Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Thin Skinned South Carolina Coach Needs to Focus On Skin Thickness Instead Of Color

Dawn Staley coaches an excellent college basketball team at South Carolina. In fact, they are so good that going into last night’s semifinal game against Iowa, they were undefeated and ranked number one in the country.

Still, the games need to be played, and even though South Carolina was favored, Iowa pulled off the upset with a 77-73 win. Now, it isn’t that Iowa is a slouch. They were ranked as high as number two in the nation themselves and have the 2023 Player of The Year Caitlin Clark on the team. Clark certainly did her part, she set a women’s semifinal college basketball record by dropping 41 points on South Carolina – and then 30 points on Sunday in a losing effort against LSU in the national championship game.

However, after the game Staley couldn’t help but bring race into the mix. Clearly implying that comments made about her team had more to do with race than style of play.

South Carolina openly plays a very tough style of basketball. A style that Staley embraces and teaches. That said, if at times during a season, or even during a game, an opposing coach gets upset with what they believe is an overload of physicality, you as the coach encouraging it shouldn’t be surprised.

For example, in a game this season against the University of Connecticut, Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma, drew a technical foul for throwing a water bottle on the court. Auriemma said afterwards that he did it out of frustration that more fouls were not being called against South Carolina. Stating in so many words, that his players were battered and bruised by South Carolina’s play.

Before the game on Friday against South Carolina, Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder compared trying to rebound against South Carolina like “going into a bar fight.” Which turned out to fairly prophetic, as South Carolina out rebounded Iowa 49-25 on offensive boards alone.

After the game, instead of complimenting Iowa and staying positive, Staley went low and instead tried to shroud her team and the loss as unappreciated victims of racial bias.

When a reporter asked about other coaches referring to her team as bullies, Staley said this:

“We’re not bar fighters, we’re not thugs, we’re not monkeys, we’re not street fighters. This team exemplifies how you need to approach basketball, on the court and off the court. You can not like our team. You can not like me, but when you say things that you probably shouldn’t be saying, and you’re being heard, and you are a national writer for our sport, it just confirms what we already know.”

Staley’s comments obviously don’t hide the fact that she believes the criticism against her team is based in racism. Which is ridiculous. Yes, her team is predominantly black and she herself is a black coach, but then how does she explain that her team was ranked number one for thirty-six consecutive weeks?

That doesn’t sound like racism to me.

How does she explain that Aliyah Boston was named Player of the Year last year and that she was named Coach of the Year as well?

That doesn’t sound like racism to me.

No, what happened was that Iowa, which is a predominantly white team, which is led by Caitlin Clark, a white player and coached by Lisa Bluder who is white, played a great game and beat Staley’s team.

That’s all it took for Staley’s racism to boil over. She lost more than one basketball game on Friday, she lost the respect of many.

Just to remove any doubt about what she was really upset about, she added this:

“So watch what you say when you’re in public and you’re talking about my team in particular. Just watch what you say about our team because it’s wrong. If you really knew them like you really want to know other players that represent this game, you would think differently.”

“So don’t judge us by the color of our skin, judge us by how we approach the game, and you may not like how we play the game. You may not like it. That’s the way we play. That’s the way I coach. I’m not changing.”

Staley’s comment to the media about really getting know her players like they want to get to know others, is a direct shot against Caitlin Clark. Apparently, when a white player is chosen player of the year and gets additional attention, it disturbs Staley, even though it didn’t last year when her player Aliyah Boston won.

Staley admitted that she knows her “style” of play is not popular. She said as much when she said, “you may not like how we play the game. You may not like it. That’s the way we play. That’s the way I coach. I’m not changing.”

The problem with Staley is that she wants it both ways. When her team is winning, she revels in pushing the envelope with her under the basket rough housing. She defends it by saying, that’s the way we play and that’s the way I coach. While her team is winning, she wears the criticism of being bullies like a badge of honor. She’s tough, her team is tough and it’s all good.

That is, however, until she loses. Especially, to a predominately white team, with a white player of the year. Then those same comments about her teams toughness, that she smugly cherished, she tries to twist into something racist. Do you think if she had lost to a predominantly black team, with a black player of the year, she would have made any of those comments?

No chance. Enjoy the game today coach, watching the better team play for the championship.