COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Not in Carolina’s cards.
The one-point loss to Stanford in the Final Four two weeks back still stings.
“Two layups that could have changed the whole trajectory of the championship,” said Gamecock women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley. “I mark it as it wasn’t meant to be.”
As Staley notes, disappointment in outcomes comes with the territory in sport and life.
“We don’t always get what we deserve,” Staley mentioned. “The work that you put in does not always result in the success of the goal you set out. That’s the great thing about sports. You can get better. You can figure out ways to work on it to replace those memories with great memories.”
The hurt from defeat can work for you or against you.
Staley draws on her Philadelphia roots to explain how to handle difficult circumstances.
“I grew up in the projects,” Staley said. “I don’t want to live in the projects anymore. I’m a little afraid of poverty. You need that experience to know what it feels like so you can work that much harder to avoid that. We need things to help us fuel what it is we don’t want to feel that we experienced.”
With that motivational mindset, a new journey commences on Carolina’s court.
“It gives us a starting point for who we want to be and what we want to accomplish next year,” added Staley. “It created that margin every time we step on the floor.”
And talented reinforcements are on the way with the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class. Four newcomers ready to blend with an already stacked roster.
“It’s a great time for our program to integrate this talent,” Staley said.
This Gamecock group will not run from national championship expectations. Staley welcomes that type of pressure with everything she does. Whether it be leading Team USA and Gamecock hoops or life off the court, pressure is part of excellence.
“It’s the pink elephant in the room,” Staley said. “You all see it. If you act like it’s not there, it works against it. You got to speak to the pink elephant. I see you. It’s helped me get through some things. You take things to face on. If it defeats you, you have to figure out a way to defeat it. Pressure is everywhere. Your whole life is pressure-filled. You’re either going to face it or put it off for another day. It’s going to show up. I prefer talking about it and dealing with it.”
Next season will be one to watch with a motivated, super talented squad in the roost.