WBB: Carolina face tall task in Stanford

South Carolina women's basketball team takes on #2 Stanford in the Sweet 16 Saturday night. The Gamecocks must deal with the Cardinal duo of Nnemkadi and Chiney Ogwumike, who average nearly half of Stanford's offensive production.

Game Information
Saturday, March 24, 20012
Time: 11:30 p.m. (ET)
Location: Fresno, Calif.
Arena: The Save Mart Center (15,596)
TV: ESPN2 (Dave Pasch, play-by-play; Debbie Antonelli, analyst; Heather Cox, reporter)
Radio: 107.5 The Game and WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton);
Live Stats: GamecocksOnline.com
Stanford Series: Stanford leads 3-0; At Neutral Site: Never Met; In Columbia: Stanford leads 1-0; In Palo Alto: Stanford leads 2-0

South Carolina women's basketball team faces a tall task on several fronts Saturday night when it takes on #2 Stanford in Fresno, California. Stanford brings in a 33-1 record, its one loss a 68-58 loss at UConn, and will be in a home environment only three hours away from Palo Alto.

The tallest task the Gamecocks will face is the sister duo of Nnemkadi and Chiney Ogwumike. Nnemkadi stands at 6'2 and Chiney is 6'3 and the duo averages over 37 points per game, nearly half of the Cardinal offensive production. Charenee Stephens (6'0) and Courtney Newton (5'9) will likely get the start against the sisters. If Carolina head coach Dawn Staley chooses to, she could go with freshman Aleighsa Welch (6'0) instead of Newton to give a little more height.

While this is only Staley's third match-up with Stanford, she is very familiar with Stanford's coach. It will be teacher and student going at it, with Staley playing for Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer on the 1996 Olympic Games. While the two are miles apart, they still keep contact with each other.

"We don't talk every week or every month, but when I need to get something off my chest or need to get another opinion she's one of the people I talk to," Staley said.

When Staley was first contacted by Temple University prior to the 2000 season to fill its coaching vacancy, Vanderveer was one of the people Staley called.

"She kind of discouraged me from getting into coaching for one reason or another," Staley smiled. "I value her opinion and our friendship, but I kind of did what I did as a player; I was a rebel. I took a chance on this coaching thing. I don't know if she knew how serious I was and how serious Temple was about hiring me."

Staley was very serious and has since become one of the most successful young coaches in women's basketball and has turned the South Carolina program into a winner once again.

One of the biggest reasons for South Carolina's success has been the play of La'Keisha Sutton, one of Staley's first recruits. Sutton averages 10 points per game, but has shown the leadership of a senior who's not ready for her career to end.

"‘Keisha has been one, that if you've seen her growth from year one to year four, she has blossomed into a leader," Staley said. "She's not a real vocal kid, she's one that sits back and observes. But when she talks people listen to her. She speaks from knowing where the depths of this program has been to now. We've gone places in which no one probably perceived us to achieve. A lot has to do with her leadership, with Courtney Newton's leadership. In order for you to be successful you have to have good chiefs and good indians. I think we have both."

Stanford Probable Starters

Toni Kokenis – 5'10 guard, 9.5 PPG
Amber Orrange – 5'7 guard, 4.6 PPG
Joslyn Tinkle – 6'3 forward, 8.8 PPG
Nnemkadi Ogwumike – 6'2 forward, 21.8 PPG
Chiney Ogwumike – 6'3 forward, 15.6 PPG

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