It’s still strange to watch Tennessee women’s basketball and not see Pat Summitt on the sideline.
The SEC will be without another legend this year.
Georgia’s Andy Landers stepped down after 36 years in Athens, where he was the only full-time women’s coach the school ever had. The Lady Bulldogs were coached by part-time teachers before he arrived, and while the program had slipped a bit lately, Landers still won over 850 games in his career.
Georgia’s new coach is Joni (Crenshaw) Taylor, the Lady Dogs’ associate head coach the last three seasons. A standout player at Alabama, Taylor coached at LSU, Alabama, Louisiana Tech and Troy before joining Georgia.
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Now it’s her show.
“It’s still overwhelming,” she said at Thursday’s SEC Tipoff. “Your head’s still spinning.”
Taylor was married this summer to former South Carolina assistant coach Darius Taylor. He is prohibited from working with his wife due to Georgia’s state nepotism laws, but he’s started his own basketball program for boys and girls of all ages – “Inside-Out” training.
He could return to coaching someday.
“I think right now he’s very excited for what we’re doing at Georgia,” Joni Taylor said. “I would never probably close that door because he is a great coach and has a lot of knowledge.”
And speaking of …
Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said that Summitt is doing well. The all-time winningest coach in men’s or women’s college basketball stepped down after the 2011-12 season due to early on-set Alzheimer’s disease.
“Coach Summitt is doing fantastic,” said Warlick, who also said former players visit Summitt at least once per week. “She’s enjoying life.”
Kentucky’s Janee Thompson, who suffered a gruesome broken leg during a loss at USC last year, is doing fine. The Wildcats are still gently easing her back to full-go, but she’s practicing and feels great.
“We’re at the very end and right now we just have to help her be patient with the progress she’s making,” coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We expect her to be full-speed probably sometime before Christmas – maybe first game, maybe not.”
Texas A&M’s coach again charmed the room with tales of barbecue, baseball and redheads before answering what seemed to be a popular question – are you going to retire anytime soon?
Blair, 70, is in his 44th year of coaching. He has won 1,093 games over high school and college, and every one of his 695 collegiate head coaching wins came after age 40. The Aggies won the 2011 national championship.
He said he still has plenty left to give.
“Why retire if you’re good at what you’re doing?” he asked.