Date: Friday, November 26, 2010 Time: 1 p.m. (PT)/4 p.m. (ET) Location: Palo Alto, Calif. Arena: Maples Pavilion (7,223) Stanford Series: SU leads 2-0; In Palo Alto: SU leads 1-0; In Columbia: SU leads 1-0 Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com Live Stats:GamecocksOnline.com
South Carolina Notables
This is the Gamecocks' 36th season as a varsity sport.
South Carolina is fifth in the SEC with a +6.3 rebounding margin and has out-rebounded all four opponents this season.
In four games, three different players have been the team's leading scorer. Three different Gamecocks have been the team's top rebounder as well.
Samone Kennedy is doubtful for Friday's game with a toe injury (right foot).
A South Carolina Win Would...
Bring head coach Dawn Staley within one of her 200th career coaching victory.
Be Staley's first over her first Olympic head coach, Tara VanDerveer
Be the Gamecocks' first over a top-five team since a 70-66 win over then-No. 5 Vanderbilt in Columbia on Jan. 14, 1998, and the first time the Gamecocks ever defeated a top-five team on the road.
Be the Gamecocks' second road win over a nationally ranked team in as many games.
Give Staley her first career win over a top-five team, topping her Temple's teams win over then-No. 9 Rutgers on Jan. 19, 2006.
Stanford Series Notes
The Cardinal lead the young series 2-0. The two teams opened a home-and-home contract in 2006-07 with the Gamecocks traveling to Palo Alto, on Jan. 8, 2007. Stanford, ranked No. 10 at the time, collected a 69-54 victory on its home court. Two years later, the then-No. 3 Cardinal arrived in Columbia and posted a 78-47 win over the Gamecocks in head coach Dawn Staley's first matchup against her former Olympic head coach. In that meeting, La'Keisha Sutton was South Carolina's offensive leader, netting 13 points, as the Gamecocks trailed by just nine at the half before struggling to shoot in the second period.
Despite the two programs matching up just twice before, the head coaches may have more insight into each other's teams than usual. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley played in her first Olympic games under Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer (1996). Staley, along with Gamecock assistant coach Nikki McCray, were part of the U.S. National Team that spent the 1995-96 season in residency for the first time in USA Basketball history. The group went 60-0 in international competition and helped spark two professional women's basketball leagues in the United States.
Walking on Sunshine
No Gamecock appears in the SEC statistical rankings more often than sophomore guard Ieasia Walker. Despite being absent from the category her head coach may value over the others (assists), she present in several other significant stats.
With 15.3 points per game, Walker is seventh in the league, and she is among the top 10 in field goal percentage at .404. Her 2.5 steals per game are seventh-best in the conference. Walker's 30-point outing against Her offensive clinic against Clemson set the bar in the SEC in points (30), field goals made (13) and field goal percentage (.684).
Walker has scored in double figures every game this season and has twice led the team in scoring (Clemson, Penn State).
Junior La'Keisha Sutton's complete understanding of what the coaching staff wants from the team has been music to head coach Dawn Staley's ears. Arguably the team's most dynamic scorer, Sutton can hurt opponents in a variety of ways as evidenced in the team's first full week of the season.
Sutton opened her 2010-11 campaign with a sparkling 19-point, five-assist, three-steal performance against No. 5/6 Xavier. She closed the seven-day stretch with a career-high six rebounds - trying for team-high honors - and three assists against archrival Clemson, truly celebrating her birthday through each basket, regardless of who scored it, that separated the Gamecocks from their in-state rival.
Sutton is among the league's top 30 scorers with 11.3 points per game and is second on the team in assists with 2.3 per game.
A-B-C Her Play
Forward Ashley Bruner opened her sophomore season with a pair of double-doubles, marking the second-straight season a Gamecock has accomplished the feat. Bruner's 17 points and 15 boards against No. 5/6 Xavier were career highs, and she followed that effort with a 11-point, 12-rebound showing against Illinois.
Bruner's stellar start has her ranked fifth in the SEC with 9.0 rebounds per game. Her 15 rebounds against Xavier are tied for the most by an SEC player so far this season.
She's a Jewel
Senior Jewel May has started 34 of the team's last 35 games because of what she brings to the team outside the box score. Quick and athletic on both sides of the ball, May earned praise from head coach Dawn Staley following the Clemson game as an example of what the coaching staff had been preaching about taking good shots. Calm decision-making and poise in the post helped May to a six rebounds, including three offensive, and eight points along with a career-best four steals.
This season, May is third on the team with 4.8 rebounds per game. Nine of her 19 total rebounds have come on the offensive end, helping her to 4.8 points per game. She has led the team in rebounding twice (Clemson, at Penn State).
Granny Knows Best
Junior college transfer Markeshia Grant - better known to her teammates as Granny - is averaging a team-best 2.5 assists per game coming off the bench. She dished out a team-best four against Clemson against just a single turnover. After a difficult outing at Penn State, Grant still holds an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.25. In her first season under head coach Dawn Staley's tutelage, Grant has proven to be quite sticky-fingered as well, snapping up 2.0 steals per game, including three against Clemson.
Despite being the only SEC team without a player who stands at least 6-foot-3 (the Gamecocks top out at 6-foot-1), South Carolina ranks fifth in the league in rebounding margin at +6.2 board per game. The stat may have been a concern of Staley's prior to the season, but her team has out-rebounded each of its first four opponents, including then-No. 5/6 Xavier, who closed the 2009-10 season with a +11.1 rebounding margin and had not been out-rebounded in 21 games.
Last season, the Gamecocks finished the non-conference season with a rebounding margin of 2.5 boards per game last season. In 2009-10, South Carolina was 10-6 when out-rebounding its opponents.
Now in November
The Gamecocks are 69-36 (.657) all-time in the month of November, including a 34-9 record at home. Under head coach Dawn Staley, South Carolina is 8-7 in the first month of the season. The Gamecocks went 3-2 in Staley's first year at the helm (2008-09) and were 3-3 last season.
South Carolina has a 176-223 (.441) all-time record on the road. In non-conference action, that number improves to 120-108 (.526) all-time. The Gamecocks best season on the road was 1979-80 when they went 11-4.
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.
Tough Slate, High RPI
According to collegerpi.com (through games of Nov. 22), South Carolina is playing the third-toughest schedule in the country. Proving the SEC is one of the deepest leagues in the country, the conference also boasts the team tackling the nation's toughest schedule - Mississippi State. DePaul is ranked No. 2
With 20 of 29 games this season coming against teams that participated in the 2010 postseason, South Carolina has its work cut out for it right from the opening tipoff. Six Gamecock opponents (nine games) advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. Fortunately for the Gamecocks, five of those games will be played at Colonial Life Arena.
Early RPI ratings (through games of Nov. 22) have South Carolina coming in at 19. Around the SEC, Tennessee is in at 2, while Mississippi State and Kentucky are 15 and 17, respectively. Arkansas (23), Ole Miss (26), Alabama (30) and Florida (39) round out the SEC schools ranked in the top 50.