Watch Staley perform on a basketball court: Like a master chess player, she's several moves ahead of everyone else. It is her passing that makes Virginia go. Ryan says Staley's assists send a message to her teammates: "It's like she's saying, I am willing to give up my shot in order for you to have your shot. I don't want you to wallow in mediocrity. I want you involved."
"That's how you make teammates happy," says Staley.
The only weakness other than injuries (Staley has had operations on both knees since coming to Virginia) that might derail Virginia this year is the lack of a team leader. Leadership is crucial because the overtalented Cavaliers will routinely have extraordinary players sitting and watching. Grumbling could ensue, shredding team chemistry. Staley might fill the leadership void, but it seems unlikely.
Bryant Stith, an admiring member of the men's team, says Staley "does all her talking on the court."
Meanwhile, Staley has no plans except more basketball and more movies (Her favorite? "About Last Night...") and more TV. "I don't think about the future," she says. "But I know it's out there." For the moment, Staley's future is in New Orleans on March 30-31, which is why so many Virginia faithful think of her with nothing but Terms of Endearment.