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UGA names Landers’ successor as women’s basketball coach

The University of Georgia named Joni Crenshaw its women’s basketball head coach Sunday, making her just the second person to hold the position on a full-time basis in school history.

Crenshaw, a UGA assistant coach for the past four seasons, succeeds Andy Landers, who retired last month after 36 years as the Lady Bulldogs’ coach.

Before joining Landers’ staff, Crenshaw was an assistant coach at LSU (2010-11), Alabama (2008-10), Louisiana Tech (2005-08) and Troy (2002-05). She has no head-coaching experience. She has been Landers’ associate head coach the past three years.

Crenshaw, 36, was born in 1979, the same year Landers took over the Georgia women’s basketball program.

When Landers announced his retirement on March 16, UGA athletic director Greg McGarity said the school would conduct a national search for a new coach. In a prepared statement Sunday, McGarity said: “After a national search, it became evident that Joni was the perfect person to lead our program.” He cited her “character, experience and a tireless energy.”

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Georgia has scheduled a Monday afternoon news conference to formally introduce Crenshaw and to comment further on her hire.

Crenshaw played college basketball at Alabama from 1997-2001, starting two seasons for the Crimson Tide. Her 103 career blocked shots rank No. 4 on Alabama’s career list.

She was named the Gatorade player of the year for the state of Mississippi in 1997 after leading Meridian High School to a combined 67-7 record during her junior and senior years.

“I have been fortunate to have learned under a great coaching tree and have great mentors along the way,” Crenshaw said in a statement Sunday. “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.”

UGA’s announcement of Crenshaw’s promotion included this comment from Landers: “Georgia basketball is in great hands. … 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.”

Landers had an 862-299 record at Georgia, becoming one of seven college basketball coaches — men’s or women’s — to win 850 or more games at a single NCAA Division I school. The Lady Bulldogs’ streak of reaching 20 consecutive NCAA tournaments ended in Landers’ final season.

Before he became Georgia’s first full-time women’s basketball head coach on April 24, 1979, the fledgling program — six years old at the time — had gone through four different head coaches who also taught classes at UGA.

Crenshaw is engaged to marry Darius Taylor, an assistant women’s basketball coach for SEC rival South Carolina, in August.

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