Lady Bulldogs Host Mercer Thursday Night
Nov. 13, 2013
Lady Bulldogs Host Mercer Thursday Night
Georgia hosts Mercer's Bears on Thursday evening at Stegeman Coliseum, in an intra-state match-up of schools separated by less than two hours of scenic state highways.
The Lady Bulldogs remained at No. 22 and No. 24 in this week's editions of the USA Today coaches and Associated Press top-25 polls, respectively, following last Sunday's season-opening victory over Presbyterian.
Merritt Hempe scored a game-high 10 points and Khaalidah Millerequaled a trio of career bests with 11 rebounds, six assists and 40 minutes played to lead Georgia. Hempe now has three double-digit scoring outputs in 31 games played at Georgia. Two of those have come against Presbyterian.
Mercer arrives in Athens with a 1-1 record, defeating Western Carolina in its opener before losing at Belmont in Nashville on Monday.
The Bears feature a potent and balanced offensive attack with four players averaging double figures in the scoring column. Precious Bridges leads the team at 16.5 ppg, followed by Briana Williams (16.0 ppg off the bench), Kendra Grant (14.5 ppg) and Alicia Williams (10.5 ppg).
Quoting Coach Landers
On the challenges Mercer presents...
"Mercer is a basketball program that over the last three or four years has slowly transitioned themselves into a 20-game winner. This is a program that last year won 20 games and was playing without arguably it's best player, who was injured. They have a healthy team, a team that's returning a great deal and a team that is guard oriented by has a strong presence inside at the '5' position."
On his team's performance in the season opener...
"At times, we were pretty good. The intent was there. The execution wasn't always perfect, but they are a hard team to defend. They run a motion offense and hit you with screens when you don't expect them and do a good job of reading how you defend coming into the screens. I thought our players did a good job but could do a better job."
Series history vs. da Bears
Georgia owns an 18-12 lead in its all-time series with Mercer, including a 10-5 mark in Athens. Mercer's dozen wins over UGA represent the most of any in-state school; however, most of those came pre-Andy Landers.
Mercer was a national power back in the 1970s when the "Teddy Bears" were relative regulars in the Associated Press poll. Mercer compiled an impressive 11-1 record against Georgia from 1974-79.
Since Landers became the Lady Bulldogs' head coach prior to the 1979-80 season, Georgia has compiled a 17-1 mark against Mercer. The lone setback came during Landers' initial campaign in Athens.
With the victory, Georgia improved to 10-0 and became the first of 343 Division I women's basketball programs to garner double digits in the win column during the 2012-13 season.
Mercer, which dressed out only eight players due to injuries, kept the game close for the first several minutes before Georgia seized control.
After Mercer developed a 10-6 early edge, a 15-2 surge put the Lady Bulldogs up 21-12. Georgia increased its lead to 34-21 before halftime, started the second half strong and never looked back. A 17-2 run to open the second stanza pushed the margin to 51-23.
Last Time Out...
Merritt Hempeled all scorers with 10 points as No. 24 Georgia claimed a 45-30 season-opening victory over Presbyterian on Sunday afternoon at Stegeman Coliseum.
Senior Khaalidah Milleradded seven points, while tying career-high marks with 11 rebounds, six assists and 40 minutes played.
Georgia used a 9-0 run midway through the first half to help create a 15-6 lead with just over five minutes remaining until the half.
Miller led the charge for the Bulldogs at the start of the second half, quickly converting on a three-point play in the first 30 seconds. A three-pointer by freshman Sydnei McCaskillhelped extend the Georgia lead to 30-16 in the half's opening minutes, and the Lady Bulldogs would continue to cruise offensively.
Georgia outrebounded the Blue Hose 51-37, andlimited Presbyterian to just 20 percent shooting from the field for the game.
A Familiar Face Leads Mercer
Mercer head coach Susie Gardner, who is one of the proudest University of Georgia graduates you'll ever meet, was a four-year letterwinner on some of the greatest Lady Bulldog teams ever in the mid-80s.
Gardner was a guard on Lady Bulldog squads that compiled a 116-17 record, won the 1983, 1984 and 1986 SEC titles, reached the 1983 Final Four and was 1985 NCAA runner-up.
Gardner scored 485 points, dished out 110 assists and collected 78 steals in 92 games played for Georgia from 1982-86. That scoring tally most definitely would have been higher if she played with the three-point arc on the floor. Gardner, who Andy Landerscalls one of the Lady Bulldogs' greatest pure shooters ever, hit 47.7 percent of her FGs...a large majority of those from long-range.
Historic victory over Mercer
One of the most significant wins in the Lady Bulldogs' storied history was an 87-85 OT decision over Mercer secured on Jan. 12, 1980.
That win represented Georgia's first-ever over a ranked opponent. Mercer entered the contest at No. 21 in that week's AP poll.
Two players who followed Andy Landersfrom Roane State Community College to Athens led the Lady Bulldogs. Bernadette Locke scored 19 points and Teresa Duncan chipped in 15, including the game-winning lay-up with one second remaining in overtime.
McCaskill Joins Freshman Starter list
Andy Landerscontinued his long-standing penchant for putting freshman starters on the floor in the opener against Presbyterian.
Sydnei McCaskillgot the nod to become the 73rd freshman to start for the Lady Bulldogs during Landers' 35 seasons in Athens and the 23rd to do so in her collegiate debut. McCaskill not only started but played all 40 minutes.
"I thought Sydnei looked comfortable, especially in the second half," Landers said. "She might have been a little bit tight to start the game but she should've been. The longer she played, the more comfortable and confident she looked in what we were doing."
Six current Lady Bulldogs - senior Khaalidah Miller; juniors Erika Ford and Krista Donald; and sophomores Shacobia Barbee, Tiaria Griffinand Merritt Hemp - all started as freshmen. Barbee is one of the 22 to start an opener.
Miller equals three career marks
Senior Khaalidah Milleropened her final collegiate campaign with a solid outing that equaled a trio of her career-high performances.
Miller hauled in 11 rebounds against Presbyterian, tying the tally she collected against both Ole Miss on Jan. 22, 2012 and Appalachian State on Dec. 22, 2011.
Miller also matched her career high with six assists, her same number of baskets-to-be against South Carolina on Feb. 16, 2012
In addition, Miller tied her career high with 40 minutes played, the 13th time in her career at Georgia that she has logged that many MP.
Lady Bulldogs Ink Four signees
The Georgia Lady Bulldogs signed a quartet of premier prep prospects - Jasmine Carter, Haley Clark, Mackenzie Engram and Nasheema Oliver - to national letters-of-intent to play basketball collegiately for the University of Georgia on Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA's weeklong early signing period.
"I think overall this is a good class," head coach Andy Landerssaid. "We were able to sign the positions that we needed to sign. I think we've helped ourselves on both the front line and the backcourt. There's size. There's speed. There's quickness. Generally speaking, our objectives are met with this class, and I think it fits very well with the team that we will have returning next season."
Carter is a 5-8 guard from Dacula, Ga., and Atlanta's St. Pius X Catholic High School. She has been rated as one of nation's top-20 shooting guards by both ESPN Hoopgurlz (No. 18) and Prospect Nation (No. 20).
Clark is a 5-9 point guard and a four-year starter at Edgewater High School in Orlando, Fla. She is ranked as the No. 24 point guard in the Class of 2014 by ESPN Hoopgurlz.
Engram is a 6-2 forward from Powder Springs, Ga., and Hillgrove High School. She is ranked as one of the nation's top-50 overall prospects by two recruiting services - No. 38 by Prospect Nation and No. 41 by Blue Star- and a top-75 prospect by two more - No. 71 by ESPN Hoopgurlz and No. 72 by the Girls Basketball Report.
Oliver is a 6-3 forward from Crisp County High School in Cordele, Ga. She is listed as the No. 18 prospect in the nation by Blue Star, as well as No. 37 by Prospect Nation, No. 58 by ESPN Hoopgurlz and No. 59 by the Girls Basketball Report.
UGA Ranked by AP for 500th Time
Georgia was ranked No. 24 team in the preseason edition of the Associated Press poll, the 500th AP poll appearance all-time for both UGA and Andy Landers.
"Five-hundred is a big number," Landers said. "I think I'm most proud of the consistency that we've been able to maintain and the high level of play that has led to us being considered worthy of AP ranking all those times. Our university, our athletic administration, our staff, our players and everyone associated with our program - and this year's team is no different - have committed themselves to competing at the highest level. To be recognized as one of the top teams in the country basically week after week after week for 30-plus years is certainly a reward for all that hard work and commitment." The Lady Bulldogs first appeared in the AP poll in the preseason rankings for 1981-82, the first season women's basketball came under the auspices of the NCAA and the sixth season the AP compiled a women's hoops weekly poll. Despite a five-year gap prior to the first ranking, Georgia and Landers now rank No. 2 in all-time appearances by a program and a coach.
Since 1981-82, the Lady Bulldogs have been included in 501 of 577 polls, or 86.8 percent of those released. Georgia also has 268 top-10 appearances, 46.4 percent of polls in that span.
USA Today likes UGA a little more
The Lady Bulldogs were tabbed No. 22 in the preseason edition of the USA Today coaches poll released on Oct. 29.
Georgia was featured in two more polls by preseason publications. Athlon tabbed the Lady Bulldogs No. 14 in its top-25 rankings, while Lindy's placed UGA at No. 19.
"I'm not the least bit concerned with preseason polls," Andy Landerssaid. "I'm concerned about this team creating its own identity. To this point, I'm very pleased with that development."
Georgia was one of six Southeastern Conference teams in the USA Today poll. Tennessee was No. 4, with Kentucky at No. 8, Texas A&M at No. 13, LSU at No. 17, South Carolina at No. 21 and the Lady Bulldogs at No. 22.
"I think Tennessee and Kentucky are the most talented and LSU is the most experienced," Landers stated. " Then, I think you have 11 more teams that are really, really good. It will be a very interesting year for the Southeastern Conference."
Wanted: stat sheet stuffers
A year ago, the Lady Bulldogs returned all but two players - Meredith Mitchell (their first-year Director of Basketball Operations) and walk-on Brittany Crews - from the 2011-12 roster. Georgia's percentage of returning statistics was relatively massive as outlined below under "2012-13" column.
The difference in returning percentages couldn't be more polar opposite for the 2013-14 season. After losing five seniors - including WNBA players Anne Marie Armstrong, Jasmine Hassell and Jasmine James- the Lady Bulldogs will look to replace more than 40 percent of their production in every category imaginable other than shots taken and made from behind the 3-point arc. Those percentages returning are below under "2013-14" below.
What's returning statistically
Butler, Griffin to Miss action
"We have expectations of all of our players," Andy Landerssaid. "In this regard, Marjorie and Tiaria have come up short. Certainly games are important to all of us involved with Georgia Basketball, but not more important than living up to the standards that we've established for more than 30 years. That foundation has always been a vital part of our success."
Lady Bulldogs solid in Openers
The Lady Bulldogs continued their stellar run in season openers.
Georgia has christened 12 of the past 13 seasons with a victory, losing only to defending national champion Baylor in the opener for the 2005-06 campaign. The Lady Bulldogs are 30-5 in openers during Andy Landers' tenure.
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