Cloninger Soundoff: Staley's Gamecocks primed for SEC slate

Posted by DAVID CLONINGER on December 28, 2013 

South Carolina Gamecocks forward Aleighsa Welch (24) passes to a teammate as Savannah State Tigers guard Ezinne Kalu (23) defends in the first half of the game at Colonial Life Arena.

JEFF BLAKE — jblake@thestate.com

The Gamecocks shook off a Christmas-break lethargy by red-headed stepchild-ing Savannah State in their final non-conference game on Saturday.

As bad as they looked in the first 13 minutes, they looked so strong and dominant in the 11 minutes bridging halftime that it’s easy to see that this team is loaded for a run at the SEC title.

Yet a big part of that hope is whether or not point guard Khadijah Sessions will be healthy for the SEC schedule, meaning that the next five days, all the way up to Thursday’s 8 p.m. tip at Arkansas, are the biggest five days of the season.

Tiffany Davis is rapidly improving in Sessions’ absence, and the contributions of Olivia Gaines, Tiffany Mitchell and Asia Dozier cannot be ignored. But there is no question that USC is better with Sessions on the floor. If USC is going to keep afloat in these tough first five games of the SEC, it needs to have Sessions available.

Sessions remains on crutches, but her sprained ankle is no longer in a cast. Dawn Staley has said that she will not rush Sessions back until she’s ready, which in large part depends on if and how she can move around in practice.

Five days until the opener. Five days until the journey really begins.

Any faith healers around are advised to report to the practice facility. Follow on Twitter at @DCTheState

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