Oct. 15, 2012
Porsche Landry understands better than anyone the meaning of delayed gratification.
The Houston native and starting point guard on the women's basketball team came into her senior season a year ago looking to build on a First Team All-Conference USA campaign during a historic 2010-11 season for the Cougars.
Landry was a team leader on the court, pacing a talented squad in made field goals (171) and assists (129). Preseason All-Conference USA athlete was just the beginning of the honors Landry planned on earning last season.
However, Landry's high hopes would be postponed after only three games.
In a terrifying moment against Georgetown, Landry suffered a head and neck injury that would end her season. After being taken out on a stretcher, Landry stayed behind in a Washington D.C., hospital to receive treatment.
The hardest part of all of this for Landry was not the rehab she would have to go through to recover, not the possibility of not gaining a medical redshirt (which would enable her one last season as a Cougar) or even the difficulty of overcoming such an injury. For Landry, the hardest part was not being on the court.
"We had the young people coming in and we were trying to teach them, but it hurt me personally to not be able to show them how it's done or what to expect," Landry said.
Being injured for an entire season is no doubt a challenge to the overall career of an athlete. The toll it takes physically, emotionally and mentally is often times a setback in their career. Yet perhaps what made this so heartbreaking for Landry is that she was missing out on what should have been her senior season. Landry was, as described by her head coach, the heart and soul of the team.
"It was really tough with me and Roxana Button since we came in together," Landry said. "She's like my sister. There were times when I was down, but what kept me up was Rox because she didn't break down."
Part of what makes Landry such a dynamic player, despite being only 5'1", is her passion and no-fear attitude on the court. She battled back from injury and proved that not only is she fearless on the court, she's fearless off as well. Landry says it comes from "the mental toughness."
"I really look up to my older brother and my dad who played in the NFL," said Landry. "He was determined so he made me feel like I should be too."
Landry has always had a close relationship with her father. In fact, she was originally supposed to be named after him. "My name was Georgetta, after my dad because his name is George," Landry said.
"My mom wanted a Porsche car, so after I was born my dad said, `I have a surprise for you. I got you a Porsche.' He handed me over to her and she just started crying. It paid off in the end, and the name stuck."
"I'm really excited to get another shot at it. Last year was a struggle. The atmosphere is different. The chemistry of the team is different. Everybody is clicking. Everybody is hungry. Everybody wants to win. We have a championship posture right now."
Though Landry didn't end up with her father's name, she did end up with his fire and no doubt with his athletic ability. With that determination, she overcame her injury and was granted a medical redshirt, allowing her to compete for another season.
What does Landry look forward to most now? Redemption.
"I'm really excited to get another shot at it. Last year was a struggle," Landry said. "The atmosphere is different. The chemistry of the team is different. Everybody is clicking. Everybody is hungry. Everybody wants to win. We have a championship posture right now."
Cougar fans can look forward to Landry's final debut in Hofheinz Pavilion later this fall, and the up-tempo pace she brings to the team under head coach Todd Buchanan.
"Coach Buchanan's style of game vibes well with my game; he likes to press, he likes to run, and he likes to have fun," explained Landry, who has averaged 6.4 more points per game under Buchanan. "He knows what I can do and what I am capable of doing. He wants to win and he has the same goals the team has. The stats speak for themselves."
Buchanan definitely has high expectations for the guard this year. He's not the only one.
"I set many personal goals for myself, but also for the team," Landry said.
Among those is to be a team leader.
"I am going to do my best to lead; I'm going to mentor, teach, and help everybody that needs help. I understand that I'm the general of the team," Landry explained. "I'm the leader, everybody's looking up to me. Part of it is setting the example and watching every step they take. My goal is to basically teach and learn."
For many, this task would seem daunting. Not to Landry. "I'm just here prepared, ready for the season," she said.
This season brings many changes for both the team and for Landry, and one of them might be surprising to those who knew her for the past four years as number 20.
"I've never been able to pick my number, ever in my life. I've always had the mind frame, `Hey, just give me a number so I can get on the court and play'," Landry said. "The number really didn't matter to me, but with the injury, I actually didn't want 20 anymore. I wanted a new number, a new start.
"I wanted to be able to pick my own number," Landry continued. "I've always wanted to be No. 5, but I'm never the one to complain. As long as I have a jersey, I'm OK."
Landry met with Coach Buchanan, who agreed to the number change. The next day, the two hosted current junior forward Yasmeen Thompson on her recruiting visit.
Ironically, when they took Thompson to dinner the next day, Buchanan asked her what number she wanted to wear and the Philadelphia native responded with No. 20.
"Coach and I just looked at each other and smiled," said Landry. "It was meant to be."