Image

9:06 AM / Friday February 23, 2024

5 Apr 2015

Staley carves out her own basketball legend coaching in her first Final Four

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
April 5, 2015 Category: Sports Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley yells to her team during the first half of a second-round game against Oregon State in the NCAA women’s college basketball tournament Tuesday, March 25, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

When we think of iconic figures in Philadelphia basketball, we almost always point to male basketball players like Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving and Allen Iverson, three guys that would be atop a roundball Mount Rushmore if it existed here.

But, there’s one more person you need to add to that list of Philadelphia basketball royalty and her name is Dawn Staley.

Staley, who will be taking her University of South Carolina women’s basketball squad to the Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Florida, has done just about everything in basketball and is just as worthy as her legendary male counterparts.

When Staley’s South Carolina women’s squad takes the floor against Notre Dame in Tampa, it’ll be her first trip to the national semifinals as a head coach and her first visit since her collegiate days when she was leading the Virginia Cavaliers to three straight Final Four appearances.

Transforming a once dormant Gamecocks women’s basketball program into a national powerhouse is a testament to her North Philly roots and a rock-hard determination to succeed in the face of enormous odds, something she reflected on during a conference call with Final Four coaches earlier this week.

“I’m most proud of being able to cut the bottom of a milk crate out, nail it to a piece of wood, and put it on that electrical pole,” said Staley, a three-time Olympic Gold Medalist. “And I used to really   I perfected a bank shot off of a wooden basket in a crate.

“So I know I’ve accomplished a lot of things in my life and my basketball career, but that’s truly hard.  I won a lot of horse games on the streets of Philly learning how to perfect the bank shot under those circumstances.”

It was that competitive fire that helped her turn a struggling Temple’s women’s basketball program into a force to be reckoned with in the Atlantic-10.  From 2000 to 2008, Staley’s teams won 172 games and captured four A-10 titles and made six NCAA Tournament appearances. 

Quite a few of her players from those Owls teams have gone to play well at the professional level in this country and internationally. Most notably, Candice Dupree who helped lead the Phoenix Mercury to a WNBA title. 

Coming to South Carolina and coaching in a tough Southeastern Conference that includes perennial powerhouse Tennessee, winners of seven national championships, was an even tougher task for Staley than reviving Temple’s program.         

In her first year, Staley’s squad won just 10 games.  Four years later, the Gamecocks went to the Sweet 16. 

But Staley said it wasn’t easy. She needed to get talent good enough to make South Carolina into a national powerhouse.  Some of that talent is homegrown from the state of South Carolina.   

One of those best players is junior guard Tiffany Mitchell, a two-time SEC Player-of-the-Year who is averaging 14 points per game and she landed a Parade national high school player of the year in 6-foot-5-inch freshman A’ja Wilson, who is averaging 13 points per game.

“It takes talent.  It takes great people, and it takes a commitment, a commitment of discipline,” Staley said.  “So once we got those things in place, our program started to move in the right direction.  We didn’t always have that.  Seven years ago, we didn’t have that.”

For all the times Staley has been a part of winning traditions as both a player and a coach at the collegiate level, she has yet to win a national championship. As a player, she came close in 1991 when her Virginia squad he experienced a heartbreaking overtime loss to Tennessee.

Staley said if South Carolina wins the  women’s national championship this weekend, the trophy is not just for her, but for all the people who shaped her playing and coaching career along the way including former Temple head coach John Chaney.

“So I take all of those people who helped me along the way and who also experienced that awful feeling of not   you know, that void of not winning a National Championship,” Staley said. “Hopefully,  the cards are in our favor this year, and hopefully I’ll be able for all of those people who played an integral role in my life.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News

Philly NAACP

Philadelphia NAACP News

February 18, 2024

Tweet Email Tweet Email Related Posts Philadelphia NAACP news as of Feb. 2 Philadelphia NAACP Branch News...

Color Of Money

How to give your business an inviting local flair using design

February 17, 2024

Tweet Email BPT Think of local businesses that feel connected to your community. What comes to mind?...

Health

Four tips to live a more heart-healthy lifestyle

February 17, 2024

Tweet Email BPTIn honor of American Heart Month this February, you can make positive changes to your...

Sports

Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl 2024 

February 12, 2024

Tweet Email The Kansas City Chiefs narrowly beat the San Francisco 49ers, becoming the 2024 Super Bowl champions. The...

Fur Babies Rule!

Bow to Wow! America’s top 10 shelter dog makeovers

February 3, 2024

Tweet Email BPTZen was rescued from a horrendous hoarding case. She arrived at the shelter with mange...

Seniors

Understanding and reducing stroke risks

January 6, 2024

Tweet Email FAMILY FEATURES As the second leading cause of death worldwide, according to World Health Organization,...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff