South Carolina basketball fans know that there are a handful of teams that legitimately can stand in their way of a 3rd national championship since 2017 (no other team has won more than one during that same span).
Iowa and guard Caitlyn Clark knocked off the Gamecocks last season, and the Hawkeyes are one Clark heater away from being able to beat anyone in the country.
UConn is still UConn, even if Geno Auriemma’s team hasn’t won a title since winning 4 titles in a row from 2013-2016. The Huskies boast three of the top-50 players in the country, and if Paige Bueckers continues progressing, they will be dangerous.
Other teams like Stanford, Utah, UCLA, Colorado, and Southern Cal are really good, as well, and a few other talented teams are likely to emerge as the season continues.
The team whose name has been brought up most as a national championship favorite, however, is the LSU Tigers. The defending national champs lost some talent but replaced them with two of the top-5 transfer portal players this offseason. Their best two players from last season (Angel Reese and Flau’jae Johnson) returned, and Mikayla Williams is one of the SEC’s top freshmen.
However, things are not going so smoothly in Baton Rogue right now. After losing in blowout fashion to a good Colorado team in the season opener, some rumblings about discontentment in the LSU locker room started to surface.
Then, star forward Angel Reese got benched. Then, she disappeared altogether.
After Reese was completely absent from a game, Tigers coach Kim Mulkey did not have any desire to answer questions about the self-proclaimed “Bayou Barbie.” When asked about Reese, Mulkey just said, “Angel is a part of this basketball team, and we hope to see her sooner than later.”
Mulkey then made some odd comments about how she (Mulkey) might be sick with Covid-19 and then left her media availability early.
Since then, understandably so, the LSU media has tried to get an answer out of the legendary basketball coach, but Mulkey is not budging. Amid rumors of academic ineligibility, major locker room issues (including two players’ mothers going at each other online), and suspensions, no straight answers have been given.
After LSU’s latest game, a win over Texas Southern, Mulkey was cagey once again in response to questions about Reese but did let slip that this is a disciplinary issue, stating that “Sometimes you want to know more than you’re entitled to know. …If you do some disciplining of your own children, do you think we’re entitled to know that?”
In recent days, Reese took to social media to defend herself, posting “Please don’t believe everything you read.”
What exactly is going on behind the scenes in the LSU locker room isn’t (and might not ever be) known. However, for now, Angel Reese is not playing, and without her the Bayou Bengals are not as big of a threat to knock off Dawn Staley’s South Carolina basketball squad and keep them from winning their third-straight SEC title and 8th in the last 11 seasons.
South Carolina basketball will take the court again on Friday when they face the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils at Colonial Life Arena at 1:00. The game will be shown on the SECNetwork+ and ESPN app.