Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Lady Dogs lose another assistant

Friday June 1, 2007

On the eve of Andy Landers entering the women’s basketball Hall of Fame later this month, his staff is facing some serious turnover. Assistant Brenda Hill resigned to take a local high school job which would keep her off the recruiting trail and at home with her daughters. Now we learn of another departure.

The ABH today confirms a rumor that I had heard about assistant coach Katie Gilbert not returning next season. The report claims that her contract was not renewed, and we all know what that means.

Though I don’t claim to have any day-to-day insights on the program, this move really stinks on the surface. It’s one thing for a coach to move on as Hill did, but it’s another for one to be let go. Gilbert had two primary responsibilities: scouting/preparation and guard play. From what I had seen in pregame scouting reports and shootarounds, she was more than competent at scouting and preparing the team for each opponent. Guard play has carried the team for the past several years; this most recent backcourt produced a WNBA draft pick and the SEC Freshman of the Year. Not bad.

Again, there might have been something behind the scenes that led the athletic department not to renew her contract, but from the stands it didn’t seem to be performance-related. Was the change “suggested” to Landers by Carla Green Williams or Damon Evans? It’s true that the program has stagnated recently and slipped to “only” a Sweet 16 program. It’s now been eight seasons since the last Final Four appearance. Recruiting was also getting scrutiny. In such situations, assistants are often leaned on and asked to do more. Gilbert might have had other priorities and resisted additional responsibilities or demands on her time. That’s her right, but it can also create an incompatibility with the objectives of the program. Perhaps such a drastic shakeup of the staff was necessary to give the program the kick it needs.

The reaction from the boosters will be interesting. They are the fans closest to the program and provide its strongest support both financially and in the stands. Through her pregame chalk talks, Katie was the staff to many of the boosters. She’ll be missed. As a devoted mother married to a local dairy farmer, she’s not the traditional job-hopping assistant. I believe she’s exploring other options in the Athens area.

With the Hall of Fame induction coming up, it should be a relatively light and celebratory time not only for Landers but for Georgia women’s basketball. This news casts a bit of a shadow on things for me. Let’s face it – the recent track record on the bench hasn’t been great. Gilbert was in my eyes the strongest assistant. Brenda Hill wasn’t a standout. The loss of Michael Shafer was inevitable, but his replacement didn’t last the summer. Now only the relatively inexperienced La’Keisha Frett remains, and even she might have her eyes set on the next rung of the coaching ladder. Heading into his first season as a “Hall of Fame coach”, Landers will have a short time to synthesize a new staff that must come together quickly as the window of opportunity in the Tasha Humphrey era gets smaller and smaller.

Comments are closed.