Tuesday, March 23, 1999

Georgia coach hopes to take 5th

Landers has lost 4 times in Final Four

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Georgia coach Andy Landers has been there, but not won that. The Final Four, that is.

        And now that he's made it for the fifth time as a coach, the 46-year-old Landers makes no secret of his desire to win it all. The closest Georgia has come are runner-up finishes in 1985 and '96.

        “Is it important to me? Yeah,” Landers said of an NCAA title. “It was important the first time and it is important this time. It's something that we want to do and I think it's something we're going to do.”

        Maybe not this year, as the Lady Bulldogs were a No. 3 Mideast Region seed and will be a Final Four underdog. But someday, Landers (486-147 in 20 years at Georgia) wants to be the last team standing.

        Landers, a sideline fireball who also pulls no punches with reporters, offered some perspective in a postgame press conference Monday. Speaking calmly but bluntly, he said his legacy may not depend on the NCAA title.

        “Dean Smith is a legend, but before he was a legend he got hung in his front yard in effigy. He lost all those Final Fours and he was a big-time loser. (Bob) Knight used to be a genius, and he's not any more because he loses. That's part of coaching.

        “When you look at it, how many people are going to win the national championship? I'm realistic. ... But not very many people are gonna go five times (to the Final Final are gonna go five times (to the Final Four). I'm pleased that we've gone five times, but I'm not satisfied that we haven't won the national championship.”

        Landers has taken Georgia to the Final Four in 1983, '85, '95, '96, and now '99. His program generally has run second in the powerful Southeastern Conference to six-time national champion Tennessee. Someone mentioned that Tennessee has become such a “given” in tournament play, when Landers interrupted.

        “Everybody else in the country thinks that. Georgia doesn't,” Landers said. “We'll compete with Tennessee. We've won like six SEC titles and they've won eight. They don't bother us.”

        At that moment, Tennessee was losing to Duke on a nearby television. The Blue Devils upset the Vols 69-63.

        “You're the one saying they're a given. They're down to Duke by 11,” Landers said.

        Landers said the worst thing that can happen to a program is to take a superstar player to the Final Four. That happened the last time in 1996, when national Player of the Year Saudia Roundtree was tugged this way and that by the media.

        Georgia senior Pam Irwin- Osbolt, the only remaining member of the '96 Georgia Final Four team, said she can better savor the moment this time.

        “It's really great this time, because we were not expected to be here,” Irwin-Osbolt said. “We worked our way in. My freshman year, I think we were ranked No. 1 and we were supposed to get there.”


Women's Stories
Women's game passes the test
Louisiana Tech 88, UCLA 62
PURDUE 75, RUTGERS 62 Down by 10? No problem for Boilermakers
- Georgia coach hopes to take 5th