It didn't take long at the Southeastern Conference media days this fall for people to start bringing up the D-word when it came to South Carolina.
You know, Dynasty.
Not surprisingly, coach Dawn Staley didn't duck the topic when asked if her team was knocking on the door of being a dynasty.
"I don't know,'' Staley said. "I don't even now what a dynasty is, except what UConn has done, to win as many national championships. To be a dynasty, I think you have to have a little back-to-back championship in you.''
OK then. In one answer Staley laid down the challenge to her team which was last seen winning the 2022 national title in rather dominant fashion on the Target Center floor in Minneapolis.
No women's team has won consecutive titles since UConn had a run of four straight that ended in 2016. The last non-UConn team to do it was Tennessee in 2006 and 2007.
But this South Carolina team has a chance.
For the third straight season, the Gamecocks are the preseason No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll. Last season, while going 36-2, they were No. 1 wire-to-wire with a deep team that included player of the year Aliyah Boston.
Well, the 6-5 Boston is back, with her 16.8 scoring average, her 12.5 rebounds per game, the double-double machine that produced 30 such games last season. But three other starters are back, too, in Brea Beal, Victaria Saxton and Zia Cooke. Add to that some talented freshman and incoming graduate transfer guard Kierra Fletcher, and …
"I think we are — our program is in a good place where we're able to attract some of the best talent in the country and it starts there,'' Staley said. "When it comes to attracting the best, it's dynasty-like. I don't think we can deem ourselves that just yet.''
We'll get an idea soon, as the season gets underway. South Carolina has a tough nonconference schedule that includes games against Maryland, Stanford, South Dakota State and Connecticut.
That Stanford game Nov. 20 will be a must-see. The Cardinal, No. 2 in the preseason poll, have two key players back from last season's Final Four team.
Iowa has five players back from last season's team that won both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles. No. 3 Texas, bolstered by the transfer portal, will have something to say. Connecticut is without Paige Bueckers, but is still deep and talented.
But they all have to get past South Carolina.