#2 South Carolina Women's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

South Carolina Gamecocks

Overall Rank: #2
Conference Rank: #1 SEC
#2 South Carolina Women's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview
South Carolina Team Page


The 2013-14 season for the University of South Carolina women’s basketball program was groundbreaking as they battled their way to a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. While the Gamecocks did lose a tough game in the Sweet 16 to North Carolina in the Stanford Regional, South Carolina returns all five starters. They also bring in a loaded recruiting class led by guard/forward A’ja Wilson who is regarded as the best incoming player in women’s college basketball this season.

2013-14 Record: 29-5, 14-2
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach:  Dawn Staley
Coach Record: 121-71 at South Carolina, 293-151 overall

This Gamecock team is loaded with experience and is a total reflection of their head coach Dawn Staley as far as how well they play as a team, especially defensively. Last season, the Gamecocks held teams under 56 points per game and did an outstanding job of limiting teams in regard to quality shots. South Carolina held teams to a 34.6 percent shooting percentage from the floor and were dominant on the glass thanks to the combination of Alaina Coates and Elem Ibiam. Coates and Ibiam combined for an average of just over 14 rebounds per game and they both teamed up to block over 150 shots last season. Junior guard Tiffany Mitchell, and senior forward Aleighsa Welch will lead the way offensively for the Gamecocks this season. Mitchell is the projected preseason player of the year in the Southeastern Conference and averaged over 15 points per game last season and shot 54.1 percent from behind the three-point arc. Welch brings her veteran experience and efficient play on the offensive end of the court. She shot over 57 percent from the floor last season. These two help create a nice balance that will be very difficult for opponents to contain over the course of 40 minutes.

South Carolina is going to have be more dynamic from the perimeter in order to take the next step and go to the Final Four. This where incoming freshman A’ja Wilson could be a huge addition for the Gamecocks as Wilson has the ability to take over a game. She averaged 34.4 points per game as a senior in high school. This versatility and the lack of a need for Wilson to come in and be a starter will only make South Carolina that much more dangerous at both ends of the court. The free throw shooting does have to get better as the Gamecocks shot just 67.4 percent from the charity stripe last season.

Final Projection:
Everything is in place for this South Carolina team to make a run to the Final Four as they are battle tested and should be able to handle the increased expectations. The schedule is a pretty good one out the gate with USC visiting on November 15th. A road trip to Duke will be intriguing on December 7th as the Blue Devils are reloading a little bit this season. On February 9th the Gamecocks will get their shot at Connecticut on the road in what will be a big litmus test for South Carolina. The conference schedule is pretty balanced with home matchups with Texas A&M and Tennessee the two other primary contenders for the SEC championship on January 26th and February 23rd, respectively. In short, this should be a year for the Gamecocks that will end with a trip to the Final Four as long the team stays healthy and relentlessly focused every day.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Tiffany Mitchell, Junior, Guard, 15.5 points per game
Khadijah Sessions, Junior, Guard, 7.2 points per game
Asia Dozier, Junior, Guard, 6.0  points per game
Aleighsa Welch, Senior, Forward, 13.7 points per game
Elem Ibiam, Senior, Center, 9.5 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.9 (63rd in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 55.8 (8, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.4 (6, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 34.6 (5, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 3.9 (286, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: NR
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.4 (233, 10)
Rebound Margin: 8.8 (14, 2)
Assists Per Game: 14.6 (89, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.3 (71, 3)

Madness 2015 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#7 Aleighsa Welch
#10 Elem Ibiam

Madness 2014 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#1 A'ja Wilson
#6 Jatarie White
#27 Kaydra Duckett
#38 Bianca Cuevas


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