#23 South Carolina Women's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

South Carolina Gamecocks

Overall Rank: #23
Conference Rank: #5 SEC
#23 South Carolina Women's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview
South Carolina Team Page


A young but very talented squad returns for South Carolina in 2013 as they look to build off of a 25 win season that included 11 conference wins under the leadership of head coach Dawn Staley. Staley has gradually built this Gamecock program with defense just like she did at Temple and is now reaping the benefits as she heads into her sixth season in Columbia.

2012-13 Record:  25-8, 11-5
2012-13 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Dawn Staley, 6th season at South Carolina, 14th overall
Coach Record:  92-66 at South Carolina, 264-146 overall

The Gamecocks were absolutely outstanding on the defensive end of the court last season. South Carolina held their opponents to just slightly over 50 points per game. That commitment to defense by the Gamecocks is a direct reflection on the influence coach Staley has in creating a culture of a total commitment to playing championship caliber defense. One vital element to the defensive success for the Gamecocks is their ability to dominate on the boards as they had one of the top rebound margins in the country at 10.1 more rebounds per game than their opponent. Aleighsa Welch, a junior forward, averaged nearly eight rebounds a game and she is going to be a key cog in the South Carolina offense this season as she also averaged 12 points per game in 2012-13. The Gamecocks also were very adept at causing turnovers as all-SEC freshman team sophomore guard Tiffany Mitchell helped lead the Gamecocks to create nearly nine steals per game. Mitchell should take an even bigger step forward at both ends of the floor now that she has a season at the college level under her belt.

The inability to score points consistently was an issue for South Carolina, which led to the second-round tournament loss against Kansas. The free throw shooting was a huge issue last season as well as the Gamecocks only made 56.4 percent of their shots from the charity stripe. This percentage, even if they only boost it up to about 65 percent this year, should boost their offensive numbers closer to 65-70 points per game and help them greatly when they play tight conference games. South Carolina’s perimeter shooting was an issue as well as the team shot just over 25 percent from three point range. Newcomer Olivia Gaines will be relied upon heavily to provide scoring from the outside to keep opposing defenses honest.
Final Projection:
The Gamecocks have a non-conference schedule that has a good balance of tests and games that should allow for this young talented squad to form good chemistry. The in-state rivalry against Clemson on November 20th kicks off a three game road trip that include a matchup on the road at Southern Cal on November 25th. This will be a good mix of road tests for South Carolina, along with a neutral site matchup in Myrtle Beach with a very tough North Carolina squad. The ability to get road and neutral site victories will be huge come Selection Monday. The conference schedule has interesting road tests at Texas A&M, LSU, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The home schedule in conference play should allow the Gamecocks to build up some room for error in the event they struggle on the road. Overall, if the Gamecocks get any type of improved consistent play at the offensive end of the court, they should make a run at another 25 plus win season and be a top five seed in a region come NCAA Tournament time.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Tiffany Mitchell, Sophomore, Guard, 9.2 points per game
Olivia Gaines, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Khadijah Sessions, Sophomore, Guard, 5.8 points per game
Aleighsa Welch, Junior, Forward, 12.0 points per game
Alaina Coates, Freshman, Center, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 61.3 (183rd in nation, 13th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 50.3 (5, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 39.0 (155, 11)
Field-Goal Defense:  35.4 (32, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 3.4 (291, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 25.3 (NR,NR)
Free-Throw Percentage: 56.4 (324, 14)
Rebound Margin: 10.1 (9, 2)
Assists Per Game: 10.6 (285, 14)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.9 (33, 2)


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