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Nov. 6, 2008

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New Dawn
The University of South Carolina announced Dawn Staley as its head women’s basketball coach on May 10, 2008. Part of four Olympic gold medal winning teams for the United States as a coach and player, Staley is among the most decorated personalities in women’s basketball. The five-time WNBA All-Star began her coaching career at Temple University and led her hometown Owls to six NCAA Tournament appearances, four Atlantic 10 Tournament titles and the program’s first national ranking. In eight seasons, she compiled a 172-80 record (.683) and amassed six seasons of 20 or more wins. She was twice named A-10 Coach of the Year and was the WBCA Region 1 Coach of the Year in 2005. Last playing for USA Basketball in 2004, Staley joined the USA Basketball coaching staff in February 2006, helping the Stars and Stripes to a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as well as gold medals in the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship and the 2007 Pan American Games.

About Peach State
Peach State Elite is a college exhibition tour team designed for former college players who are preparing to play professionally in the U.S. or overseas. In 2008-09, the team, which includes former Gamecock Stacy Booker, is scheduled to play six exhibition games. Peach State opened with a 67-79 loss at Clemson on Nov. 3 and suffered a narrow 63-69 loss at Georgia last night. Five-foot-11 Alisha Tatham has been the team leader early, scoring 12.0 points and grabbing 10.0 rebounds per game. She is shooting 44.4 percent from the field, including 38.5 percent from 3-point range. As a team, Peach State is shooting 34.5 percent from the field and has been out-rebounded by its opponents by 6.0 boards per game.

Injury Report
Redshirt freshman Courtney Newton will not play in tonight’s exhibition after suffering a right knee injury in preseason practice. She is expected to be out two more weeks.

Definitely Demetress
Senior Demetress Adams earned Second-Team All-SEC honors from both the league’s coaches and the Associated Press last season after finishing her junior year ranked fourth in the league in rebounding (8.9 rpg) and 19th in scoring (10.9 ppg). She also captured a spot on the league’s All-Defensive Team as her 2.03 steals per game were 10th-best in the SEC and her 1.72 blocks per game rated her sixth.

Hometown Hero
Senior Brionna Dickerson is in her final season for her hometown Gamecocks, looking to lead the youthful guards through a successful 2008-09 campaign. She was third on the team in scoring in 2007-08 with 10.4 points per game, despite battling a nagging foot injury initially suffered the first month of the season. She is the Gamecocks’ top returning 3-point threat, hitting 32.8 percent from behind the arc last season.

Sophomore Standouts
The four players who make up the Class of 2011 could be the game-changers for South Carolina this season. Sophomore point guard Samone Kennedy is the engine that revved up the Gamecocks last season and she closed her freshman campaign ranked seventh in the league with 3.42 assists per game, despite playing just 18.8 minutes per outing. Redshirt freshman Courtney Newton will return to her shooting guard spot and looks to find the shooting stroke that made her a long-range threat early last season. Guard Lauren Falohun has impressed head coach Dawn Staley with her work ethic and could see significant playing time as well. Forward Jewel May will have an opportunity to make an impact in the depleted frontcourt. She posted 3.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game last season, showing flashes of the ability to do more with her athleticism.

Fresh Faces
Five new faces join the squad this season with three guards, a forward and a center making up the freshman class. Each brings a pedigree of winning and will have the opportunity to earn a starting spot on opening day. LaKeisha Sutton was the New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year, scoring 19.6 points per game and leading her team to back-to-back state championships. A first-team all-state selection, Tonia Williams guided her Houston County High School team to three straight regional championships. Illinois-native Miranda Tate played in back-to-back state championship games, winning the title her sophomore year. Charenee Stephens was named the fifth-best forward in the country by The lone center on the roster, Sada Wheeler earned Class AAA Area Player of the Year honors en route to a state title her junior year.