Beyond the National Championship: What you may not know about South Carolina Women's Basketball

Dawn Staley has changed South Carolina women's basketball into a national powerhouse and just won the schools second national championship in four years, with four final four appearances. Beyond her recent success with the Gamecocks, we look into other facts about the program, as well as Staley that you may find intriguing.
Portrait of Dawn Staley
Portrait of Dawn Staley / Damian Strohmeyer/GettyImages

On the surface, one may look at the 38-0 record of the South Carolina Gamecocks women’s basketball team this year and think that it is just another great year by another great team, and that nothing more would come of it like the dynasties of the UConn Huskies under Geno Auriemma, or the Tennessee Volunteers under Pat Summitt.

That however be false as they have been building something truly special in Columbia, South Carolina for a while now.

Here is what you may not know about the South Carolina Women’s basketball team

Dawn Staley has been the head coach of the women’s basketball team for the South Carolina Gamecocks since the 2009 season.

After missing the NCAA tournament in her first three seasons due to having to rebuild the program, Staley and the Gamecocks have not missed the tournament since the 2012 season, which is 13 tournament appearances in a row. With that being said, I would say the dynasty has been under way for a while now.

The Gamecocks have made the last four final fours dating back to 2021 and have won the national championship twice with the latest being last night when they beat the Iowa Hawkeyes who were led by phenom guard, Caitlin Clark.

Dawn Staley's Coaching Career Before South Carolina

The Gamecocks dynasty also should not be a surprise as before arriving in Columbia, Staley built the Temple Owls of the Atlantic 10 conference into a powerhouse, making NCAA tournament appearances with the school in her final seven seasons before being hired by the Gamecocks.

Dawn Staley's Playing Career

And rewinding even before that, Staley started for four seasons as a player at the University of Virginia from 1989-1992. In her four years in Charlottesville, Staley averaged 16.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists and 3.5 steals per game as a point guard.

Staley then went on to a successful eight-year WNBA career and was a five-time All-Star, averaging 8.5 points, 5.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game.

While not everyone makes a great coach, with this kind of pedigree it would have been hard to bet against Staley at whatever stop of the way.

South Carolina Gamecocks Before Dawn Staley

Before Staley arrived in Columbia in, the Gamecocks were nothing more than an easy win in most years since their first season in the SEC in 1992 with their first NCAA tournament appearance not even coming until 10 years later in 2002.

In fact, between when the Gamecocks entered the SEC in 1992 and when Staley arrived in 2009, the Gamecocks had only made the NCAA tournament twice under head coach Susan Walvius in 2002 and 2003, never advancing past the second round.

With an 80% winning percentage since arriving in Columbia, Staley has changed the narrative around South Carolina Women’s basketball and helped to elevate the SEC as a whole amongst other great coaches like LSU’s Kim Mulkey and Ole Miss’s Yolett Mcphee-McCuin.

As long as Staley remains in Columbia, expect the Gamecocks to be atop the SEC and college basketball.