South Carolina women’s basketball soars on the spot, topping the charts

Under Staley, South Carolina won a national title, in 2017, and she enters this season, 14th as head coach, with a seven-year, $22.4 million contract extension and a new level of expectations.

Two of her A-rank rookies, juniors Aliyah Boston and Zia Cooke, at the helm of the team is now a seasoned team, with five starts back from the trip to the national semifinals, where South Carolina narrowly lost to Stanford.

Boston is the center of the team, able to score from more parts of the floor than her 6-foot-5 frame might suggest. Last season, she averaged a brace (13.7 points and 11.5 rebounds), and this year, after experiencing an unsuccessful season work on her terms, she has proven her ability to run the floor with even the smallest, fastest friends. She is very skillful near the basket, but more surprising is her ability to occasionally score from behind the 3-pointer line.

Cooke enters the college game on a wave of outstanding reels from assorted store that often focused on NBA dunks. Her lightning strike is balanced by Destanni Henderson, a 5-foot-7 keeper who is the team’s top leader and a scoring threat.

However, the group’s overall experience makes it particularly dangerous. A deep bench features promising freshmen, plus multi-minute signed players like junior Laeticia Amihere and senior Destiny Littleton.

That experience translates into suffocating defensive pressure.

“You don’t really see the impact in the first half,” Staley said after Monday’s win. “The third and fourth quarters is when you start to feel what our defense does to the teams.” Connecticut, for example, was 1 of 11 from the field in the fourth quarter, unable to get past the Gamecocks, who had four steals in that span.

Staley, who has long been known for her focus on defence, has called this team “the best and the deepest” of those she has coached on that front. South Carolina women’s basketball soars on the spot, topping the charts

Olly Dawes

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