NPR’s Only A Game published an interview with South Carolina coach Dawn Staley today, which included her thoughts on turning around the Gamecocks program and their upcoming Sweet 16 matchup with North Carolina.
But one noteworthy nugget in there was Staley describing just how badly the school wanted to keep her there when Ohio State came calling last year.
KG: Your team’s success has not gone unnoticed. This week, a columnist for the Post and Courier compared you to the Dalai Lama. And when Ohio State tried to recruit you away from the Gamecocks, the governor called personally to ask you to stay. What has all that attention been like for you?
DS: The attention has been great because it raises the awareness of women’s basketball in the state of South Carolina, and we’re breaking down barriers. Our attendance has skyrocketed. On our last home game we had close to 13,000 fans witness us win a regular season SEC championship. So when the governor calls, and when your boss, Ray Tanner, doesn’t want you to leave, and he shows you, he gives you your flowers while you can smell them, we can only be successful when you have that much support around you.
Even if you’re not a South Carolina fan, this is probably a good thing for women’s basketball: the game needs more programs who are at least able to be in the discussion with the elite; as Staley said earlier in the interview, having a new team on that #1 line “gives the whole country a breath of fresh air.”
For more on South Carolina’s way forward, check out our Stanford region storystream.