Created: Thu, 26 Sep 2013 02:36:00 EST
Updated: Thu, 26 Sep 2013 02:43:45 EST
COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) -- South Carolina women’s basketball will enter the 2013-14 season ranked No. 13 in the nation, according to Lindy’s Sports Annuals Preseason Top 25. The ranking, released in the Sept. 14 issue, noted that the Gamecocks have an “outside chance to emerge as the best team in a loaded SEC.”
South Carolina is coming off its second consecutive 25-win season, advancing to the 2013 NCAA Tournament second round and the 2012 NCAA Sweet 16. The Gamecocks return their top scorer in junior Aleighsa Welch, who was also the second-highest rebounder on the squad. The Second-Team All-SEHer 131 offensive rebounds in 2012-13.
The Gamecocks’ other returning starter from last season’s squad is sophomore Tiffany Mitchell, who earned SEC All-Freshman Team honors in her debut season. The do-it-all guard scored in double figures in nine of her first 14 college outings, including her SEC debut against Tennessee, and snagged double-digit rebounds five times during the season.
South Carolina looks for junior Elem Ibiam, who averaged 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the Gamecocks’ four postseason games in 2012-13, to continue her emergence in the post. She will mentor freshman Alaina Coates at the position as the Gamecocks hope to take advantage of the pair of 6-foot-4 centers. Coates is the third-straight South Carolina player of the year to sign with head coach Dawn Staley as the Naismith Hall of Fame player builds her program on the foundation of its home state’s talent.
The Gamecocks open practice next week and will host North Greenville in a Nov. 1 exhibition game, which will be free admission. The regular season kicks off on Fri., Nov. 8, against Charleston Southern. Season tickets are on sale now for $50 for a reserved seat or a Family Four-Pack of four general admission tickets for $100. Fans can order at www.GamecocksOnline.com/