Landers' team braces for Duke

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Playing Duke is pretty much like watching an old scary movie.

"Attack of the Five-Headed Monster."

That's the description Georgia coach Andy Landers gave to his team as part of the scouting report for Duke.

Landers and the Bulldogs will try to tame as many of those heads as possible today when they take on the Blue Devils in an NCAA women's basketball Sweet 16 matchup at McKenzie Arena.

"Isn't that what he said?" Georgia guard Cori Chambers asked teammate Tasha Humphrey. "They¹re a five-headed monster.²

Landers was more detailed in his reasons for thinking this is the best Duke team he's seen, and since the Devils have dumped the Dogs in the 1999 national semifinal and 2003 Sweet 16, he's a good source.

"They're that because they shoot the ball well from the floor," he said. "They're that because of their balance. They're that because they have a terrific, perhaps the best, wing player in America."

Monique Currie, a 6-foot junior who picked up first-team All-America honors earlier this week, may be the most impressive head on the Devils monster. She averages 17.7 points, 7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists a game.

Currie is also toying with the idea of leaving for the WNBA after the season, whenever that time comes.

It has not been a distraction of what we're trying to accomplish this year," she said. "Of course it is in the back of my mind, but I haven't let it affect our immediate goals."

Currie has battled stress fracture problems for part of the season, but played 39 minutes in the win over Boston College last weekend, getting 21 points and four rebounds.

She's one of three Devils in double figures, junior post Mistie Williams and freshman guard Wanisha Smith adding about 11 points each. Williams also snags seven rebounds a game, 6-7 sophomore Alison Bates 6.7.

Bates owns the ACC single-season record with 130 blocks.

Wynter Whitley, who played in the state high school tournament in Macon during Holy Innocents' regular visits, is a defensive-oriented role player who has started two straight games and responded with 19 points.

Jessica Foley, a 6-0 junior, is good for 11 points, four rebounds, and four assists, but she's has missed the last two games with tendonitis in her foot and is questionable.

Landers, though, had more reasons why he calls this team Duke's best that he's seen.

"They're that because they have height and depth with ehight that is very capable both offensively and defensively and certainly in the shot-blocking category," he said. "But I think they're also the best Duke team because they're the best defensive team Duke has had."

That defense must tangle with Bulldog freshman Tasha Humphrey, who seemed destined for Duke out of Gainesville High before picking Georgia for family reasons.

"We haven't experienced one player who can do it all like Tasha," said Duke coach Gail Goestenkors, whose team has faced plenty of talent in the ACC.

"She is very special."

The 6-3 forward leads the Bulldogs with 19.1 points and 8.2 rebounds. She's been held to single digits in only two games this year, six against Georgia Tech and eight against South Carolina. Humphrey dropped 33 against LSU in the SEC Tournament and 26 on Texas in Monday night's win.

She remains ready to take the big shot or go for the big play no matter the time or score.

"Throughout the season, I didn't think about being bashful," she said. "In high school, I was asked to step up and carry the team on my back. It's harder on this level, but I've got the competitive drive, so it makes no problem in doing that."

Chambers will face Currie plenty today, and doesn't see one specific thing that worries her.

"The biggest challenge is facing her in itself," Chambers said. "I've got my team to back me up. It will be tough, but I'll be ready."

Indeed, Currie can expect different faces in front of her.

"We'll switch it up a little bit," said Landers. "That responsibility will be shared by different people on the perimeter."

Landers likes how his team is playing. While Georgia has only won four of its last seven, the losses came to No 19 Vandy, No. 1 LSU, and at Ole Miss.

"We have to play pretty close to our potential," he said, then listing a handful of games late in the season that encouraged him. "If we play hard and play really well, we'll be in good shape."

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