Dawn Staley — head coach for the University of South Carolina's Women's Basketball Team — believes there should be more upsets in women's basketball. Well, only if they don't occur against her team.
Staley held a postgame press conference after her team's 78-38 win over South Dakota State on Monday. When asked about the many early-season upsets we've seen in women's college basketball this year, Staley said, "I think women's basketball is good. We could talk about parity, but we're good. Our sport is at a really good place where anybody feels like they could beat anybody. It's come to pass and I think that helps everybody else when you see it."
Staley's sentiment about parity makes sense — especially when one looks at the number of surprising upsets that have taken place in 2023. The defending national champion LSU Tigers — who are in the midst of some concerning off-court turmoil — were the NCAA's top-ranked team in the preseason before losing their season opener against Colorado. In addition, the formerly #2 ranked UConn women's squad lost to an unranked NC State team last week (much to Geno Auriemma's chagrin), and Caitlin Clark's then-#2 ranked Iowa team was upset by Kansas State last Thursday.
South Carolina — who is 4-0 and the NCAA's #1 ranked team — has avoided any upsets through their early season slate of games. Yet, Staley noted that seeing other top-tier teams lose makes for added motivation.
"When you see [these upsets], you prepare a little bit better," Staley said. "You've got examples of what it could look like for you if you lose a basketball game. More so than just coaching your team up, they see it, they feel it. It is a real thing out there when you see teams get upset."
The influx of upsets in women's college basketball indicates that the nationwide basketball talent pool is not only better, but also much deeper than it has ever been before — which Dawn Staley echoed in an interview with Vanity Fair last month. While reflecting on the record-breaking TV ratings that the WNBA experienced this year, Staley said, "Women's basketball is bursting at the seams. It is a long time coming."
That it is. Yet, despite it being good for the women's game's growth, Staley would surely like to wait a long time before her undefeated South Carolina squad suffers their own upset loss.
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