Success of Georgia women's basketball due to trust of senior starters

Kathryn Skeean | The Red & BlackGeorgia senior Que Morrison (23) tells a teammate to move downcourt. The University of Georgia women’s basketball team beat No. 19 Arkansas 75-73 at the buzzer on Jan. 25, 2021, in Athens, Georgia.

In their fourth season together, Georgia women’s basketball’s four starting seniors have instilled a trust in each other that's consistently evident on the court.

Whether it’s Jenna Staiti, Gabby Connally, Que Morrison or Maya Caldwell, each bring a different element that has been key to Georgia’s success this season. Those four have established a system that is expected for the rest of the team to follow, said associate head coach Karen Lange.

“I think their collectiveness is because they trust each other,” Lange said. “I know what Gabby is going to do, I know what Que is going to do and we know what Maya is going to do. They know each other well enough and have played long enough. I think that definitely helps us with our success this season.”

At 6-foot-4, Staiti’s height and experience have made her the Bulldogs’ leading scorer averaging 14.7 points per game. Her presence inside the paint has allowed her to lead not only Georgia in blocks but the entire SEC with 43.

While Staiti shines inside, Connally occupies nearly everywhere else operating Georgia’s offense. Morrison has been the “heartbeat of the team” defensively, said head coach Joni Taylor. Morrison leads the Bulldogs with 29 steals and has shown her offensive value with 56 assists.

“I just know every time something goes bad or we turn the ball over, Que is going to be the one to get down there and get a charge or something,” Staiti said after Monday’s win against Arkansas. “Right from the tip, you know Que is going to give all that energy.”

There is also a reason why Jordan Isaacs is a part of the lineup despite not filling up the stat sheet. Despite only putting up an average of 4.5 points per game this season, Isaacs has been the energy that the seniors have needed.

Isaacs’ quick reflexes and ball focus are what allowed Connally to make the game-winning bucket against the Razorbacks after Isaacs secured the offensive rebound moments prior.

“Jordan does so many things from an energy standpoint, from a defensive rotation standpoint, and I think that is where she breaks off,” Lange said. “In the SEC, the four spot is one of the hardest to guard spots and Jordan is able to do that and that allows us to keep Jenna in the paint.”

Even Taylor said Isaacs is the glue of the team.

“I’ve said it from the beginning,” Taylor said. “[Isaacs] is our best defensive post player and she can run everybody’s position one through five. Sometimes in practice, she literally jumps to the guard line and runs the guard spots. She knows our entire offense. Her basketball IQ is through the roof.”

Everyone contributes differently,  but at the heart of it all is a desire to finish their final season together with the best possible outcome.

“I think that core group is just experience and its expectations and its hungriness to finish this senior year well for them,” Lange said. “This trickles down to the rest of the group.”

Printed with permission from The Red & Black independent student media organization based in Athens, Georgia; redandblack.com/sports

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