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Gamecock women’s basketball begins the “Own It” season

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The first game of the season against Lander University will preview the post-Wilson Gamecocks in real time.

Gamecock WBB official Twitter account/University of South Carolina Athletics Department

“Own It.”

That is the 2018-19 slogan of the Gamecock women’s basketball team, coined by head coach Dawn Staley.

The slogan is appropriate, as all eyes are on the Gamecocks to see how they fare in the absence of team pillar A’ja Wilson (WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces), and how they handle the adversity that comes with the loss of such a once-in-a-generation, program-changing player.

The Gamecock mojo is still around, with the SEC 2019 preseason poll ranking them No. 2 overall, though ESPN tabbed them at 15th overall in the way-too-early preseason poll (which was done back in April). The Gamecocks are also the third most-followed women’s college basketball team on Twitter, behind UConn and Tennessee.

Still, there will be growing pains with so many new faces on the roster and the added responsibilities on team leaders Tyasha Harris (#52SmooveCrew) and Alexis Jennings (#35Hive), who have become the new faces of the team this season and are widely expected to take leaps in their respective games.

The Gamecocks will play their very first game of the season against someone other than themselves (or the Gamecock men’s team in scrimmage) on Friday, when they take on the Lander University Bearcats in an exhibition game.

Though this is both an exhibition and a non-conference game, it still holds importance as fans will be able to catch a glimpse of how this season’s Gamecocks will work together while facing an actual opponent, as they make another run at a second NCAA championship.

(But really, no pressure.)

The Bearcats shouldn’t be a problem for the Gamecocks. First, they are a Division II team. There tends to be a disparity in the level of play between divisions, though there are always outliers.

Second, while Lander finished last season with a quite respectable 25-8 overall record (17-5 Peach Belt conference, 8-3 non-conference), they are now a very young team. Six of their current roster are freshmen, and two are sophomores. That will put a lot of pressure on the upperclassmen to produce on a consistent basis until the younger players prove themselves and earn more playing time.

And third: Dawn Staley is the head coach of the Gamecocks. Move along, nothing more to see here.

But, but, but...remember all those new faces in garnet and black?

As inferred above, it’s going to take some time for them to acclimate as a team in real-time playing situations. That’s in addition to working T’ea Cooper (#SweetTs) into the lineup after she missed last season due to transfer rules. The only new face who may be the most game-ready is graduate transfer Nelly Perry (#PerrysPeeps), though she sat out her senior season at Clemson due to injury.

The return of Bianca Cuevas-Moore (#BusyBs) will give added depth at the guard position, and Perry is a guard/wing who can help fill the gap left by Wilson. Lander is a larger team, with three true centers on the roster (two of those are freshmen); South Carolina can overwhelm with speed and positional flexibility, since the Gamecocks are more guard-heavy, and those guards can play more than one position.

The exhibition game against Lander will take place at the Colonial Life Arena on Friday, November 2 at 7:00 pm. Admission is FREE to the public. Come out, FAMs, and support your Gamecocks! As always, follow Gamecock Women’s Basketball and Garnet and Black Attack on Twitter for updates and follow the team hashtags #OwnIt, #FAMs, and #GHive , as well as the individual player hashtags.

Thanks for stopping by. #Gamecocks #GamecockNation