SEATTLE, WA (WIS) - When Dawn Staley took over the Gamecocks Women's Basketball program in 2008, she understood it would take time to build a winner.
To be an elite team, she says you need top talent. And to bring in the best players, how you recruit players matters.
"I think you have to first start with, you know, what our coaching staff brought to the table," says Staley. "And the fact that we have coaches that have played in the Olympics. We have coaches who have coached in the NBA and the WNBA. We got those players, and mainly their parents, to believe in our vision."
"She's somebody who, she'll keep it real with you, you know? Even if you don't want to hear it, she'll keep it real with you. So I respect her," says Aleighsa Welsh.
"Her personality. Her loyalty to me," said Asia Dozier. "You know, she's been recruiting me since I was a freshman. You know, all the knee injuries I sustained during high school. Her interest in me as a player never wavered."
Coach Staley's pitch has paid off. Since taking the reins six years ago, USC is now a No. 1 seed in this year's tournament and one win away from advancing to the Sweet 16. If they win, it will be their second Sweet 16 appearance in three years.
"That just shows the growth. You know, like I always say, Coach Staley was recruiting, like me and Lisa we came in together, she was saying, ‘We want to build this team.' We just wanted to help her build this team and I think that shows from our freshman year to your junior year. That just shows the growth," said Elem Ibiam.
And how sweet it will be if USC can stop Oregon State Tuesday night in Seattle. Game time set for 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
WIS News 10's Joe Gorchow is in Seattle with the Gamecocks and will be providing updates throughout the NCAA Tournament.
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