South Carolina has the pieces
South Carolina has front and back court veterans in Tyasha Harris and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and the No. 1 recruiting class in Zia Cooke, Brea Beal, Aliyah Boston and Olivia Thompson. This season the Gamecocks are without Te’a Cooper, who will spend her last year of eligibility at Baylor. LaDazhia Williams (Mizzou) and Bianca Jackson (Florida State) also transferred. Harrigan, the team’s top rebounder and shot blocker last season, put her name into the transfer portal earlier this year then decided to stay in South Carolina. Staley said one of Harrigan’s goals was consistency throughout the season.
The Gamecocks’ freshman class is expected to offset last season’s losses, but how will the top recruiting class fit into the Staley’s program? How long it’ll take for that the pieces to gel? At Media Day, Staley talked about having 10 players that could be starters as well as having balance and unselfishness, so it’ll be interesting to see how the pieces come together. And title hopes? A non-conference litmus test for the Gamecocks’ national title hopes can come on Feb. 10, 2020 vs. UConn. South Carolina has struggled against the Huskies during the regular and postseasons, and the Huskies lead the series 7-0. That’s not to say the Gamecocks can’t make it to the Final Four, or win a title, without beating them (Mississippi State beat UConn, then Gamecocks beat the Bulldogs to win 2017 title) but it’ll be a good look at what the pieces are capable of vs. one of the nation’s top programs.
Key Returners (2018-19 stats)
Tyasha Harris – logged the most minutes in 2018-19, led the team in assists and steals and averaged 10.9 points per game
Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, 6’2 F – led the team in blocks and finished second in rebounding, averaging 10.4 points per game and 5.1 rebounds
Alexis Jennings (starter, graduated) – started all but one game, led the team in rebounds averaged 6.2 game and 11.2 points.
Te’a Cooper (starter, transferred) – Last season’s leading scorer, contributing 11.9 points per game
Zia Cooke, 5’9 G
Brea Beal, 6’1 G
Aliyah Boston, 6’5 F
Olivia Thompson, 5’8 G
Key Non-Conference Matchups:
Nov. 10 at Maryland
No. 30 vs. Baylor in U.S. Virgin Islands
Dec. 19 vs. Duke
Feb. 10 vs. UConn