Dawn Staley didn’t smile or nod in appreciation. She had been named SEC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season Tuesday, but if she had already cleared space for it on her office shelves, she surely didn’t let on.
“I’m into championships,” she said.
Staley was speaking for her team. The Gamecocks picked up more individual awards Tuesday, like they did last year. But the real prize awaits in a month in Tampa. Settling for a Player of the Year honor now takes away all that USC has worked for this season.
It’s great for the program, great for the individuals. They earned those awards.
None of them mean a thing unless USC is hoisting another trophy in April. “One” wasn’t created for SEC recognition. It was meant to have that as only the first step.
The second is Friday at the SEC tournament. The Gamecocks wanted to make history this year, and win or lose this weekend, they’ll have a chance to do so.
Staley hopes to get a warm-up championship before the one she really desires is in play.