NCAAW: Third-straight Ultimate 4 the sweetest but for South Carolina

The South Carolina Gamecocks are proper again the place they have been one yr in the past: the NCAA Match Ultimate 4. Daybreak Staley’s crew has been the hands-down favourite all season to win one other nationwide championship, and the Gamecocks at the moment are simply two video games away from carrying out that objective.

Because the reigning nationwide champion and the one workforce in Division I to go undefeated in the course of the 2022-23 common season, South Carolina entered the NCAA Match with lofty expectations. These expectations have largely been met by way of the event’s first 4 rounds: The Gamecocks have gained by a mean of twenty-two.5 factors per recreation and have been solely really challenged by Maryland within the Elite Eight.

For anybody even barely conversant in what has introduced the Gamecocks success in current seasons, not a lot has modified throughout their newest NCAA Match run. As a workforce, South Carolina has a transparent identification and executes it higher than anybody else within the nation; the Gamecocks depend on unmatched depth within the frontcourt, athletic and bodily protection on the perimeter and sheer willpower and exercise on the boards to overwhelm opponents, rating at or close to the highest of the Division I leaderboards in defensive score (73.3 factors allowed per 100 possessions; No. 2 in Division I), complete rebounding fee (62.9 p.c; No. 1) and blocked shot fee (20.3 p.c; No. 1), based on Her Hoop Stats. Additionally they rank No. 1 within the nation in offensive score (114.4), due largely to the frequency at which they rebound the basketball on that finish of the ground and the way simply they get high-efficiency pictures on the rim.

One take a look at the Gamecocks’ roster offers a ok thought of how that is attainable. South Carolina’s frontcourt rotation of Aliyah Boston (6-foot-5), Victaria Saxton (6-foot-2), Kamilla Cardoso (6-foot-7) and Laeticia Amihere (6-foot-4) is just too a lot for opponents to deal with for a full 40 minutes, and their stout inside presence permits top-tier athletes Zia Cooke and Brea Beal to be that rather more aggressive on the perimeter, making a protection that is kind of impenetrable, save for warm opponent jumpshooting — which, as South Carolina’s outcomes have proven, is nearly by no means sustainable to the purpose of competing with the Gamecocks’ depth for complete video games.

Groups like these aren’t assembled in a single day, although. Beal, Boston, Cooke and Amihere are all of their fourth seasons as Gamecocks, and Saxton is in her fifth. What South Carolina discovered throughout its championship run in 2022 (and Ultimate 4 loss to Stanford in 2021) is on full show throughout each recreation it performs in 2023; the Gamecocks are a well-oiled basketball machine that has skilled each successes and failures on the most important stage, and each little bit of that have has contributed to the workforce that at present boasts an ideal 36-0 file.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - Greenville Regional

All she does is win! South Carolina head coach Daybreak Staley has taken the Gamecocks to their third consecutive Ultimate 4.
Picture by Jacob Kupferman/NCAA Images by way of Getty Photographs

Staley hasn’t taken her foot off the gasoline pedal, both. Even after profitable a nationwide championship in 2022, she needed her workforce to enhance even additional, so she scheduled a grueling non-conference schedule that included video games in opposition to Maryland, Stanford, UCLA and UConn — all groups she anticipated the Gamecocks working into in March.

Not solely did the outcomes of these video games — all South Carolina victories — contribute considerably to the Gamecocks remaining sharp in SEC play, however Staley’s option to schedule Maryland and UCLA paid much more dividends when her workforce encountered these faculties as soon as once more within the NCAA Match.

Clairvoyance? Maybe. However Staley flat-out is aware of how you can recruit, how you can coach and how you can construct a program, and her Gamecocks are at present of their golden years due to her tutelage. South Carolina is the newest instance of how the event of a workforce’s core expertise by way of numerous early challenges can yield the very best outcomes afterward, and with every dominant victory, these outcomes simply maintain getting an increasing number of spectacular for the Gamecocks. With simply two extra NCAA Match wins, they will be part of the rarefied air occupied solely by back-to-back NCAA champions.