‘We’re not bar fighters:’ Dawn Staley answers questions about playing style after Iowa loss

Coach Dawn Staley discusses the Gamecocks' season and what's next for the team.
Published: Apr. 1, 2023 at 8:06 AM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - South Carolina head women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley was asked after the team’s loss to Iowa about the way her team is talked about. Specifically their physical style of play.

“We’re not bar fighters. We’re not thugs. We’re not monkeys. We’re not street fighters,” said Staley when asked what the truth is about her team. “This team exemplifies how you need to approach basketball on the court and off the court. I do think that that’s sometimes brought into the game, and it hurts.”

The NCAA held press conferences with each coach the Tuesday prior to the Final Four and Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said she had someone describe rebounding against South Carolina as ‘going to a bar fight.’ The comment comes after other similar references this season. Including comments from UConn head coach Geno Auriemma after the Gamecocks beat the Huskies in Connecticut for the first time ever back in February.

Saying what the Gamecocks played ‘was not basketball.’

Gamecocks senior Aliyah Boston echoed the frustrations in the locker room.

“I feel like every time we get ready to play a really, really big game...there’s always things in the media,” said Boston. “This time it was a bar fight. You know? Like that’s what we were described [as]. That’s the type of physicality we’re described as going to bring to the table. Not the other opponent.”

FOX Carolina Sports Director Beth Hoole asked Dawn Staley after the game how dangerous that narrative is because these comments are targeted at black women.

“It’s very dangerous,” Staley said. “But sports is a microcosm of our society and sometimes there are hurdles you just can’t cross. It is what it is but we’re going to keep pushing forward because that’s what we do. We’re built for it and I think that’s probably the attitude people take is, ‘we can handle it, we’re built for it, this is what we do.’ But a night like tonight, you really can’t overcome it.”

Staley went on during her press conference at the podium to share she had heard about national media writers saying disparaging things about her team at an event this week in Dallas. Staley did not mention names but called them out for their comments and racism.

“Some of the people in the media, when you’re gathering in public, you’re saying things about our team, and you’re being heard, and it’s being brought back to me,” said Staley. “And these are the people that write nationally for our sport. So you can not like our team and you can not like me. But when you say things that you probably should be saying in your home on the phone or texting out in public and you’re being heard, and you are a national writer for our sport, it just confirms what we already know. So watch what you say when you’re in public and you’re talking about my team in particular.”

Staley said she had committed to saying something about the comments Friday night whether her team had won or lost going on to remind the room that they are talking about real, young people.

“You’ve got young lives who are really, if you really knew them, if you really knew them, like you really want to know other players that represent this game, you would think differently,” said Staley. “You may not like how we play the game, you may not like it, that’s the way we play. That’s the way I coach and I’m not changing. We found success in it, and maybe some days like today, we end up on the losing side of the stick. But guess what? We live to see another day. We live to see the comeback next year and try to do this again because I’m not changing.”