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Post Young and old combine to lead Lady Dogs to the Sweet 16

Wednesday March 24, 2010

After less than two days home to catch up on classes (not to mention laundry), the Lady Dogs will head back west later today to prepare for Saturday’s Sweet 16 showdown with Stanford.

Georgia advanced to the regional semis with Monday’s 74-71 overtime win against Oklahoma State. Georgia’s first tournament win against Tulane was all about the seniors, but Monday night’s win saw Georgia’s top freshman leave her impression on this tournament. Angel Robinson once again came up with big plays and clutch free throws, especially in the second half. Jasmine James, who hadn’t hit an outside shot all night, came up with two huge three-pointers in overtime and then drained eight straight free throws to give Georgia just enough margin to get past a tough OSU team.

It was a bit like Georgia’s January win over Kentucky – James shot just 3-12 all night and hadn’t scored from outside, but she had the courage to fire a three-pointer in overtime that swung the game Georgia’s way. Coach and teammates all credit James’s even keel and playing with “no fear,” and Coach Landers explains that her temperament gives her “the chance to have the kind of year she has had as a freshman.”

The upcoming challenge of playing Stanford can’t be understated. UConn has set the standard for dominant programs this year, but Stanford isn’t far behind. A loss at Connecticut is the only blemish on Stanford’s record, and the Cardinal have simply rolled over everyone else on their schedule. Familiar top programs Rutgers, Tennessee, and Duke were destroyed by Stanford earlier this year. On Monday night Gonzaga upset Big 12 tournament champion Texas A&M to advance to the Sweet 16. The Zags were 31-point losers to Stanford back in November.

Though Georgia is back to winning basketball, they’ll still have to tighten up in many areas to have a chance against a balanced Stanford team. The Lady Dogs got off to a quick start against Oklahoma State, but scoring droughts again caught up to them and nearly cost them the game in regulation. James did well in overtime, but hopefully she comes out of the gate firing as well. The Lady Dogs will also need better production from the rest of the frontcourt: Phillips and Armstrong were a combined 2-14 against OSU, and Jasmine Hassell hasn’t had much of an impact in the tournament yet (though her playing time has been affected by Robinson’s strong play). Georgia also left 13 points at the free throw line and probably could have put the game away in the second half with better free throw shooting.

Defense and rebounding were solid. It seems funny to credit defense when an OSU player went for over 30 points, but Georgia actually did a quality job frustrating and challenging Amber Riley. She went much of the second half without a field goal, and Georgia held her to 9-of-31 shooting. We knew she was going to take a lot of shots, and shooting under 30% wasn’t going to get it done whether she shot 10, 30, or 60 times.

Stanford doesn’t have just one or two players who will get the bulk of attention from the defense; they have about five. They have one of the most versatile frontcourts in the nation. Leading scorer Nnemkadi Ogwumike hits nearly 63% of her shots from the forward position. Wing Kayla Pedersen shoots more than anyone on the team and, despite standing 6’4″, a third of her shots have come from beyond the arc. Those two will be tough, tough matchups for Phillips, Armstrong, and Mitchell. As if those two weren’t enough, senior center Jayne Appel is an imposing presence in the middle who can score, rebound, and block shots.

Stanford has a backcourt to keep anyone from paying too much attention to the forwards. Jeanette Pohlen leads the team in both assists and three-pointers made, and Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, averaging just 7.4 PPG during the season, erupted for 26 points in their most recent game. The good news is that, like Georgia, Stanford isn’t terribly deep. We’re not likely to be surprised by someone coming off the bench to have the game of their life. But the challenge of matching up against their starting five is plenty tough enough. For all that firepower on offense, they’re also allowing just 54.1 PPG by opponents.

Georgia will take on Stanford at 9:04 Saturday night in Sacramento. We’re lucky – that’s the early game…the second Sacramento game will be ending somewhere around 1:30 in the morning.

One Response to 'Young and old combine to lead Lady Dogs to the Sweet 16'

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  • That is a great article. You are a great American and a great Bulldog writer, not because of how you say things in a positive light – but, because you talk about what is important.

    I’ve not understood why Andy Landers with 750 wins, 18 Sweet 16, 5 Final 4, can have a team who cannot shoot any better than we do. 2 point guards play and neither is a shooting guard. One would not think we can get past Stanford.

    Sweet 16 Men’s and Women’s :

    NCAA Tournament Action :

    SEC 14-4
    ACC 9-9

    SEC Men 4-2
    ACC Men 5-5

    SEC Women 10-2
    ACC Women 4-4

    ACC has neither a winning record in NCAA Tourney Men
    ACC has neither a winning record in NCAA Tourney Women

    SEC has winning record in BOTH NCAA Tourney Men & Women.

    SEC is kicking the butts of ACC in basketball, again.

    Tonight we have Kentucky playing Cornell, and Cornell beat the crap out of Wisconsin by 20 points.