The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

December 18, 2013

SEC set to flex women's hoops muscle this weekend

(Continued)

Georgia coach Andy Landers doesn't believe Final Four appearances accurately measure a conference's strength. He prefers to look at a conference's overall depth. The SEC received seven NCAA tournament bids last season and eight in 2012.

Landers said the league might be even deeper this year.

"I think by the end of this year, there could be three or four you could kind of group together" at the top, Landers said. "Then you go to the middle and there are probably going to be more in the middle than there were last year — a greater number of teams you'd group as somewhat even. And I think the gap between those and the No. 1, 2 or 3 team in the league is going to be smaller."

Landers has seen many of the highs and lows in SEC women's basketball history because he's coached Georgia since 1979. He was there when the SEC sent multiple teams to the Final Four. His Georgia program also was one of only four SEC teams to reach the NCAA tournament in 2011.

He believes the SEC is back on the upswing.

"I think our league over a three-year period has started to come back," Landers said. "It isn't quite back to where it was in the late '80s and the '90s, but it's on its way back. It's going to get back. It's much better this year than it was three years ago. It may be too early to say, but it's probably better this year than it was a year ago. I think there are better players in the league, and they're spread out. They're not all on one or two teams."

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