Earlier this month, Jasmine Hassell took a look at the schedule and saw that her senior season was closer to the end than the beginning.
It spurred an inconsistent rebounder to recommit herself toward the boards, and she is now enjoying arguably the best stretch since she came to Georgia.
“Time is ticking,” Hassell said. “We’ve talked about rebounding all year. I was addressing it. But I wasn’t addressing it the way I needed to be addressing it. As a team, we need to get better so I told myself it was time to get better. Before I had a mindset to get better on the boards but now I have a lot more forceful mindset.”
Georgia (21-4, 9-3 Southeastern Conference) will play Arkansas (17-8, 4-8) at 7 p.m. tonight at Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia is in fourth place in the SEC, two games behind league-leading Tennessee.
“When Jaz is rebounding like she is now, it really changes her whole mindset,” Georgia senior forward Tamika Willis said. “She knows that any ball that comes off of the rim is hers and it really changes the way we play offense because she gets a lot of put-backs too.”
Hassell, a 6-foot-2 forward from Lebanon, Tenn., averaged 4.3 rebounds a game coming into this season. But Hassell has had a revival on the boards the last three games. She grabbed a career-high 16 last Sunday against Florida and has strung together three double-figure rebound performances for the first time in her career. She has also strung together three double-doubles with 16 points and 16 boards against Florida, 18 points and 12 boards against LSU and 15 points and 10 boards against Auburn.
“It’s day and night with her and her rebounding,” Georgia coach Andy Landers said. “The great thing about it is a lot of those rebounds are coming on the defensive end. That has been her weakness up until lately. She’s doing a terrific, terrific job.”
Hassell has always been an accomplished offensive player. She averages 12.2 points a game and is shooting .525 percent from the field this season. She has the height and the strength to be a standout rebounder. But she lacks the jumping ability and the quickness off of the floor that enabled former Lady Bulldogs standout Porsha Phillips to lead the league. Hassell had been erratic on the boards her first three seasons and had five double-figure rebounding games coming into the 2012-13 season.
“I’ve got a lot more forceful mindset,” Hassell said. “I’m going to rebound. I’m really going to rebound. I’m going after that ball and if you’re in the way, I’m sorry. Just get out of the way because I’m getting that ball.”
Hassell was Georgia’s No. 2 rebounder behind freshman guard Shacobia Barbee (5.7 a game) until Hassell’s three-game outburst raised her average from 5.2 a game to the current 6.1 a game.
“It takes the heat off if she’s rebounding,” Landers said. “If we don’t rebound, then they get the ball back and we’ve got to turn right back around and play defense again. The second thing it does is it gives us a chance to get out on the floor and run a little bit because our guards are already out there and poised and ready to go. Rebounding is something that we’ve talked about and worked on since Jaz got here. So let’s give credit where credit is due. It’s something that she realized a couple of weeks ago, that she wanted to address and was going to benefit our basketball team. At the time we weren’t playing as well and rebounding was part of it.”
Much of Hassell’s sense of urgency has come from the impending end of the regular season and the final postseason for the Lady Bulldogs’ big group of seniors.
“Whatever I have left, I might as well leave it all on the floor because I can’t take it with me,” Hassell said. “I’m not complacent right now. I don’t want to be complacent right now because we haven’t done the things we wanted to do as a class. We haven’t won the SEC. We haven’t made it past the Sweet 16. We haven’t been to the Final Four. Those are goals that we haven’t accomplished yet and we’ve only got one more shot.”
Arkansas at Georgia
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Stegeman Coliseum
Radio: WRFC 960-AM.
Records: Georgia is 20-4, 9-3 in the SEC; Arkansas is 17-8, 4-8.
Rankings: Georgia is No. 13, Arkansas is unranked.
Probable starting lineups: Arkansas: G Calli Berna (So., 5-10, 7.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg); G Dominique Wilson (Fr, 5-8, 6.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg); F Keira Peak (Jr., 5-9, 9.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg); F Quistelle Williams (Sr., 6-1, 10.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg); F Jhasmin Bowen (So., 6-1 7.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg). Georgia: G Jasmine James (Sr., 5-9, 11.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg); G Khaalidah Miller (Jr., 5-9, 9.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg); G Shacobia Barbee (Fr., 5-10, 6.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg); F Anne Marie Armstrong (Sr., 6-3, 7.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg); F Jasmine Hassell (Sr., 6-2, 12.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg).
Series record: Georgia leads 27-4, including 12-2 in Athens.
Last meeting: Georgia beat Arkansas 57-53 on Jan. 17 in Fayetteville.
Season at a glance: Georgia beat Florida 62-57 on Sunday and has won five of its last six. Arkansas has won two straight and beat Missouri 61-40 on Sunday.
Noteworthy: Jasmine Hassell is the first Georgia player to have three straight double-doubles since Tasha Humphrey in 2007-08. … Andy Landers is two wins away from No. 900 in his career. … Georgia trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half and 13 in the second half but rallied to beat Arkansas by four in their first meeting this season. … Georgia has rallied from double-figure deficits to win on the road. … Arkansas’ leading scorer is Sarah Watkins, who comes off of the bench to score 13.1 points a game. … Arkansas has two starters from Georgia. Dominique Wilson is from Powder Springs and Keira Peak is from Clyattville.