After punching in a more than dominant effort last season, it would be safe to say that no member of the Lady Gamecock locker room is satisfied heading into the 2020-21 basketball season. The team played exceptionally well, attaining the highest win percentage in school history behind a historic collection of talent and what has become a typical year on the sidelines for Hall of Fame coach Dawn Staley and her staff. When late November arrives, none of that will matter to this team as they mobilize new additions and motivation to officially reclaim supremacy in D1 basketball.
Though never easy, that task certainly is within reach for this team. After losing two impactful seniors, assist leader Ty Harris and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, the team will be spearheaded this year by the sophomore punch of Brea Beal, Naismith Freshman of the Year Aliyah Boston, and Zia Cooke. As new veterans look to step up and additions like redshirt junior Destiny Littleton and Eniya Russell seek to contribute from the get-go on a championship contender. Few doubt this team’s chemistry and ability to sustain the high-level basketball from last season, which will certainly inspire a run at what could be their 6th SEC championship in 7 years.
One thing is true: this team knows they have what it takes, putting them in league with pre-season power rankings across the nation, who continually place this team at the top as the official practice season begins. Despite the lack of an official schedule, the most decorated athletic program at the University of South Carolina knows what will likely lie ahead. They went 16-0 in conference play last year, but with top-ranked conference rivals like Kentucky and Mississippi State, likely retooling from the thorough beatdown they received in the conference championship, these matchups will have to be won again with a whole new composition of players.
When asked how the pandemic and shortened season would fuel the team this year, lone senior Lele Grissett stated, “It gave us another mindset, to show people, why we could win it, why we should have won it, and why we’re gonna win it this year.” They have had a taste of everything else and it doesn’t impress them. It isn’t befitting their caliber of a team to not win in March. They want to silence every other claim to the top seat in women’s basketball.
However, entering a pandemic-plagued season in a year where the next wrench could be thrown just around the corner, this season will certainly be their most testing yet. So grab your popcorn and get ready for the show - I have a feeling it’s going to be pretty great to watch.