Dawn Staley Gets Emotional & Speechless After South Carolina Wins National Title, Praises Caitlin Clark For “Lifting Up Our Sport”

Dawn Staley

No question that Caitlin Clark is the needle in women’s basketball, but even the Iowa legend’s historic 18-point first quarter on Sunday wasn’t enough to prevent South Carolina from capping off an undefeated 38-0 season with an 87-75 win and a national championship.

As an admittedly casual follower of ladies NCAA hoops, it makes a little more sense now as to what UConn’s Geno Auriemma was on about after the Huskies’ loss to Iowa in the Final Four. He was ticked off at how the narrative in his sport has turned on UConn, and how they’re not winning the natty every single year like they seemingly once did. If memory serves, Auriemma’s only consistent rival back used to be Pat Summitt’s Tennessee teams.

Now, a new dynasty is officially in place thanks to the absolute powerhouse Dawn Staley has constructed at South Carolina.

Staley and the Gamecocks avenged last year’s loss to Clark’s Iowa squad that spoiled their perfect season, and she was fired up as could be on the sidelines in Sunday’s championship clash. Hanging on every call, Every moment. You could tell she wanted this badly for her players, longing to deny Clark of the storybook ending to her career before becoming the no-brainer No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft.

Welp. South Carolina should have two top-five picks of their own in the draft. They deployed their legit nine-woman rotation at the Hawkeyes, and it was ultimately too much for the underdogs to handle in the end.

Afterwards, Staley was so swept up in her emotions that she couldn’t get any words out at first. Quite the scene.

This is awesome. You love to see a coach who’s this invested in the success of her players. Obviously, Staley has had to recruit at the highest level to construct such a deep roster, and convince blue-chip prospects to have a little less individual shine in the name of building a super team. That evidently has all paid off in a massive way.

However, Staley made a great point later on during the celebration proceedings when she shouted out Clark for bringing so much exposure to the sport on her own.

Like I said, I’m a casual when it comes to women’s college basketball. I would be lying to you if I said I knew about the Gamecocks’ incredible three-year run before today’s game. A nice byproduct of Clark’s superstardom is that stories like South Carolina’s are coming to light. It seems like it’s unmissable for somebody who consumes so much sports and writes about them for a living. However, I’m not ashamed to admit that I had little grasp of how good the Gamecocks, or just how much they’d accomplished lately. Just figured their status as 7.5-point favorites meant they were deeper.

Perhaps the easiest summation of how superior South Carolina is top to bottom to their national championship opponent, the Gamecocks outscored Iowa’ bench by the exact perfect record they had coming in: 37-0.

Some haters will say Caitlin Clark isn’t “truly” great because she didn’t win a natty during her time in college. To that I say, first of all, take Staley’s own words into account. Secondly, think about it this way:

And while y’all who think that way are at it, listen to the basketball savant of this and all generations, LeBron James.

I don’t think Clark’s greatness will be questioned over time. What deserves the spotlight more than anything right now are the Gamecocks and the legacy Dawn Staley continues to build. Congrats to her and South Carolina on a sensational season, which I’m glad to be more aware of now — with an assist from the nation’s leading dime-dealer, Caitlin Clark.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock