A Major Haul Cross Country
For Georgia's youthful Lady Bulldogs, whose 13-player roster includes seven freshmen, this winter will provide a plethora full of new experiences. The 2001-02 Lady Dogs will get their first taste of action away from Athens this weekend when they travel across the country to participate in University of California's Oakland Tribune Classic.
Andy Landers, who is in his 23rd season in Athens, doesn't think the trek should affect his team. "I tend not to think about it," Landers said. "To me, and to our basketball team, playing on the road really shouldn't be a big deal. They've done it all their lives. When you play this sport, roughly half of your games are at home and half are on the road."
Georgia faces its stiffest test to date on Saturday when the Lady Bulldogs square off with 4-0 UNLV.
The Lady Rebels represent UGA's fourth straight experienced opponent. The Lady Dogs' first three foes on the campaign -- Maine, Middle Tennessee and Georgia State -- all welcomed back four starters from a year ago. UNLV returns three starters plus another letterwinner -- Constance Jinks -- who averaged 13.4 points off the bench.
"UNLV is a very solid, experienced basketball team," Landers said. "They present the traits you would expect from a veteran team...they play well together...they know whose hands to get the ball into and they do that well. They shoot the ball well and, to use a football phrase, they have a solid defensive package."
The Lady Rebels feature the two best individual players Georgia has seen to date.
"UNLV probably has two All-America candidates, although (Linda) Frölich is the player most people know about," Landers said. "She's just a very strong, solid player. (Constance) Jinks is one of the quickest point guards -- if not the quickest -- we will face all year."
UNLV also represents the first opponent with the ability to match Georgia's height. In their first three games, the Lady Dogs faced much smaller and quicker squads...neither Middle Tennessee nor Georgia State featured a player taller than 6-1 in their rotation.
"It will be an interesting challenge for our team to play against someone that matches up with us well in terms of size," Landers said.
Lady Dogs 2-0 Versus UNLV
Georgia owns a 2-0 advantage in its all-time series with UNLV, with today's matchup representing the third straight in "tournament play."
The Lady Dogs downed the No. 17 Lady Rebels, 86-62, in Round of 32 action of the 1991 NCAA Tournament in Athens.
That win earned UGA a trip to the West Regional in Las Vegas, where the Lady Bulldogs lost to Stanford in the "Elite Eight."
Georgia also downed the Lady Rebels in the consolation round of the UNLV Shootout in Dec. 1996
A box from that contest and series results can be found on Page 4.
Tracking T-Mac & Others Tawana McDonald enters the UNLV game on the verge of climbing among the Lady Bulldogs' career statistical leaders in two different categories.
T-Mac has rejected 12 shots in three games to up her career total to 261. That leaves her six away from Tracy Henderson and the No. 2 spot all-time (and 29 shy of Katrina McClain's school record).
McDonald also is just four points shy of Saudia Roundtree and the No. 20 spot among scoring leaders. T-Mac has 1,034 points in 98 games in a Georgia uniform. Roundtree, the 1996 National Player of the Year, tallied 1,038 points during her two-year career in Athens.
In addition to McDonald, Camille Murphy and Andy Landers are closing in on the following milestones as well:
* Landers needs two victories to collect his 550th win at UGA.
* Murphy, with 63 three-pointers, is four away from No. 8 Miriam Lowe on that career list.
* T-Mac is 79 rebounds off of the current No. 7 tally of Tracy Henderson (823).
A Record They'll Swat At
The first day of the Major League Baseball season is always a great day for season projections. Somebody like Rob Deer opens the season with two homers including a grand slam and you hear the inevitable..."Ya know, that Rob Deer is on pace to hit 324 homers and drive in 972 runs this season."
Those gaudy numbers never come close to panning out of course.
Georgia's Lady Bulldogs have put up some of those type of tallies in the blocked shots column of their first three box scores.
The Lady Dogs swatted 13 shots against Maine and Georgia State, efforts which tied for the second-best single-game mark in school history and equaled UGA's Stegeman Coliseum single-game record set against Louisville during Georgia's 1995 NCAA Tourney run which ended at the Final Four.
Quick multiplication of the Lady Bulldogs' current 11.7 blocks per game average times the minimum games they could play this season (28) results in an astronomical total of 328 blocks.
While that tally is unlikely, Georgia should easily swat at its own single-season record of 187 blocks during the 1999-2000 season. The 2001-02 Lady Bulldogs are already 18.7 percent of the way toward the season record in just three games.
FYI, the current NCAA records are 7.8 blocks per game and 238 for a season.
Goin' Back To Cali...
For the fourth consecutive year, the Lady Bulldogs will travel to California.
During the 1999 season, Georgia reached the NCAA Final Four in San Jose. During 2000, the Lady Dogs participated in The Beach Classic at Long Beach State. A year ago, UGA trekked to L.A. to play UCLA.
Some Ties To The Bay Area
Lady Bulldog assistant coach Katie Schutz, a native of nearby Walnut Creek, enjoys a homecoming this weekend.
Schutz, who is in her third season on the Georgia staff, played at Monte Vista High School and helped lead the Mustangs to a 22-7 record and the conference title in 1991. Monte Vista also reached the quarterfinals of the California's Division II State Tournament that season.
In addition, former Lady Bulldog Camille Lowe, an All-SEC performer in 1991 and '93, lives in Oakland and is a pharmaceutical sales rep for Novartis. Among Georgia's career leaders, she still ranks No. 14 in scoring (1,396) and No. 7 in both three-pointers made (130) and attempted (347).
Lowe is featured on Page 15 of the "UGA" section in the back of this year's Georgia Media Guide.
Two former Georgia Bulldog football standouts play for Bay-area teams, Matt Stinchcomb of the Raiders and Garrison Hearst of the 49ers.
Learning Big "TEAM", Little "me"
According to Andy Landers, one of the biggest adjustments his players are having to make this season is learning to play together. With seven freshmen in their first year of collegiate basketball, the Lady Bulldogs feature a vast majority of players who have dominated the competition they've faced to date.
"For the most part, those freshmen have always been the best player on the floor," Landers said. "They haven't really had to play with other people, other people have had to play with them. Getting them to work together and see the bigger picture takes some time, but that's nothing that's abnormal for most freshmen. It's just exaggerated this year because we have so many of them."
Injury Bug Takes Another Bite
The injury bug, a frequent visitor to the Lady Bulldog roster over the past several years, already has reared its ugly head early this season. Most recently, freshman guard Whitney Law sprained her ankle in practice on Nov. 23 and missed the Georgia State game. In Law's absence, Mary Beth Lycett made the first start of her career versus GSU and posted career highs for assists (six) and minutes played (37).
Previously, Ebony Felder, who missed all of last season after undergoing surgery on her right shoulder, "tweaked" her left shoulder in practice on Nov. 13 and missed the season-opener against Maine. She scored 14 points -- including five in OT-- versus MTSU.
Felder injured her shoulder again last week and missed the Georgia State game.
Both Law and Felder are "probable" to see action this weekend.
In addition, Christi Thomas, the 2001 SEC Freshman of the Year, has been limited somewhat while she continues to recover from off-season surgery on her left knee to repair chipped cartilage and a small tear in the lateral meniscus.
Week Off A Productive One
After posting wins in their first two outings, the Lady Dogs enjoyed an off week to go back to the drawing board and focus on areas where they needed to improve.
"Because of injuries, we didn't get exactly what I wanted to out of the last week," Andy Landers said. "The next step in our getting better is our kids getting more comfortable with what we're doing both offensively and defensively. They aren't there yet, but we are certainly moving in that direction. This week has helped us in our efforts to get there."
Lady Dogs Sign Impressive Class
Georgia's already strong recruiting haul received a major boost on Nov. 21 -- the final day of the NCAA early signing period -- when Alexis "Alex" Kendrick from Inglewood, Calif., inked papers with UGA.
Kendrick joined Sherill Baker and Marquita Driskell, two of the nation's top 30 prospects, who signed letters of intent to play collegiately for Georgia on Nov. 14.
"What a great way to end the early signing period," Andy Landers said. "Last Wednesday, we signed two of the nation's top-30 players - Sherill Baker and Marquita Driskell - and adding Alex to this class only makes it more impressive. We're excited about all three of these signees and look forward to them being part of Georgia Basketball."
Baker and Driskell both were members of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Atlanta Tipoff Club "Dandy Dozen" last season, which recognized the top-12 players in the state of Georgia regardless of their school's size classification.
Baker, a 5-8, combo guard from Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, was tabbed as the nation's No. 20 prospect by the All-Star Girls Basketball Report and was named first-team All-State Class AA a year ago. Baker led GAC to the 2001 Georgia Class AA State title and a 30-3 record while averaging 21.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 5.5 steals per game. Baker began her senior season with 1,601 career points, 588 rebounds, 394 assists and 452 steals.
Driskell, a 6-1, wing player from Baldwin County High School, was ranked as the No. 26 recruit in the nation by the All-Star Girls Basketball Report and the No. 40 prospect by Blue Star Recruiting Service. She was tabbed Georgia's Class AAAAA Player of the Year after averaging 13.0 points and 12.0 rebounds and leading Baldwin HS to a 27-3 record. As a sophomore, Driskell averaged 11.0 points and 11.0 rebounds for a 29-1 state runner-up squad.
Kendrick, a 5-7, guard, is rated as the nation's No. 7 prospect by Blue Star Recruiting, while she also was ranked No. 8 and No. 10 by School Sports and the All-Star Girls Basketball Report, respectively. She was tabbed second-team All-America by Street & Smith's this fall. As a junior, Kendrick averaged 24 points, eight rebounds, nine assists and seven steals per game while leading St. Bernard Catholic High School to a 25-6 record and its third straight CIF Division IV-A Southern California title. She was named CIF Division IV-A Player of the Year as a junior.
A Surprising (& Welcome) Sight
Andy Landers has been around the figurative block a few times. Therefore, it's not such an easy task to surprise the veteran coach, who is in his 23rd season in Athens. Landers usually has a relatively accurate assessment of what to expect from his team.
That's why Landers was all smiles following the Lady Bulldogs' 88-57 win over Maine in their season-opener. That performance was a welcome sight after Georgia lost its second exhibition game by 24 points and continued to look lethargic in practices thereafter.
"I was pleasantly surprised that we could come out and execute as well as we did since we did not always do that in the last exhibition game and we haven't been doing it in practices," Landers said. "We are still in a learning mode, though. All in all, I am very, very happy to come out of here with a win today."
A Double-Double For M.B. Junior Mary Beth Lycett began the year with a stellar outing -- career-highs for points (13) and rebounds (10) which also resulted in her first career-double.
Lycett's trek to those milestones was especially gratifying. After missing her first three free throws, M.B. gathered herself and then hit her last eight attempts from the line.
The final board en route to the double-double came late in the contest when Lycett dove to the floor near the lane for an offensive rebound and then neatly flicked the ball to a teammate on the wing.
That Magic Number Pops Up
The Lady Bulldogs didn't waste any time updating what has to be one of the greatest statistical indicators of all time.
With Georgia's 88-57 victory over Maine in the season opener, the 2001-02 Lady Bulldogs improved UGA's astronomical winning record when the Lady Bulldogs have scored more than 80 points under Andy Landers.
Semantically speaking, that actually means 81 points or more, but "more than 80" is a whole lot easier to say.
That score has become a permanent magic marker during Landers' 23 seasons at the University of Georgia. The Lady Dogs are now an unconscious 331-4 record when they've scored more than 80 points under Landers -- a winning percentage of 98.80597.
Lady Dogs Begin Campaign
With Trio Of Frosh In Lineup
The 2001-02 edition of the Lady Bulldog Media Guide states that the first freshman to start for Georgia this season would be the 43rd to do so.
When Andy Landers announced on Nov. 16 that freshmen Kara Braxton, Whitney Law and Jessica Pierce all would start the first game of their collegiate careers against Maine on Nov. 18, the obvious first question was researched.
How many freshman have started their collegiate debuts for Landers?
Upon further review en route to that answer, yet another freshman starter -- guard Barbara Murray in 1980-81 -- was discovered in a dusty file.
Therefore, the trio of Braxton, Law and Pierce actually represented the 44th, 45th and 46th freshmen to start during Landers' 23 seasons at Georgia.
Freshmen in the starting lineup is a long-standing tradition at Georgia.
In fact, the Lady Dogs have started at least one freshman during all but three seasons -- 1994-95, 1995-96, 2000-01 -- and at times during the 1987-88 and 1993-94 campaigns, UGA started lineups consisting of five freshmen.
"We've got a history of starting freshman," Landers said. "It's not necessarily something that you want to do, but sometimes you need to do it or it can, in fact, be the best thing to do. I'm excited for them, and I'm sure they're excited too. I would underscore it with the thought that it's certainly not a permanent position though."
A total of 17 Lady Bulldog freshman have started their collegiate debuts for Landers in Athens.
Prior to this year's trifecta were: Cynthia Collins in 1979-80; Barbara Murray and Lou Sims in 1980-81; Janet Harris in 1981-82; Tammye Jenkins and Adrienne Shuler in 1987-88; Lady Hardmon in 1988-89; Camille Lowe in 1989-90; Kim "K.T" Thompson in 1992-93; La'Keshia Frett and Tracy Henderson in 1993-94; and Coco Miller, Kelly Miller and Elena Vishniakova in 1997-98.
For the record, Tawana McDonald likely would have been included on the aforementioned list if she had not suffered a sprained knee five days before the 1998-99 opener.
Lady Dogs Improve To 19-4 In Season Openers Under Landers
Georgia initiated the 2001-02 campaign with an impressive 88-57 win over Maine on Nov. 18, the 19th victory compared to just four losses in season-openers during coach Andy Landers' 23 seasons with the Lady Bulldogs.
Georgia now 9-1 in season openers in Stegeman Coliseum, losing only to No. 7 Stanford to begin 1991-92 in a rematch of the previous year's West Regional Final of the NCAA Tourney.
Lady Bulldogs' Make
Magical Move On Radio
WMGM, better known locally as Magic 102.1 FM, will broadcast every Lady Bulldog game this season. The games aired previously on WNGC FM, Magic 102.1's Southern Broadcasting sister station.
"I am excited about the move to Magic 102.1, and I think the station is excited about being the home of Lady Bulldog Basketball," Andy Landers said. "The switch will alleviate some scheduling conflicts in the past when WNGC broadcast Georgia football and women's and men's basketball games. The demographics of Magic's listening audience and our fan base are comparable, as well, and the promotions the station has planned in addition to its broadcasts will provide a great deal of exposure for our program."
In previous years, the vast majority of the Lady Dog games aired on WNGC. When conflicts occurred, the Lady Bulldogs aired on WGAU 1340 AM. Georgia women's basketball is the only sports on Magic 102.1's programming schedule.
"We are very excited to have the Lady Dogs exclusively on Magic 102.1," said Traci Jahn, Southern Broadcasting Companies General Manager. "Their success and the loyal support they receive throughout Northeast Georgia will certainly enhance our station. This will also help with scheduling conflicts in the past between different sports."
"Not only will Lady Dogs Basketball be a great addition to our programming,"said T.J. McKay, Program Director of Magic 102.1, "but the Georgia fans will also benefit by having a station that focuses on the success of the program with lots of team information and ticket contests throughout the season."
Jeff Dantzler and Mack Poss return for their ninth season together as the Lady Dogs' play-by-play announcer and color analyst, respectively.
Lady Dogs Tabbed Third In SEC
Georgia was predicted to finish third in the SEC during the upcoming 2001-02 season in voting by media attending SEC Basketball Media Days in Birmingham, Ala., on Nov. 1.
The Lady Bulldogs tallied 54 points in voting of 15 media members in attendance who cover women's basketball regularly. Tennessee was installed as the favorite to win the league; however, the Lady Vols received only eight first-place votes. Vanderbilt, which was chosen to finish second overall, garnered first-place on the other seven ballots.
Rank School (1st votes) Pts.
1. Tennessee (8) 22
2. Vanderbilt (7) 33
3. Georgia 54
4. Florida 62
5. LSU 85
6. Auburn 101
7. Arkansas 107
8. Miss. State 115
9. Alabama 127
10. South Carolina 148
11. Ole Miss 153
12. Kentucky 163
Next? A Bus To The 'Boro
After catching a red-eye back from the West Coast and arriving in Atlanta at 5:30 a.m. on Monday, the Lady Bulldogs quickly return to action Tuesday night. Georgia will bus to Statesboro to face Georgia Southern at 7:00 p.m.
The Lady Bulldogs own a 15-9 advantage in the all-time series with GSU, including a dozen straight wins since 1981. The Lady Eagles return three starters and six additional letterwinners from a 22-7 team from a year ago.
This season, Southern is off to a 2-2 start and is slated to play Charleston Southern tonight at 7:00 p.m. ET.