Most people would be happy with a 26-point win, no matter who the opponent. But when it's a 26-point win by a team in the Women's Final Four a year ago over a team that finished at the bottom of their conference, that might make your coach a little upset.
Such was the case on Wednesday night. The South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the Clemson Tigers, 67-41, in an 2,000 seat building that the Tigers are only playing in temporarily until Littlejohn Coliseum is renovated. The expectation probably was that it should have been by a lot more, and from Dawn Staley's comments after the game, we can gather that she had that expectation, as well.
Dawn Staley extremely displeased with Gamecocks' effort tonight. "We're trying to win a national championship."— David Cloninger (@DCTheState) November 19, 2015
The Gamecocks didn't start well. They needed a huge second half, specifically a huge third quarter, to pull away from the Tigers after leading at halftime by "only" 31-20. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of that locker room during the break.
This is why Dawn Staley's such a good coach. She's not satisfied with less than this team's best. And until they're holding that national championship trophy, she'll be pushing this team to the brink each and every night - whether they win by 26 or 56.
This team will get better as the season goes on. Are they ready to compete at the same level as UConn? We'll see. The Huskies absolutely blew Ohio State out of the gym the other night. But it's a process. This is a loaded group that has the experience, talent and skill to not only make it to the Women's Final Four again, but win the whole thing. They'll build confidence in that goal as the season progresses. A series of good tests are coming up: a trip to UCLA (receiving votes in the polls) and the Rainbow Wahine Showdown against #18 Arizona State, CSU Bakersfield, and Hawaii. Then, #14 Duke comes to town on December 6.
There's obviously a few lessons to be learned from this night. And I'm sure the team has learned them, because they have the right teacher. So let's enjoy the ride together and watch this team continue to grow.
But for now, it's on to the West Coast.