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Nov. 3, 2009

Special to GamecocksOnline by Brad Muller

COLUMBIA, S.C. – University of South Carolina coaches Darrin Horn and Dawn Staley gave nearly 500 Gamecock fans a sneak preview of what to expect from the 2009-10 season at Monday night’s Annual Basketball Preview Party at the Colonial Life Arena. Co-hosted by the Carolina Alumni Association and the Gamecock Club, the event was open to members of either organization and allowed those in attendance to meet players and coaches, get autographs and hear the coaches speak about their expectations for the upcoming season.

Now in his second year at the school, Horn returns four starters and eight letterwinners from last year’s team, which went 21-10 and claimed a share of the SEC East title. The Gamecocks are led by All-SEC point guard Devan Downey (19.8 ppg/4.5 apg/2.9 spg) and senior forward Dominique Archie (10.9 ppg/6.4 rpg). Horn expressed his desire for both players and fans to build on foundations laid last season.

“Last year we wanted to establish a work ethic, a style of play, and a commitment to excellence,” Horn said. “We took steps in that direction last year, and we want to further that this year. These guys are pouring their hearts out for you every night. We have a challenging non-conference schedule, and the conference is going to be tougher. So it’s even more important for us now to have a home court advantage.”

Staley is also in her second year with the Gamecocks and welcomes in the fourth-ranked recruiting class in the nation, highlighted by Parade All-American’s Kelsey Bone and Ieasia Walker, along with six letterwinners from last year. Although it is a young team, Staley said she’s excited about the progress made by returning players along with the development of the newcomers.

“We’ve been waiting for this season to start since last season ended,” Staley said. “We’re a lot more talented than we were last year, and not just with our new players. Our returning players have been a good example on and off the floor for our younger players.”

In addition to meeting players and coaches, fans enjoyed free food and beverages on the concourse, had photos taken with Cocky and the Carolina Cheerleaders, and had the opportunity to bid on silent auction items and participate in several contests on the arena floor with Staley and Horn watching.

The South Carolina women’s team opens the season with road games on November 16 and November 19 against Charlotte and Clemson, respectively. Horn’s Gamecocks open the season at home on November 13 against Alabama A&M. Season tickets for both teams are on sale now at .

The Carolina Alumni Association will hold a similar members-only event prior to the start of baseball and softball season with Gamecock coaches Ray Tanner and Joyce Compton. Find out more about Alumni Association events or join today at