So far, so good for the new head coach of USA Basketball’s Women’s National Team (USABWNT).
Dawn Staley, who is also the head coach of the Gamecocks’ women’s basketball team, has led her supremely talented USA Basketball team to its first wins under her leadership. The FIBA Women’s World Cup, which officially started on September 22, saw its first three days dedicated to group play in which the four teams in each group played each other (each team played three games total within the group).
Team USA, as the defending World Cup champion, started slow in each of its games against Senegal, China, and Latvia in Group D but regrouped to wallop each opponent and remain undefeated, 3-0. This allowed Team USA to take the top spot in the group and earn an automatic berth in the quarterfinals; they will play the winner of the Nigeria/Greece play in the quarterfinals qualification games.
Should they face Nigeria, Staley will cross paths with another former player, Sarah Imovbioh, who joined the Gamecocks in 2015 for her final year of NCAA eligibility after graduating from the University of Virginia (Staley’s alma mater) in May of that year. Imovbioh made an immediate and much-needed impact that season, especially with A’ja Wilson and Alaina Coates missing time with injuries.
In each of the team’s first three games, she has scored in double digits and is currently in a three-way tie for tenth place among all World Cup players, across all positions, for average points per game. Included in that tie is her WNBA teammate, Ji-Su Park of South Korea. Wilson ranks sixth among all forwards in the World Cup in points per game and is in a six-way tie for blocks per game among all forwards (a tie which includes her Team USA teammate Elena Delle Donne).
Wilson will need to continue her high level of contribution as the road to Team USA’s unprecedented third consecutive World Cup championship gets steeper. The Staley-led USABWNT will play the winner of the Nigeria/Greece game on Friday, September 28 (time TBD) on either ESPN or ESPN+. Tune in to support your Gamecocks, past and present, as they chase more World Cup glory. #USABWNT #FIBAWWC2018 #DefendTheCup #ForeverToThee