Landers' ladies get ready for SEC Tourney

ATHENS — There's a thought among some basketball observers that tournament time means it's time for a team's best player to take control.

"I disagree," Georgia coach Andy Landers said. "I think that your team plays is trump cards."

He thinks those strong suits are a potentially disruptive defense and a potentially efficient offense, but freshman forward Tasha Humphrey clearly is the Lady Dogs' ace.

While the offense and defense have come and gone on a weekly and daily basis, Humphrey has been more consistent. She averaged 18.9 points and 8.3 rebounds, both team highs, this year on the way to being named the SEC Freshman of the Year and a first-team All-SEC post player.

She ranks in the conference's top five in scoring, field goal percentage and rebounding and she's in the top 10 in blocks and free throw percentage.

The only problem with Humphrey as No. 21 Georgia begins the SEC Tournament today against the winner of Thursday night's Ole Miss/South Carolina game at 7 p.m. in Greenville, S.C., is that she hasn't gotten enough chances of late, Coach Andy Landers said.

Humphrey's attempts per game have gone down from 12.9 in the Lady Dogs' first 24 games to 9.5 in her last four. And it's not just shots, Humphrey's overall "touches" in a game are down as well.

"I think it's a combination of issues," Landers said. "I think first and foremost it's got to be a coaching issue. We've got to make sure that we're trying to do that. When we're not, I've got to ultimately assume responsibility for it."

There's also the matter of defensive attention. Teams that played the Lady Bulldogs man-to-man early in the season switched to zones in repeat games, Humphrey said, and Georgia expects to see plenty of zone in the conference and NCAA tournaments.

"Zones probably bring a tendency out in us to look more to each other on the perimeter and less to her," Landers said. "That, and all the work that she has to do on a game-by-game basis, I think has discouraged her a little bit from working as hard to be open and be the target that we need her to be."

Humphrey tries not to get frustrated by consistent double- and triple-team defenses or her lack of opportunities, she said, but she acknowledges she'd like to see the ball more.

"I would, not only from an individual standpoint, but if my team gets me involved, I can create a lot," she said. "It's a partnership, you get me open, I'm going to get you open. It's going to be a lot of work on both ends, not only from me but from my teammates."

Humphrey said she won't put any extra pressure on herself even though the stakes are much higher now than she has ever faced.

"I just need to play my game and do what I've been doing the whole season," she said.

Georgia's guards have to concentrate on distributing the ball to all of its post players, not just Humphrey, point guard Alexis Kendrick said.

"Once we get everybody involved, I think we'll be tough to stop," she said.

Landers agreed it needs to be a team effort.

"It's the time of year," he said, "when everybody on your basketball team has to gather up all their resources and bring them to the court and leave them on the court."

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