March 25, 2010
At First Glance
- This was the program’s 36th season as a varsity sport, during which South Carolina has amassed a 604-462 record (.567). That ledger includes a 77-17 mark in Metro Conference play (1985-91) and a 73-178 slate in SEC games.
- South Carolina’s 7-9 SEC record represents a 29.4 percent increase in winning percentage over last season’s 2-12 mark. It is the largest one-season jump for the Gamecocks since the 2005-06 Gamecocks turned a 2-12 mark the previous season into a 7-7 league slate.
- The Gameocks finished the SEC regular season tied for seventh place in the league standings, their best finish since 2005-06 when the team’s 7-7 mark was good for seventh place.
- South Carolina had three wins over nationally-ranked teams (San Diego State, Georgia and Vanderbilt) for the first time since the 2002-03 season, during which the Gamecocks were also ranked for most of the season. South Carolina was 4-7 against ranked teams that season. This season’s three wins are the most over nationally-ranked teams by an unranked Gamecock squad since 1990-91.
- The Gamecocks went 9-4 on the season when their starting lineup outscored the opponents’ starting group. That record includes a 5-3 mark in SEC action.
- South Carolina was most productive this season when it was the most aggressive. The Gamecocks were 12-8 when out-scoring opponents in the paint and 11-4 when scoring more points off turnovers their their opponents.
- Kelsey Bone was named SEC Newcomer of the Year by the Associated Press, becoming the first Gamecock to earn that honor. She earned All-SEC Second Team status from both the AP and the league’s coaches, who also made her a unanimous selection to the All-Freshman team. Bone is the first Gamecock freshman to earn All-SEC honors.
- Junior Valerie Nainima joined Bone on the coaches’ All-SEC Second Team, making it the first time a pair of Gamecocks have shared all-league honors since 2001-02.
- Kelsey Bone’s nine double-doubles were the most by a Gamecock freshman since Sheila Foster posted 13 in 1978-79. In fact, the Gamecocks collectively recorded 13 double-doubles this season (Charenees Stephens accounting for the other four), which are the team’s most since the 2003-04 squad also posted 13.
- Sophomore La’Keisha Sutton led the team with 3.1 assists per SEC game and was the third-leading scorer in league games at 9.0 ppg.
- Sophomore Charenee Stephens established herself as a key player off the bench for the Gamecocks, posting career highs of 8.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season. A candidate for SEC Sixth Woman of the Year, Stephens was among the league’s top three in field goal percentage and top 10 in rebounding.
- Freshman Ieasia Walker worked her way into the starting lineup for the final two games of the season, during which she posted a 1.75:1 assist-to-turnover ratio while added 11.0 points and 3.5 assists per game.
A pair of Gamecocks earned spots on the All-SEC Second Team, as the league’s coaches tabbed junior Valerie Nainima and Kelsey Bone with the honor. Bone was also a unanimous All-Freshman selection, following in the footsteps of now sophomore La’Keisha Sutton, who was a unanimous choice last season. Nainima and Bone are the first Gamecock tandem to share the All-SEC spotlight since Shaunzinski Gortman and Jocelyn Penn were first-team selections in 2001-02.
Freshman Kelsey Bone became the first Gamecock to earn SEC Newcomer of the Year honors from the Associated Press when the organization tabbed her with the title in March. She also earned a spot on the AP All-SEC Second Team. Bone turned in the best statistical season of any SEC freshman, leading the league in rebounding (9.2 rpg) and ranking eighth in scoring (14.0 ppg), all while playing the second-toughest overall schedule in the league. In SEC play, Bone’s 8.6 boards per game were second in the league – tops among freshmen – and her 13.3 ppg ranked 12th, fractions of a point behind the league’s coaches decision for Freshman of the Year, A’dia Mathies of Kentucky.
For the Record
Junior Valerie Nainima has put her stamp on South Carolina’s 3-point shooting history in just her first season in a Gamecock uniform. As the team’s designated sharp shooter, Nainima’s 82 3-pointers made were tied for fourth-most in school history, matching Shannon Johnson’s output in the 1995-96 season and falling two short of Christi Timmons’ 1991-92 production in the third spot. Nainima scored those 82 3s behind 229 attempts, the fifth-most in school history. Freshman Kelsey Bone’s name now dominates the Gamecocks’ freshman single-season standings as she slots into the program’s top five of eight categories, including records for rebounding average (9.2), offensive rebounds (82) and defensive rebounds (186). Her total defensive rebounds ranks her third among all Gamecocks, trailing Beth Hunt’s school record of 230 in 1989-90.
Strength of Schedule
South Carolina’s schedule is ranked as the 11th-toughest in the nation (as of Mar. 15). Only Oklahoma, Connecticut, Texas A&M, Duke, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Kansas, Stanford and Texas have faced a more strident challenge than South Carolina this season, all of which are in the NCAA Tournament. The Gamecocks played 20 games against teams that qualified for either the NCAA Tournament or the WNIT, including seven non-conference outings. South Carolina was 8-12 against teams that participated in the 2010 postsesason, including three wins against teams that have reached the NCAA Sweet 16.
South Carolina has an RPI of 55 through games of March 14, which ranks seventh in the SEC. Tennessee leads the league at No. 3 with Kentucky (19), Vanderbilt (20), Georgia (25), LSU (31) and Mississippi State (50) between the Lady Vols and the Gamecocks.
Home Sweet Home
South Carolina boasts a .691 all-time winning percentage (324-145) in games played in Columbia. The Gamecocks’ best season at home was the 2001-02 campaign with a 17-1 record in the first season in what is now known as Colonial Life Arena. South Carolina is 78-47 (.624) in the building, including a 7-5 mark this season.
Adding the inside presence of freshman Kelsey Bone has dramatically increased the Gamecocks’ points in the paint production from 25.9 points per game last season to 34.8 per game this season. In fact, 53.8 percent of the total points the Gamecocks scored (1,874) came in the paint (1,008). With the increased inside focus, the stat become one of the most telling for this season’s team. South Carolina was just 2-7 overall when not winning the scoring battle inside (wins at Auburn and at Charlotte). That number included a 1-4 mark in SEC play.
Another telltale stat for South Carolina has been points off turnovers. While the Gamecocks were 11th in the league in turnover margin (-1.0), they managed to overcome the stigma of that stat by limiting the points their opponents generated off those miscues. Foes were most successful when solving the South Carolina transition defense as the Gamecocks were 3-11 overall when opponents recorded an equal number of or more points off turnovers than Carolina, including a 2-7 mark in SEC action. The victories were at Vanderbilt, against Ole Miss and against San Diego State.
South Carolina’s 53.5 percent field goal shooting in the second half at Vanderbilt was the team’s highest accuracy in a half since hitting 55.6 percent in the second half at Alabama. The Gamecocks hit 50.0 percent or better in a half seven times in SEC play this season, four of which are accounted for in two games – at Alabama and against Kentucky. South Carolina shot a season-high 64.0 percent (16-25) in the first half at Alabama and finished the game with a season-high 59.6 percent.
Nine of the Gamecocks’ 29 games this season were decided by three points or less, including four SEC outings. South Carolina was 4-5 in those narrowly-decided games, 2-2 in league play. It was the most games decided within that margin the Gamecocks have played in a season since joining the SEC for the 1991-92 campaign. In league action, South Carolina is 6-14 all-time in games decided by three or fewer points. Under head coach Dawn Staley, South Carolina is 7-6 in games decided by three or fewer points, 2-3 in SEC contests.
South Carolina is 48-182 all-time against nationally-ranked teams, including a 3-9 mark this season. The Gamecocks’ three wins over nationally-ranked teams were the most by an unranked Gamecock squad since 1990-91. Under current head coach Dawn Staley, the Gamecocks are 3-16 against ranked opponents. Against ranked opponents this season, the Gamecocks scored 59.7 points per game on 39.2 percent field goal shooting, including 30.7 percent from 3-point range, and were out-rebounded by 1.0 boards per game. Ranked opponents netted 68.9 points per game against the Gamecocks, hitting 44.3 perent from the field, including 36.6 percent from 3-point range. By comparison, South Carolina scored 68.1 points per game against unranked foes shooting 42.9 percent from the field, including 37.9 percent from 3-point range, and out-rebounding opponents by 4.36 boards per game. Unranked teams scored 61.8 points per game on 39.0 percent shooting, including 28.5 percent from outside the arc.
Thrice as Nice
The Gamecocks shot 36.1 percent from 3-point range in SEC play to rank third in the league. That accuracy was highlighted by an 8-of-12 showing by the Gamecocks at Alabama, which tied for the best outside shooting accuracy of the Dawn Staley era. For the season, South Carolina hit 34.9 percent of its 3-point attempts (130-372) to rank third in the league and 53rd in the nation.
Inside the Outside Numbers
Junior Valerie Nainima led South Carolina’s charge from beyond the arc in terms of volume, ranking fourth in the SEC and 16th in the nation by hitting 2.8 3-pointers per game. She was ninth in the league and 77th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage, hitting long-range shots at a 35.8 percent clip. Heavenly at 70 … SEC Seeing 60 South Carolina scored in the 70s six times this season and was a perfect 6-0 in those games. In fact, 70 points seemed to be a critical threshold for the Gamecocks, who were 7-2 when reaching the plateau. Since Dawn Staley took the reins of the program, South Carolina is 11-3 in games in which it scored at least 70. As the Gamecocks’ defensive pressure ramped up in SEC play, South Carolina’s offensive magic number fell in the 60s. The Gamecocks were 6-2 in games in which they scored at least 60 points, compared to a 1-7 mark when scoring less than 60.
In the 17 games played after turning the calendar to 2010, sophomore Charenee Stephens reached double figures in either points or rebounds 11 times, including double-doubles against Mississippi State, at Kentucky and against Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament. That production put her among the SEC’s best as she ranks ninth in rebounding at 7.2 boards per game and is third the league in field goal percentage (.599).
Freshman Ieasia Walker played her way into the starting lineup in the regular-season finale after back-to-back solid outings at Kentucky and against Georgia, during which she committed just one turnover in a combined 52 minutes on the court. Walker proved she had earned the spot as she turned in a career outing at Vanderbilt with 18 points, including 6-of-8 shooting from the free throw line, five offensive rebounds and four assists in 39 minutes. The young guard showed the most poise when it counted, hitting 3-of-4 free throws in the final 25 seconds to stave off a Commodore comeback.
Gamecocks on TV
South Carolina played 14 games on television in 2009-10, including a pair of SEC contests on the ESPN family of networks. The Gamecocks were 6-8 in live television games.