Dawn Staley looking for answers on NCAA tournament schedule following Final Four loss

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Dawn Staley has had some time to think following a Final Four exit — and she has some thoughts about the postseason schedule.

Speaking with reporters at the Southeastern Conference’s spring meetings on Wednesday, Staley said she raised concerns with ESPN representatives and the NCAA regarding the time slots South Carolina was given in its Final Four appearance this spring.

“I talked to the ESPN people and and NCAA people about our tournament and specifically us not having the proper recovery time being the No. 1 overall seed,” Staley explained when asked what her biggest talking points were for this week’s meetings. “We talked about that — why we played the Saturday-Monday game (in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight) versus the Friday-Sunday game.”

Staley’s issue more specifically centered on South Carolina — the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed — playing its Elite Eight win over Maryland on March 27, before turning around for its Final Four loss to Iowa on March 31. Iowa, which was a No. 2 seed, however, played its Elite Eight matchup against Louisville on March 26, ultimately giving the Hawkeyes an extra day of rest as the lower seed.

Virginia Tech, which was forced to play the same quick turnaround as South Carolina, also lost its Final Four game to eventual national champion LSU.

Just need to know answers,” Staley said. “If it’s about viewership and it’s about putting people in slots where were a lot of eyes on our game, we played in multiple, multiple high-viewership games. And I think sometimes you have to decompress and you’ve got to revisit the season. And it’s not that I’m a sore, loser because I think it’s great that that almost 10 million viewers watched our sport. But you also have to, we have to break things down like you do a film.

“I broke our tournament down where we were placed and things that we did over the course of a season which, we were the No. 1 overall seed. If there are going to be some advantages and benefits, then it should have come to us.”

When asked if she received any kind of tangible answer from the people she spoke to about the issue, Staley paused for 11 seconds and shrugged her shoulders.

“When you’re focused on just winning the championship, you don’t complain,” Staley added shortly thereafter. “You just focus in and you just continue on. Did I see it at the time? I did see it at the time. I didn see it. You’re not gonna take the focus off of our team and what we’re trying to do, but afterwards, you’ve got to ask “Why? Why did these things happen?”And I needed to know and I need to put closure to that.”