COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - What’s popular is not always what is best.
Gamecock basketball wins through the collective team effort. It requires sacrifice and commitment to fulfilling a role to elevate team potential.
“Somebody loses out on being highlighted in a way they are normally highlighted,” said Gamecock women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley.
South Carolina recruits top talent. Elite high school scorers like Gamecock sophomore Brea Beal. She averaged 26 points per game during her senior season of high school in Illinois. Through two seasons as a Gamecock, she averages single digits.
“Last year was probably the biggest wall I’ve hit,” Beal said. “In high school, you come out [and] you’re this top leading scorer. And now, in college, you’re surrounded by leading scorers.”
Here’s the deal about Beal, she’s adapted her mindset beyond one column on the stat sheet. She can score. She chooses to embrace the role needed as a lockdown defender and the glue on both ends of the court.
“Now I’m more comfortable with being able to rebound, defend, and then score,” Beal added.
Beal welcomes the challenge of being the “glue” and shutting down the opposition’s best defender.
“I love that assignment,” Beal said. “It’s fun to me. I don’t necessarily have to score. I have to make sure people are in the right position. I have to make sure I am doing my role, which is stopping that person I’m guarding from scoring.”
“It’s the unpopular role on social media,” Staley said. “It’s the popular role for coaches.”
Getting the entire roster to buy-in to their role, like Beal, starts with consistent communication.
“We sat down with our players prior to coming to San Antonio and revisited what our expectations are,” Staley said. “When you’re clear in communicating what we need from each individual, they may not like it. I don’t expect them to like it. But they have to respect it. And it’s not left in the air.”
If winning is a measuring stick of players doing their job and accepting their assignment, Carolina must have the right formula. Carolina’s 56-5 the past two seasons, playing for a spot in the Elite 8 on Sunday.