Landers gets Georgia ready for 2007-08

ATHENS - Collegiate coaches, as a general rule, are not known for frank assessments.

Georgia women's basketball coach Andy Landers enters his 29th season of not following the general rules this year, and this is what he has to say about his Lady Bulldogs: "As a program, we're not where we need to be. We've slipped."

Georgia has qualified for the last 14 NCAA Tournaments and finished 27-7 and second in the SEC last season, but the program put on the map by players like Teresa Edwards and Katrina McClain has not made it to the Final Four since 1999. The Lady Bulldogs have had just one Elite Eight trip in the last seven years.

"Georgia for many, many years embraced hard," Landers said. "We were aggressive; we were in your face; we had a little swagger that dared you to mess with us, and I think a lot of that has slipped."

In each of the last three seasons, the Lady Bulldogs have played with a limited roster, sometimes as few as seven scholarship players, due mostly to injuries. Those limitations took some of steam out of program, mainly in the form of shorter and less intense practices.

"I'm reasonably proud of what those teams were able to do, but in order to be able to do what they were able to do, we had to make adjustments and those adjustments were downward," Landers said. "I'm not surprised, but that's where we are. It's not a good place to be."

That kind of talk from Landers has raised the eyebrows of the Lady Bulldogs, who start practice today and know it will be a demanding preseason.

"I don't know if we expect rough, but I know we expect intense," sophomore point guard Ashley Houts said. "We're going to realize that it's going to be a lot tougher than we think."

Georgia plays its first game is Nov. 9 at home against Richmond. The Lady Bulldogs return three starters, including leading scorer and rebounder Tasha Humphrey, and will have 11 healthy scholarship players available.

Landers "really wants us to increase our intensity defensively and be known as a team that stops people and not just a team that scores and tries to keep the other team from (outscoring) them," senior wing Megan Darrah said.

One of the team's key words this season is "accountability," Houts said. Landers calls it holding their "feet to the fire."

"We're going to continue to do that until … we've got that attitude that I think has been synonymous with Georgia basketball for years and years and years," Landers said.

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