She's never won a championship as a WNBA player or a championship in college during her playing days at Virginia. A win on Sunday in the women's college basketball national final will be the first for Dawn Staley who is making her debut in the title game as a head coach with South Carolina.
USC will play Mississippi State for the coveted national championship and now they have a chance to complete their head coach's Hall Of Fame resume.
“I mean it would be a great feeling. Coach Staley is a great coach. She’s a hard worker. She’s basically a gym rat and definitely ball is life for her, so to get her this national championship would be an unbelievable feeling," USC junior guard Allisha Gray said.
“It would be very special for me, to see how Coach Staley has turned this program around and how we have faced adversity and how we have come about things. She has put in so much hard work and dedication to this game," Heathwood Hall product and SEC Player Of The Year A'ja Wilson said. "The least I can do is return the favor with a national championship. I think it would mean the world to me to give her something she has worked really hard on.”
The Gamecocks want to win a national title for their head coach because she's done a lot for their careers and has bonded with them.
“I think I have grown with her since my freshman year when I got here," junior guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore said. "She means a lot to me because she has helped me grow in certain areas.”
Kaela Davis, who transferred to South Carolina, appreciates Staley's coaching style.
"Coach Staley has a player’s mind. She sees the game in a different light. She makes it easy to see situations in games. She always tells me to stay engaged and if it doesn’t sound right, feel right, or look right, you need to fix it.”
Staley is an Olympic gold medalist, WNBA all-star, has various coach of the year awards, is approaching 400 wins and has been to the NCAA tournament 12 times as coach.
It's often said and even observed that teams take on the personality of their head coach.Staley wants a national championship not just for yourself but for others who made this opportunity possible. Her team feels the same way.