USC women

Davis gets more experience at point while Sessions recovers from injury

dcloninger@thestate.comDecember 27, 2013 

  • SAVANNAH STATE (5-6) AT

    NO. 13 SOUTH CAROLINA (11-1)

    WHEN: Noon Saturday

    WHERE: Colonial Life Arena

    TV: FSC

    Savannah State’s probable starters: G Ezinne Kalu 5-8 Sr. (15.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg); G Bria Dorsey 5-7 Jr. (6.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg); G Jasmine Norman 5-7 Jr. (8.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg); G Kenyata Hendrix 5-10 Fr. (8.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg); C Tiyonda Davis 6-2 Fr. (7.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg)

    South Carolina’s probable starters: G Tiffany Davis 5-7 RFr. (2.4 ppg, 1.1 rpg); G Asia Dozier 6-0 So. (7.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg); G Tiffany Mitchell 5-9 So. (14.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg); F Aleighsa Welch 6-0 Jr. (14.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg); C Elem Ibiam 6-4 Jr. (11.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg)

    NEXT: USC begins SEC play at Arkansas at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

It’s hard to play point guard for Dawn Staley.

When under the tutelage of one of the best point guards in history, some of the most talented and toughest players have been broken.

Thrown into the spot due to injury, and after not having played much the previous season, would have some bolting for home. But Tiffany Davis continues to play to the best of her ability, trying to keep No. 13 South Carolina on an even keel until starter Khadijah Sessions’ sprained left ankle heals.

“We got a young point guard in Tiffany Davis who is constantly trying to organize our basketball team. It’s a hard thing to do,” Staley said on Friday as the Gamecocks (11-1) returned to practice. “She’s receptive to it, but she just doesn’t have a whole lot of experience. We’re trying to give her that in practice.”

Davis has started the past two games in relief of Sessions, and will start again Saturday as the Gamecocks host Savannah State (5-6) in their final non-conference game.

It’s a full-circle game for Davis — she was hurt against Savannah State last year, suffering a season-ending knee injury three games into the year.

She’s shaking the rust from a year off, trying to rediscover the form that made her a Top-30 point guard in her signing class, and to learn what Staley wants her to do.

At the moment, it’s directing the half-court offense and trying to improve the Gamecocks’ defense — while USC has posted some dominating games, Staley admits that the competition hasn’t forced them to play tough defense.

At least, not the kind of defense they’re going to have to play to survive in the SEC.

“Defensively, it’s been a struggle,” Staley said. “We haven’t had to defend like we’re going to need to defend in the future.”

That begins with the point. Following SEC Defensive Player of the Year Ieasia Walker wasn’t going to be an easy task, but Sessions had a year to play alongside and under Walker. Davis didn’t have that luxury, outside of the three games she got to play and a few practice dates.

“It’s pretty hard, and me, I’m pretty critical of the position. She just has to find a way,” Staley said.

“It’s all predicated on our point-guard play, whether they can keep us organized on both sides of the ball. If we can get Davis to do that, it’ll be a great thing. We’ll be more seasoned, more depth, when it comes to getting Khadijah back.”

Sessions has the cast off her ankle but is in a walking boot and on crutches. She probably wasn’t going to play Saturday regardless of the medical circumstance, with an eye on having her ready for SEC play.

“We’re going to push for that,” Staley said. “If she’s not ready for that, then we got to keep moving.”

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