March 28, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Can anyone stop Aliyah Boston and South Carolina? 

Howard and Michelle chat about the Final Four teams, Dawn Staley's impact on women's basketball and more

It’s time for another episode of the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast. The legendary Michelle Smith is back home from reporting at the 2023 NCAA Tournament for The Next, and she and host Howard Megdal have thoughts about all that’s transpired ahead of the two of them joining our large crew in Dallas for the Final Four from whether South Carolina can be stopped to what Caitlin Clark means.

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Michelle talks about her general impression of the Final Four teams remaining:

“You know, it’s parity come to pass, parity and South Carolina. We’re running on parallel paths here, right? Here we have a dominant program that has become a brand name in women’s basketball. And there are a handful of brand names in women’s basketball and Dawn Staley has elevated South Carolina to that brand name status. So we’re running on this parallel path where we have one of the game’s brand names, which is South Carolina’s undefeated; they haven’t been pushed terribly hard in this tournament, which shows the level that they’re playing at in a tournament that’s had so many teams pushed in so many ways.

And then you’ve got this sort of crop of new kids in Iowa; I mean, I consider Iowa new kid considering the amount of time they’ve been since to the Final Four, and Virginia Tech and LSU hasn’t been since 2008. And it’s just interesting. It’s interesting how everybody got there. I got Caitlin Clark, which has really elevated Iowa’s profile as a team that people have paid attention to because they’ve been paying attention to Clark.

You have got Kim Mulkey coaching at LSU. And in two years’ time, she’s got that program to the Final Four. Angel Reese also elevates their profile. But you know, largely we were paying attention again to LSU because of Mulkey and Angel Reese came as a result of that. And then you’ve got Virginia Tech.”

Michelle talks about whether South Carolina will win back-to-back NCAA titles and what Dawn Staley has represented for women’s basketball:

“I think South Carolina is going to win this title. And I think we’re still going to have fun along the way. I think that even if South Carolina wins this title up to this point, with relative ease, we’ll see what happens this week. And obviously, we’re going to remember South Carolina winning and we’re going to remember this bracket. And which teams have emerged and teams that maybe we thought we weren’t sure about who proved themselves in this tournament as elite programs.

Dawn Staley is doing something really, really profound for the game, for sports, in general, that representation that she brings, that advocacy that she brings, the passion that she brings for her advocacy and representation, and the quality of the teams that she’s building. And I think we’re watching something really, really special in real time.”

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Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

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Written by The Next

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