South Carolina Gamecocks
Southeastern Conference (21-9, 10-6)
NIT Seed: #3
Big Wins: 1/2 at Baylor (85-84), 1/10 Auburn (68-56), 1/21 Florida (70-69)
Bad Losses: 11/28 at Charleston (80-82), 2/18 at Mississippi State (70-75), 2/28 at Vanderbilt (83-96)
Coach: Darrin Horn
Devan Downey, Junior, Guard, 19.9 ppg, 4.5 apg, 3.0 spg
Zam Fredrick, Senior, Guard, 15.6 ppg, 1.9 apg
Dominique Archie, Junior, Forward, 11.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.2 bpg
Sam Muldrow, Sophomore, Forward, 5.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.9 bpg
Mike Holmes, Sophomore, Forward, 10.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.2 bpg
Evaldas Baniulis, Junior, Forward, 6.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Brandis Raley-Ross, Junior, Guard, 7.1 ppg, 1.6 apg
Austin Steed, Sophomore, Forward, 3.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
Coach Darrin Horn brought a fast paced offense and pressure defense with him to South Carolina from Western Kentucky. And it has worked. The biggest reason for the success is the backcourt play of Devan Downey and Zam Fredrick. Those two combine to score 35.5 of the Gamecocks 79.1 points per game. Both are solid outside shooters, but they will do most of their damage around the rim.
Because those two attack the basket they will get to the free-throw line quite a bit. Downey is really the only good free-throw shooter on the team, but Fredrick is better than a majority of his teammates so he is not a bad player to have on the line. Downey is also the point guard and dishes out 4.5 assists per game. He is the guy who makes this offense go and most of the time it goes really fast and really well.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The free-throw shooting deteriorates in the frontcourt. Mike Holmes and Sam Muldrow both shoot around 50 percent from the charity stripe and they will get to the line quite a bit. Holmes is a solid scoring option in the paint and he, along with Muldrow and Dominique Archie, will block a few shots every game. That makes life very difficult for opposing big men to score, especially when Holmes, Muldrow and Archie are all on the floor. However, despite all those shot blocking threats, the Gamecocks are not a good rebounding team. Holmes and Archie are on the floor most of the time and those two are the leading rebounders, but they need to get more help from the backcourt and the roleplayers.
Who To Watch:
Downey, Fredrick, Archie and Holmes have started nearly every, if not every, game this season. Five other players have started at least a couple games, but none of them have held onto the job. Whether they start or not, Coach Horn needs to get some production out of Brandis Raley-Ross, Evaldas Baniulis, Austin Steed and Muldrow. Raley-Ross is the lone guard of the bunch and he can give the team another ball handler. Baniulius, a 6-7 junior, can stretch the defense with his great outside shooting ability, but Archie can do that as well. Steed will help out on the glass, but he is not much of a scorer. Muldrow will block some shots and do a little more scoring than Steed, yet he is not as effective on the glass. At the least, Coach Horn has plenty of options to mix and match depending on the situation and competition, yet finding a little more consistency would be beneficial.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.1 (14th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.9 (248, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.5 (89, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.3 (173, 9)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.2 (81, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.0 (37, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 63.5 (302, 11)
Rebound Margin: -2.5 (272, 12)
Assists Per Game: 11.2 (285, 12)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.7 (159, 6)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Second Round loss to St. Mary’s