As I tweeted the other night, the job Coach Landers did adjusting the tempo and physicality of the Lady Dawgs defense to counter Stanford's ability to find open lanes was the best coaching I've seen out of him this season. Understand, I am no basketball expert, but it was easy to see an example of that when Stanford inbounded the ball down 4 with 23 seconds on the clock. It looked like Stanford really wanted to quickly drive the lane to get back within two, forcing Georgia handle their pressure on the inbounds or hit free throws to win.
Instead, the Lady Dawgs kept Stanford's guards from getting within a foot of the three point arc for two possessions and 18 seconds. When Stanford hit a three with 5.3 seconds left, the Lady Dawgs were prepared for the pressure, with James breaking long and catching a perfect 3/4 court pass. By the time Stanford got back down to foul, there was only .8 second left.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted that the Elite 8 was as far as Georgia could go, and would need the right matchups to get there. I was wrong. Coach Landers and his team did a great job handling a team that had only lost two games, one to UConn and one to the Cal team that Georgia will face tonight. The did so despite a particularly bad match up (strong guard play coupled with a talented and quick post player).
Can the Lady Dawgs beat Cal?
Georgia's strength is their physical play. They fight for every ball, every rebound and contest every shot. Tonight, we'll face a team that loves to play transition, which is a good match up for us if we score a little. Cal looks like Kentucky, the way they try to push the pace. We split with Kentucky, winning in Rupp in the regular season, but absolutely getting run out of the gym, only scoring 14 second half points, in the SEC tourney.
We won the other night despite going on scoring droughts of 5 minutes to open the game and two of four minutes in the middle of the second half. We did that because we had the defense to lock down Stanford (it was just 9-0 when we got on the board and Stanford only scored three points during the same 4 minute droughts). If we play the kind of defense we did in Rupp or the first half of the SEC tourney match up with Kentucky, we'll be in the ball game. If we don't, we'll likely head home.
For the first time in a while, I have confidence Coach Landers can have the Lady Dawgs ready to get it done.
Tip is 9:40 pm on ESPN.