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Apr 4, 2024 3:20 pm

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley at Final Four for wins, not attention

Staley

CLEVELAND — By the way, there’s an undefeated, No. 1-ranked South Carolina team at the Final Four, too.

The first semifinal played Friday night features four-time Naismith Coach of the Year Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks shooting to improve to 37-0 and reach the national championship game on Sunday. It’s the fourth straight Final Four trip for South Carolina despite losing every starter from last year’s team.

That’s more than enough to warrant a bit of attention, but South Carolina can’t help but notice most of the media focus is on Iowa, UConn and the All-American star power of Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark and Huskies guard Paige Bueckers.

South Carolina’s Bree Hall said players aren’t discussing the coverage in the locker room and are zeroed in on the next game, but admitted she noticed the disparity in coverage tipping the other direction.

“Yeah, I can’t lie. I am a little bit,” Hall said Thursday.

“Just because — we all said this, we didn’t know really what to expect from our team. And just to see that we’re back at the Final Four, it’s pretty amazing,” she said.

Iowa knocked off South Carolina and snapped a 42-game winning streak in a 77-73 upset at the 2023 Final Four in Dallas.

Staley has won at least 30 games in seven of the last 10 seasons with five Final Four trips in the past eight tournaments. South Carolina has a school-record 36 wins but the only thing Staley is considering at the moment is the next one.

“You want to win. Your competitive juices are flowing,” Staley said of what changes for teams when they arrive at the Final Four. “I mean, you can see the finish line. You can see it. You can see it. For us, we could see it. And it’s not disrespecting the process or not disrespecting our opponent, but once you get here, they can see it. NC State can see it. UConn can see it. Iowa can see the end of the finish line. There’s one and a possible game left for all of us, and I want to win. I want to win.”

–Field Level Media

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