(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) South Carolina coach Dawn Staley knows the work it took to reach the top of the Southeastern Conference. She understands it'll be an even greater challenge for the defending SEC champs to stay there.
Gone are the days when everyone would pencil in Tennessee to dominate the SEC, win the league title and easily move on to the Final Four. While the Gamecocks were picked to repeat, Staley expects the defending champions to be challenged by a hungry, talented group of teams looking to finish on top.
"You have to be prepared for this meat grinder," Staley said Tuesday. "There isn't a conference in the country that's challenged like we are night in and night out."