South Carolina’s Sta­ley is AP coach of the year

The Kansas City Star - - Sports - BY DOUG FEIN­BERG

Dawn Sta­ley helped guide South Carolina to No. 1 and has now earned coach of the year hon­ors from The As­so­ci­ated Press for the first time.

The vet­eran Game­cocks coach re­ceived 20 votes from the na­tional me­dia panel that selects the Top 25 poll each week.

“It’s a great feel­ing. It’s cliche as I rep­re­sent the best team in the coun­try and our coach­ing staff and our support staff. Our train­ers and ev­ery­body.

It’s great,” she said. “It’s some­thing that we haven’t been able to cel­e­brate, but we will cel­e­brate it to­gether at a later time.”

North­west­ern coach Joe McKe­own was sec­ond with five votes in bal­lot­ing re­leased Mon­day. Ore­gon’s Kelly Graves gar­nered four bal­lots and North Carolina State’s Wes Moore re­ceived one.

South Carolina fin­ished the sea­son 32-1, win­ning the SEC sea­son and tour­na­ment cham­pi­onships. The Game­cocks won their fi­nal 26 games and were No 1 in the AP poll for the fi­nal 10 weeks of the sea­son. Sta­ley be­came the sec­ond African-Amer­i­can coach to win the AP award, join­ing Carolyn Peck, who was hon­ored in 1999 when she coached Pur­due. The two have long been con­nected; Peck gave Sta­ley a piece of the NCAA cham­pi­onship net she won that sea­son.

Sta­ley brought that story to light when South Carolina won the NCAA ti­tle in 2017. She thought the Game­cocks would have had a good chance to win the ti­tle again this sea­son had the NCAA Tour­na­ment not been can­celed by the coron­avirus out­break.

“I would have liked to con­tinue to face the chal­lenges in the NCAA Tour­na­ment,” she said.

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