ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia coach Andy Landers challenged his team before the season to recapture the toughness and attitude that had been trademarks of his Lady Bulldogs squads of the past.
What he didn't have in mind is repeating the history of 1994, the last season Georgia was left out of the NCAA Tournament.
Instead of playing like the team capable of making a run to the Final Four when it began the season 13-0, Georgia needs to build its tournament resume in the next five weeks.
"If you played at Georgia, you might think the tournament is a given," said Landers, who has coached teams into 24 of the 26 women's NCAA Tournaments. "That's something we've worked really, really hard for in the past. It's not a given. The tournament is in jeopardy today."
That's the harsh reality for the Lady Bulldogs (16-5, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) after dropping five of eight games heading into today's game against Vanderbilt (15-6, 4-2).
Vanderbilt jumped out to a 16-0 lead against Georgia en route to a 67-59 victory in Nashville on Jan. 17. After Thursday night's 47-44 loss to Kentucky, Georgia finished 4-5 in January, only the third losing month in Landers' 29 seasons.
"Some people interpret reality and the truth as negativity," Landers said. "It isn't. It might have negative connotation, but that can also be very motivating."
Reach Marc Weiszer at email@example.com.