South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley isn’t happy about alleged comments from the national media criticizing the Gamecocks’ physical style of play.
“We’re not bar fighters,” Staley said when asked about the narrative following South Carolina’s loss to Iowa in the Final Four on Friday night. “We’re not thugs. We’re not monkeys. We’re not street fighters. This team exemplifies how you need to approach basketball, on the court and off the court. And I do think that that’s sometimes brought into the game, and it hurts.”
Ahead of South Carolina’s game, Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder complimented the Gamecocks — who’d won 42 consecutive games entering the national semifinal — as “an amazing offensive rebounding team,” before adding that somebody described to her that rebounding against them compares to “going to a bar fight,” according to ESPN.
Friday night, when asked about her team’s “truth” with its playing style, Staley echoed a similar tone.
She directly called out the national media and their comments from an unknown event earlier this week that had been repeated to her.
“Some of the people in the media, when you’re gathering in public, you’re saying things about our team and you’re being heard, and it’s being brought back to me,” Staley said. “And these are the people that write nationally for our sport. So you cannot like our team. You can not like me. But when you say things that you probably should be saying in your home, on the phone or texting out in public and you’re being heard, and you are a national writer for our sport — it just confirms, just confirms, what we already know.
“…So don’t judge us by the color of our skin. Judge us by how we approach the game, and you may not like how we play the game. You may not like it. That’s the way we play. That’s the way I coach. I’m not changing.”
The Greenville News also reported that UConn head coach Geno Auriemma criticized South Carolina’s physicality following their game in February, which prompted Staley to respond on her radio call-in show and blast Auriemma.
“I’m sick of it because I coach some of the best human beings that the game has ever had,” Staley said in early February. “We’ve been called thugs. We’ve been called prisoners. We’ve been called monkeys.”
Staley’s press conference Friday was following South Carolina’s 77-73 loss to Iowa in the Final Four, where Caitlin Clark’s 41 points handed the Gamecocks their first loss since last season’s SEC title game.
Zia Cooke led South Carolina with 24 points, while 2021-22 national player of the year Aliyah Boston finished with eight after committing two early fouls — which forced her to spend the entire second quarter on the bench.
Iowa advanced to face LSU in the national championship game Sunday.