Bulldogs Beat

Georgia fills women's basketball coaching job from within

ATHENS - After a long wait, Georgia has a new women’s basketball head coach, and program didn’t go far to get her.

Joni Crenshaw, a Georgia assistant since 2011, was promoted to head coach Sunday. She replaces Andy Landers, who ran the program for 36 years before stepping down March 16.

When Landers stepped down, the Georgia job was expected to draw a number of candidates, and the length of the search indicated a thorough process. Carla Williams, the school’s associate athletics director and a player for Landers, was heavily involved in the search.

But ultimately the school settled on Crenshaw, a former Alabama player who has a reputation as a strong recruiter.

“After a national search, it became evident that Joni was the perfect person to lead our program,” Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity said in a statement. “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.”

Georgia saw a streak of 20 consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament end this past season, a season that was marred by injuries. Under Landers, the Bulldogs made five Final Fours, including two appearances in the championship game. The Bulldogs made 31 NCAA tournament appearances under Landers, who was the first full-time head coach in the program’s history.

“Georgia basketball is in great hands,” Landers said in the statement. “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, a native of Meridian, Mississippi, played at Alabama from 1997-2001, starting two seasons. She had 716 career points, 555 rebounds and 103 blocked shots, the latter of which stands fourth all-time at Alabama.

Prior to joining Landers’ staff in 2011, she was an assistant at LSU (for the 2010-11 season), Alabama (from 2008-10), Louisiana Tech (2005-08) and Troy (2002-05).

“I am extremely honored to be the next coach at Georgia,” Crenshaw said. “I want to thank President (Jere) 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.”

Georgia’s release on Crenshaw’s hire highlighted her recruiting credentials, noting she helped Alabama and LSU land top-5 prospects, and that Alabama’s 2010 class ranked in the nation’s top 10.

Crenshaw is engaged to Duane Taylor, an assistant in the South Carolina women’s basketball program.