Tag Archives: Dawn Staley

Dawn Staley Carves Her Own Basketball Legacy Coaching in Her First Final Four

3 Apr
Dawn Staley has been a winner throughout her basketball career.

South Carolina Dawn Staley has been a winner throughout her basketball career. She will be making her first appearance as a coach in the 2015 Final Four when her Gamecocks take on Notre Dame in Sunday’s national semifinal contest in Tampa.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

When we think of iconic figures in Philadelphia basketball, we almost always point to male basketball players like Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving and Allen Iverson, three guys that would be atop a roundball Mount Rushmore if it existed here.

But, there’s one more person you need to add to that list of Philadelphia basketball royalty and her name is Dawn Staley.

Staley, who will be taking her University of South Carolina women’s basketball squad to the Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Florida, has done just about everything in basketball and is just as worthy as her legendary male counterparts.

When Staley’s South Carolina women’s squad takes the floor against Notre Dame in Tampa, it’ll be her first trip to the national semifinals as a head coach and her first visit since her collegiate days when she was leading the Virginia Cavaliers to three straight Final Four appearances.

Transforming a once dormant Gamecocks women’s basketball program into a national powerhouse is a testament to her North Philly roots and a rock-hard determination to succeed in the face of enormous odds, something she reflected on during a conference call with Final Four coaches earlier this week.

“I’m most proud of being able to cut the bottom of a milk crate out, nail it to a piece of wood, and put it on that electrical pole,” said Staley, a three-time Olympic Gold Medalist. “And I used to really‑‑ I perfected a bank shot off of a wooden basket in a crate.

“So I know I’ve accomplished a lot of things in my life and my basketball career, but that’s truly hard.  I won a lot of horse games on the streets of Philly learning how to perfect the bank shot under those circumstances.”

It was that competitive fire that helped her turn a struggling Temple’s women’s basketball program into a force to be reckoned with in the Atlantic-10. From 2000 to 2008, Staley’s teams won 172 games and captured four A-10 titles and made six NCAA Tournament appearances.

Quite a few of her players from those Owls teams have gone to play well at the professional level in this country and internationally. Most notably, Candice Dupree who helped lead the Phoenix Mercury to a WNBA title.

Coming to South Carolina and coaching in a tough Southeastern Conference that includes perennial powerhouse Tennessee, winners of seven national championships, was an even tougher task for Staley than reviving Temple’s program.

In her first year, Staley’s squad won just 10 games. Four years later, the Gamecocks went to the Sweet 16.

But Staley said it wasn’t easy. She needed to get talent good enough to make South Carolina into a national powerhouse. Some of that talent is homegrown from the state of South Carolina.

One of those best players is junior guard Tiffany Mitchell, a two-time SEC Player-of-the-Year who is averaging 14 points per game and she landed a Parade national high school player of the year in 6-foot-5-inch freshman A’ja Wilson, who is averaging 13 points per game.

“It takes talent.  It takes great people, and it takes a commitment, a commitment of discipline,” Staley said.  “So once we got those things in place, our program started to move in the right direction.  We didn’t always have that.  Seven years ago, we didn’t have that.”

For all the times Staley has been a part of winning traditions as both a player and a coach at the collegiate level, she has yet to win a national championship. As a player, she came close in 1991 when her Virginia squad he experienced a heartbreaking overtime loss to Tennessee.

Staley said if South Carolina wins the women’s national championship this weekend, the trophy is not just for her, but for all the people who shaped her playing and coaching career along the way including former Temple head coach John Chaney.

“So I take all of those people who helped me along the way and who also experienced that awful feeling of not‑‑ you know, that void of not winning a National Championship,” Staley said. “Hopefully, the cards are in our favor this year, and hopefully I’ll be able for all of those people who played an integral role in my life.”

 

 

 

Former Temple Women’s Star Living a Dream with the Harlem Globetrotters

13 Mar

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Former Temple point guard Fatima Maddox in enjoying the spotlight as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

Former Temple point guard Fatima  “TNT ” Maddox in enjoying the spotlight as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Ever since she started playing basketball, former Temple women’s basketball star Fatima Maddox has always dreamed of being a professional basketball and showing off her skills.

During her college days at Temple, Maddox played point guard for then head coach and Basketball Hall-of-Famer, Dawn Staley, leading the Owls to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances and an Atlantic-10 title in 2006.

After Temple, Maddox played professionally in Sweden for a few years. In 2012, Maddox’s pro hoop dreams became even bigger than she imagined when got a tryout with the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters and became the first woman to make the team since 1993.

“I get a phone call to try-out for the Globetrotters and I’m like, ‘Are women allowed on that team?’” Maddox said. “I showed up with no expectations, not really knowing what to expect and it worked out for me … I ended up making it and I’ve been living a dream ever since.”

Now known as “TNT”, Maddox is having the time of her life as a Globetrotter, entertaining the crowd with slick ball-handling skills reminiscent of legendary Globetrotter Fred “Curly” Neal. The former Temple guard was in town for their show at the Wells Fargo last weekend.

As much fun as Maddox is having on the basketball court, the most meaningful part to her as she plays with the ‘Trotters around the country and around the world is the chance she gets to interact with fans on and off the court, especially the kids.

“This gives me a chance to do so much more off the court as well as on the court as far as charities,” she said. “We go to a lot of schools and we do a lot of school visits. “It’s been rewarding for me. Now I visit hospitals with sick kids. I visit schools. It takes everything that I’m about and intertwines it.”

During the Globetrotters recent visit to the Wells Fargo Center, Maddox participated in all the famed Globetrotter antics, the famous weave play, the pre-game circle, hidden ball tricks and she did her signature sliding dribble plays and twirling and spinning the basketball on her fingers.

“I like the slide dribble that I do and so I break that out whenever I can,” Maddox said. “I’ve always been good at dribbling and that adds a little something to it.”

Maddox said Curly Neal has been one of her biggest fans at watching her perform his old moves on the court.

“(Neal) is so encouraging. He’s a legend,” she said. “He tells I’m doing a good job. He’s always encouraging me to get better, so I hoping I’m making him proud.”

When she wasn’t on the floor and playing with her teammates, Maddox was in the crowd hugging the kids and giving them an opportunity to come on the floor with the Globetrotters. That aspect of being a Globetrotter seemed to make her big smile light up even more.

“The smiles on those kids faces, those are priceless,” Maddox said. “If I can bring joy to somebody by doing something I love to do. That’s the fun part for me. It’s been awesome, it really has been.”

As the lone woman on the team, Maddox has held her own with the guys and has earned a great deal of respect from her male cohorts.

“TNT is amazing. … She’s one of the best ball-handlers on the team,” said Chris “Handles” Franklin. “It’s not like she’s a gimmick. She can really play basketball. She can dribble. She can shoot. She can do it all.”

“Most importantly, she’s an inspiration to all the women out there. She show’s you that you can do anything you want when you put your mind to it, “ Franklin said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women of Power: Hoops Legends Staley and Cooper-Dyke Coach Game They Play–Superbly

17 Feb

By Scott Talley 

For the Chris Murray Report 

Hall-of-Fame head coach Dawn Staley has been a winner as a player and as a coach at both South Carolina and Temple.

Hall-of-Fame head coach Dawn Staley has been a winner as a player and as a coach at both South Carolina and Temple.

It is often said that great players don’t make great coaches.  Apparently this adage was never communicated to Dawn Staley or Cynthia Cooper-Dyke.

Staley, one of the most decorated players in women’s basketball history is now head basketball coach of the University of South Carolina Lady Gamecocks.  At first glance, it would appear impossible for Staley to match her athletic resume, which includes being a two-time National Player of the Year (1991, 1992) while starring at point guard for the University of Virginia, playing on three gold-medal-winning Olympic teams, and 2013 enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.  However, the Philadelphia native is well on her way to achieving coaching greatness.

The Lady Gamecocks entered the 2013-14 campaign on the heels of two consecutive 25-win seasons, including a stellar record of 25 wins and only eight losses last season.  And with March approaching, Staley’s nationally ranked team is a virtual lock to make this year’s NCAA Tournament, also known as the “Big Dance.

This season, the Gamecocks are 23-2 overall and are first place in the Southeastern Conference with an 11-1 recording including Sunday’s road win over No. 19 LSU.

Staley arrived at South Carolina in 2008 to turn around the Lady Gamecocks’ basketball fortunes after a highly successful run as head coach of Temple University, where she posted a 172-80 record in eight seasons, including six NCAA Tournament appearances.

 

Basketball Hall-of-Famer Cynthia Cooper-Dyke won four WNBA titles as a player and is looking to bring USC back to prominence in women's basketball.

Basketball Hall-of-Famer Cynthia Cooper-Dyke won four WNBA titles as a player and is looking to bring USC back to prominence in women’s basketball.

Like Staley, Cooper-Dyke was often the center of attention during a spectacular playing career.  The fiery guard’s highlight reel included playing on two NCAA championship teams at the University of Southern California, winning an Olympic gold medal, leading the Houston Comets to four consecutive WNBA titles, and 2010 enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

As a head college basketball coach, Cooper-Dyke also has mirrored Staley by turning losing programs into winners, including success stories at Prairie View A&M, University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Texas Southern.   When former Los Angeles Lakers standout Michael Cooper was unable to get the job done as head coach of the University of Southern California’s women’s team, Cooper-Dyke received a call from her alma mater.

Upon accepting the job she said:  “I’m very excited to coach every one of these USC players.  I’m excited about the talent we have.  I’m excited to teach and learn and motivate and really see them blossom into the players they can truly become.”

True to her words, after only a few months on the job, Cooper-Dyke’s Women of Troy are showing signs of returning to national prominence, including a home-and-home sweep of rival UCLA this season.

Under Cooper-Dyke’s leadership, USC is 16-10 overall and 9-5 in Pacific-12 Conference play and are in a three-way tie for second in the conference.

Since the NCAA began sponsoring women’s basketball in 1982, basketball has remained the most popular women’s sport and in recent years the talent has grown by leaps and bounds.  The sport’s continued rise will no doubt be fueled by coaches like Cooper-Dyke and Staley, who are committed to helping young women be successful on and off the court.

As Staley said during her Hall of Fame induction speech:  “I knew I had made the right decision to coach when I started to care more about my players than the win, and I really like wins…”

Scott Talley is a freelance writer and public relations consultant based in Detroit, Michigan.