Georgia-Texas A&M Preview
Sydney Colson and Sydney Carter are two of the most important pieces in Texas A&M's success this season.
When coach Gary Blair contemplated what he'd do if he had to choose having one guard over the other, he simply couldn't do it.
''Decide between, my best defensive player, a kid that never quits, or the point guard that you know will win for you,'' he said. ''That would've been a tough choice. Thank heavens I didn't have to do that.''
Luckily Blair and the second-seeded Aggies will have the pair for at least one more game as Colson, a senior, and the junior Carter prepare for Sunday's Dallas Regional semifinal against Georgia (23-10).
''I don't know if I'll ever have another pair like them,'' Blair said. ''I'm just very fortunate that they're not the same year, so I will always have the transition of replacing one, then the other.''
Danielle Adams, who leads the Aggies (29-5) and the Big 12 with 22.7 points a game, credits the work of the pair as a big reason for her success this season.
''They're amazing,'' Adams said. ''Carter is the defensive monster ... and Colson is our energy player. When she gets into transition, you've got to find a way to run with her somehow.''
Colson, whose 485 career assists rank fourth in A&M history, loves dishing it to Adams. Adams is a unique center in that she is also a threat from behind the 3-point line and has hit 39 from long-range this season.
''It's funny to me because a lot of times if she's not down there by the time the other four are down there and I think that the other team has forgotten about her trailing,'' Colson said. ''Then I turn around and she's right there for a 3 and I'm like: 'Oh sweet, they forgot about her.'''
It's unlikely that coach Andy Landers' team will forget about Adams at any point. The longtime Georgia coach made sure to remind his players that she's not the typical post player who relies almost solely on scoring in the lane.
''You've got to pick this kid up,'' Landers said. ''You're talking to your defensive players ... about getting back because Texas A&M wants to run on you. And then maybe for the first time all year you're telling (them): 'Oh, by the way, now get back up to the 3-point line and catch this kid before she catches the basketball or puts the shot up.' So that's where it's tricky.''
Colson and Carter know the Lady Bulldogs have a very good point guard in Jasmine James, who's averaging 12.3 points a game. Her three-point play with 2.9 seconds left gave Georgia a 61-59 win over Florida State and a trip to the round of 16.
Carter, Texas A&M's best defender who will be tasked with guarding her, describes the matchup of guards as ''quick is about to meet quick.''
''She does a really good job of running her team, and I think their guards do a great job of attacking,'' said Carter, who averages 10.3 points a game. ''They kind of play the same style we play ... and it's going to be a matter of who is tougher than who.''
The Aggies are looking for a win to return to the regional final for the second time and the first since 2008. They want another shot at top-seeded Baylor which faces Wisconsin-Green Bay in the other Dallas game.
To do that they'll have to go through a Georgia team that Landers has in the round of 16 for the 19th time.
This will be the first meeting between these teams, but Blair and Landers have competed against each other for years when Blair coached at Arkansas from 1993-2003.
''Landers is one of the - might be the best coach in the country that has not won a national championship,'' Blair said.
Blair hasn't fared well against Landers, going 1-13, but the Georgia coach doesn't think that history will have any bearing on Sunday's matchup.
''Different time, different place, different circumstances, different teams,'' Landers said. ''I think Gary, without question, has the best basketball team that he will have had that we will play against. This team is a better basketball team than any of those that he had at Arkansas.''