"It's a tougher team than us": When Dawn Staley made honest admission about South Carolina's opponent during halftime

NCAA Womens Basketball: Final Four National Semifinal-NC State vs South Carolina
South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley

Dawn Staley and the South Carolina Gamecocks women's basketball had a perfect season in 2023-24. Nobody defeated them the entire year but that doesn't mean the team didn't have difficult moments. One such moment came when the Gamecocks were up against Tennessee in February.

The Volunteers were giving a tough fight to the Gamecocks and were ahead at halftime. That prompted coach Staley to make an honest admission about the opponents during the team talk.

“It’s a tougher team than us. It's something that we haven't experienced really like all season. We gotta have to fix it, we’ll fix it. We’ve gotta have the same amount of aggressiveness that we do on the offensive bit on the defensive side of the ball. So if there is miscommunication, you still gotta fight,” Staley said (via 'Love the Game' docuseries). [08:03]


South Carolina was trailing 28-25 at that time. Even the third quarter went toe-to-toe as both the teams entered the final quarter tied 48-48. But South Carolina took the game away in the final quarter and registered a 66-55 win. Dawn Staley's strategy worked and the record remained unblemished.

The six-part docuseries was released on YouTube and X. It follows the Gamecocks' journey to the national championship title and their theme of the season, love.

Dawn Staley's reprimand to the team after edging past Texas A&M

South Carolina’s ‘Love the Game' docuseries also captured a moment that showed an intense side of the otherwise laid-back Dawn Staley. After the team registered a rather scrappy win against Texas A&M in the SEC tournament in March, the head coach blasted her players for the performance. She bluntly told everyone that the team wouldn't go forward if they didn't pick up the performance.

“Our D wasn't good enough, our O wasn't good enough, just wasn't. We won on mere talent. Things went our way at certain times, we need to get it together seriously,” Staley said.


The Gamecocks defeated the Aggies 79-68 in the SEC tournament quarterfinals. They went on to win all the remaining games to lift the SEC title and eventually the national championship. But Staley had to bring out her intense side to get the team going.

What could Alabama basketball's 2024-25 starting lineup look like? Find out here

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