Nov. 15, 2009
Charlotte Series: SC leads 15-5; In Charlotte: SC leads 6-3; In Columbia: SC leads 9-2
Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton) GamecocksOnline.com
South Carolina Notables
- This is the program’s 36th season as a varsity sport.
- The Gamecocks are 24-11 in season openers, including a 15-9 record when playing the first game of the season outside Columbia.
- South Carolina is opening its season on the road for the second-straight season.
- Dawn Staley is 7-2 all-time in season openers.
- SEC coaches picked the Gamecocks to finish sixth in their annual preseason poll, an impressive jump after a 2-12 league record in 2008-09. If it comes to fruition, it would be the Gamecocks’ highest finish since tying for sixth place at the end of the 2002-03 season.
- The Gamecocks play their home opener against Penn State on Sun., Nov. 22, at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on SportSouth.
The 49ers finished the 2008-09 season on a high, turning in a 23-9 record and claiming the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament title. Charlotte returns the top two scorers from that team in senior guard Aysha Jones and junior guard Shannon McCallum, but the 49ers lost their top rebounder from last season, Danielle Burgin, who snagged 9.2 boards per outing to go with her 11.1 points per contest. Charlotte opened the 2009-10 season with a loss at East Carolina on Friday night, falling 84-61 to the Pirates despite three players netting double figures. Sophomore forwrd Jennifer Hailey led the 49ers wtih 17 points and nine rebounds, including seven offensive, as she went a perfect 6-of-6 from the field in just 19 minutes of action. Senior forward Erin Floyd and Jones each scored 12 points, and Floyd added eight boards. Charlotte head coach Karen Alston is in her third season, leading the 49ers to a 41-24 record in her career.
Charlotte Series Notes
South Carolina holds a decisive 15-5 edge over Charlotte and have won nine of the last 10 meetings. The teams last met on Dec. 21, 2008, when the Gamecocks edged out the 49ers 78-76, holding off a final-minute charge with the first of the season’s two game-winning full-court assists by senior C.J. Pace. Samone Kennedy enjoyed a career offensive day with 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field, including 4-of-4 from 3-point range. The Gamecocks are 6-3 against the 49ers in Charlotte after winning their last four trips to the Queen City. The last time Charlotte topped South Carolina at home was a 73-60 decision on Feb. 15, 1995. Gamecock head coach Dawn Staley has a perfect 4-0 record against Charlotte, having played the 49ers once a year in her final three seasons at fellow Atlantic 10 Conference school Temple.
A South Carolina Win Would…
- Keep head coach Dawn Staley undefeated against the 49ers, pushing her record to 5-0.
- Be the Gamecocks’ first in a season opener since defeating Saint Francis (Pa.) 93-33 on Nov. 9, 2007.
- Give the Gamecocks a road victory to open the season for the first time since they topped Florida A&M 78-51 to tip off the 1998-99 campaign.
South Carolina holds a 24-11 record in season openers, but is just 8-8 when playing its first game on the road. The Gamecocks opened the 2008-09 season with a 56-42 loss at Penn State in their first road season opener since 2004-05. South Carolina’s last victory in a road season opener as a 78-51 decision at Florida A&M on Nov. 13, 1998. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is 7-2 in season openers in her coaching career. Prior to last season, her lone season-opening loss was a 76-70 defeat at the hands of Evansville on Nov. 9, 2001.
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley returns to a city she knows well after playing eight seasons for the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting. During her time in the Queen City, Staley was selected to play in three All-Star games (2001, 2002, 2003), was named to the WNBA’s All-Decade Team and earned the WNBA Entrepreneurial Spirit Award (1999) and the WNBA Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award (1999).
South Carolina won its lone exhibition game of the 2009-10 season, claiming a 94-38 decision over Augusta State last Wednesday night. The Gamecocks had their inside-outside game on full display as junior guard Valerie Nainima and freshman center Kelsey Bone each netted 18 points, while Bone picked up 13 rebounds. Sophomore forward Charenee Stephens and sophomore guard La’Keisha Sutton also scored in double figures for the Gamecocks, posting 17 and 11 points, respectively. Nainima added a game-high seven assists to her 6-of-12 3-point accuracy.
Six letterwinners return for their second season under head coach Dawn Staley, and their coach likes the makeup of the group. The returning players, who accounted for 51.5 percent of last season’s points and 43.1 percent of the 2008-09 rebounds, arrived in excellent shape to go along with the mental toughness bred of the extended minutes they were forced to play last season. That invaluable experience will be enhanced by the new players Staley brought into the program, as veterans will be able to return to roles in which they can thrive.
Staley made her first season of recruiting a productive one, nabbing the fourth-best class in the nation. Headlining that class is the first tandem of Parade All-Americans in the program’s history – Kelsey Bone and Ieasia Walker. Inking such a prestigious group was crucial to getting the Gamecocks on track toward Staley’s lofty goals.
Strength of Schedule
Staley stuck to her philosophy of challenging her teams in November and December as a building block for success in January and beyond. The Gamecocks will face as many as 22 games against teams that participated in the 2009 postseason, including seven non-conference outings. To set the stage for 11 games against SEC teams that played in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, Staley has her Gamecocks opening at NCAA Tournament participant Charlotte and does not let up. South Carolina will face Final Four participant Oklahoma and NCAA Tournament veterans Notre Dame and San Diego State at the Paradise Jam. The non-conference slate also includes a neutral-site matchup against border rival and perennial top-25 presence North Carolina in December. In all this season, South Carolina will face off with seven teams that are in the preseason top 25 (listed as AP/ESPN) – Notre Dame (4/7), North Carolina (5/5), Tennessee (8/9), LSU (9/17), Oklahoma (13/8), Georgia (21/-), Vanderbilt (22/20).
Gamecocks on TV
South Carolina will play at least 12 games on television in 2009-10, including a pair of SEC contests on the ESPN family of networks. The Gamecocks’ first four home games will air on SportSouth. Two SEC games will air on FSN (games air on FOX Sports Carolinas, FOX Sports South, FOX Sports Tennessee, FOX Sports Houston, FOX Sports Southwest and Sun Sports), one on CSS, one on Sun Sports and another one on the SEC Network. Additionally, FSN and the ESPN family of networks are teaming to broadcast every game of the SEC Tournament in Duluth, Ga.