MINEPOLIS – Brea Bill doesn’t listen to music before games. She does not need paging, she prefers to stay as smooth as possible. Zia Cook is known for her quick sense of humor. And Destiny Henderson has learned to be a general in court, a lawmaker.
They are the starting guards of the South Carolina women’s basketball team. And if the Gamecocks are to win the second NCAA Championship program, National Player of the Year Alia Boston won’t be the only one to bring them there. South Carolina’s back zone will be just as important against UConn in Sunday’s National Championship game (20:00 on ET, ESPN).
All three guards arrived in Colombia with high expectations. Henderson, Sr., was №6 overall in the ESPN HoopGurlz 2018 rankings. In South Carolina’s recruiting class in 2019, Juniors Cook was №4 and Bill was №11.
“They have three different personalities that just fit,” South Carolina coach Don Staley said. “The fact that they spent many minutes together, they play like shorthand. You don’t need to talk much. They can look at each other and they know exactly what they mean on the floor.”
Speaking about the relationship between the guards, Bill said: “I think the most important thing is to be able to balance and just have fun, laugh and joke. It changes the game: meet someone as you like. So when you’re on the court, it’s like sisterly relationships, you just trust each other ”.
That’s true, Staley said, though the three don’t hang out all the time off the court.
“I think they have different clicks, but the chemistry they were able to develop on the field has worked out pretty well,” said Staley, who is trying to add a second NCAA title to the 2017 championship. “And they mutually respect what they do and what they mean to our team.”
Staley as a playmaker in Virginia in the 1990s also often played in the back zone with three guards with current Rhode Island coach Tami Race and Dana Evans, participating in three finals four. As a coach, Staley tends to have a special relationship – which can involve a lot of criticism – with his playmakers.
“I always looked at the game differently than a security guard or a security guard,” Staley said. “I’ve always been able to see the big picture, and I’ve kept it. It doesn’t matter if it’s basketball or just life. I’m playing, so we’re prepared to see it all. We’re trained to see the big picture.”
Brea Bill comes up with a big kick and then rushes around the court to stop for a quick break.
Henderson had to enroll in her freshman year when it came to her playing time. Coming off the bench behind Tesha Harris in the first two seasons, Henderson started nine of 64 games during that period. But the last two years Henderson has started every game she has played. In 2017, Harris helped lead South Carolina to the NCAA title as a sophomore; Henderson is trying to do that as a senior.
She is averaging 11.1 points and the best team – 3.9 assists, and is leading in South Carolina with 52 three-pointers. She has also had success in on-site relationships with Cook (10.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG) and Bill (5.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG).
“I could know what they were good at and just be the playmaker who puts them in a position to be the best,” Henderson said. “I needed to gain experience just to know how to give certain information. Just to know who they are as human beings. ”
At 5 feet 7 Henderson runs very fast with and without the ball, and Staley knows he can count on her.
“We started recruiting Destiny Henderson not as a child, but she was so young,” Staley said. “She told us very early in the process that she would come and remained loyal to us throughout the first course that I want to forget … because she didn’t have a really strong experience for one reason or another.
“She’s the best teammate. She gives us what we need at all times.”
Zia Cook comes up with a good thief and then descends to the other end to quickly head to South Carolina.
On Friday, Bill, Cook and Henderson together scored 33 points and scored 48% off the field in South Carolina’s 72-59 victory over Louisville. Heading to the Final Four, the trio scored together 29% of the field in the NCAA tournament. And Bill’s suffocating defense helped get Louisville star Hailey Van Lit to shoot 4 to 11.
“It makes life difficult for everyone. And we like it,” Boston said. “Off the court sometimes she strikes you with some great sarcasm.”
It can even slip out on the court, for example, when opponents are so frustrated with Bill’s blanket that they bark at her. Bill’s answers may get a little fiery in response.
“Brea is funny because it isn’t try it to be funny, ”Cook said. – Brea is super calm, cool and easy-going. But if you deprive her of who she is and make her give it back to you, it’s kind of funny. “
Destiny Henderson knocks down another corner three-pointer for South Carolina.
Look for Cook as someone who tries to be funny.
“Zia is a comedian,” Boston said. “There is always a light mood around her. On the court we can count on her to knock down the blow, be thoughtful and attack the basket.”
In a meeting with UConn in the Bahamas in November, the Gamecocks won 73-57, the South Carolina trio totaled 38 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and eight steals.
Paige Bookers, Christine Williams and Evina Westbrook of UConn scored 43 points, seven rebounds, 13 assists and two steals. With the fact that the guards mostly played a draw, it allowed to dominate “Boston” – 22 points, 15 rebounds – to make a difference.
Boston 6-5 appreciates the game of guards around her.
“Henny brings energy,” Boston said. “She has various speed spikes on the court. She controls the game, controls the pace.
“Together on the court [with Beal and Cook], is a deadly combination. They work very well together, and they really understand where each other should be and what should happen. ”