Katie Abrahamson-Henderson is building her own culture at UGA

Katie Abrahamson-Henderson brought her successful culture to Athens. It is already on full display for the Lady Dogs.

When Katie Abrahamson-Henderson returned to UGA in March, she knew she had big shoes to fill and needed to make an impact quickly.

Becoming just the third full-time head coach in the program’s history, Abrahamson-Henderson came to a program with a long-standing culture and high expectations. “Coach Abe” is already putting her own touches on that culture.

Katie Abrahamson-Henderson has already molded the UGA team to her liking

When Joni Taylor left, a lot of Georgia’s roster did, too. Between transfers and graduations, UGA lost its top five scorers from last season. Top recruit Janiah Barker opted to follow Taylor to Texas A&M.

It didn’t take long for Coach Abe to fill the roster back out.

She quickly brought in six transfers and four freshmen, essentially building the team how she wanted for year one. Not many coaches have that luxury.

Three of the transfers followed her from UCF: Diamond Battles, Alisha Lewis, and Brittney Smith. All three were key players on last season’s 26-4 squad. Battles won AAC Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Tournament MVP, and was a unanimous first-team All-AAC selection. Lewis led the team in assists and shot over 40 percent from deep. Smith won AAC Sixth Player of the Year.

Coach Abe also brought in two big names from the Big 12 in Audrey Warren and Kari Niblack. Warren was a key contributor on a Texas team that went to consecutive Elite Eights. Niblack received three All-Big 12 honorable mentions while at West Virginia.

Intraconference transfer De’Mauri Flournoy came back home to Georgia after a quiet freshman year at Vanderbilt. A former top-100 prospect, Flournoy should thrive under Abrahamson-Henderson sooner than later.

A few impact players decided to return to UGA as well. Seniors Javyn Nicholson, Malury Bates, Jordan Isaacs, and Chloe Chapman have played key roles again this season. Junior Zoesha Smith has been playing the best ball of her college career. Their returns filled out a very talented roster for Abrahamson-Henderson to work with.

Through 11 games, Abrahamson-Henderson has continued her winning ways

During her 17 years as a head coach, Coach Abe has racked up an impressive resume. She boasts a .703 win percentage and her teams average 22 wins per season. Her teams have won 16 conference championships and earned 14 postseason berths.

UGA is already nearly halfway to her 22-win average.

Sitting at 9-2, the Lady Dogs look hungry and eager to succeed and have taken on their coach’s identity already. They play aggressive, full-court defense from start to finish. Abe’s team is only giving up 56.2 points per game. One way they are limiting opponents is by forcing turnovers. The Lady Dogs force 19.8 turnovers per game. When opponents are able to get shots up, they only shoot 37 percent against UGA.

On offense, UGA is thriving through ball and player movement. They average 16.4 assists per game and have outscored opponents by 16 points per game. Abrahamson-Henderson’s players get after it on the boards, too, and have outrebounded their opponents by an average of 12 rebounds per game.

Coach Abe focuses on maintaining a ‘we, not me’ approach

Throughout her career, Abrahamson-Henderson has made it a point of emphasis that her teams are a sum of their parts, and all parts are of equal importance and value. She makes sure that every player, coach, staff member and fan knows their importance, and it shows. That mindset is reflected at every level of her team, from the way they defend to the way they support one another. It is the Coach Abe standard.

The importance of Abrahamson-Henderson’s “we, not me” approach cannot be overstated. When UGA takes the court, there’s a level of chemistry and trust among the players that is undeniable. It exudes during every play. They’re not perfect, but it is apparent that what Abe has in place works. She has already built a strong base for the future.

That mindset will keep Georgia in the mix for as long as Coach Abe is at the helm. It will attract recruits and transfers. It will be that intangible difference between the team being good and the team being great. For a school that has consistently been good but not great, it is exactly what they need.

It is what will ultimately elevate UGA to a yearly title contender. And that elevation will come soon.

Coach Abe still has to lead UGA through an SEC gauntlet. That is when the true tests will arrive. But part of being a great team is handling business against weaker teams, and Georgia has done that through ten games. The way they’ve done it should inspire optimism among fans.

Because it’s Coach Abe’s way. And it’s here to stay.

For more NCAA basketball news, analysis, opinion and features, check out more from the FanSided college basketball section to stay on top of the latest action.

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