Dawn Staley has raised her SEC win total and at least matched her overall win total in every year of her six-season tenure at South Carolina.
That might stop in 2014-15, because Staley could raise the totals so high this season that they might never be topped.
At 25-2 (13-1 SEC), the No. 4 Gamecocks are one win from clinching sole possession of the SEC regular-season championship, which would be their first. USC has clinched at least a tie for the title with Texas A&M and Tennessee.
The Gamecocks also are projected as a No. 1 national seed in the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive week. Staley says the team wants to be greedy, seeing how many games it can win.
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The SEC title ensures that the season will be viewed as one of the greatest in program history. To what will it be compared?
Coach Pam Parsons takes the former “Carolina Chicks” to their first big season, four years after the program existed as a non-funded, non-scholarship club sport. The Gamecocks make it to the AIAW tournament before bowing out.
USC betters the previous year, being eliminated from the AIAW tournament but going to the WNIT and winning it.
The program’s all-time winningest season, USC advances to the AIAW Final Four, the only such appearance in program history. The Gamecocks are eliminated by Tennessee but win a consolation game against Louisiana Tech. USC ranks fifth in the final Top 25.
In their first year affiliated with the NCAA, the Gamecocks advance to the Sweet 16. Although they don’t get to the Final Four, they send off all-time leading scorer and rebounder Sheila Foster with a postseason appearance.
The program returns to prominence after being rocked by scandal, winning the Metro Conference regular-season championship and making it to the NCAA tournament, a first under coach Nancy Wilson. Wilson will turn the Gamecocks into a powerhouse, winning five regular-season championships, three Metro tournaments and advancing to five NCAA tournaments.
Wilson’s best record by total wins results in a trip to the Sweet 16.
A program that never had won more than six SEC games in a season explodes to a 10-4 conference season and an NCAA tournament appearance, the first under coach Susan Walvius after four years of losing. The Gamecocks make it to the Elite Eight before losing to Duke.
Four years of building and two years of just missing the NCAAs pay off as Dawn Staley leans on a group of five seniors to break through the NCAA tournament ceiling. The Gamecocks turn in their first winning SEC season since 2002-03 and hear their names called for the Big Dance, then head to West Lafeyette, Ind., to knock off Eastern Michigan and host Purdue. The ride comes to an end in the Sweet 16 against Stanford.