Dawn Staley calls out national media, Lisa Bluder's 'bar fight' comments after Final Four loss
DALLAS – Dawn Staley has heard enough.
The South Carolina women's basketball coach was asked about the way her team is labeled publicly for their physical style of play after being upset in the Final Four by Iowa at the American Airlines Center, 77-73. Staley set the record straight about her team, which she said "exemplifies how you need to approach basketball on the court and off the court."
"We're not bar fighters. We're not thugs. We're not monkeys. We're not street fighters," Staley said. "I do think that that's sometimes brought into the game, and it hurts."
Ahead of the Final Four matchup with Iowa, coach Lisa Bluder said someone described rebounding against South Carolina to her as "going to a bar fight." She wasn't the first coach to make comments about the Gamecocks' style of play. UConn coach Geno Auriemma criticized South Carolina's physicality after the Huskies lost to it in February.
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Staley then revealed she was told that national media members at an event Thursday made comments she implied were unfair or disrespectful. They were comments Staley said she intended to address whether they won or lost Friday.
"Some of the people in the media, when you're gathering in public, you're saying things about our team, and you're being heard, and it's being brought back to me," Staley said. "And these are the people that write nationally for our sport. So you can not like our team and you can not like me. But when you say 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. So watch what you say when you're in public and you're talking about my team in particular."
Staley implored the room of media members to not judge her team by the color of their skin, but the way they play the game.
"You've got young lives who are really – if you really knew them, if you really knew them, like you really want to know other players that represent this game, you would think differently," Staley said. "You may not like how we play the game, you may not like it, that's the way we play. That's the way I coach.
"I'm not changing. We found success in it, and maybe some days like today, we end up on the losing side of the stick. But guess what? We live to see another day. We live to see the comeback next year and try to do this again because I'm not changing."
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Dawn Staley calls out media, 'bar fight' comments after Final Four loss