Dawn Staley AP Coach Of The Year

Associated Press
March 24, 2020 - 10:30 am
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Associated Press

By DOUG FEINBERG

March 23, 2020

Dawn Staley helped guide South Carolina to No. 1 and has now earned coach of the year honors from The Associated Press for the first time.

The veteran Gamecocks coach received 20 votes from the national media panel that selects the Top 25 poll each week.

“It’s a great feeling. It’s cliche as I represent the best team in the country and our coaching staff and our support staff. Our trainers and everybody. It’s great,” she said. “It’s something that we haven’t been able to celebrate, but we will celebrate it together at a later time.”

Northwestern coach Joe McKeown was second with five votes in balloting released Monday. Oregon’s Kelly Graves garnered four ballots and North Carolina State’s Wes Moore received one.

South Carolina finished the season 32-1, winning the SEC season and tournament championships. The Gamecocks won their final 26 games and were No 1 in the AP poll for the final 10 weeks of the season.

Staley became the second African-American coach to win the AP award, joining Carolyn Peck, who was honored in 1999 when she coached Purdue. The two have long been connected; Peck gave Staley a piece of the NCAA championship net she won that season.

Staley brought that story to light when South Carolina won the NCAA title in 2017. She thought the Gamecocks would have had a good chance to win the title again this season had the NCAA Tournament not been canceled by the coronavirus outbreak.

“I would have liked to continue to face the challenges in the NCAA Tournament,” she said.

Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu was honored Monday as the AP women’s basketball player of the year. The Ducks’ guard was a unanimous choice, only the second time that has happened since the award was first given in 1995.

The University of South Carolina Athletics provided the following statement Tuesday.

WBCA Taps Staley as National Coach of the Year

3/24/2020 | Women's Basketball 

COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina women's basketball head coach Dawn Staley picked up her second national recognition in as many days when the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) named her its 2020 United States Marine Corps/WBCA NCAA Division I National Coach of the Year. It is Staley's first time winning the award from her colleagues around the country.

The WBCA will present Staley with the Pat Summitt Trophy, named for the late legendary Tennessee coach and award annually to the National Coach of the Year in each of the WBCA's six membership divisions.

"Dawn is a championship coach and a hall of fame player," said WBCA Executive Director Danielle M. Donehew. "She is a skilled and passionate teacher of the game who is devoted to her student-athletes. She has masterfully built both a powerful program and fanbase at South Carolina. She has served her peers as a member of the WBCA Board of Directors and NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Oversight Committee. Dawn was chosen by her peers for this award after leading her team to another exceptional season. She is very deserving of the WBCA's highest honor in the coaching profession."

Staley's team of six returning letterwinners and the nation's top recruiting class entered the season ranked in the top 10 of the AP and USA Today/WBCA Coaches' Polls and finished it at No. 1 in both. The Gamecocks' 10 weeks atop the AP Poll were the most of any team this season as the steady leadership of seniors Tyasha Harris and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan guided the otherwise youthful squad to a 32-1 record that included 26 consecutive wins to close the season, a perfect 16-0 record for the program's fifth SEC Regular-Season Championship and its fifth SEC Tournament title.

Staley challenged her team with the fifth-toughest schedule in the country, and the Gamecocks answered with a 13-1 record against nationally ranked opponents, including wins over three teams that finished the season in the top five. South Carolina went 8-0 against RPI top-25 teams and 8-1 against the next 25 RPI teams (26-50).

The SEC Coach of the Year led a team that embodied her competitive spirit and built its success on its commitment to defense and a team-first mentality. The Gamecock offense scored a school-record 82.0 points per game to rank sixth in the nation while no individual Gamecock averaged more than 13.1 points. South Carolina's bench added 26.6 points per game of that average as those six Gamecocks thrived in their roles. Defensively, South Carolina was fourth in the country in allowing opponents to shoot just 33.3 percent from the field, and their 30.1 defensive rebounds per game were 12th best in the country.

In 12 seasons, Staley's Gamecocks have won the 2017 National Championship and finished the season in the Final Four once, Elite Eight once and Sweet 16 four times. Her teams have won five SEC regular-season titles in the last seven seasons and five of the last six SEC Tournament crowns. Her SEC regular-season winning percent of .726 is second only to Tennessee's Pat Summitt in league history, and her 11.5 SEC victories per season are the most of any head coach all-time. Staley's 305 wins at South Carolina are the most by a Gamecock basketball coach - men's or women's. She is a four-time SEC Coach of the Year, including becoming the first in league history to win the title three straight seasons.

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