Staley taking national championship team to Japan

Staley taking national championship team to Japan

By Jeff Owens/Photo by Allen Sharpe

HARTSVILLE, S.C. — Dawn Staley will take her women's national championship team to Japan this summer to take on the Japan Women's National Team. 

The South Carolina women will travel to Tokyo June 27-July 5 to play the team that played the USA National Team in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Staley said Tuesday during an appearance at the Darlington County Gamecock Club.  

Japan gave the U.S. team a tough game in Rio before the U.S. won 110-64 to advance to the semi-finals en route to winning another gold medal. Japan trailed by just six points early in the third quarter. 

"At halftime, it was probably the closest game that we played in the Olympic games," said Staley, the new head coach of USA Basketball. "We ended up beating them but they certainly had a lot of talent, so it is going to be a good competitive environment for us and a great environment for some of our young players to get some great experience playing internationally."

Staley's Gamecocks won the school's first national championship in basketball this year, beating SEC rival Mississippi State in the finals in Dallas. 

The trip to Japan will also be a great educational experience for Staley's players. She will have eight players return from the national championship team, including All-American A'ja Wilson, plus at least four in-coming freshman. 

"I'm glad that worked out for us," Staley said. "It's not a pressure competition but it is an opportunity or us to play and also it will be some of our player's first time leaving the country. It will be educational as well."