Dawn Staley answered questions about trans athletes ahead of South Carolina's National Championship game. | Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports via Greenville News

Dawn Staley is coaching the South Carolina Gamecocks in her fourth straight Final Four. She’s focused on getting her undefeated team ready, now facing Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Yet on Saturday, one journalist decided to ask her about the presence of transgender athletes in sports. Staley handled the question like a pro.

“If you consider yourself a woman, and you want to play sports, or vice versa, you should be able to play,” Staley said.

Her answer didn’t get into the question of trans women competing in the female sports category. The reporter picked up on that and asked specifically if she supports that policy.

“Yes,” Staley said bluntly. “So now the barnstorm of people are going to flood my timeline and be a distraction to me in one of the biggest days of our game. And I’m OK with that.”

Hours later, the same general questions were asked of Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder. As opposed to Staley, she avoided giving a direct answer.

“I understand it’s a topic that people are interested in,” Bluder said, according to ESPN’s Katie Barnes. “But today my focus is on the game tomorrow, my players. It’s an important game we have tomorrow. And that’s what I want to be here to talk about. But I know it’s an important issue for another time.”

Some people have attacked the person who raised the issue. While the line of questions is legitimate, though the timing could be better. Asking these kinds of questions 24 hours before a game of epic proportions seems… misplaced.

Still, leaders in women’s sports will continue to be asked questions about this topic.

The questions harken back to MMA Fighting‘s Alex Lee asking fighter Sean Strickland about past anti-LGBTQ comments. The difference is that Strickland had previously engaged in the conversation (and not nicely). Lee’s questions of Strickland were totally appropriate, particularly days ahead of a fight.

These Final Four questions about trans athletes were out of left field. Staley and Bluder hadn’t engaged in the public conversation in the past (that Outsports knows of).

Still, good on Staley for answering directly. And it’s totally understandable that Bluder did not. Hopefully she will share her thoughts another time,

Of course, the conversation is a lot more complicated than blanket “yes” and “no” answers. Medical transition requirements are an important part of the conversation. In a press conference like this, there’s little room for lengthy diatribes and nuance.

On Sunday, Staley aims to win her third NCAA National Championship as a coach. Bluder seeks her first national title after losing in the Final last year to LSU and Kim Mulkey.