About the Lady Gamecocks :
The Lady Gamecocks are a team in rebuild mode under second-year head coach Dawn Staley who is a five time WNBA all-star. She came from Temple where she was one of the fastest coaches to reach 100 wins, going 172-80 while at Temple. And she is already showing signs of turning the South Carolina program around. After winning just 10 games last season, she has seen her team record 13 victories this season. Staley likes to play her whole bench with nine players averaging 10 or more minutes. They play a slow paced game and connect on 36.9 percent of their threes. Partly due to that slow pace, they are averaging just 10.5 assist a game, which is a fairly low number. With no seniors in the seven player rotation, they look to be a team that will continue to improve during the coming years under the guidance of Staley.
Projected Starting Line-Up:
About the Lady Bulldogs:
The Lady Bulldogs are coming off a heart-breaking double overtime loss to Florida on Sunday. The loss was their second close loss against the scrappy Florida team. They must now regroup with the help of Tysheka Grimes who returned versus Florida to supply 10 points off the bench. The Lady Bulldogs must now pull the pieces together to finish the season as they are on the outside looking into the NCAA tournament. Grimes return should be the necessary boost to help them finish the conference schedule strong.
Projected Starting Line-Up :
Mississippi State - Alexis Rack is my player to watch because how she plays the rest of the season could determine if the Lady Bulldogs make the NCAA tournament. She is in the midst of one of her worst shooting slumps of her career, only connecting on 10 of 60 shots from the field. Rack, if her shot doesn't come back soon, will have to make a difficult decision. She can either keep shooting with the hope that her shot will come back or she can decide to pass the ball off more. If her shot doesn't come back and she continues shooting the ball she runs the risk of hurting her team. And that could play a factor into whether the Lady Bulldogs make the NCAA tournament. The first test for her is this game.
South Carolina - Freshmen Center Kelsey Bone is the Lady Gamecock to watch, averaging a virtual double-double on the season, 14.5 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per contest. Bone's play will be crucial if the Lady Gamecocks hope to defeat the Lady Bulldogs.
This matchup is another case of a slow paced team versus an up tempo team. South Carolina and Mississippi match up quite well size=wise but South Carolina possesses a bit more depth. The Lady Gamecocks have a few good scorers but Mississippi State has a few more. The Lady Bulldogs are a team that causes a bunch of turnovers and the Lady Gamecocks commit a lot of them. Having said all that, this game will come down to the tempo of the game. If Mississippi State gets sucked into South Carolina style of play then they will lose. But South Carolina will surely lose if they get into an up tempo game which suits Mississippi State.
Jeremiah Short is a columnist who covers various Mississippi State sports for GenesPage.com. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org