Big SC Hoops Test
The University of South Carolina men’s basketball team has been a major disappointment for … well, decades.
There was stretch during the late 1960s and early 1970s under former head coach Frank Maguire when the Gamecocks excelled on the national stage, but since then the pickings have been slim.
Ready for some brutal truth? USC hasn’t won a game in the NCAA Tournament since 1973. In fact it’s been almost a decade since the Gamecocks have even made it to the “Big Dance.” Things have gotten positively brutal of late – with South Carolina teams posting losing records in six of the last seven seasons.
Exacerbating this “extended fail?” The stratospheric success of the school’s baseball and football programs – which have soared to unprecedented heights during the basketball program’s darkest hour.
Looking to break this cycle is second-year head coach Frank Martin – whose inaugural Gamecock squad posted a 14-18 mark last year.
Is Martin’s second squad any better? Let’s hope so …
This year’s Gamecocks will face their toughest test of the year this week – a road matchup against the No. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-1, 0-0 Big 12). Wanna watch? Tipoff is scheduled for this Friday at 9:30 p.m. EST – with ESPNU televising the game nationally.
So far Martin’s 2013-14 squad has posted a 2-2 mark – with road losses to No. 20 Baylor and arch-rival Clemson.
Bolstering the Gamecocks’ fortunes in Stillwater will be the return (for now) of two-sport star Bruce Ellington, who will play a few games prior to the returning to the football team for bowl practice.
Ellington – who will rejoin the team for good in January – averaged 9.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game last season. On the gridiron, he caught 43 passes for 635 yards and six touchdowns (leading the team in all three categories).
Can Ellington mesh with star freshman Sindarius Thornwell and transfer Tyrone Johnson in time to key a Top Ten upset on the road?
We doubt it … but Martin’s going to need to start coming up with some big wins to put butts in seats (preferably real, not imaginary butts).