Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

SEC Report: Georgia's Jasmine James Puts the Bite in the Bulldogs

(Guru's note: Here's the latest installment of Mike Siroky's SEC Coverage. Due to the Guru's inability to post a picture of Jasmine here, using shameless creative cross-promotion you can view one sent from Georgia athletics over in the local PhilahoopsW blog and if you haven't been there, you can see what the Guru is doing with local coverage here in the region.

By Mike Siroky

As she looks back at a career well-played and the immediate future of a senior season of accomplishments yet to come, Georgia basketball’s
Jasmine James is satisfied she and her classmates have done their best.


“When we came in, there were seven of us and we all knew what Georgia meant,” James said.

“We knew if we stuck together, this could be special.”

And it has been.

The ‘Dawgs are well on their way to a succession of four 20-wins seasons, 13-2 this year, and that means another NCAA invite – 19 straight -- no matter how the conference plays out.

They started the league season by welcoming Missouri to the conference with a 77-46 win. They went on the road and lost again to Tennessee, 79-66.

Georgia has won just one of its last 14 meetings with Tennessee and has lost its last 11 games to the Lady Vols in Knoxville by an average margin of 24.7 points.

For her career, James has has 1237 points, 346 career assists, 226 career steals. If she leads her team in assists and steals for a third straight season, she will become only the fourth player in school history to do that. She has 10 double-doubles already this season. She is also on the conference Academic Honor Roll.

Traditions

Andy Landers is 10 wins away from 900 coaching victories.

When a traditional coach meets a player setting new traditions, it is a happy moment.

Landers has actually mellowed on the sidelines through the years, perhaps satisfied now that he has coached more SEC games than any other coach.

“He used to yell a lot more,” James said with a little laugh in her voice.

“But then I realized he was trying just to make us better, he wasn’t yelling at us. He was encouraging us.”

From that, from her freshman year onward, James has also learned to pass along those Georgia traditions.

“First, I lead by example because if you don’t show you can do it, who is going to listen,” James said. “If you don’t do it, there is not much you can say to get people to follow you.”

She had that leadership supplied to her when she started out.

An example is weight training; many female athletes do not experience that until they hit college.

“Oh absolutely, for me ,” James said. “It’s 100 percent true for me, I wish someone in high school woulda explained what weights can do, woulda made me do it then. I am in so much better shape, a much better athlete because of our training.”

So she tells the rookies to hit the gym.

Another example of all the conditioning work happened last season when she twice tweaked a knee and missed time.

“I tweaked it a little right before (Christmas) break,” James said. “I came back and tweaked it again and missed five or six more games.”

While it could be argued those missed game impacted the season and cost the Bulldogs a shot at another league title, James did come back at least one game early form the second incident because a teammate had been conked in the head and she would not stay on the bench if her team needed her.

Traditions: Leading by doing

“While I was worried when it happened again, I trusted the training staff,” James said. “They would have not let me even dress out if there was a chance I was not ready.”

That kind of confidence in her coach and her team leads to confidence.

“I can go all-out because I know whoever is on the bench will not let the level of play fall,” James said. “If I need a quick break, I am confident in whoever is in there.”

So this senior class plans to leave a marker in the traditions.

“Going into the SEC season the group as a whole will be able to carry the team as well as let them carry us,” James said.

It is why she came to Georgia in the first place, a Memphis child of rival state Tennessee.

“The whole SEC used to be all within six hours of home for me,” James said.

The additions of Texas A&M and Missouri have extended that some. “It used to be a regional thing, all right around here,” James said.

“My parents have been at all of my games. I wanted to play somewhere to make sure of that.”

Still, she doesn’t dwell on anything about the magical final season all seniors face.

“We talked about that in the pre-season,” James said. “This will be the last time we were at Tennessee, the last time at Kentucky, that sort of thing.

“But when I play, I just play. I don’t know my statistics.

“I will look at the stat sheet after the game and say ‘I didn’t know I did that.’ ”
But, surely, everyone else does.

THE LEAGUE’S RANKED TEAMS

•Quickly, No. 6 Kentucky still sets the pace at 2-0 in the league after easing into a road win at Alabama on Sunday. At 14-2 the ’Cats also have the nation’s best active win streak at 13.

Senior guard A’dia Mathies scored 17 and tied a career high with five 3-pointers, all in the second half against the Tide. The Wildcats have a much-anticipated match up at home with No. 24 Texas A&M this week. Both are 2-0 to open the SEC. It is UK’s only real challenge in the next five games.

•No. 9 Tennessee also does not have a challenging team in its next five games. The Lady Vols moved ahead of former No. 10 Georgia from No. 12 and become the second-highest ranked team in the league.

•No. 18 South Carolina stayed tied for the spot but won’t be that high anymore after splitting the opening league weekend, but they did end on a win, at lowly Mississippi State. It doesn’t get easier as they welcome in Vanderbilt and then go to Georgia this week.

•Arkansas had been ranked in the Top 25 but that is over now as it opened the SEC 0-2. Its latest loss was to Texas A&M, at home.

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