Columbia Tip-Off Club reflects on historic basketball season

Columbia Tip-Off Club reflects on historic basketball season

**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Allen Sharpe and Jenny Dilworth**

The Columbia Tip-Off Club usually holds its last event of the season in March to celebrate both basketball teams. However, the men's and women's teams were both too busy marching through the NCAA Tournament to wrap up their seasons in March this year.

Instead, the Columbia Tip-Off Club held a special season wrap-up event on Monday night in the Frank McGuire room at Colonial Life Arena. There, the club honored the national championship-winning women's basketball team and the men's team that advanced to the Final Four.

Photo gallery from Columbia Tip-Off Club event (photos by Allen Sharpe and Jenny Dilworth)

There was a packed room of around 150 people to honor and remember the historic basketball year, and both the national championship trophy and East Regional trophy were on display for folks to take pictures with. 

"We saved this meeting for the end to accommodate the coaches," President of the Columbia Tip-Off Club Dennis Powell said. "They both went on incredible runs, and we had the great blessing we had with the national championship as well as the Final Four."

Both head men's coach Frank Martin and head women's coach Dawn Staley spoke to the crowd, recapping their historic years and giving an update on their respective teams. University President Harris Pastides and his wife were there, as well as Athletics Director Ray Tanner. Martin and Staley were joined by several members of their coaching staffs, with both new assistants (women's assistant Jolette Law and men's assistant Chuck Martin) in attendance.

"Excited to once again celebrate our national championship and also celebrate Frank and his guys' Final Four appearance," Staley said prior to the event.

After the event in the Frank McGuire room, director of basketball operations for the Gamecock men Andy Assaley took those interested on a tour of the new basketball facilities at the Carolina Coliseum. Both teams have new basketball offices, locker rooms and a training area, and the practice court was also renovated.

Photo gallery from tour of basketball facility (photos by Allen Sharpe and Jenny Dilworth) 

Powell was extremely thankful for the chance to have both coaches in the same place for an event. They have busy schedules, but Martin and Staley have made the Columbia Tip-Off Club a priority during their time at South Carolina. In fact, Staley was preparing for a 6:55 a.m. flight the next morning to Japan, but she and most of her staff still showed up to talk with the fans. 

Staley, Gamecocks excited for trip to Japan

"Their dedication has been phenomenal," Powell said. "Their respective programs have been built with their hard work and dedication to the young players they're charged with improving as young men and women, which has been great for us to watch. They're both wonderful people."

For more information about the Columbia Tip-Off Club, you can email columbiatipoffclub@gmail.com. You can also reach the club on Twitter at @ColaTipOffClub. 

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