2009-2010 South Carolina Gamecocks Basketball Preview
After ending the regular season first in the SEC East, the South Carolina Gamecocks (21- 10 overall, 10- 6 SEC) did not get an invite to the Big Dance. It was a major snub. Instead, the Gamecocks went to the NIT, where they’ve been the past three out of five years, and lost in round one to Butler 70- 63.
South Carolina ably created points last season, scoring 78.2 PPG (2nd in SEC) and hitting threes at a rate of 37% (2nd). They put 45% (5th) of their field goals through the hoop. But they were ninth in scoring defense, allowing 71.3 PPG. The Gamecocks were especially hurt by their free throw shooting, which was 10th (64%). They were also weak under the basket, notching a rebound margin of minus-2.7 (12th).
Forward/center Mike Holmes (10.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 0.4 APG) proved that he cold mix it up under the boards last season. Now a junior, this looks to be a breakout season for him. Forward Sam Muldrow (5.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 0.1 APG) has shown great potential under the basket. If he can find consistency, he’ll be a major force. The other piece of the puzzle upfront is senior Dominque Archie (10.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 0.9 APG). Once again, this is a player who needs to step up. He could be an on-court leader this season. Junior college transfer Johndre Jefferson will backup the forward spots and freshman guard/forward Lakeem Jackson will be instrumental in the three spot and in the backcourt.
Senior Devan Downey (19.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 4.5 APG) is the best returning guard in the SEC. He’s an able defender, quick on the transition and a consistent double-digit scorer. The Gamecocks will miss the output of shooter Zam Fredrick and his 15.5 PPG. Evka Baniulis (6.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.8 APG) has a fine three-point shot and could make up for some of those points. If guard Brandis Raley-Ross (7.0 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.6 APG) can find consistency, that will also help.
Coach Darrin Horn has more help upfront than he had last season and the backcourt is solid. If the Gamecocks can come through on some big SEC road games, they’ll contend for the top spot in the East again. But Kentucky and Tennessee look to be the true number one and two clubs in the East. South Carolina will most likely finish third or fourth. Look for them at the Big Dance this year, but you’ll have to do it early because they won’t be there long.