Katie Abrahamson-Henderson needs UGA girls’s basketball again in title hunt

The majestic limbs continued to sprout from there. Initially not aspiring to be a coach – she went to school with both sports activities administration or train physiology in thoughts – the choice to pursue a postgraduate diploma led to stays with Joanne Palombo-McCallie, first in Maine, later within the State of Michigan. She would additionally find yourself working for Invoice Fennelly at Iowa State.

Abrahamson-Henderson grew into her personal sapling together with her first head teaching stint main the Missouri State girls’s basketball program. From 2002 to 2007, the Woman Bears appeared in three NCAA tournaments and gained two convention titles and a WNIT championship.

A extremely profitable run at Albany that included 5 straight NCAA event bids landed Abrahamson-Henderson in Central Florida. There, she executed one of many nice turnovers in girls’s basketball, main the Knights to this system’s first American Athletic Convention title and a school-record successful 26-4 mark final season.

All of it introduced her again to Georgia all the best way. For the UGA athletic administration, Abrahamson-Henderson was a fast and apparent resolution to Joni Taylor’s shock determination to hitch Texas A&M after final season.

“Clearly I beloved it at UCF; I by no means wished to go away,” Abrahamson-Henderson stated. “However I by no means thought Joni was going to go away. Ever. Then it opened up, and I used to be like, ‘Oh my!’ It was bizarre and it was quick.

So there she sat final week, within the workplace most just lately occupied by Taylor however solely Landers earlier than that. Certainly one of Abrahamson-Henderson’s most prized new possessions is the Georgia No. 3 jersey the college gave her the day she was named head coach. The “3” symbolizes her because the third head coach in program historical past.

“Is not that wild? she says.

For now, the jersey remains to be folded on a shelf. Finally it is going to be framed, however there has not but been time to do such issues.

Abrahamson-Henderson has been in a relative dash for his introductory press conference March 26. There was quite a bit to do and there’s nonetheless quite a bit to do.

It is solely with the basketball program. By no means thoughts the true challenges of two ladies ending faculty in Orlando, promoting a home and discovering one other in Athens, transferring into faculties, and extra. In between was constructing a workers (she just about saved the identical from high to backside), recruiting, a signing interval, managing the outbound and inbound switch portal, operating a couple of camps and the planning and execution of low season coaching.

The 2022-23 Woman Bulldogs have now been assembled and prepare collectively on the coaching complicated. Lastly, it’s about what must occur on the bottom.

“Clearly I beloved it at UCF; I by no means wished to go away. However I by no means thought Joni (Taylor) was going to go away. Already. Then it opened up, and I used to be like, ‘Oh, my!’ It was bizarre and it was quick.”

Georgia coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson

“It has extra to do with the portal,” Abrahamson-Henderson stated of the blistering tempo. “It is an enormous change, and it forces all faculty coaches to adapt. That is why we have all been busy. It is soccer, basketball, all sports activities. Usually you are not so busy right now of yr.

Between the gamers who selected to remain at UGA, those that got here from UCF and people who got here from afar, it seems just like the Woman Bulldogs will as soon as once more be a pressure to be reckoned with. Their coach appears to have assembled a post-oriented staff with a very good mixture of expertise, ability and athletic means.

The place Abrahamson-Henderson would like to shine isn’t just getting Georgia into the playoffs, however competing for championships, each within the common season and in any other case. That is the place the Woman Bulldogs lagged underneath Taylor.

After a 26-7 marketing campaign that ended abruptly in a second-round loss on the 2018 NCAA Match, Georgia loved a string of fast exits within the “Massive Dance.” The Woman Bulldogs gained the SEC Match title in 2021 however could not get previous South Carolina within the championship recreation. Then they misplaced to Duke within the second spherical of the NCAA.

Georgia’s presence within the NCAA Match underneath Taylor was good, however in any other case the Woman Bulldogs had been simply an indistinguishable face within the SEC crowd that populates each playoff.

Abrahamson-Henderson’s angle to what constitutes success is totally different. By no means thoughts all these runs his groups made enjoying Georgia and Iowa. It was the battles fought and the championships gained within the second-tier conferences the place she coached that her aggressive spirit was shaped.

“My standpoint is totally different from that of lots of coaches,” she stated. “After I was at Albany, we needed to win every little thing to get in. It is the strain. … Identical factor at UCF. We might have two groups. It was about convention championships. Within the SEC, you would have seven, eight, 9 groups. So my mentality is a bit totally different.

“It’s going to by no means be, ‘OK, let’s simply be No. 8!'”

His groups mirrored that sentiment. In 17 seasons as head coach, Abrahamson-Henderson compiled a report of 372-157 (.703), averaged 22 wins per season, gained seven common season titles, 9 convention event crowns and earned 11 NCAA berths (14 complete postseason offers). ).

Does Georgia have the means to maintain such a tempo this yr? Abrahamson-Henderson cannot make sure, after all. However she loves the staff she has assembled in a short while.

The Bulldogs’ 15-man roster is full. It consists of 5 gamers who had been already in Georgia (Zoesha Smith, Chloe Chapman, Jordan Isaacs, Malury Bates and Javyn Nicholson), three UCF transfers (Diamond Battles, Brittney Smith and Alisha Lewis), switch from Texas Audrey Warren, switch from West Virginia Kari Niblack, Vanderbilt transfers De’Mauri Flournoy, and three extremely touted freshman signers (Stefanie Ingram, Fatima Diakhate and Amiya Evans).

It additionally features a extremely recruited prospect from Orlando’s high 50. This 6-foot-3 guard is Savannah Henderson, and he or she occurs to be the oldest daughter of Mike and Katie Henderson.

It is new, even for the 55-year-old Bulldogs coach.

“I used to be shocked that she wished to return right here,” Abrahamson-Henderson stated of her daughter. “She’s a wise child, and I advised her immediately that we had been going to recruit her in precisely the identical means as we do everybody else. The (assistant) coaches known as her; we stopped her to return to the workplace like she at all times had. We did a house go to presentation together with her. I used to be residence in a distinct room, and he or she and pa had been in one other room with our coaches and listening to this what they needed to say. …

“She made an excellent and good move. And God simply blessed us with a tall, lengthy, athletic guard who can play at this stage.

That is one other stunning circle during which Savannah Henderson started her faculty profession in the identical place as her mom. Now the duty is to convey this system again to the place it was earlier than.

Lengthy earlier than being “Coach ABE”, she performed in Georgia with Katrina McClain, Barbara Bootz, Lisa O’Connor and Teresa Edwards. The Bulldogs gained the SEC championship in its first season and misplaced solely seven video games in two seasons. That is the usual she envisions for Georgia girls’s basketball.

“We’re on the lookout for toughness, ,” Abrahamson-Henderson stated. “Laborious, aggressive, hustling, diving on free balls, these are the youngsters we’re on the lookout for. We’re simply placing the puzzle collectively. There’s been lots of situational assessments for a very long time. Now it is gotta go to play. “

As for that “ABE in all caps” factor, it is simply one thing the coach stated she simply did. She inherited it from her father, Lee Abrahamson, who performed basketball at Coe Faculty with eventual NBA championship coach Invoice Fitch. His is a basketball household, which incorporates an uncle who performed at Iowa State and one other who performed at Drake.

“They had been all basketball jerks, and everybody known as them ‘ABE’, all in caps. ABE, ABE, ABE,” she stated with amusing. “It is bizarre, and I do not know why.”

Its good. The aim now’s for “Coach ABE” to make a reputation for itself in Georgia.

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