“Hey, I’m trying to come,” was the text assistant head coach Karen Lange received around 5 p.m. Thursday from head coach Joni Taylor.
The Lady Bulldogs defeated Arkansas for a second time this season at home 93-83, but having Taylor courtside was not expected. Taylor gave birth to her second daughter less than 12 hours after coaching the ladies on Monday. Her presence at the game was not expected by the ladies, and they did not know that she was coming until she joined them on the court for the national anthem.
“Just to see her was exciting for us… We know we needed her. She brought spark and energy on the bench. Every time I made a good pass I pointed to her… she’s just the hype man for us,” Caliya Robinson said.
Lange added that having Taylor there supporting the girls was like “having mom there.” She referred to herself and the other assistants as aunts and uncles, but that Taylor was the core of the family, and having her at the game Thursday helped the ladies.
“I think it’s a calming factor for them for her to be present on the bench. And I think that was the only reason that she showed up. It had nothing to do with she didn’t feel like we would be capable of being successful tonight without her being here. I think it’s simply she wanted to be here and show up for her team,” Lange said.
Even though Taylor’s presence was still important for the girls, Taylor joined the huddle during timeouts, Lange filled the position as head coach against the Razorbacks. The ladies respect her as a coach, just as they do Taylor.
Lange has over two decades of playing and coaching experience and joined Georgia’s coaching staff in April 2015. She was a point guard at the University of Iowa, and was named All-Big Ten as a senior in 1996.
The ladies did not seem to care about the coaching change.
“Everybody has a role on our coaching staff… Everybody talks, everybody coaches,” Robinson said.
Robinson had 11 rebounds Thursday, breaking 200 rebounds on the season. She did this two other seasons in her career. Robinson also scored 21 points, making Thursday night the sixth 20-point game in her senior season.
The Bulldogs did struggle again tonight with 16 turnovers, but their 51% shooting percentage allowed for them to make up for this, as well as their 21 free throws scored.
Lange mentioned the game against Auburn in which Georgia had 28 turnovers. This game has served as a benchmark in their season, and even though they have lost since Auburn, Lange said that they have improved as a team since this loss.
Georgia will travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Sunday to face Alabama after losing to them once already this season. Taja Cole was not able to compete during that game due to breaking a team rule, but will be on the court Sunday.
“I know [Cole] wants to avenge her inability to play in that game and us losing,” Lange said. “What I like about our team right now, which I think will help our team going into Tuscaloosa, is I think we are confident… and I think we are really starting to believe in each other.”