A NEW WAY TO INFLICT MISERY

Dawn Staley has used a relentless defense to become the most successful coach in school history, and now that she has a team that could go 14 deep, she's decided she might as well run opponents off the floor too. "You look at top-notch programs, they play at a different pace," Staley says. "We want to see if we can create an edge in transition." That's welcome news for All-America senior point guard Tiffany Mitchell, who can create a shot anywhere, anytime.

To accommodate bigger players who were more comfortable in half-court sets, Mitchell had to go slow last season. Those bigs have graduated, leaving the ones who are ready to fill the lanes and finish: 6'4" junior Alaina Coates (who is playing the "best basketball of her life," according to Staley), 6'4" sophomore Jatarie White and 6'2" Virginia transfer Sarah Imovbioh. Then there's the SEC's freshman of the year in 2014--15, 6'5" A'ja Wilson, who can not only grab a rebound but also lead the break. In the half-court Wilson is even more of a menace, with an arsenal of moves on the block and the ability to score with either hand.

The Gamecocks will always live off their suffocating D—last season opponents shot just 34.9% from the floor. Now their offense will demoralize teams in a new way.

TEAM STATS

SCORING OFFENSE 75.9 (18th)

SCORING DEFENSE 54.1 (12th)

SEC RECORD 15--1 (T-1st)

X-FACTOR

Khadijah Sessions is a terror on D (a team-leading 68 steals last year) but can be a liability on O (31.3% from deep). The 5'8" senior has worked on her jump shot, hoping to make defenses pay when they sag off.

LINEUP

With 2014--15 stats

Coach Dawn Staley (8th season)

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
PG Tiffany Mitchell 5'9" Sr. 14.4 3.1 2.9 50.0 83.8
G Khadijah Sessions 5'8" Sr. 4.5 2.4 2.8 40.1 52.9
G-F Asia Dozier 6'0" Sr. 4.0 1.0 1.8 41.4 76.9
F A'ja Wilson 6'5" Soph. 13.1 6.6 1.0 53.8 66.2
C Alaina Coates 6'4" Jr. 11.1 7.9 0.8 56.2 69.6
G Bianca Cuevas 5'6" Soph. 5.6 1.3 1.7 37.0 77.6

TOURNAMENT TRACKER

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

TITLE GAME

FINAL FOUR

ELITE EIGHT

SWEET 16

ROUND OF 32

ROUND OF 64

'11--12

'12--13

'13--14

'14--15

'15--16

PHOTOTRAVIS BELL/AP (WILSON) PHOTORICHARD SHIRO/AP (SESSIONS) CHART

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)