Dawn Staley, South Carolina Gamecocks Are Ready To Make Another Final Four Run
South Carolina Gamecocks Head Coach Dawn Staley acknowledged there are a lot of new faces on her team this year after losing six players from last year’s NCAA Final Four team, including five to the WNBA.
However, between the returning talent and who they’ve brought in this offseason, Staley believes her team is reloaded to make another Final Four run.
“It’s not a rebuild,” Staley said on ESPN’s SportsCenter last week. “I think for who we had sitting on the bench behind some of those WNBA players were really talented individuals who really just had to wait their turn. Now is their turn; now is time for them to step in…”
“They’ll take some hits, but they’re fighters.”
Fans of Staley and her Gamecocks will get their first look at the 2023-24 team on Monday as they play Notre Dame in Paris in the Aflac Oui-Play event. The game will be the first women’s college basketball game played in the City of Light.
The Gamecocks are ranked sixth to begin the season behind last year’s champion Louisiana State University, UConn, and last year’s runner-up Iowa, UCLA, and Utah.
Staley, a three-time Olympic gold medalist as a player and a two-time national title holder as a coach, is attempting to make her fourth consecutive Final Four appearance with the Gamecocks. Forward Kamilla Cardoso, who averaged 9.8 points per game and 8.5 rebounds last season, is expected to lead the team.
The Gamecocks will also rely on five new players, including two transfers in Te-Hina Paopao and center Sakima Walker, three freshmen, and six returning players.
“We’re playing together, we’re sharing the ball,” Cardoso told ESPN.
“We want everybody to touch the ball, and I think we actually have really good chemistry right now, even though it hasn’t been a long time.”
After its game in Paris on Monday, the Gamecocks will head home to take on 14th-ranked Maryland on Saturday afternoon.