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  1. Report: South Carolina basketball adds reigning Sweet 16 team to schedule May 24, 2019 A reigning Sweet 16 participant is coming to Colonial Life Arena this upcoming season. South Carolina will host Houston, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported Thursday. The game is part of the new alliance made this offseason between the SEC and American Athletic Conference. The Gamecocks will then travel to face the Cougars in Texas in 2020-21. Houston, coached by Kelvin Sampson, went 33-4 last year and advanced to the Midwest Region semifinal, where it lost to Kentucky. The Cougars have made the NCAA tournament each of the last two seasons. They came in at No. 20 in ESPN’s way-too-early rankings for 2019-20. USC coach Frank Martin told The State last week that the schedule is near completion. “There’s a hiccup on a game there that I can’t speak about, that I don’t know it’s going to happen,” Martin said while visiting Shaw Air Force Base. “But we got a buy game we gotta find. So as soon as we get that buy game, we’re good to go.” The SEC schedule has yet to be released, but here’s what we know about the Gamecocks’ 2019-20 non-conference slate: Nov. 16 — Rutgers (in Toronto) Nov. 19 — Boston University Nov. 22 — Gardner-Webb Nov. 26 — Wichita State (Cancun Challenge in Mexico) Nov. 27 — West Virginia or Northern Iowa (Cancun Challenge in Mexico) Dec. 18 — at Virginia TBA — at Coastal Carolina TBA — at Clemson TBA — Houston
  2. ‘A hard decision.’ Frank Martin updates AJ Lawson’s NBA Draft status as deadline nears May 15, 2019 A long way from where the NBA Combine is being held this week, A.J. Lawson is taking another step in his draft process. South Carolina coach Frank Martin said Wednesday that his All-SEC guard is heading to the West Coast for workouts with NBA teams. “(Lawson) went home to Toronto,” Martin said after a speaking engagement at Shaw Air Force Base. “I think he was flying today or tomorrow to Los Angeles. He’s going to spend 10 days there and go to his workouts from LA. And then he’s going to make a decision after that.” Lawson, who made the SEC’s all-freshman team in 2018-19 after averaging 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists, has until May 29 to decide whether he wants to remain in the draft or return to the Gamecocks for a sophomore season. The 6-foot-6, 172-pounder from Canada didn’t receive one of the 66 invites to this week’s combine in Chicago, but he was asked to come to the new G League Elite Camp. Lawson declined that opportunity, citing a reach for something greater. “His vision is to be in the NBA,” Martin said, “not to be in the G League.” The two-round, 60-pick draft is June 20. In his latest “big board,” The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie lists Lawson as this draft’s No. 93 prospect. Syracuse.com’s Donna Ditota reported last week that only 11 college players have been drafted over the last five years who didn’t secure a combine invitation. ESPN.com’s Jonathan Givony projects Lawson as a first round pick in the 2020 draft. Lawson is the third Gamecock to test the draft waters with eligibility remaining. Sophomore P.J. Dawson stayed in the draft in 2017. Junior Chris Silva came back to USC in 2018. Martin said he’s in daily communication with Lawson. “It’s selfish when I say I hope he’s back because that only serves me and my team and the University of South Carolina,” Martin said. “But he loves being here, too. So it’s one of those deals where … I say this to people all the time, ‘Put yourself in a place where you gotta make tough decisions. Tough decisions are when you got two great options to choose from.’ He’s got two great options to choose from — the NBA, life-long dream and the experience that he’s actually lived at the University of South Carolina, which he loves. “So he’s got a hard decision, but he’s got to make the right one. And we’re in it with him.”
  3. South Carolina has an open scholarship. Here are some options, including Seventh Woods April 30, 2019, | THE STATE The night before Seventh Woods — a point guard with a four-star rating and an eye-opening YouTube reel — committed to North Carolina, the Hammond star wrestled with the thought of staying home for college. The fact Frank Martin and the Gamecocks got that far in Woods’s recruitment was an upset of sorts, former Hammond coach Mark McClam told The State last summer. “Frank did a great job of catching up with North Carolina,” McClam said, “because when Seventh showed up to Hammond in the eighth grade, he always used to wear a blue ‘Go Tar Heels’ little bracelet. So he was always a Tar Heel fan. “I thought Frank did an excellent job of recruiting not only Seventh, but his parents and everybody else on why South Carolina would have been a great fit.” Over three years after that announcement, Woods is seeking his next school. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder posted on Instagram last week that he’s transferring from UNC after three seasons in which he averaged 1.8 points and 1.5 assists per game. The news came on the same day as Felipe Haase’s reported departure from USC. The latter means the Gamecocks have an open scholarship to fill. Given a second chance, would Woods come home? Is that a move that makes sense for both sides? According to a source familiar with the situation, USC is interested in at least pursuing Woods. He’d be a traditional transfer, meaning he’d have to sit out the 2019-20 season, per NCAA rules. His eligibility in 2020-21 is intriguing as that’s the first season Carolina is expecting to be without A.J. Lawson. (Lawson is testing the NBA draft waters this spring, but hasn’t hired an agent and is viewed as a potential first round pick in 2020.) Woods, the 247Sports No. 48 player in the 2016 class, had an underwhelming career with the Tar Heels, but his big-game experience — Woods scored a career-high 14 points against Gonzaga last season — and elite athleticism are traits strongly considered by the Gamecock staff. Woods could give USC another ball-handler in 2020-21, joining Jair Bolden, Trae Hannibal and T.J. Moss. (Dorman point guard Myles Tate remains a high South Carolina target in the 2020 recruiting class.) No visit has yet been scheduled, but Columbia’s Woods has long been familiar with Martin and USC. “When I took the job (in 2012), one of the first places I went to was the Hammond School,” Martin recalled to The State last summer. “And I walked in and here’s this kid going into ninth grade. Here walks out this kid. He’s got a North Carolina jacket on. He takes it off so he can work out. And he’s wearing a leather North Carolina bracelet on his wrist. “And we went from not even being in the thought to, like, that close from getting him.” Of course, Woods isn’t USC’s only target to fill its open scholarship. With Haase’s departure, the Gamecocks are keeping an eye on the graduate transfer market for a rebounding forward who could play right away. Stadium.com’s Jeff Goodman reported last week there’s over 125 grad transfers available. USC, like many teams, is interested in Kerry Blackshear, a 6-10, 250-pounder who 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds as a redshirt junior for Virginia Tech. Blackshear could also opt for the NBA. SOUTH CAROLINA BASKETBALL SCHOLARSHIP BREAKDOWN Seniors (1) Maik Kotsar Juniors (1) Jair Bolden* Sophomores (4) Justin Minaya* A.J. Lawson Keyshawn Bryant Alanzo Frink Freshmen (6) T.J. Moss* Jermaine Couisnard* Trae Hannibal Wildens Leveque Trey Anderson Jalyn McCreary *Redshirt
  4. Gamecocks looking for a big man. Some names on the grad transfer market April 26, 2019 South Carolina basketball was already down its top big man from last season with Chris Silva’s departure. Jason Cudd transferring wasn’t a surprise given the smaller role he held, but Felipe Haase, whose transfer came out on Thursday, had averaged 21.5 minutes per game his first two seasons. It leaves the Gamecocks with a frontcourt that looks like this: ▪ Maik Kotsar: a versatile defender who struggled on offense last season ▪ Alanzo Frink: A sturdy big man who had defensive issues last season and looked very much like a freshman ▪ Wildens Leveque: A burly, athletic incoming freshman ▪ Jalyn McCreary: A springy late add to the class That’s a group light on experience that could perhaps use a more burly presence if one is available. Frank Martin said the staff has been recruiting in case a spot opens up. One has. Here are some of the names of strong rebounding big men out there on the market. ▪ Shakur Juiston, UNLV: If USC needs a guy who can throw his weight around, this would be the guy. He was injured all of last season and isn’t the tallest (6-foot-7), but he averaged an even 10 rebounds per game his last healthy season and was part of a very good offensive rebounding squad. He appears to be mostly a finisher around the rim, but shot 63.9 percent in 2017-18. ▪ Jayce Johnson, Utah: In his first starting season, he averaged 7.1 points and 7.7 rebounds in the Pac-12, playing only a little more than 20 minutes a game. Another 7-footer, he’s already visited Nebraska. ▪ Barret Benson, Northwestern: Only playing 9.4 minutes a game doesn’t bode that well, but he rebounded well when he was on the floor (11.4 per 36 minutes) and stands at 6-foot-10, 240. ▪ Kelvin Jones, Idaho State: He put up 5.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in 20 minutes a night. He’s looking to play for his third school. ▪ Kerry Blackshear Jr., Virginia Tech: Simply put, he’s the best grad transfer on the market. He also has his name in the NBA draft and is reportedly a Kentucky target, so the 6-foot-10, 249 pounder who averaged 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds would be at best a very long shot. ▪ Derrik Smits, Valparaiso: Son of a longtime NBA player, his numbers were solid at 12.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and one block a game. But you can’t teach 7-foot-1, 240 pounds. USC would be late to the game, as he already announced NC State, Arizona State, and Butler as finalists.
  5. Former Gamecock coach Darrin Horn lands new head coaching job April 24, 2019 Former South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn is back in the coaching business again. After leading the Gamecocks to a 60-63 overall record from 2008 to 2012, Horn has been an assistant at Texas since 2015. Now, though, he is rejoining the head coaching ranks. Per CBS Sports reporter Gary Parrish, Horn will become the new head coach at Northern Kentucky:
  6. I must admit I'm pleasantly happy at the roster stability this offseason! Only one player transferred out. This is very refreshing considering the previous years and current state of college basketball in general! Great job Coach Frank!
  7. VIDEO & NOTES: Coach Dawn Staley talks transfers and more April 17, 2019 When the news broke last week four South Carolina women’s basketball players had entered the transfer portal and intended to leave the Gamecocks, three of the names seemed to make some kind of sense. LaDazhia Williams and Bianca Jackson weren’t likely to get much playing time as juniors and wanted opportunities elsewhere. Te’a Cooper had been expected to go pro after this year anyway. But forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan’s decision was a shock. The rising senior already ranks fifth in program history in blocked shots and was expected to play a pivotal role for the Gamecocks in 2019-2020. Yes, coach Dawn Staley had docked her playing time for undisclosed reasons in one NCAA tournament game, but she had become a fan favorite and potential All-SEC player in her final season. On Wednesday, however, South Carolina confirmed Herbert Harrigan would actually be returning to the program after all and withdrawing her name from the transfer portal. In her end-of-year press conference, Staley gave some insight into why Herbert Harrigan wanted to transfer in the first place and what was done to repair their relationship. The pair met last week as part of the coaching staff’s annual post-season meetings, and it was then, Staley said, that she first got a sense of what was bothering the star player. “I thought in our discussions, Kiki wanted to revisit how I saw her in our program, and when you don’t know (how I see you), you tend to think the worse, like I’m not needed, and that’s furthest from the truth,” Staley said. “I think with maturity and growing up and understanding your worth, some players need to hear it. They need it verbalized to them to make them a lot more comfortable. Kiki is one of those players that needed to hear it. She’s a tough player. You think she’s tough-minded, but she’s 21 years old, and sometimes 21-year-olds need to hear it in order for them to have a certain comfort level. “That’s on me. I should have done a better job of not allowing that space in which she could think negative thoughts and then give it to her support system.” Staley added that she has frank discussions with players about how she sees them fitting into South Carolina’s system and what she thinks they can accomplish in the future during the recruiting process, but updating those views, reaffirming them and allowing players’ voices to be heard can be critical. “I think when you sit down and actually talk to a young person and figure out what it is that bothers them, what it is that moves them, what it is that they aspire to become, the conversations are a lot better,” Staley said. “When you’re having to hear from other people other than the source — and I’m our team’s biggest source. I’m the one that really can have the biggest impact in their life, but I also am a truth-teller. And it’s not always something that they want to hear, but I also through this process learned that I have to sit down and give them a voice and let them talk and let them figure out what they want in life and we put a plan together and we work towards that.” Along those lines, Staley said she believes she and Herbert Harrigan will have much better communication about hopes and expectations moving forward. With that in mind, Staley said she has high hopes for Herbert Harrigan’s senior campaign. “I anticipate Kiki to have an incredible season. I think she’s one of the best players in our conference on both sides of the ball,” Staley said. “There’s room for her to grow. Obviously her handle has to get better going both ways. She’s very strong going right. We got to work that left hand in order for her to balance out what she’s doing from driving right. “Her midrange is great, her 3 ball is pretty consistent when she shoots it. Defensively, I just think she needs to work a little bit harder, not just getting blocked shots, because that’s a form of defense, but it’s not the total package when it comes to defending. So we have to bump her up in those areas and get her ready to be drafted in the WNBA draft next year.”
  8. What South Carolina’s AJ Lawson said about pending NBA Draft decision April 16, 2019 The deadline for underclassmen declaring for the NBA Draft is April 21. Speaking six days before it, South Carolina’s A.J. Lawson said he’s still thinking it over. “I still haven’t made my decision yet,” Lawson said Monday during USC’s “Gamecock Gala” event for student-athletes at the Koger Center. “It’s going to be between my family, coaching staff, whatever is right.” Lawson is coming off an All-SEC freshman season with the Gamecocks in which he averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists a game. The 6-foot-6 guard isn’t popping up on any popular mock drafts for this June’s event, but is so for the 2020 draft. Rules are now in place for players to test the NBA Draft waters and still return to school. Starting this year, players are allowed to retain agents and still return to school, if they then terminate any agreement with said agent. The deadline to withdraw from the draft is May 29.
  9. USC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL South Carolina’s recruits respond to recent transfers: ‘All of us are still coming’ In roughly two months, the wildly talented, highly decorated, much hyped, No. 1 ranked recruiting class for South Carolina women’s basketball will officially arrive on campus and get to work. (That’s not counting ESPN’s No. 10 overall prospect, Laeticia Amihere, who enrolled a semester early after a knee injury ended her senior season) Initially, this group of freshmen was supposed to come in and face stiff competition for playing time with a long list of returners. Now, the youngsters might be pressed into larger-than-expected roles, after four Gamecocks entered their names in the transfer portal last week, including a pair of likely starters in Te’a Cooper and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan. The departure of nearly half of last season’s non-seniors, all in the span of roughly 24 hours, raised some concerns and questions from fans — when other programs have lost that many players at once, it typically has indicated wider turmoil. And for recruits, losing players with whom they may have already bonded during visits can be difficult. But the newest group of Gamecocks remain firm in their commitment to coach Dawn Staley and the program, they told The State. “I wish everyone who’s leaving the best of luck no matter where they go, and I’m very thankful to them because of the platform they set at South Carolina and everything they’ve done for the basketball team and university,” in-state sharpshooter Olivia Thompson said. “It’s unfortunate, and it’s a loss that they’re leaving, but that’s part of it and it happens to every team, so you can’t dwell on it.” Staley reached out to the recruits in a group text to inform them of the transfers, and Toledo, Ohio, guard Zia Cooke, the No. 7 overall player in the nation, said she responded to her future coach with a simple message. “I just texted her (Monday) and let her know, I know she’s going through a lot because she’s got a lot of people leaving, but I just want her to know I’m still coming, and all of us are still coming, and I have her back regardless of the situation of who we have and who don’t we have. I’m not going to change my decision based off of people leaving,” Cooke said. Rock Island, Illinois, wing Brea Beal, the No. 13 overall player in the class, also said the transfer decisions did not worry her at all and said Staley took time to express support for the departing players. “She’s just saying she wishes everybody the best doing different things … everybody’s gotta do what’s best for them,” Beal said. No. 3 overall recruit Aliyah Boston, a forward based out of Worchester, Massachusetts, did not respond to an interview request.
  10. Williams and Jackson - No surprise. Writing on the wall with the class coming in. Cooper - not a huge surprise. Some folks were saying mid-season that she wouldn't be back. Harrigan - somewhat of a surprise. She would have still likely have been a starter if she could keep her head on straight. Obviously, her off the court problems that led to her not starting - must have led to some kind of hard feelings.
  11. Did anyone notice that Auburn who we beat early in the year made the Final Four. More than half of our losses were to NCAA Tournament teams that went pretty far,. That includes our loss to VA who is in the FINAL. 16-16 I know don't cut it, but considering our injuries and who we played, I am still proud of our team. Plus, I believe the Team Coach Martin has compiled for 19/20 will surprise us all.
  12. What I feel that will be interesting about next season is this will be the first in quite a while at USC where the team won't be dominated by upperclassmen. This year, Silva and Gravett were the foundation and now have moved on, but you saw the freshmen turn into valuable players this seson. The year before that, Silva and Booker were the only two in double figures. The year before that was obviously the Final Four year, and Thornwell, Dozier, and Notice were the leaders. While Dozier was only a sophomore, it was his last year. Next year the only senior, barring a grad transfer showing up, will be Kotsar and the juniors will be Bolden and Haase. While I expect quality minutes and scoring from Bolden, I'm honestly not sure what to expect from Kotsar and Haase that what I have seen. Both are capable of a great game, but it isn't going to happen consistently. The sophomore class will include Lawson, Bryant, Minaya, and Frink. Honestly, those guys should combine to score 45+ ppg next season if they each make even a modest jump from this season. They combined for 32/33 ppg this season. That's going to rise, and could rise dramatically if Frink take a big step and gets closer to double figures. The freshmen obviously are an unknown, but Couisnard is advertised as a big time scorer and Hannibal and McCreary are going to be expected to contribute. Moss showed flashes of talent before his injury. Leveque is a major wild card. If he's able to make a solid contribution, we'll be much better off. The freshmen and sophomores are going to combine for the vast majority of the points and I'm not talking about a best case scenario. They are going to have to carry the load. With any luck, Bolden will have a great season, scoring in double figures and handling the offense well.
  13. Report: 7-footer leaving South Carolina basketball after two seasons March 29, 2019 South Carolina basketball has an open scholarship. Sophomore center Jason Cudd is transferring from USC after a couple limited seasons. The Myrtle Beach native averaged 1.1 points and 0.9 rebounds in 28 games as a Gamecock. He wasn’t available the last two months of the 2018-19 season after suffering a left knee injury during a January practice. WatchStadium.com’s Jeff Goodman was the first to report Cudd’s departure. Carolina coach Frank Martin said in February that Cudd was eligible for a medical redshirt. A three-star recruit, the 7-foot-1 Cudd never really cracked the South Carolina rotation. He logged over 10 minutes in only six games as a Gamecock. He scored a career-high six points in a win over Auburn on Feb. 17, 2018, at Colonial Life Arena. Cudd’s departure means USC has room to add to its 2019 recruiting class. Three seniors — Chris Silva, Hassani Gravett, Tre Campbell — are leaving and three prospects — Hartsville point guard Trae Hannibal, California wing Trey Anderson and Massachusetts forward Wildens Leveque — are signed. It’s expected that the Gamecocks will scout the graduate transfer market for a proven big man to help fill Silva’s void. SOUTH CAROLINA 2019-20 BASKETBALL ROSTER (SCHOLARSHIP PLAYERS) Seniors F Maik Kotsar Juniors G Jair Bolden* F Felipe Haase Sophomores G A.J. Lawson W Keyshawn Bryant W Justin Minaya* F Alanzo Frink Freshmen G T.J. Moss* G Jermaine Couisnard* G Trae Hannibal W Trey Anderson F Wildens Leveque *Redshirt
  14. Frank Martin "My goal is to keep building here.’ Frank Martin" March 26, 2019, Frank Martins Presser Frank Martin has put to bed any rumors that he’s leaving South Carolina. The Gamecocks coach, during a season wrap-up news conference Tuesday at Colonial Life Arena, denied a report that he was contacted about the opening at UNLV. “UNLV has not talked to me, my agent,” Martin said. “ ... I got no idea (where that report) came from.” The seventh-year coach is 129-106 in seven seasons at USC. “My intention, my goal is to keep building this program here,” Martin said. Video and more click here
  15. The Gamecocks starting lineup options for next basketball season March 29, 2019 Because of a variety of injuries, Frank Martin used six different starting lineups during the 2018-19 South Carolina basketball season. The USC coach mixed and matched his Gamecocks to 16 wins and a fourth place finish in the Southeastern Conference. As it stands now — late March 2019 — it’s not crazy to think Martin could again tweak his starters more than a handful of times next season. The Gamecocks, assuming everyone comes back to good health, have options at a variety of positions. Here’s a way-too-early look-ahead to what’s next: BEST FIVE ON THE FLOOR PG Jair Bolden SG A.J. Lawson SF Justin Minaya PF Keyshawn Bryant C Maik Kotsar Martin suggested earlier this week that it’s likely South Carolina plays differently next season as it adapts to life without Chris Silva. There’s not going to be a proven scoring big man to dump the ball inside to, so perhaps the Gamecocks go small and play with even more pace than they showed last year. Bolden and Lawson are interchangeable in the backcourt, same with Minaya and Bryant at the forward spots. How much weight is added to Bryant’s 6-foot-6, 190-pound frame? The rising sophomore could be a post-up candidate, creating scenes similar to what the 6-5, 211-pound Sindarius Thornwell did as a senior. Defensively, there’s a lot to like about this group. Minaya was USC’s best perimeter defender until he hurt his knee last November. Lawson is coming off a freshman campaign in which he led the Gamecocks in steals. Bolden, a transfer from George Washington, reminds Silva of former Carolina guard Duane Notice. And Kotsar, despite his noted offensive struggles, is still a defensive asset with his ability to guard multiple positions. POINT GUARD HEAVY PG Jair Bolden or Trae Hannibal SG Jermaine Couisnard or T.J. Moss SF AJ Lawson PF Justin Minaya or Keyshawn Bryant C Maik Kotsar Martin said Tuesday he likes playing two point guards and that’s “non-negotiable.” How about three? Bolden, who averaged over 11 points and three assists a game his last season at GW, is plenty capable. Couisnard, a 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman, is too. Hannibal, a 6-foot-1 incoming freshman from Hartsville, brings an “athleticism, a mindset, a dynamic that we haven’t had at point guard since I’ve been here,” Martin said. And then there’s the 6-foot-6 Lawson, who led the Gamecocks in assists last season. ROOKIE IMPACT PG Trae Hannibal SG A.J. Lawson SF Justin Minaya PF Keyshawn Bryant C Wildens Leveque Martin started T.J. Moss twice at point guard before the rookie went down with a season-ending injury in December. It’s further proof that he’ll play who best fits the situation, no matter a player’s class. Hannibal hasn’t stepped on campus, but his lasting image as a high schooler was a 62-point, 20-rebound performance in a state playoff game. Leveque is 6-10 and is regarded as Silva-esque with his defensive potential. “He blocks shots a higher clip than Chris did when Chris was in high school. He’s a bigger player,” Martin said Tuesday. TRADITIONAL PG Jair Bolden SG A.J. Lawson SF Keyshawn Bryant PF Felipe Haase C Maik Kotsar That’s a 6-3 point guard, 6-6 shooting guard, 6-6 small forward, 6-9 power forward and 6-11 center.
  16. Texas Tech vs. Auburn final for me and Auburn taking it all. Auburn reminds of Gamecock run. Never seen this one coming, Go SEC!!
  17. Gamecock men's Basketball injury report March 27, 2019 Here’s what Frank Martin said Tuesday about the status of the missing Gamecocks going forward: On Justin Minaya, who had knee surgery in November: “Justin’s cleared.” On T.J. Moss, who had foot and ankle surgeries in January: “Has his cast, boot, everything off. He’s one of the guys I met with (Monday). He said it’s the first time in a long time that he can walk and have no pain in his foot. So it’s a matter now of strength before he gets cleared. The plan with him is, when we get back for June 3, summer school, he’s fully cleared, all systems go.” On A.J. Lawson, who suffered a left ankle sprain in February and then rolled his right ankle before returning for the SEC Tournament: “He’s good. He’ll be ready to go when we work out (next week).” On Jason Cudd, who suffered a knee injury in January: “Had a test yesterday afternoon, a strength test on his leg ... Jason’s real close to being cleared.” On Jermaine Couisnard, who missed all of last season because of an eligibility issue: “He’s been clear to practice from day one. He’s been cleared to play for next year from day one. That’s never been in question. It was just freshman eligibility in games that was in question. ... He’s a 3.4 student, GPA wise. So I don’t see him academically ineligible because he’s been a very good student here. So he’s good to go
  18. How to watch No. 4 seed South Carolina (21-9) vs. No. 13 seed Belmont (26-6) March 22, 2019 CHARLOTTE, NC: First round of the NCAA tournament Who: No. 4 seed South Carolina (21-9) vs. No. 13 seed Belmont (26-6) When: 1:45 p.m., Friday, March 22 Where: Halton Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina Watch: ESPN2 Listen: 107.5 FM in Columbia area At stake: Winner plays the winner of No. 5 seed Florida State and No. 12 seed Bucknell on Sunday, with the time to be determined. Projected South Carolina starters: Junior guard Tyasha Harris, junior guard Te’a Cooper, senior guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore, junior forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, senior forward Alexis Jennings Projected Belmont starters: Senior guard Darby Maggard, senior guard Jenny Roy, junior guard Maura Muensterman, junior forward Maddie Wright, junior forward Ellie Harmeyer Key player: Freshman forward Victaria Saxton missed South Carolina’s SEC tournament loss because of to a death in her family, and she “could have been a difference-maker,” coach Dawn Staley said. It’s easy to see why — Saxton’s role has increased throughout the season as she provides a positive spark off the bench. Against a smaller Belmont team, Saxton and her fellow forwards will have plenty of opportunities to score in the paint on offense. On defense, Saxton has length and energy and will likely be tasked with ranging out to the perimeter to deny 3-point shots and stop dribble drives off the pick-and-roll. Key stat: Belmont takes lost of 3-pointers — only three teams in the country attempt or make more shots from long distance than the Bruins, and the Gamecocks rank 147th in the NCAA in 3-point defense. When opponents have shot 33 percent or better from 3-point range this season, the Gamecocks are 6-8, and Belmont averages 35.9 percent on the season. Senior guard Darby Maggard leads the way and is in the top 15 nationally in 3-pointers made, 3-pointers attempted and 3-pointers per game.
  19. Most of us agree at least that our recruiting needs to improve. I don't normally make posts that are overly critical of specific players but in this case, I think we should look at everyone on the roster and what they bring to the table. Kotsar is the only returning player who will be a senior. He absolutely must improve his offensive game. He doesn't need to score 15 a game, but he needs to be consistent. Big Chat averaged 10 ppg as a senior. If Kotsar can manage to move from 6-7 ppg this year up to 10+ ppg next year, he'll be very helpful to the team. Hopefully, we'll be able to bring in one grad transfer who is big. The juniors will be Bolden, who by most accounts should make an impact at PG next season, and Haase. I don't know about Haase really. He definitely helped us win a few games this year. He has a skill set that includes being a very good outside shooter. However, he isn't above average at anything else - passing, defense, athleticism, creating, etc... I'd like to see him stay and improve, but I think his ceiling is rather low. I think he'd be a great player in a league with less strength and athleticism than the SEC. The sophomores should carry the team for the most part. Lawson and Bryant both gained tremendous experience and discovered that they can compete at this level. Frink has a ways to go, but he showed this year that he has some skills, especially using his body for rebounding. His defense has to improve tremendously though. Minaya will return as an RS Soph next year and I think it's fair to say he should be expected to be better than he was last year and early on this season. He averaged about 8 ppg last year and I think we really need him to elevate that to 12-13 ppg. Cudd is the other sophomore and I just don't see any upside here. Perhaps he'll transfer down a level and play at FMU or some other D2 school. I understand why you take a chance on a 7 footer, but when it doesn't work, you move on. There will once again be a large group of freshmen. Couisnard, if as good as advertised, could have an impact similar to Lawson this year. Moss showed signed of being a quality player but was hurt before we were really able to see any growth. Hannibal will have some growing pains but he's a scorer. I look forward to seeing what he can do. Anderson is a wild card. He had an offer from Georgia Tech, but not much else. I have no idea what to expect from him. Leveque is a big body we desperately need, but who knows if he'll be ready to give us big minutes and be productive.
  20. South Carolina falters down the stretch in SEC Tournament loss to Auburn March 15, 2019 A.J. Lawson turned and winced with the whistle. His first big dent in his return game from injury felt like a crucial moment. South Carolina’s chance to reach the semifinals of the SEC Tournament for the first time in 16 years was on the brink of crunch time when Lawson, USC’s star freshman guard, challenged too hard on a 3-point attempt by Auburn’s Jared Harper. A three-shot foul was awarded to the Tigers as Lawson headed to the bench. USC spent a good chunk of its conference season short-handed, so it was only fitting that the Gamecocks essentially stayed that way in the postseason. Lawson, one of the best rookies in the league, wasn’t his usual self after a three-game absence for an ankle injury. Fourth-seeded Carolina basically had to battle No. 5 Auburn with a familiar lineup of seven scholarship players. The fight was there, the result wasn’t. Clutch-shooting Auburn pulled through with a 73-64 win on Friday at Bridgestone Arena. The Tigers (24-9) advance to face 8-seed Florida in a Saturday semifinal. South Carolina dropped to 16-16 and now awaits its NIT fate.
  21. Highly dramatic iPhone video of the Gamecocks entering Bridgestone Arena
  22. Gamecocks SEC Tournament opener is a favorable matchup. Here’s why South Carolina is one game away from reaching the SEC Tournament semifinals for the first time in 13 years. One winnable game. It’ll be fifth-seeded Auburn that faces the No. 4 Gamecocks around 3:30 p.m. Friday. The Tigers beat Missouri, 81-71, on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinal round of the league’s marquee event at Bridgestone Arena. While Auburn (23-9) seems like a safe bet to play in next week’s NCAA Tournament — and South Carolina has plenty of work to do — it’s USC (16-15) that perhaps enters this particular contest with an edge. Just ask Bruce Pearl. “When you say it’s all about matchups, and sometimes that’s kind of a canned praise, I think there’s a lot to that,” the Tigers coach said earlier this week. “And I would say that our matchup against South Carolina with Frank (Martin) has been a difficult one. I’d go as far to say his system, matching up against what we do, they’ve been more successful than we have.” Since Pearl took over on The Plains in 2014, his Tigers have two wins against the Gamecocks. That ties for their fewest against any SEC foe over that span, minus Florida. USC’s taken four of the last five matchups, including an 80-77 thriller at Colonial Life Arena on Jan. 22. Chris Silva, with 32 points and 14 rebounds, was dominant that night as Auburn had no post answer with Austin Wiley sidelined with a lower leg injury. The 6-foot-10 Wiley, who entered the tournament averaging 8 points and 5 rebounds, has been in and out of the lineup the majority of SEC season. He missed his fifth straight game Thursday and his status for Friday is to be determined. Without Wiley, Silva played a pivotal role in Auburn’s other bigs — 6-7 Anfernee McLemore and 6-8 Horace Spencer — fouling out in the first matchup. “They got like short guards, a couple guards play bigs and their bigs aren’t that tall, so I find my way to the rim,” Silva said. “My teammates try to find me every time because of the mismatch. I try to use my athleticism, too. “The way they play allows me to be aggressive and get open down low. And during those games, I guess my teammates pass me the ball.” Silva, an All-SEC first-teamer for a second straight season, is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds over his last four games against Auburn. “So whether it’s the way they defend the physicality (that hurts us), obviously Frank does a great job,” Pearl said. “If we get to that point, we’re going to have to evaluate what is is what we do and how we do it and find some things that are gonna be more effective than what they’ve been historically over the last five years.” GAME INFO Who: No. 5 seed Auburn (23-9) vs. No. 4 seed South Carolina (16-15) When: Approx. 3:30 p.m. Friday Where: Bridgestone Arena in Nashville At stake: Spot in SEC Tournament semifinals TV: ESPN Radio: 107.5 FM The Game in Columbia area Series: Auburn leads 24-19 Last meeting: Jan. 22, 2019 — South Carolina 80, Auburn 77 Streak: South Carolina’s won four of five Auburn projected starters: G Jared Harper (15.2 ppg), G Bryce Brown (15.7), G Samir Doughty (7.3), F Chuma Okeke (11.9), F Anfernee McLemore (7.3) South Carolina projected starters: G Tre Campbell (7.0), G Hassani Gravett (11.6), F Keyshawn Bryant (9.1), F Felipe Haase (6.2), F Chris Silva (14.8)
  23. Looks like the Cocks will face off against Auburn. Do you all feel like the Gamecocks still have a ligament chance of going to the Big Dance or only winning the SEC is their only shot now? Seems very slim at this point. Would you be happy with the NIT? Been their won it twice, Do you feel like the Nit is like a second-tier bowl invite without really any benefit at less in Football it gives players more practice time. which is not the case in basketball.
  24. What ESPN’s top bracketologist said about South Carolina, Clemson, Wofford and Furman March 13, 2019 The state of South Carolina will definitely be represented in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. That much was assured Monday when Wofford beat UNCG to win the Southern Conference, giving the Terriers an automatic bid to the Big Dance. So who’s going to join them? Clemson? Frank Martin’s Gamecocks? Does Furman still have a shot? Joe Lunardi, ESPN’s resident “bracketologist,” was on a national teleconference with reporters Wednesday. He analyzed all four of the Palmetto State’s teams vying to play next week. SOUTH CAROLINA The good: 11 SEC wins and a fourth-place finish in one of the nation’s toughest conferences The bad: An 16-15 overall record with non-conference losses to Wyoming, Stony Brook and Oklahoma State What Lunardi said about the Gamecocks: “Anything short of winning (the SEC Tournament), I think they will come up short (of the NCAA Tournament). Are there scenarios where we could get them in the conversation with a couple wins, the right path, et cetera? I just don’t think they won enough of the right games to be realistically in the conversation at this point. “The committee has gotten wiser over the years at looking at these unbalanced schedules in league. And the 11-7 just isn’t going to carry the weight that it may have kind of blindly carried or rolled out a bit of a red carpet for them in the past. .... There’s the example of Nebraska last year at 13-5 (in the Big Ten) not only not getting into the NCAA Tournament, they didn’t even get into the top half of an NIT bracket. “So I am not optimistic about South Carolina at this point.” CLEMSON The good: 19-12 overall record, 9-9 ACC record The bad: 1-9 record vs. “Quadrant 1” teams What Lunardi said about the Tigers: “I have to be clear, Clemson’s one of those team where, if I were voting, it differs from what I’m projecting. There’s little or no circumstance where I would vote Clemson in at this point, with a 1-9 record against the first quadrant. The ACC clearly this year has haves and have-nots with maybe Clemson and N.C. State with a foot in each camp. And both have really built up their 9-9 records against the bottom half of the league. “If you can’t win some games against other tournament-level teams, then I don’t know how realistically you can be considered a tournament team. But until the committee leaves out a .500 ACC team, then I have to project what I think they’re going to do. That makes (Wednesday’s) game enormous obviously between Clemson and N.C. State. I think the winner will get in the tournament and the loser will not.” WOFFORD The good: 29 wins and a top 15 NET ranking The bad: Not much. Just a matter of where Wofford is seeded at this point. What Lunardi said about the Terriers’ seeding potential: “I have them as a 7. I would love to see them as a 6. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think it’s more likely that they’ll be in an 8-9 game based upon how the committee has looked upon situations like this in the past. “But I’m going to be stubborn because I think they’re better than that.” FURMAN The good: 25 wins, including an upset of Villanova in November The bad: Finishing in third place in the Southern Conference and not making it past the semifinals of the league tournament What Lunardi said about the Paladins: “If I were to rank the at-large candidates in the Southern Conference, I would actually place (UNCG) ahead of Furman because they beat them in the conference tournament for one thing, And, two, they finished two games ahead of them in the regular season. So I think that part would be easy. “So in Furman’s case, what you’re really saying is there would have to be three teams from the Southern Conference for them to make it. And I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that’s not going to happen.”
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