ATHENS, Ga. — As he tried to prepare his Georgia team for what always ranks as the biggest game of the regular season, the most frustrating reality for Coach Andy Landers is there is no answer for his team's biggest weakness.
With his No. 22 Lady Bulldogs on the verge of falling out of the Top 25, Landers has no easy answers for today's 3 p.m. home game against No. 3 Tennessee.
"Their strength is our weakness,'' Landers said Friday, before adding that his team's weakness — poor guard play — has been impossible to overcome.
After losing four experienced guards — twins Kelly and Coco Miller, Deanna Nolan and Kiesha Brown — from last year's 27-6 team, Georgia has not been able to find a stable backcourt combination this season. As a result, Landers has not been able to fully utilize a talented and deep group of forwards and centers.
"The bottom line is we don't handle pressure very well, any kind of pressure, full-court or half-court,'' Landers said. "We're averaging 22 turnovers per game and probably 12 of them are unforced.''
Landers was caught short-handed when Nolan turned pro rather than return for a fourth year, but he offers no excuses.
"Graduation is a reality; losing players is a reality,'' Landers said.
Georgia (15-7 overall, 4-6 in the Southeastern Conference) ranks 11th in the league in turnover ratio. Tennessee (19-2, 8-1) ranks third with 12.05 steals per game.
Landers expects the Lady Vols to apply the pressure early and often from all areas of the floor.
"They're going to pressure,'' Landers said. "They're going to pressure full-court and half-court and three-quarters court. That's where we're most vulnerable.''
In Thursday's 64-59 loss to South Carolina, Georgia's backcourt problems were the difference in the game.
"We outshoot (South Carolina) from the floor,'' Landers said. "We outshoot them from the line. We outrebound them. We shoot the same percentage from (3-pointers). They score 30 points off our turnovers.''
Landers has alternated senior Camille Murphy and sophomore Tina Taylor at point guard. Murphy had been a backup shooting guard her first three seasons and Taylor averaged only 4.2 minutes per game last season. Mary Beth Lycett has alternated at small forward and shooting guard but has not provided help in handling the ball.