Date: Friday, November 12, 2010 Time: 6:30 p.m. Location: Columbia, S.C. Arena: Colonial Life Arena Xavier Series: XU leads 1-0; In Columbia: First Meeting; In Cincinnati: XU leads 1-0 Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton); GamecocksOnline.com Television:www.FoxSportsCarolinas.com live; re-air 12 a.m. FS Carolinas (Rich Waltz and LaChina Robinson) Live Stats:GamecocksOnline.com
South Carolina Notables
This is the Gamecocks' 36th season as a varsity sport.
The Gamecocks are 25-10 in season openers, including a perfect 10-0 mark in home games.
This is the first season Dawn Staley is hosting a season opener at South Carolina.
South Carolina was 7-5 at Colonial Life Arena last season.
SEC coaches picked the Gamecocks to finish seventh in their annual preseason poll, matching the media's preseason selection. South Carolina closed out the 2009-10 campaign tied for seventh with a 7-9 league record.
South Carolina opens the season with a trio of home games, its longest home stretch to start the season since four home contests opened the 2007-08 effort.
A South Carolina Win Would...
Be its second-straight in a season-opener as the Gamecocks defeated Charlotte 70-66 in overtime to open the 2009-10 campaign.
Keep the Gamecocks undefeated in season openers played at home (11-0).
Be the Gamecocks' second-straight over a nationally-ranked opponent.
Be the Gamecocks' first over a top-five team since a 70-66 win over then-No. 5 Vanderbilt on Jan. 14, 1998.
Bring head coach Dawn Staley within three of her 200th career coaching victory.
Snap a three-game losing streak to Xavier by Staley-coached teams.
No. 5/6 Xavier wrapped up its 2009-10 campaign with a 30-4 record and a spot in the NCAA Elite Eight. Undefeated in regular-season play, the Musketeers won their third Atlantic 10 Tournament championship in four seasons. Xavier returns four of the five starters who helped the team to one of the best seasons in school history, including the frontcourt duo of seniors Amber Harris and Ta'Shia Phillips. With 16.1 ppg last season, Harris led the Musketeers in scoring, and Phillips averaged a double-double with 13.9 ppg and 11.7 rpg. Senior point guard Special Jennings guides the squad as her 4.4 assists per game led the A-10 last season.
Head coach Kevin McGuff is in his ninth season at Xavier, leading the Musketeers to a 185-70 record, which includes seven A-10 titles and nine NCAA Tournament appearances.
Xavier Series Notes
The Gamecocks and Musketeers have met only once before with Xavier coming out on top 70-65 in an overtime WNIT game played in Cincinnati on March 17, 2006.
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has a long history with Xavier, however, as she spent her first eight seasons at Temple, an Atlantic 10 rival of the Musketeers. Routinely among the conference's top two teams, Staley's teams held a 7-4 edge over the Musketeers, though the teams were tied 2-2 in A-10 Tournament games. Xavier came out on top in the last three meetings of the series.
South Carolina holds a 25-10 record in season openers, including a perfect 10-0 mark when playing that first game on its home court. The Gamecocks won their season opener last season, a 70-66 overtime victory at Charlotte. This is the first year head coach Dawn Staley has hosted a season opener at South Carolina.
Staley is 8-2 in season openers in her coaching career. The 11th-year head coach dropped her Gamecock debut 56-42 at Penn State on Nov. 16, 2008. Her only other season-opening defeat was a 76-70 defeat at the hands of Evansville on Nov. 9, 2001.
Honoring Our Veterans
In honor of Veterans Day and all the men and women who protect and serve the United States of America, Sgt. Chentile T. Jackson will serve as the team's Honorary Captain tonight and receive a game ball from South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley prior to the game. Currently the Supply Sergeant for 3-60 Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson, Sgt. Jackson joined the Army in October 2006 and attended basic training at Fort Jackson. While stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y., she did a 12-month rotation to Iraqwith HHC 10th Mountain Division.
Against Ranked Teams
South Carolina is 48-182 all-time against nationally-ranked teams, including a 3-9 mark last season. The Gamecocks are 26-68 all time in road games against top-25 teams, including an 0-3 record last season. Under current head coach Dawn Staley, the Gamecocks are 3-16 against ranked opponents. She is 7-33 against top-25 teams in her career.
Now in November
The Gamecocks are 67-34 (.663) all-time in the month of November, including a 32-8 record at home. Under head coach Dawn Staley, South Carolina is 6-5 in the first month of the season. The Gamecocks went 3-3 in Staley's first year at the helm (2008-09) and were 3-3 last season.
Junior guard Marah Strickland is set to make her Gamecock debut tonight, but she has already caught the eye of SEC coaches. The group voted her to the Preseason All-SEC Second Team prior to the start of the season despite having not yet played a game in a Gamecock uniform. Strickland sat out the 2009-10 season after transferring from Maryland, where she ranked among the ACC's elite 3-point shooters in both frequency and percentage.
Here and Now
While the focus outside the women's basketball program has been on what the Gamecocks are missing as they tip off the 2010-11, head coach Dawn Staley is confident in what her team brings to the floor. With intangibles, Staley refers to addition by subtraction as she has seen her team's attitude change on and off the court as different leaders emerge both in voice and in action. Since the head coach brought math into the equation, let's look at the hard numbers of what the opening-day lineup for the Gamecocks brings to the floor.
Seven players from the 2009-10 squad will take the court tonight for South Carolina - Ashley Bruner, Samone Kennedy, Jewel May, Charenee Stephens, La'Keisha Sutton, Ieasia Walker and Ebony Wilson. The group accounted for 51.0 percent of the points and 55.1 percent of the rebounds from last season. It also handed out 60.7 percent of last season's assists and swiped 67.4 percent of the steals.
Once Valerie Nainima and Courtney Newton return to the fold, Staley will have at her disposal a group that posted 77.4 percent of points, 62.5 percent of rebounds, 87.0 percent of assists and 82.4 percent of steals amassed in 2009-10.
While breaking down the statistics for players returning and lost from last season's team, the situational math shed a new light on what the Gamecocks can look for in 2010-11 from some of its returning players.
Deep inside the stats, Charenee Stephens graded out as one of the most effective players on last year's squad. She led the team in rebounds per 40 minutes play (12.8) and was third on the squad in pro-rated points at 15.1 per 40 minutes played. Stephens posted the team's best true shooting percentage (accounts for field goals, 3-point field goals and free throws) at .618. She also came out on top in effective field goal percentage (adjusted to include additional points for 3-pointers) at .599. Additionally, she grabbed a team-high 15.0 percent of offensive rebounds available while she was on the floor.
La'Keisha Sutton also graded out well in the mathematical analysis as 18.0 percent of field goals were assisted when she was on the floor. Offensively, her pro-rated scoring was 13.1 points per 40 minutes. Her 3.4 assists per 40 minutes tied with Samone Kennedy for the team high.
The number that shows even more potential for the Gamecocks this season is from Ashley Bruner, who was second on the team last year, grabbing 13.4 percent of the offensive rebounds available when she was on the floor. Her per-40-minutes rebound average was 10.0 with an equal 5.0 offensive and defensive. With probable extended playing time this season, Bruner could be the rebounding answer Staley has been looking for.