What is a national analyst's perception of the Lady Bulldogs? Ask Steffi Sorensen.
Georgia carries an experienced roster into a new season, but it finished around the bottom half of the SEC last year. How does women's hoops analyst Steffi Sorensen view the program?
Steffi Sorensen readies herself to cover another season of college women’s basketball with some uncertainty. She doesn’t quite know where she’ll end up.
Sorensen’s expertise on the sport might be found in studio, in a sideline capacity or in the broadcast booth. Honestly, it’ll probably be in every capacity possible. It depends on the day.
”I’ll go wherever they put me,” the SEC Network and ESPN personality said.
Wherever you see Sorensen, she will be immersed in the game. She covers every league across the sport. The sweet spot for the former Florida Gator, however is in the SEC. She knows the league inside and out and has an idea of what every team has to offer.
Georgia opens its season Wednesday at Mercer (6 p.m., ESPN+). It launches a 25-game slate in which the Lady Bulldogs hope to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2018.
Sorensen spoke with the Lady Bulldogs Report at length about the league and broke down each team. In this question-and-answer session, let’s chat about Georgia specifically.
Q: Georgia has its core in place and returns senior leadership. What are your expectations for the team this season?
A: I really like Georgia and probably had them seventh or eighth (in my media poll) based on their schedule. Jenna (Staiti) had such a great year at the end. It pained me to see everything get shut down, because she became 20 and 10 for them every night.
They're a bit more experienced and that big freshman class now are sophomores. I'm looking forward to seeing what they do. That core group of returners, it helps when you have four starters back. Gabby (Connally) and Jenna can continue to build, Maya (Caldwell) is in good shape and Que (Morrison) is getting better.
Q: Where do you think Georgia needs to improve this season to elevate overall play?
A: I like the fact that Joni (Taylor) wants to speed up things a little bit and get structure in the transition. There were times when Georgia could get out and run, but they just weren't making layups. They weren't executing offensively the way Joni wanted.
They have this offense with more structure. They won't be just free-handing it. I'm excited to see how that looks, especially if they're in good shape. They're headed in the right direction.
Q: Are there any younger players or members of the supporting cast who you liked and think can be more influential this season?
A: I like Jordan Isaacs. She can get better with the energy that she played with. Chloe (Chapman) is an interesting bird because she comes from the soccer world. Maybe Malury Bates, too, because she has a good bit of potential there. Joni said she had a good offseason in growing her offensive game. Maybe she can insert herself as one of the key pieces for Georgia.
I'm going to go back to the two players who really steered the ship — Gabby and Jenna. They both have really good years. If Jenna can be focused each game, do it through the whole season and be more consistent, that'll only help. Gabby had so much on her with injuries and she has been kind of inconsistent because of injuries and players in flux. I think seeing those two being consistent is key, but be on the lookout with somebody like Chloe, Maya (Caldwell), Jordan or Malury Bates coming in and stepping up to the forefront.
Q: Do you feel like Georgia is inching closer to returning to its accustomed spot — consistently in the upper tier of the league?
The league is changing. It was so physical with post-dominant play, rebounding and defense. That was Andy Landers' M-O. I knew I was going to get beat up when I played Georgia. That's still the case. You know that when you cut through the lane, you're going to get hit.
I think defensively, they always hold it down and can probably close the gap a bit more. They need to get 12 or 13 more points per game. That's only five or six of those made layups. If the efficiency can get there, it's big. Georgia's always a team that no one wants to play. Once you add scoring in a more efficient way, they can be a sneaky team, based on who they return and how they play defense. They can rely on that, but it's an offensive-minded game now and they need more points.
The league and the game is guard-centric, fast-paced, getting to the rim and shooting 3s. It's about offensive firepower. Georgia has to close that gap. If they score 70 or 75, they're in that sweet spot, because they get down in the trenches with anybody defensively. That's the difference. For fans who are like 'How do we get back?' You look at South Carolina, they can defend but scoring 80 to 85 points. You need more points, and for Georgia, it's about getting to that number. The Pat Summitt, Nell Fortner and Andy Landers era was buckle down, grind and first to 50. Not the way it rolls anymore.