After losing standout A'ja Wilson to the WNBA, South Carolina will look to establish a new approach to developing a dominating offense.
Head coach Dawn Staley is implementing a new playing style for the Gamecocks, one that she said gives South Carolina a chance to utilize the experience and depth that they still have.
“I think that we are just going to play a lot more free because we have to play that way," Staley said. "We can’t have a team in which we have a 100-play play-book. I think this team is more driven by concept and understanding where they are on the court and where they can be impactful.”
Experience is something that Staley said she especially values this year as the team adapts to a new line-up.
“Experience. They will go with the most experienced players for us," Staley said. "Experience meaning that have played minutes, a lot of minutes for us in the past and then we’ll work everybody else in.”
Staley’s new approach this year will not allow their post players to be in the traditional triangle, but instead be mobile on the court. This new style has been well-received by South Carolina players, especially after taking a exhibition game-victory against Lander.
Junior guard Tyasha Harris said she likes how the new system lets her push the ball down the court.
“I love the style,” Harris said. “I love position-less basketball, I love running up and down the floor. We create offense from our defense.”
Staley also wants to increase the range outside of the 3-pointer this season through transitions, something she said even Wilson struggled to do.
With this new approach, Staley will look to several experienced players like redshirt junior Te’a Cooper, who led South Carolina with 20 points against the Bearcats, and senior forward Alexis Jennings, who is the Gamecocks’ top returning scorer and rebounder.
“I think Alexis, her numbers show that that’s what she’s been, before she got to South Carolina until now," Staley said. "I think she’ll have a great opportunity to for us to utilize her and be a ball magnet for us. The touches will be there, she's gotta just do what Alexis has done."
South Carolina will have to fill the void left by its All-American player, Wilson, but Staley said the team will find strength in her perimeter players, and that young post players can make up for the absence as long as the Gamecocks are consistent.
“We’re looking forward to a very challenging season. Before we even get to that, we got an incredible non-conference schedule and Maryland, Baylor, Duke, Temple, we got Vancouver Tournament so we may get our heads beaten before we even get to the SEC part of our schedule so we are looking forward to that challenge," Staley said.
The Gamecocks will start regular season play on Nov. 11 against Alabama State on the road starting at 4 p.m.