Dawn Staley blasts narratives about USC's physicality after Final Four loss: 'We're not thugs. We're not monkeys. We're not street fighters.'
Coach Dawn Staley spoke to reporters after the University of South Carolina's Final Four loss.
Staley addressed critiques surrounding her players' physicality during the semifinals.
"This team exemplifies how you need to approach basketball on the court and off the court," she said.
Dawn Staley is pushing back against criticism surrounding her team's physicality in the Final Four.
On Friday, the University of South Carolina's women's basketball coach spoke to reporters after the Gamecocks lost against the University of Iowa Hawkeyes 77-73 in the semifinals. Staley took an opportunity to address critiques about her team after one reporter noted that other teams compared them to "bullies."
—The Sporting News (@sportingnews) April 1, 2023
"We're not bar fighters. We're not thugs. We're not monkeys. We're not street fighters," Staley said. "This team exemplifies how you need to approach basketball on the court and off the court. And I do think that that's sometimes brought into the game, and it hurts."
Staley went on to say that her roster would not change their playing style and that she wouldn't change the way she coaches.
"Don't judge us by the color of our skin. Judge us by how we approach the game," Staley said. "You may not like how we play the game … that's the way we play. That's the way I coach. We're not changing."
Staley's defense of her players, the majority of whom are Black, came after outlets like The New York Times and Vox reported that Black students tend to be punished more harshly than their white peers for the same behavior. A NYT analysis of data from the Department of Education found that Black girls are more than five times more likely to be suspended compared to white girls.
Staley added that some sports-media members were openly critiquing her team in public and their comments had gotten back to her.
"When you're gathering in public, you're saying things about my team," she said. "You're being heard and it's being brought back to me. These are the people who write nationally for our sport."
Staley then suggested this pointed toward bias against the team.
"You can not like our team, you can not like me, but when you're saying things that you probably should be saying in your home on the phone or texting out in public and you're being heard, and you are a national writer for our sport, it just confirms what we already know," Staley said.
She added: "So watch what you say when you're in public and you're talking about my team in particular."
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