Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Landers Cements Place in History


Stegeman Coliseum witnessed history on Tuesday night, as Georgia's Andy Landers became only the eighth head coach in basketball history – men's or women's – to record 800 wins at one Division I institution.

Landers, now in his 34th season as Lady Dawgs head coach, joined a list including women's head coaches Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma and men's coaches such as Mike Krzyzewski and Dean Smith. Landers, who is still the only full-time women’s basketball coach the University of Georgia has ever had, focused on the sacrifices his family has made through the years for him to reach this milestone.

“I’ve been very blessed the last 34 years, and I want to thank my wife, Pam; my son, Drew; and my daughter, Andrea, for sacrificing and allowing me to do something that I’ve really enjoyed,” Landers said. “Tomorrow we take off for New Mexico and it will be the 33rd out of 34 years that I’ll be away from the family on Thanksgiving. They’ve just been terrific, especially Pam and her support.”

Landers, whose career win mark now stands at 882 after winning 82 games at Roane State prior to coming to Georgia, has been keen to deflect attention away from the achievement in the days leading up to the game. Even after his players wrote 799 on a white board in the team's locker room after defeating Belmont this past Sunday, Landers remained focused on the task in hand. However, after defeating Savannah State 94-57, Landers took a moment to credit his current and past players and assistant coaches for the role they have played in his success.

“I want to thank this group behind me who I hope you’re enjoying because, as coaches, we’re really enjoying working with them. This isn’t something that I’ve done; it’s something that we’ve all done. I’ve been blessed with terrific assistant coaches through the years,” Landers said. “It is not about me. It’s something we can share with everyone who’s touched our program the past 34 years. We’re in a place where the administration thinks women’s basketball is very important, and we’re very thankful for that.”

Never one for clich├ęs, Landers said that, regardless of anything, winning is important. He still has been proud of the way his program has gone about each of the 800 wins.

“Someone once said that it’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game. It matters whether you win or lose, and it matters in life whether we win. We’ve been fortunate to do that, but it also matters how you play the game,” Landers said. “I think what I appreciate and what I’m proudest of is not the wins, but how we’ve played the game. We have done it the right way and done it with classy kids. Our kids have graduated, and it’s just been a wonderful experience that I hope you appreciate that because I can’t tell you how much we’ve appreciated you through the years. Thank you very much.”

An indication of the immense achievement Landers cemented Tuesday night is that combined the other 13 SEC coaches own 954 wins at their respective institutions. Next on the list of milestones for Landers to achieve is career victory 900, a mark he is now only 18 wins shy of reaching.

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