By Lauren Mayo
The Georgia Lady Bulldogs defeated the Presbyterian College Blue Hose 45-30 on Sunday. The season opening win makes the No. 22 ranked Lady Bulldogs 5-0 against the Blue Hose. Though the defeat appeared to be a victory for the fans, the team felt that they demonstrated a lack of communication, ball pressure and efficiency.
“As a team, we just talked about it in the locker room,” said junior Erika Ford, who went 3-for-13 with one block and two steals. “We thought it was [a] pretty ugly win, but a win’s a win. We’ll take it.”
Sophomore Merritt Hempe and junior Krista Donald agreed that the team’s overall performance was lackluster.
“We didn’t have the focus that we needed to start off with,” Donald said.
In comparison to last year, the team now faces new challenges. After losing five seniors, the team was left with one senior, a young team, and an evolving team leadership. Last year, the Elite Eight team turned the Blue Hose inside out with 27 turnovers in their 66-38 victory.
“This is a survival game. Last year was more of a beat down,” coach Andy Landers said. “We got people sitting on the bench that ought to be playing.”
It was reported Nov. 2 that sophomores Marjorie Butler and Tiaria Griffin have been suspended for the first three games of the season for failure to adhere to the standards of the program. Sophomore standout Shacobia Barbee joined Butler and Griffin on the bench because Landers believed she too failed to meet the clear expectations he sets for his roster.
The absence of Butler, Griffin, and Barbee was definitely felt on the hardwood. Without the key players, Landers stated that developed combinations were majorly affected.
“Their teammates let them down by not being able to play today,” Landers said.
With a matchup against the Mercer Bears in less than a week, Landers has not released whether or not Barbee will suit up. Griffin and Butler will not.
The Bulldogs may be cast into a situation they should not be in, but they are in it nonetheless. Now they must focus on fundamentals, communication and creating an identity as a team.
“Last year we knew where we could hang our hats on,” Donald said. “[Now we need to focus on] knowing who we are individually and as a team, because right now we don’t know who’s what.”
All eyes look to veterans
“I would defintely consider myself a leader, especially in the post, just because we don’t have a lot of experience down there,” Hempe said.
Hempe led the team in scoring against Presbyterian with 10 points. Hempe credited Donald and Ford out on the perimeter for exemplifying leadership on the court. The team’s leading returning scorer, senior Khaalidah Miller, set a tone and an example for how things need to be. Miller continued to be the facilitator for Georgia with six assists, after leading the team with 133 assists last year.
The Lady Bulldogs will face the Mercer Bears Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum.