Date: Friday, November 9, 2012 Time: 7 p.m. Location: Columbia, S.C. Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) Tickets: $7 adult, $4 youth (12 and under) Parking: $5 (due to event at Koger Center) TV: None Live Video:GamecocksOnline.com Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com Live Stats:GamecocksOnline.com Elon Series: Elon leads 2-0
This is the Gamecocks' 39th season as a varsity sport.
The 2012-13 season is the fifth at the helm for South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley. Her teams have combined for 27 SEC regular-season victories, the best four-year mark for the program in more than a decade.
The SEC coaches tabbed South Carolina to finish sixth in the league, while the media slotted it into seventh, despite the Gamecocks' fourth-place finish (tied) last season.
The Gamecocks are unveiling their 2012 NCAA Sweet 16 banner before starting lineups tonight, marking the program's fourth time advancing that far into the tournament.
A South Carolina Win Would...
Be the third in a season opener in head coach Dawn Staley's five-year tenure, but her first at home as the Gamecocks have opened three of her five seasons on the road.
Give the Gamecocks a 27-12 all-time record in season openers.
Keep Staley undefeated in four career college meetings with Elon head coach Charlotte Smith as Staley's Virginia Cavaliers topped Smith's North Carolina Tar Heels three times in the 1991-92 season, the only one in which their playing careers at the two ACC rivals overlapped.
By the Numbers 5 Newcomers that will take the court for the Gamecocks this season, the same number as last season 6 Letterwinners that the Gamecocks returned from last season's NCAA Sweet 16 team 52.4 Percent of last season's scoring that is back on the court for the Gamecocks in 2012-13 56.9 Percent of last season's steals that are back in 2012-13 65.9 Percent of last season's rebounding that has returned for 2012-13
Elon Series Notes
The Gamecocks and Phoenix have not met since the 1974-75 season when they played twice. That was the first official season of women's basketball at South Carolina with the "Carolina Chicks" as part of the athletics department. Elon won both games that season, including an 82-77 victory on its home floor in the AIAW Region II Tournament. The location of the first game is unknown.
Scouting the Phoenix
Elon returns four starters from last season's 16-14 squad and added four newcomers to the mix. Senior guard Ali Ford led the offense last season with 14.5 points per game - second-best in the Southern Conference - highlighted by 35.7 percent shooting (87-244) from 3-point range. Her efficiency earned a spot on the All-SoCon First Team. Forward Kelsey Evans joined Ford on the Preseason All-Conference squad this season behind her 11.7 point and 7.5 rebound averages in 2011-12. The lone departing starter was also the team's playmaker, so Elon will have to replace her 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game, both team highs.
Elon head coach Charlotte Smith is in her second season at the helm after serving nine seasons as an assistant at her alma mater, North Carolina. Smith is just the sixth head coach in Elon women's basketball history, and her 16 victories last season were the most by a first-year head coach at the school.
South Carolina was picked by both the media and league's coaches to finish in the middle of the 14-team pack in the Southeastern Conference. The media predicted the Gamecocks would take seventh place, while the coaches slotted South Carolina into sixth.
Senior guard Ieasia Walker drew preseason second-team all-conference honors from both groups. She is the team's lone returning starter and the highest returning scorer from last year's squad. Her 7.9 points per game came with 3.2 assists per outing, which combined to earn her Second-Team All-SEC honors for the second-straight year.
The Gamecocks showed their athleticism and raw talent in an 88-31 victory over Anderson in an exhibition game on Sunday afternoon. South Carolina's stifling defensive pressure, rapidly becoming a trademark of the program, allowed the Trojans to shot just 27.3 percent from the field. Five Gamecocks scored in double figures, including three freshmen - Asia Dozier (14), Khadijah Sessions (11) and Tiffany Mitchell (10). Senior Sancheon White (13) and sophomore Aleighsa Welch (14) joined the scoring barrage, while sophomore Elem Ibiam dominated the glass with 12 rebounds. Sessions handed out five assists and swiped six of the team's 16 steals to complete her impressive afternoon. As a team, South Carolina shot 51.5 percent from the field against an Anderson team that had upended Clemson two nights earlier.
In its 39th season of women's basketball, South Carolina is 26-12 in season openers, including a 2-2 mark under head coach Dawn Staley. The Gamecocks have lost just once in 12 season openers at home. Tonight is just the third time South Carolina has opened at home during Staley's five seasons at the helm, the most recent being an 84-65 loss to then-No. 5 Xavier on Nov. 12, 2011.