Dawn Staley Talks How ‘Defeats Within Season’ Has Prepared Gamecocks For Tournament

It wasn’t supposed to happen again.

Heck, even South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley has admitted on a couple of occasions that with how her team looked at the start of their offseason program this past Summer, she expected them to lose multiple games, something the Gamecocks haven’t been used over the past couple of years.

She’s even confessed that she contemplated retiring due to how far behind the team was.

Dawn Staley - Wikipedia

Yet, for the second straight season, Carolina is entering NCAA Tournament play undefeated and on a quest to capture the program’s third-ever national title.

While the record book indicates that no one has come close to knocking the team now largely viewed as the standard in the sport, the Gamecocks have had their share of close calls this season, as evidenced by six of their 32 wins having a final point margin in the single digits, two of them coming in a tougher-than-usual SEC Tournament.

Having stared down a potential loss at multiple points in the season, Dawn trusts that the team’s process and ability to band together in adverse situations has prepared them for what’s to come over the next few weeks.

“I mean, I look at an undefeated season, and it’s an undefeated season, but there were plenty of defeats within our season. We were down double digits several times [against] different teams.

Dawn Staley pondered women's basketball retirement. 'Seriously.'

It took a miraculous shot by Kamilla [Cardoso against Tennessee] to continue to stay undefeated [and] get us to the championship game in this SEC tournament. So we’ve felt defeat. But again, this team finds a way to execute.

They find a way to hold each other accountable.

They find a way to win basketball games, but we don’t just rely on that either. We put a lot into our preparation.

They just make it look a little bit different, and they make it feel a little bit different. And again, that’s a scary but cool thing.”

South Carolina will play the winner of the 16-seed play-in game between Presbyterian and Sacred Heart on Friday at 2 PM EDT.

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