INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) – Dawn Staley, the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year who has her South Carolina team back in the Final Four for a second consecutive season and contending for the program's second national championship, is the USBWA National Coach of the Year for the second time in three seasons. Staley has the SEC-champion Gamecocks (33-2) playing in their fourth Final Four this weekend, each of them under her leadership, following a national semifinal loss to eventual champion Stanford a year ago. In the 2019-20 season, Staley's Gamecocks were 32-1 before Covid forced the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament.
Staley will formally receive the award at the upcoming USBWA College Basketball Awards Banquet in St. Louis on April 11, hosted by the Missouri Athletic Club. A member of both the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame (inducted in 2012) and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2013), Staley just finished advancing South Carolina through its eighth straight Sweet 16 appearance and the program's ninth within its 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament under her guidance.
South Carolina, the top seed in the Greensboro Regional, faces Wichita Regional top-seed Louisville in the first national semifinal at 7 p.m. ET Friday. The Spokane Regional top seed, Stanford, faces Bridgeport Regional two-seed UConn in the second semifinal at 9:30 p.m. ET in Minneapolis. South Carolina and Stanford, whose head coach Tara VanDerveer was last season's USBWA National Coach of the Year, could stage a rematch in this year's title game if both advance Friday.
Staley has coached a USBWA All-American in seven of the past eight seasons and in 10 seasons overall. Staley was this season's SEC Coach of the Year, her fifth such honor, and led the Gamecocks to their sixth SEC regular-season championship of the last nine seasons and the second of the last three. The Gamecocks' 33-2 record includes a national-best 12 wins over top-25 opponents – by an average of 13.5 points – and a 15-1 mark in SEC action.
This season Staley coached junior forward Aliyah Boston to a third straight USBWA All-America season – the last two on the first-team – as the SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, her third straight season earning that award. Senior guard Destanni Henderson, a third-team USBWA All-American, was also named All-SEC First Team and junior guard Zia Cooke made the All-SEC Second Team in a conference that sent eight teams to the NCAA Tournament and three others to the WNIT.
South Carolina put on an historic defensive performance in the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament this month, setting tournament first- and second-round records for fewest points allowed in a single game (21 vs. Howard, 3/18/22), in a half (4 vs. Howard, 1st, 3/18/22) and in the first two rounds combined (54).
In her 22nd season as a head coach, her 14th in Columbia, Staley has taken a team to the NCAA Tournament 16 times. She is 30-14 at the event, including a 28-8 mark and the 2017 national championship at South Carolina. Other National Coach of the Year winners from the SEC are Vic Schaefer (Mississippi State, 2018-19), Pokey Chatman (2004-05), Andy Landers (Georgia, 1999-2000), Pat Summitt (Tennessee, 1997-98) and Jim Foster (Vanderbilt, 1992-93).
The USBWA has selected a women's national coach of the year since the 1989-90 season. The award is voting on by the entire memberhip and is based on regular-season performance.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. It has selected a women's All-America team since the 1996-97 season. For more information on the USBWA and its award programs, contact executive director Malcolm Moran at 814-574-1485. For additional info about covering the awards banquet, contact Jim Wilson with the MAC (314-539-4488).