The wait continues to drag on for South Carolina women’s basketball, as the No. 4 Gamecocks have still yet to hear anything from the NCAA regarding transfer guard Te’a Cooper’s hardship waiver as they prepare for their first road SEC game of the season.
USC head coach Dawn Staley had no developments to report Wednesday shortly before her team departed for Oxford, Mississippi, to face Ole Miss on Thursday.
“I’m checking my phone every minute,” Staley said of Cooper’s waiver, which would allow her to bypass NCAA rules requiring transfers to sit out a year. “She can’t go (to Oxford) unless she’s cleared to go. So we got a little bit of a later departure time to give us a couple hours to see if that’ll take place, and if not we’ll just wait until we hear from them.”
Cooper’s potential debut with the team on Thursday would have given the Gamecocks (12-1) an extremely helpful addition to their backcourt, where redshirt senior Lindsey Spann is still less than 100 percent from a knee injury. Ole Miss is off to a 10-4 start this season and features an effective guard duo of Madinah Muhammad and Alissa Alston.
Ole Miss speedy
“Ole Miss is the same,” Staley said of what she’d seen from the Rebels on tape. “They’re going to play hard for 40 minutes, they’re going to press. They’re very very athletic. Overall speed, they probably have us in that department. We gotta make sure we take care of the ball, defend our turnovers, and we got to have our posts dominate.”
The Rebels rank second in the SEC in pace, according to National Statistical.
Ole Miss is 10th in the country and third in the conference in free throws attempted, which means South Carolina’s stars, senior A’ja Wilson and Tyasha Harris, will have to find a way to maintain their defensive intensity throughout the game without getting into foul trouble.
So far this season, when South Carolina’s bigs have dominated the way Staley wants them to against Ole Miss, USC has won — the only game in which the Gamecocks were outscored in the paint came in their loss to Notre Dame.
However, foul trouble gave USC some trouble in its SEC opener against Texas A&M, as both Harris and Wilson sat for most of the second quarter with two fouls apiece and the Aggies rallied from an early deficit, eventually taking the lead. And while South Carolina managed to rally back to take the narrow 61-59 win, Staley said the game is an indicator of things to come in league play.