Although his career landmarks are clicking by like freeway overpasses, Georgia coach Andy Landers doesn’t like to talk about them.
In fact, the only way his team can get Landers to even acknowledge them is to ambush him.
The Lady Bulldogs will likely have to trap Landers again because their next victory will be the 900th of his coaching career.
“You just have to put him on the spot,” Georgia senior Jasmine James said. “You can’t give him an option and make him accept it because it is what it is. After the 800th win (at Georgia), we kind of had to hurry after the game and surround him so he couldn’t get off of the court. He had to stand there and accept it and speak to the fans. You have to make him face it. When it’s all said and done, he’s already focused on winning the next one.”
Landers will go for career win No. 900 when No. 13 Georgia (22-4, 10-3 in the Southeastern Conference) travels to Ole Miss (9-17, 2-11) for a 2 p.m. tipoff today at Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford, Miss. Earlier this season, Georgia secured Landers’ career win No. 800 as the head coach of the Lady Bulldogs with a 94-57 victory against Savannah State on Nov. 20.
“That’s an amazing number,” Georgia freshman Merritt Hempe said. “It’s one of those numbers, gosh, that’s 900, that shows what kind of person he is and how good of a coach he is. That number just represents an accolade for him and for all the amazing players who have come through this program and the tradition of Georgia women’s basketball.”
Landers has 899 wins in his 38-year career, which includes 34 seasons at Georgia and four at two-year college Roane State, where he won 82 games in the mid-1970s. Landers’ total without the Roane State wins is 817, all at Georgia.
“It doesn’t even cross my mind,” Landers said. “I haven’t even thought about it and I’m not going to (Saturday).
“It is what it is. It’s the product of the combined efforts of a lot of people, a lot of people. Somebody else might say that I’m the constant person. I get that part. But that doesn’t make me any more important than the people who made that number possible.”
The NCAA does not acknowledge wins at non-NCAA institutions, so his 82 victories at Roane State do not figure into his official record. But Georgia disagrees with the NCAA’s math and does count the wins. As far as anybody wearing red and black is concerned, the Lady Bulldogs’ next win will be No. 900 for Landers no matter how the NCAA feels.
“Just think about it, 900 wins is a lot of wins, I mean a lot,” James said. “It just boggles your mind to think about how big that number is. That means a lot to us as players and it means a lot to the program. I’m just proud to have been a part of it.”
Until the NCAA began actively regulating women’s basketball in the early 1980s, most four-year universities didn’t devote as many resources to the sport as many junior colleges, business colleges and NAIA schools like the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens.
So Landers’ teams at Roane State in the mid-1970s competed on the same level as four-year NCAA programs and Landers had a 30-1 record against them during that time.
“No matter how you look at, whether they count the (Roane State) wins or not, 900 wins in any form is a very impressive thing,” James said. “Just to be able to play here and play for a coach that has such a great resume is just an honor.”
Although the No. 900 is attached to Landers’ name, it reflects directly on the program that he has headed for most of his adult life. Landers has averaged nearly 25 wins a season. His Georgia teams have hit the 20-win plateau 28 times in 34 seasons. Landers’ worst record at Georgia was his first when the Lady Bulldogs went 16-12 in 1979-80.
“I take a lot in the number but not from a personal or individual standpoint,” Landers said. “From a program standpoint, I take a lot pride. That number 900 means a lot from the Georgia perspective. It’s huge and I’m really proud of that because it means we’ve been successful for a long time. You don’t do that overnight.”
Georgia at Ole Miss
When: 2 p.m.
Where: Tad Smith Coliseum, Oxford, Miss.
Radio: WRFC 960-AM
Records: Georgia is 22-4, 10-3 in the SEC; Ole Miss is 9-17, 2-11.
Rankings: Georgia is No. 13, Ole Miss is unranked.
Probable starting lineups:
Ole Miss: G Valencia McFarland (Jr, 5-4, 11.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg); G Diara Moore (Fr., 5-7, 10.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg); G Gracie Frizzell (Fr., 5-10, 7.2 ppg, 1.7 rpg); F Danielle McCray (So., 6-1, 6.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg); Courtney Marbra (Sr., 6-1, 5.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg).
Georgia: G Jasmine James (Sr., 5-9, 11.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg); G Khaalidah Miller (Jr., 5-9, 9.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg); G Shacobia Barbee (Fr., 5-10, 5.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg); F Anne Marie Armstrong (Sr., 6-3, 7.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg); F Jasmine Hassell (Sr., 6-2, 12.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg).
Series record: Georgia leads 29-11, including 8-7 in Oxford.
Last meeting: Georgia swept both meetings in 2012, 61-47 in Oxford and 87-52 in Athens.
Season at a glance: Georgia has won six of its last seven and comes off of a 66-34 victory against Arkansas on Thursday. Ole Miss has lost six of its last seven and comes off of an 82-53 loss to Texas A&M on Thursday.
Noteworthy: Georgia coach Andy Landers will go for career win No. 900. Landers son Drew attends Ole Miss. … Georgia set a school record for fewest points allowed in an SEC regular-season game with 34 against Arkansas on Thursday. The Lady Bulldogs allowed a season-best 26.4 percent field goal shooting against the Razorbacks. … Jasmine Hassell’s three-game streak of double-doubles ended against Arkansas. It was the Lady Bulldogs’ longest double-double streak in SEC play in five years. … Georgia has two players from the state of Mississippi. Sophomore forward Krista Donald is from Lakes and freshman guard Tiaria Griffin is from Monticello. … Ole Miss’ leading scorer Tia Faleru comes off of the bench and averages 11.8 points a game. … Ole Miss’ Valencia McFarland is fourth in the SEC in assists at 5.1 a game. … Injured Georgia forward Ebony Jones and Ole Miss’ Diara Moore both went to Cedar Hill High School in Dallas, Texas.