WBB: It begins tonight

The South Carolina women's basketball team kicks off the 2012-13 season Friday night when they host Elon. South Carolina is coming off of its most successful season in a decade after advancing to the Sweet 16 last year. Though the roster has changed significantly, the goals have not.

Date: Friday, November 9, 2012
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Columbia, S.C.
Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000)
Tickets: $7 adult, $4 youth (12 and under)
Parking: $5 (due to event at Koger Center)
TV: None
Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com
Elon Series: Elon leads 2-0, winning twice in 1974-75, the first year of Carolina basketball.

The South Carolina women's basketball team has been waiting for this day for months. Ever since the clock reached zero in its 76-60 loss to Stanford in the Swet 16 to end last season, November 9th has been circled on their calendar. That is when the 2012 season begins for coach Dawn Staley and her team.

"I think Elon will be a good first game for us," Staley said. "They'll be some good competition. They are coached by one of my former teammates in Charlotte Smith, so we're looking forward to playing somebody different, because practice does seem to be getting old and monotonous."

Smith was a former star at North Carolina, one of just two Tar Heels women's basketball players to have her number retired, and enters her second season at Elon after posting a 16-14 record last season. The Phoenix return four of five starters from a year ago, including point guard Ali Smith. Smith averaged 14.5 points per game a season ago, second-most in the Southern Conferece. Staley knows that the Phoenix will be a tough match-up for her young squad that includes five freshmen.

"I think (Smith's) got a couple of players who I feel could be problematic for us, because they can do so many different things," Staley said. "It starts with the point guard who runs the show, she facilitates their offense. She can wreak havoc defensively because she's small. We almost always have trouble with little smaller guards that are quick, so hopefully we can contain and take care of the things we need to. We do need to speed the game up and play at our pace."

The Gamecocks were able to play at a fast pace and have their way with Anderson in an 88-31 victory over Anderson, but that was an exhibition. This one is for real and will be a much more difficult game.

"We're ready and excited to open it up," guard Sancheon White said. "We were real excited for our exhibition game. We're just ready to show everybody what we're capable of doing."

Following the Elon game, Carolina will take to the road to Ruston, La. to take on traditional power Louisiana Tech on Monday.

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