds a way lengthen his answer to solve problems greater than just the Xs and Os of women’s basketball. Leaving the program with 862 wins— being only the eighth coach to surpass the 850 mark— and a winning record every year of his tenure, Landers’ time and success in Athens left him more than just content. “Have you ever spoiled yourself?” Landers asked. “I think our players, our teams, our staff, we’ve spoiled ourselves. Or at least they’ve spoiled me. But there wasn’t as much winning this season. The women’s NCAA field was announced Monday and Georgia stood no shot of making it after an eight-game losing streak tanked it’s chances. That was a sign for Landers. He said the decision itself wasn’t the hardest part but telling his staff and players. More than just his current players, his phone had been blowing up with text messages and calls from former players, whose pictures, both current and from playing days, decorate his office and the team locker room, expressing their sentiments about his retirement. Landers recalls his decision in 1985 to put Teresa Edwards back in the national championship game with just as clearly as he remembers every play call in his last game, a loss to Tennessee. While, he’s spent a large portion of his life being the coach, it was inevitable that Landers would learn something along the way. “The thing I’ve learned had remained the same. It hasn’t changed,” Landers said. “As long as people know that you care. They’ll do anything for you.” As for who will take over the helm, Landers wasn’t ready to discuss specifics but, as with every other aspect of his life, he believes Georgia will prevail. “If they’re smart enough to keep me around for 36 years, they’re smart enough to make the right decision,” Landers said. No matter who the women’s basketball staff choses to hire, taking over for Landers won’t be easy. Senior Krista Donald fought back tears as she talked about her relationship with the head coach and the importance of not only playing for Georgia but playing for Landers. As she is on her way out, Donald expressed how thankful she was he stayed for her four years. Though one of the most successful coaches in college basketball, Landers is just like the rest of us— he’s not quite sure what the future holds. “I haven’t crossed that road yet. My yard will probably look better than anybody in the neighborhood, at least until I get bored with it,” Landers said. “You got any ideas?”
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