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.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Crenshaw Promoted to Succeed Andy Landers at Georgia

By Mike Siroky

The University of Georgia women’s basketball team did not stray far in its search for the latest coach to join the Southeastern conference.

She was already there.

Assistant coach Joni Crenshaw, a member of the Georgia staff for the past four seasons, including the last three as associate head coach, has been named the Lady Bulldogs' new head coach.

 Greg McGarity, the director of athletics, announced Crenshaw's appointment on Sunday. She makes it seven women coaching in the league.

Her choice was likely directed by outgoing coach Andy Landers and makes sense. It helps fans buy into continuity and the players certainly know the coach who recruited them. She has seen the success and --  this past season – what a key injury can do to wreck one.

The program considered assistants at several other schools – including Final Four teams from the most-recent tournament.

"After a national search, it became evident that Joni was the perfect person to lead our program," McGarity said. "Joni brings the intangibles that parallel success – character, experience and a tireless energy to lead our program. We are confident she will do a tremendous job leading Georgia basketball into the future."

"I am extremely honored to be the next coach at Georgia," Crenshaw said. "I want to thank President Morehead, Greg and Carla for trusting me with the program.

" I have been fortunate to have learned under a great coaching tree and have great mentors along the way. I want to thank Coach Landers for all that he has done for me since I have been under his tutelage. The trust and responsibility he gave me definitely prepared me for the next step in my career but more importantly his friendship means the world to me."

Crenshaw sports 13 seasons of coaching experience at the Division I level, the last seven within the Southeastern Conference. 

The Meridian, Miss., native joined the Georgia staff in 2011 and spent one season as an assistant coach before being promoted to associate head coach. 

Prior to arriving in Athens, Crenshaw coached at LSU from 2010-11, at Alabama from 2008-10, at Louisiana Tech from 2005-08 and at Troy from 2002-05.

During each of those coaching stops, Crenshaw has displayed the ability to both sign premier prospects and then help those recruits develop into highly successful players. 

In the Lady Bulldogs' four signing classes since Crenshaw's arrival, Georgia's 16 scholarship newcomers arrived on campus with a combined 18 high school state titles. That group also featured seven standouts ranked among the nation's top 100 prospects and included a quartet of state Player of the Year honorees.

Crenshaw helped Alabama and LSU land Top 5 individual prospects in the classes of 2010 and 2011, respectively, and also spearheaded the Crimson Tide’s recruiting class for 2010 that ranked among the nation’s top 10. 

She helped Lousiana Tech sign the 2006 Miss Basketball for both Alabama and Mississippi and Troy sign two future Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year honorees.

"Georgia Basketball is in great hands," Landers said. "Coach Crenshaw is a person who has deep-rooted values and morals, which are two of the cornerstones of Georgia Basketball's success. 

"Her appreciation for the total development of young women is second to none and her past experiences have prepared her for the challenges ahead. I am confident she will do extremely well. Joni has an excellent basketball IQ, is a tremendous recruiter and is a terrific people person, but above all else, she is someone who young people will aspire to play for and enjoy that same experience."

Crenshaw herself was a highly sought after basketball prospect. She was the 1997 Gatorade Player of the Year for Mississippi after leading Meridian High to a 67-7 record during her junior and senior seasons. She also won three state titles in track and field and was selected as the school’s Homecoming Queen.

At Alabama, Crenshaw was a significant contributor to four teams that reached post-season play – the 1998 and 1999 NCAA Tournaments and the 2000 and 2001 WNITs. She was a two-year starter and scored 716 points, grabbed 555 rebounds and blocked 103 shots, which is No. 4 among the Tide’s career leaders.

Crenshaw was a standout off the basketball court. She was recognized as one of the most influential African Americans on the Alabama campus in 2001, was named to the SEC’s Community Service team for women’s basketball in 1999, 2000 and 2001 and was awarded a post-graduate scholarship from the SEC for her community service record. She received her bachelor's degree in Education from Alabama in 2002.

And here’s a nice competition idea: She is engaged to marry Darius Taylor, an assistant coach for the South Carolina women's basketball team. Their wedding is Aug. 1.

She replaces, of course, the venerable Landers, who came to Georgia in 1979. 

For all his success, he was forever in the shadow of the legendary Pat Head Summitt. His Bulldogs made every NCAA tournament but one and he surpassed Summitt for NCAA appearances and SEC seasons in the past two years with her retirement. 

His teams had been ranked 522 weeks in the AP poll, the record for active coaches.

For our original report on his retirement: http://womhoops.blogspot.com/2015/03/mike-sirokys-sec-commentary-legendary.html


The other assistant coaches, Rob Mosely and Angie Johnson  (each with three seasons) seem assured of remaining in staff.

Among the returning player are a freshman and sophomore class from this year which are a solid foundation. 

Landers started playing more and more of them as the season deconstructed so all have plenty of playing time in the toughest conference is America.

The seniors will be Schacobia Barbee, Tiaria Griffin (11.4 points per game, started all 30 games), Merritt Hempe (7.5) and Marjorie Butler (4.8, started 27 games) and seldom-used Terryuana Godwin.
It was the loss of Barbee to a season-ending injury – a right leg bone break  -- with nine games to go, that really doomed the season. The team leader averaged 12.4 points and 6.9 rebounds game. 

The ‘Dawgs lost all direction after that, losing eight of the last nine in the regular season after starting the year in the Top 25. She was second-team all-conference her sophomore season. 

The new juniors are Hannahkohl Almire and Halle Washington.

The sophomores will be Haley Clark, Jasmine Carter, Krista Oliver and all-SEC freshman Mackenzie Engram (7.9, with 20 starts).

Non-roster players who will become eligible are 6-3 Samantha Gloddis, Sydnei McCaskill and Jasmine Carter and Nasheema Oliver 
   

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