It would have been a matchup of the heavyweights: No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 1 South Carolina. The two teams were considered juggernauts all season long and ended their season with historic high notes.
The Gamecocks finished the season ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time in school history with 26-first place votes, while Oregon moved into second spot after Baylor fell to Iowa State in the final regular season game. It was also Oregon’s highest final ranking in program history.
While both teams had unprecedented amounts of success, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley felt the national media didn’t give the Gamecocks the respect they deserved.
In an article with the Undefeated, Staley admitted she was frustrated when fans were mourning the loss of No. 2 Oregon’s season coming to an end due to the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament, while few referred to South Carolina, who finished the season as the No. 1 overall seed.
I’ve got to answer to why do they disrespect us like this. That’s what came across my phone, and I don’t have answers for them. But I know that the people who decide on what narrative to write about women’s basketball, they got it wrong.
We were the No. 1 team in the country longer than anybody this season. We didn’t get treated like the No. 1 team in the country.
This isn’t the first time Staley has gotten spicy when discussing her team’s lack of attention by the national media. Rebecca Lobo sent out a tweet earlier this month with a graphic attached saying “Who is overall No. 1?”
The post detailed South Carolina, Baylor, Oregon and Maryland, as well as their records, wins against the top-16 and road wins vs. the top-16. Staley was bothered by the narrative, which suggested Oregon was the best team and top-overall seed.
Her South Carolina vs. Everybody mentality shined through in this response.
really? https://t.co/KzASbLXX9q— dawnstaley (@dawnstaley) March 4, 2020
Look, Dawn Staley, Oregon did receive a plethora of national attention this season, but it was well-deserved.
Sabrina Ionescu decided to return for her senior season, and she rewrote NCAA record books. Hours after she spoke at Kobe Bryant’s memorial, Ionescu went on to become the first NCAA Division I player, male or female, with 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds.
Senior Ruthy Hebard and junior Satou Sabally also played a key role in Oregon’s stellar success. The Big 3 were named AP All-America, giving the Ducks the most All-America selections in program history.
We get it. South Carolina lost once this season to Indiana in November. They had 26-straight wins following the loss and were 16-0 in SEC play. Oregon fell two times this season to Louisville and Arizona State, before closing the season on a 19-game win streak.
While South Carolina may have come out on top with the better record, the SEC is not the stronger conference. Oregon had more quality wins over quality opponents in the most competitive women's basketball conference in the nation.
But Staley was named AP Coach of the Year over Oregon coach Kelly Graves. South Carolina has won a NCAA Championship before. They have made multiple Final Four appearances. You don't hear Oregon fans crying over South Carolina's success.
The Ducks, before the NCAA Tournament was canceled, were in uncharted territory. They were looking to carve their name in college basketball history, and they were ready to go through the Gamecocks to do it.
It's too bad these two can't battle it out in the gym sometime soon. Oregon senior Minyon Moore has some thoughts on how things would play out.
Lol I wish we could finish this season so badly, we obviously know who would have won the national championship this year 😂😂 go ducks https://t.co/aR5CqtVqTm— Minyon Moore (@MinyonMoore) March 23, 2020