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Oct. 26, 2015

South Carolina women’s basketball met with local media today at Colonial Life Arena to preview the 2015-16 season. Head coach Dawn Staley and seniors Tiffany Mitchell and Khadijah Sessions opened the event with press conferences, then joined the entire team for individual interviews and photo shoots with local television, newspaper and website reporters.

Quotes from Staley’s Press Conference
On today’s announcement of selling 10,000 season tickets
“It’s truly amazing how this community has supported our program. It just shows that we put a great product on the floor that they can be proud of and feel good about. They’re making us a part of their budget, and we just want to make sure that it’s always something they can feel good about investing in.”

On South Carolina being a “Grassroots” success
“This is probably the biggest grassroots success I’ve ever had. In grassroots, you want whatever product that you’re pushing to grow, and continue to grow, and reach masses of people. When it’s grassroots it’s hit or miss sometimes and you can gain some popularity, but it’s probably not in the way that the community has embraced our women’s basketball program. It’s something that I couldn’t really imagine. My attention has been on making our team a great product, so I didn’t take the time to visualize what arena would look like, the social media attention that we would get. Maybe that was a good thing. That way the people who come out to support us created that picture, and it’s best when it comes that way.”

On competition at the point guard position
“There’s a lot of competition, and it’s great because we’re very versatile with the three point guards that we have. Khadijah (Sessions) does a great job at managing us, knowing the plays and playing both sides of the basketball. Her shots have gotten a lot more consistent, which is always a great thing. There’s growth in Bianca (Cuevas), we kind of have to hold our breaths on what’s going to happen good or bad, but a lot of good. Her good is out weighing the bad. If we can continue to help her grow in that direction and making better decisions with the basketball, she can be a difference maker for our basketball team this year. Shay Colley is getting better and better. She’s probably in between the both of them. She’s calm, cool and cerebral. She understands what we’re trying to do. She’s just trying to gain more and more experience. She has good days and she has bad days, but she is consistent with her approach to it. She doesn’t get to high with the highs or too low with the lows, and when someone’s able to maintain that mentality at that position, you know they’re going to be a quality player for us.”

On depth in the frontcourt
“(Alaina) Coates and (A’ja) Wilson can’t play 30 minutes right now. The pace of the game, the amount of physical contact that takes place in the paint, their ability to swiftly move down the floor, just takes a toll on big bodies like that. We want to make sure that they’re always fresh, that our opponents are getting the best play. We have Sarah (Imovbioh) who is a nice complement to what we already have. She is an incredible athlete and an incredible rebounder, and she’s our enforcer. She doesn’t mind being very physical; she’s always on go. She doesn’t slow down, which is a lot different than what we had. We might slide down some of our longer perimeter players, and slide them over to play some post for us. We have Jatarie White, and she’s getting healthier and healthier. Yesterday was the first time that she competed and was able to play in competitive drills. So you know if we can get her healthy before the start of the season, I think we’ll continue to be one of the tallest and longest.

On playing faster this season
“Our pace is a lot different than it has been. I have to credit our new performance coach, Katie Fowler for increasing that speed. How she’s handled us, how she’s handled our team, everything is quicker. In the weight room it’s a quicker pace; conditioning is a lot faster. We don’t give them time to think, they have to think on the run. And because of that I think we can steal some baskets here and there, and we can make our opponents be on their toes at all times and not be a team that just walks the ball down and sets up at half court. We’ll do that sometimes, but for the most part we want to utilize the depth that we have on our roster.”