Nov. 12, 2004
Columbia, S.C. –
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The South Carolina women’s basketball team opens its season at 3 p.m. PST on Nov. 14 when it takes on Pac-10 power Washington at the Bank of America Arena in Seattle as part of the WBCA Classic.
ON THE AIR
The game will be broadcast live on 1320 AM Columbia, with Andy Demetra handling play-by-play and Robin Muller providing analysis. For listeners outside of Columbia, the live broadcast will also be aired worldwide via the internet on the official web site of South Carolina athletics, www.uscsports.com.
ACCESSING THE WEB BROADCAST
To access the internet broadcast, go to www.uscsports.com, then click the “Audio/Video” link at the top of the screen. Follow the prompts from there to select the game you want to listen to.
Susan Walvius is in her eighth year at the helm of the South Carolina women’s basketball program and her 15th year overall as a head coach. Prior to USC, she coached at Virginia Commonwealth and West Virginia. The 2002 SEC Coach of the Year led the Gamecocks to consecutive top-20 national finishes and NCAA tournament appearances in 2002 and 2003. Her 2002 squad advanced to the Elite Eight. June Daugherty is in her ninth year as Washington’s head coach after spending seven years as head coach at Boise State. She has guided the Huskies to four NCAA tournament appearances, highlighted by a Pac-10 championship and trip to the Elite Eight in 2001.
South Carolina and Washington have only met once before, with the Huskies picking up a 73-61 victory in the 1990 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 played in Iowa City.
Sunday’s game at Washington marks the farthest west South Carolina has traveled since competing in the 1990 Times Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii.
A CAROLINA WIN WOULD:
* Improve the Gamecocks’ record to 6-2 in season-openers under Susan Walvius.
* Move the Gamecocks to 6-3 all-time against teams from the Pac-10 Conference.
* Drop Washington’s record to 7-5 all-time against teams from the SEC.
* Mark South Carolina’s second consecutive win over a Pac-10 opponent. The Gamecocks beat Oregon, 67-40 at the Virgin Islands Paradise Jam in 2002.
* Mark Washington’s first loss in a season-opener since a 77-74 overtime defeat at the hands of Indiana in 2000.
* Mark South Carolina’s first road win over a Pac-10 opponent. Of the eight games USC has played against teams from the Pac-10, only one (a 61-56 defeat in 1999 at the hands of Arizona State in Tempe) was played on the Pac-10 team’s home court. The rest have been played on either neutral sites or in Columbia.
* Snap a six-game losing skid that dates back to the end of the 2003-04 season.
A CAROLINA LOSS WOULD:
* Move the Gamecocks to 5-3 in season openers under Susan Walvius.
* Move the Gamecocks to 5-4 all-time against teams from the Pac-10 Conference.
* Mark Washington’s fourth-consecutive season-opening win.
SEASON OPENERS UNDER WALVIUS
Year Opponent Result
2003 at Clemson L, 99-103
2002 Clemson W, 72-58
2001 Furman W, 94-74
2000 at Rice L, 56-61
1999 Charlotte W, 67-61
1998 at Florida A&M W, 78-51
1997 at Appalachian State W, 77-61
WHO TO WATCH
The Gamecocks return 11 letterwinners off last year’s team, including a trio of starters in 2004 Freshman All-SEC selection Lauren Simms, junior forward Olga Gritsaeva and sophomore Iva Sliskovic. Junior Sarah Burgess also figures to be a primary contributor.
There are no seniors on the South Carolina roster. In fact, the team has only two juniors. Guard Sarah Burgess and forward Olga Gritsaeva are the only two upperclassmen on a roster that features eight sophomores, two redshirt freshmen and one true freshman.
KEEP AN EYE ON…
Freshman Ilona Burgrova and sophomore Melanie Johnson. Both players are in their first season of competition with the Gamecocks. Burgrova has the size (she is 6-6) and the skill set to be an immediate contributor in the post, while Johnson is very long and athletic and can dunk the basketball. Johnson made a name for herself among her teammates last year by excelling in practice against the Gamecock starters.
One of the top tacticians in the sport re-joined the South Carolina coaching staff this summer in Linda Hill-MacDonald. Hill-MacDonald served as an assistant coach under Susan Walvius from 2000-03 and was a large factor in the Gamecocks’ trip to the Elite Eight in 2002 and in the team’s consecutive NCAA appearances and top-20 national finishes in 2001-02 and 2002-03. Hill-MacDonald has over 30 years of coaching experience, including the head jobs at Temple University, the University of Minnesota and with the WNBA’s Cleveland Rockers.
GAMECOCK STAFF LONG ON EXPERIENCE
South Carolina has an interesting dynamic within its coaching staff, as three of the Gamecocks’ four coaches have substantial NCAA Division I head coaching experience. In fact, if director of basketball operations Robin Muller is included, the Gamecock coaches have 51 years of Division I head coaching experience. Following is the breakdown of the collegiate head coaching experience on South Carolina’s coaching staff:
Coach, Schools, Years
Susan Walvius South Carolina, 1997-present West Virginia, 1995-97 VCU, 1990-95
Linda Hill-MacDonald Minnesota, 1990-96 Temple 1980-90
Ed Baldwin, Charlotte, 1988-2001 Robin Muller Winthrop, 1993-2000
SLISKOVIC A TOP RETURNER
Averaging 11.0 points per game as a true freshman last year, sophomore forward Iva Sliskovic is the team’s leading returning scorer. Her 7.1 rebounds per game average and .549 field goal percentage were also good for the team lead a year ago.
The Gamecock roster features four players from the state of South Carolina. Lauren Simms (Columbia/Spring Valley HS), Angela Hunter (Columbia/Columbia HS), Melanie Johnson (Barnwell/Barnwell HS) and Lakesha Tolliver (Columbia/Dreher HS) are the Palmetto State natives.
WNBA, GAMECOCK STAR A HALL-OF-FAMER
Former Gamecock great Shannon Johnson won a gold medal this summer with Team USA at the Athens Olympics. In addition, she was also inducted into the University of South Carolina’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
BACK IN THE MIX
Redshirt freshman Lakesha Tolliver is back in action for the Gamecocks after missing all but one game last year. Tolliver tore her ACL in practice the day after the first game and was forced to redshirt.
INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF PLAYERS
The Gamecock roster features a total of five international players, most of which play significant minutes. Sophomores Iva Sliskovic and Lea Fabbri both hail from Croatia, while junior Olga Gritsaeva is from Russia, sophomore Larissa Kulcsar is from Romania and freshman Ilona Burgrova is from the Czech Republic. Susan Walvius has actively recruited overseas in recent years, and a good selling point is the University of South Carolina’s highly-ranked international business program.
THE COLONIAL CENTER: HOME OF THE GAMECOCKS
South Carolina plays its home games at the brand-new 18,000-seat Colonial Center. Located in downtown Columbia, the $65 million building is one of the finest sports and entertainment venues in the Southeast, hosting a variety of concerts, family shows and first-class entertainment. In 2003, the Colonial Center ranked 22nd worldwide in concert ticket sales. Among the acts that have come to the Colonial Center are Kanye West, Bruce Springsteen, Shania Twain, LL Cool J, Jimmy Buffet, Prince, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson and the Barnum and Bailey Circus.
3FGM STREAK STILL INTACT
The Gamecocks have knocked down at least one three-pointer in 89 consecutive games, dating back to November of 2001, which marks the longest such streak in school history.
CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH A 3FGM
88 11/24/01 – present
85 2/27/93 – 11/23/96
77 3/9/90 – 1/6/93
58 1/6/98 – 1/20/00
40 1/23/00 – 1/16/01
After the WBCA/BTI Classic, the Gamecocks come home to play in their first and only exhibition game when they host Everyone’s Internet at 7 p.m. on Nov. 19.