Landers Shares Memories Of Coaching Mattox

University of Georgia women's basketball coach Andy Landers is in town this past weekend for the induction of former Georgia star Teresa Edwards into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He was at Mohegan Sun Saturday, and took a few moments to talk about another one of his former stars, current Connecticut Sun assistant coach Bernadette Mattox. Mattox has the distinction of being both the first All American and the first Academic All American in the history of the Georgia women's basketball program.

How would you describe Bernadette as a player at Georgia?
“The amazing thing about her, she averaged 21 points, 20 points per game in her first year at Georgia, her junior year at Georgia. But by her senior year, she was third in steals in the country. She was a terrific defender. She could do it all.”

What kind of impact did she have on your program?
“I affectionately refer to her as the first lady of Georgia Basketball because that’s what she is. This was a program that had never won, and when she came there, we won immediately. The second year, we won the NIT. She got us off on the right foot. As a player, she was the best recruiter that I’ve ever had. Teresa Edwards goes into the Hall of Fame (this weekend). Bernadette is responsible for the recruitment of Teresa Edwards. As an assistant coach, she was effective in every way. As a recruiter, she helped get a lot of great players to Georgia. But also, she was a great peacemaker and really handled things off the court very, very well. I am confident when I say Georgia Basketball would not be what it is today had it not been for her.”

You actually recruited her when you were coaching at a Roane State Community College. How did that come about?
“She had played at a high school about three counties removed from the junior college that I coached at, and she was a great player. The problem is, they were playing six-on-six. They didn’t cross the half-court line. But she was a terrific offensive player, scored in the 20s, had great quickness. But she never guarded anybody. She had a twin sister who was on the defensive end guarding everybody and Bernadette was on the offensive end shooting every time.”

And then she followed you to Georgia?
“When I took the job at Georgia, that was a no-brainer. The first person I recruited to go with me was Bernadette. I was convinced that if I could get the job, and if I could talk her into going there with me, we’d have a shot at winning. She was just that good. She could carry a program.”

Were you surprised she went into coaching?
“No. She’s got terrific people skills. She sincerely cares about people, especially young people. When young people meet her, they are drawn to that right away. She is a terrific role model, terrific confidant, advisor, you name it.”

If you were to give any advice to some of the younger players she is coaching today, what would it be?
“Listen. She’s been around so much. This is also the first woman to assist an NCAA men’s basketball program. And it wasn’t just any program. It was the University of Kentucky for crying out loud. Her experiences are vast. The only time she would ask someone to do something is when it is in their best interest. So listen.”