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Inside The Chart.pngEvery team has a "burn the tape" game, a loss so lacking in redeeming value that it's better to forget it ever happened.

 

Frank Martin stopped short of that Thursday.  When his team gathered for practice, Martin showed his players the highlights from their grisly, 75-36 loss to Florida. 

 

He wasn't without temptation, though.

 

 

Be Kind Rewind.png 

There was little rewinding of the tape from Carolina's game versus Florida.

 

"I tried to jump in that dumpster to burn myself along with the film, but I didn't fit in there," Martin joked on "Carolina Calls."

 

The Gamecocks hope for more pleasurable viewing Saturday when they host the resurgent Georgia Bulldogs (9-11, 3-4 SEC) at Colonial Life Arena.  Georgia has won three of its last four, and even that lone loss wasn't shameful:  the Bulldogs led Florida at halftime before falling 64-47.  With young players rounding into form, and an All-SEC guard scoring in a variety of ways, the Bulldogs faintly resemble the team that lost 7 of 8 games in December.

 

What does the tape reveal about Georgia?  Pre-tip reads before the Gamecocks and Bulldogs battle at Colonial Life Arena (1:00 p.m. EST airtime, Gamecock IMG Sports Network):

 

Untangling The Triangle:  The triangle offense rose to fame with Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls in the 1990s.  But its roots trace back to a place Martin knows well:  Tex Winter perfected and popularized the system as head coach of Kansas State in the 1950s.  It lives on at Georgia thanks to head coach Mark Fox, who - no surprise - grew up in Garden City, Kan., and logged time as a K-State assistant.

 

Triangle setup.jpgThe offense takes its name after its basic set-up:  a triangle on the strong (ball) side, formed by a player on the low block, wing, and corner.  The triangle relies on a series of "reads," with every player moving, cutting, and passing based on what the defense shows them.

 

The basic premise of the triangle offense:  a triangle on the strong side of the ball.

 

A favorite play is the "flex screen," where a player cuts from the corner, uses a baseline screen, and runs to the opposite block.  Both the screener and cutter then look for post-ups, hoping to duck in and "pin down" their defender.  Georgia will also run plenty of action through the "pinch post," or the high post on the help side of the ball.  With four players in the starting lineup measuring 6'5" or taller, Georgia's length only adds to the triangle's treachery.

 

Georgia Projected Starting Lineup

PG          Vincent Williams                              6'0"

                -or- Charles Mann                          6'4"

SG          Kentavious Caldwell-Pope               6'5"

SF           Brandon Morris                               6'7"

PF           Donte Williams                                6'9"

C             John Florveus                                 6'11"

 

Martin talks often about disrupting a team's rhythm, and few teams rely on it more heavily than the Bulldogs:  an SEC-leading 57.4% of their baskets are assisted.  Martin says the Gamecocks must affect that rhythm by forcing long passes.

 

"They want to catch that ball somewhere between the top of the key and the foul line," he explained, referring to the pinch post.   "You have to make the passer catch it above the top of the circle.  Now that pass becomes a longer pass [inside], which makes it easier on your guys to guard that stuff inside."

 

Long passes may also provide relief to Carolina's guards, who could find themselves defending the post often Saturday.

 

Man to Stop:  Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.  A 6'5" sophomore from Greenville, Ga., Caldwell-Pope (17.5 ppg) has led Georgia in scoring in 18 of 20 games this year.  No SEC team has a wider margin between its leading scorer and second-leading scorer than the Bulldogs - forward Nemanja Djurisic is next at 7.7 points per game - which only magnifies Caldwell-Pope's importance. 

 

KCP-3.jpg"You've got a lot of people right now who are saying he's the best pro prospect in the SEC.  They use him in all kinds of different ways - off pick-and-rolls, they post him.  He makes open shots.  They're doing a great job of running their offense through him," Martin said. 

 

Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ranks 2nd in the SEC in scoring (17.5 ppg)

 

 

"KCP" has played more shooting guard this year, after spending the majority of his time at small forward last season.  Can the Gamecocks force him into uncomfortable catches, and make a second scorer emerge?  Players like Lakeem Jackson and Brian Richardson need to use their length and toughness around screens.

 

Mann Alive:  Georgia has also profited from the improved play of freshman point guard Charles Mann (6.1 ppg).  The Alpharetta, Ga., native presents a tricky matchup for his ability to both distribute (a team-leading 2.9 assists/game) and reach the foul line (a team-leading 90 FTA).  He's also not to be confused with Charles Mann, who started alongside former Gamecock Brad Edwards on the Super Bowl XXVI-winning Washington Redskins.

 

February.jpgMonster Month:  February may be the shortest month, but Frank Martin has turned it into a long, torturous one for opponents.  In five seasons as a head coach, his teams have gone 25-6 (.806) in the month of February.

 

Chance To Strike?  Martin doesn't believe in gambling for steals on defense.  He prefers staying in position, denying gaps, and forcing teams to take contested shots.    

 

An opportunity might present itself Saturday.  Georgia, which plies a patient, precision triangle offense, ranked 7th in the nation last year in turnovers per game (10.4).  This year, playing at a similar possessions-per-game pace, the Bulldogs have dropped off to 289th in the nation (15.4).

 

Let's look at South Carolina's "Points Per Turnover" averages, a crude measure of their efficiency in converting turnovers into points.

 

Points Per Turnover Forced

Overall:                   1.10 PPTO  (317 pts. off 286 turnovers)

SEC:                       0.98 PPTO  (108 pts. off 106 turnovers)

vs. Florida:             0.17 PPTO   (2 pts. off 12 turnovers)

 

Transition basket.jpegThe Gamecocks forced 12 turnovers against Florida, but only managed a season-low 2 points off them.  Can they do a better job converting turnovers into baskets against the Bulldogs?  Martin said Georgia's size might demand it. 

 

Can the Gamecocks duplicate their transition game against Arkansas (left), when they picked up easy baskets before the Razorbacks could set up their defense?

 

"We have to create an uptempo game where we utilize our speed, so those [smaller] guys can get easier looks in the open court rather than against them when they are set up.  Now you have to crack a 6'7" guy with a 5'11" guy," Martin said.

 

Allergic to Fouls:  If South Carolina draws a foul on Sherrard Brantley, look for confetti to rain from the sky.  A reserve three-point specialist from Dublin, Ga., Brantley has played 369 minutes this year... and committed 7 fouls.  His average of 0.8 Fouls Committed/40 Minutes makes him the most foul-allergic player in college basketball.

 

And Finally... RJ Slawson isn't the only member of his family with a busy winter at Colonial Life Arena.  His older sister, Jackie, is a manager for Dawn Staley's women's basketball team.  She plans on pursuing a coaching career in softball, her sport of choice in high school.

 

Our pre-game coverage begins at 1:00 p.m. EST on the Gamecock IMG Sports Network.  We'll see you at CLA.  -AD--

Sneak Peek at 2013 Baseball and Softball Posters

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Get your first sneak peek at the 2013 Baseball and Softball posters! First chance to get one is at tonight's Preview Party exclusively for My Carolina and Gamecock Club members. More info about the event here.  Let us know in the comments what you think!


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Season ticket deposits for softball and baseball are available now! Single game tickets for baseball will go on sale to Gamecock Club members on February 5. Any remaining available single game tickets (except the Clemson game) will go on sale to the public on February 8. Go to GamecocksOnline.com/tickets for more information.

 

Inside The Chart.pngBilly Donovan was hired as head coach of Florida March 27, 1996.

 

Around midnight that night, Frank Martin said his cell phone chirped with a message.  It was Donovan.  He told him he planned to come to his high school in Miami, Fla., the next day to recruit some of his players.

 

Frank Martin.jpegTwo decades later, Martin and Donovan remain tight, a friendship forged from their earliest days in coaching.  Donovan plucked Anthony Grant, one of Martin's assistants at Miami Senior High, to join his staff at Marshall.  For 15 summers, Martin worked as a counselor at Donovan's basketball camps.  Two of his former players, Brent Wright and Udonis Haslem, became centerpieces of Donovan's first Final Four team. 

 

"If it weren't for Frank Martin, we wouldn't have played for the national title in 2000," Donovan told The Gainesville Sun. 

 

That friendship will be set aside Wednesday, when the Gamecocks become the next team to take their crack at Donovan's #4-ranked Gators (16-2, 6-0 SEC).  Pre-tip reads before the Gators and Gamecocks hit the floor (8:00 p.m. EST, Gamecock IMG Sports Network):

 

Inside The Efficiency:  Demolished?  Dismantled?  Pick any verb.  They all describe what Florida has done to SEC competition this year.  The Gators have won their conference games by an average of 26.5 points, the latest an 82-47 drubbing at Mississippi State.  The Gators' top seven players are juniors and seniors, and that chemistry shows:  Florida ranks 2nd in the nation in Offensive Efficiency, averaging 1.23 points per possession (PPP). 

 

"That ball never stops, which allows you to not get set defensively," Martin said at his Tuesday press conference.

 

Kenny Boynton 2012.jpgHow does Florida operate so skillfully?  The Gators run lots of ball screens, primarily from the wings, with hulking center Patric Young as their featured screener.  Their guards - leading scorer Kenny Boynton (13.6 ppg), redshirt senior Mike Rosario (11.8 ppg, 90% FT), and junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin (9.1 ppg, 40.4% 3pt.) - are exceedingly patient, and rarely force anything.  If they find a seam on a pick-and-roll, they either attack the rim or wait until a backside defender steps up, so they can pop out to 6'10" forward Erik Murphy (12.8 ppg, 47.4% 3pt.).  Murphy is one of the nation's better "stretch fours," making him a difficult matchup from outside.

Florida senior guard Kenny Boynton (right)

Florida also sends Young on "rims runs" on screen-and-rolls, looking to find a catch in stride.  One of the SEC's most physical specimens, Young's north-south runs can be difficult to stop.

That unselfishness results in impeccable scoring balance.  Four different players average in double figures, and the Gators shoot 56.8% from two-point range.

Stopping the nation's most surgical offense seems like a thankless task.  The Gamecocks will need to lean on something they did well against Missouri and Mississippi State:  defend the pick-and-roll.  The forwards need to "jam the screener," pushing them up and preventing them from making a clean roll to the basket.  The Gamecocks' guards need to jump screens, and not allow Florida's ballhandlers to turn corners easily.  Any breakdown in communication could cause Carolina's defense to lose shape - and allow Florida's offense to get rolling.

 

But Wait, There's More:  Martin didn't call Florida "national championship good" for offense alone.  The Gators lead the nation in Defensive Efficiency, allowing a mere 0.8 points per possession (PPP).   They also rank second nationally in scoring defense (51.2 ppg). 

 

Florida Defense - NCAA Ranks

Defensive Efficiency                      0.8 Points Per Possession (#1 NCAA)

Scoring Defense                             51.2 ppg  (#2 NCAA)

Two-Point FG% Defense                39.0% FG  (#3 NCAA)

Fouls Per Game                              15.8  (#25 NCAA)

 

The Gators close gaps, stay between the ball and the rim, and rarely foul.  The Gamecocks picked a good time to have their best shooting game of the season, a 57.7% performance against Arkansas.  Can a player like R.J. Slawson, who just strung together the best two-game scoring stretch of his SEC career, make a difference down low?

 

Did You Know:  Before coming to South Carolina, junior Brenton Williams spent one season at Santa Fe Community College, a 2.5-mile drive from the University of Florida campus.  Williams went scoreless against Arkansas after posting 16 points in each of the last three games.

 

Stat vs. Stat:  The Gamecocks biggest strength will come under fire Wednesday.  The Gamecocks are one the best teams in the nation at grabbing offensive rebounds; Florida is one of the best teams at denying them. 

 

Rebounding Percentages

South Carolina                   Get 42.4% of available offensive rebounds  (3rd NCAA)

Florida                                Get 73.8% of available defensive rebounds (11th NCAA)

 

Ellington vs. Arkansas.jpegSouth Carolina has only faced one team that ranks in the top 100 in the nation in Defensive Rebounding % (Missouri, 67th).  Against a Florida team that only allows 39% shooting from two-point range, tenacious offensive rebounding may be South Carolina's salvation.

 

Bruce Almighty:  Martin understands why fans want to see Bruce Ellington score 20 points a night.  No player scores with as much kinetic flair as the Gamecocks' armor-plated, 5'8" dual-sport star.

 

Bruce Ellington (left) has locked down the opponents' lead scoring guard.

 

It's not that Martin minds it. He just doesn't need it.  Not when Ellington can affect so many more points on the other end.  In the last three games, Ellington has posted shutdown defensive performances against the opponent's leading scorer:

 

 

 

 

Player                           Avg. Entering Game            Points Scored

Kedren Johnson (VU)   15.9 ppg                                  3 pts.*  (0-6 FG,  0-2 3pt.)

Phil Pressey (MU)         12.2 ppg                                  6 pts.    (1-8 FG,  1-6 3pt.)

B.J. Young (ARK)         16.9 ppg                                  7 pts.*  (3-12 FG, 0-2 3pt.)

                                                                                     5.3 ppg, 15.4% FG,  10.0% 3pt.

*-Season-low

 

Ellington will likely draw the assignment on Boynton, the SEC's active leading scorer with 1,833 career points.

 

Can You (Not) Top This:  On the flip side, Ellington will likely be guarded by Florida's 6'5" junior Scottie Wilbekin, a leading candidate for SEC Defensive Player of the Year.  Arguably the SEC's best on-ball defender, Wilbekin held Texas A&M's Elston Turner, who had just exploded for 40 points against Kentucky, to 4 points on 1-of-10 field goal shooting.  In his next game, he straitjacketed Missouri point guard Phil Pressey, the SEC's Preseason Player of the Year, into a season-low 2 points and 10 turnovers.  A hard player to screen, expect Wilbekin to "chest up" Ellington, and whittle away at his energy on the offensive end.

 

Wilbekin, though, may have his hands fuller than normal.  In two career games at Florida, Ellington averages 19.0 ppg and 42.9% three-point shooting, his highest average against an SEC opponent.

 

Bruce Ellington Career at Florida (2g)

Points:                  19.0*

FG%                     48.2%*

3pt.%                    42.9%*

 

*-Career highs on road vs. SEC opponent (min. 2 games)

 

And Finally... Martin isn't the only Gamecock coach with fond memories of Donovan's summer camps.  Assistant Matt Figger also took turns as a counselor while coaching in the junior-college ranks.  It was there that he first met Frank Martin, which led to him joining Martin's Kansas State staff in 2007.

 

Our pre-game coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. on the Gamecock IMG Sports Network.  We'll see you in Gainesville.  -AD--


THIS WEEK IN GAMECOCK COUNTRY...


We've got a packed weekend coming up in Columbia! Men's Basketball will take on SEC foe Georgia on Saturday at 1:30 PM. We have a goal to reach 2,000 students in attendance this Saturday (President Pastides wants to see you there!) Prizes will be awarded for students who pre-request their tickets online and more (see below.) No. 1 Equestrian also takes on Georgia this Saturday as the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs will look to unseat the Gamecocks from the top spot. Men's Tennis continues their indoor slate of matches with a double header with Georgia Tech and Wofford on Saturday in the Field House. Women's Basketball closes out the weekend of events with a big one as they take on Auburn at 3:00 PM on Sunday (plenty of time to get home after the game for some big football game we hear is happening that evening.) We'll be celebrating National Girls and Women in Sports Day with a pre-game event. Get to the game early (doors open at 1:30 PM) to check out the booths on the concourse dedicated to promoting physical activity and a healthy lifestyle among young girls. As part of the event we'll also be commemorating the 40th anniversary this year of Title IX. Women's Basketball games are very family-friendly, but even more so this Sunday as it is "Youth Day" and all children 17 and under will be admitted for free and our Read with the Gamecocks participating schools will be highlighted at halftime.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Men's Basketball vs. Georgia - 1:30 PM - Colonial Life Arena

"2K vs. UGA" - We have a goal of hitting the 2,000 mark for student attendance! Join the convo on Twitter with #2KvsUGA hashtag!
Student promotions:
-    Students are encouraged to pre-request their tickets as we aim for 2,000. As pre-requested numbers approach 500 tickets, 1000, 1500, and finally 2,000 tickets, we'll be giving away prizes!
500 - Personalized, autographed Frank Martin Basketball
1000 - Under Armour prize pack
1500 - Observe a men's basketball practice and receive a behind-the-scenes tour
2000 -  iPad
-    Promotional booth on Greene St on Friday - stop by for a chance at more prizes!
-    Double Student Rewards for attendance (be sure you're signed up for Gamecock Social Rewards here)
-    Double Loyalty Points for attendance
-    Garnet Army T-Shirts (while supplies last)
-    Free Food for all students
-    President Pastides says he'll see you there!



-  Rally towels for fans
Kelly Fine Arts dance performance at Halftime
-  Alumni Basketball Players to be introduced at halftime



#1 Equestrian vs. #3 Georgia - 1:00 PM
- One Wood Farm in Blythewood
- Top 5 match-up between SEC rivals
- Free admission
- Beautiful sunny weather forecast in the 60-degree range

#40 Men's Tennis Doubleheader - Field House
   vs. #60 Georgia Tech- 11:00 AM
   vs. Wofford - 4:00 PM
-    Team posters available


Sunday, February 3, 2013

#15/13 Women's Basketball vs. Auburn - 3:00 PM - Colonial Life Arena

NGWSD logo.jpg -    National Girls and Women in Sports Day - event begins when arena doors open at 1:30 PM - The day/event promotes physical activity and a healthy lifestyle for young girls. The Colonial Life Arena concourse will be lined with booths of various university clubs, organizations, and varsity sports.  Booths will include Gamecock teams such as Volleyball, Softball, Track & Field, and Diving, Academy Sports, the Gamecock Club, Girls on the Run, and Mrs. Patricia Moore-Pastides, wife of University President Harris Pastides.
-    Title IX 40th anniversary commemorative poster giveaway
-    Youth Day - youth 17 and under receive FREE admission
-    Read with the Gamecocks Day - Elementary schools who participated in the Read with the Gamecocks program will be highlighted at halftime. For this segment, there were 4,200 participants from 34 schools.  Click here for more info on our reading program!


Gamecocks on the road...
Men's Basketball at #4 Florida - Wednesday, 8:00 PM - TV: SEC Network | Gamecock IMG Sports Network radio
Swimming & Diving at Alabama, Georgia - Saturday, 11:00 AM
Track & Field at New Balance Collegiate Invitational - Friday-Saturday
#31 Women's Tennis at #20 Clemson - Sunday, 12:00 PM

Carolina Football: Top 10 Program

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We first distributed the graphic below via email and it's been making the rounds in social media. Check out some of the reasons Carolina Football has solidified itself as a Top 10 Program. It's Great to be a Gamecock!


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Season ticket deposits are available for the 2013 season. Go to GamecocksOnline.com/tickets for more info.

Facebook Fan of the Week: Adrian & Lyla

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Check out this week's Facebook Fan of the Week winner!  Adrian Mann of Lexington, SC, submitted this photo with the following description: 

"My Grandaughter Lyla just loves Cocky so much. She loves to dress in her Gamecock cheerleading outfit for all the games and run around putting on a show. She captured all the attention doing her "Cock a Doddle Do" strut and chant while shopping in Publix for Gameday food!"


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Want to be the next Facebook Fan of the Week? Sign up on the Fan of the Week tab on our Facebook page, upload your photo and story, then share and get your friends to vote! Winners are selected each Friday and featured here and on GamecocksOnline.com.

 

 

Inside The Chart.png

 

Get your necks loose and your lungs ready.

 

The Arkansas Razorbacks (12-6, 3-2) bring their end-to-end, gasping-for-breath style to Colonial Life Arena Saturday to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks (11-7, 1-4 SEC).  After a narrow loss to Missouri Tuesday, the Gamecocks will look to stop their cycle of late-game heartbreak, and seal a second SEC win.

 

They're already off to a good start:  Arkansas has yet to win a road game, losing all five by an average of 12.8 points. 

 

Pre-tip reads before the Gamecocks and Razorbacks collide in Columbia (1:00 p.m. EST airtime, Gamecock IMG Sports Network):

 

The Tug-Of-War:  A basketball game has various states of equilibrium.  If a team struggles in one area, it can compensate in another.  If a player pursues one stat too vigorously, it could leave him underperforming in another.

 

Lakeem Jackson vs. Arkansas.jpegSouth Carolina hangs his hat on relentless offensive rebounding.  Despite its small stature, the Gamecocks rank 3rd in the nation in Offensive Rebounding Percentage (42.2%). 

 

Arkansas, led by second-year coach Mike Anderson, excels in the open floor.  According to Synergy - and Luke Winn's excellent SI Power Rankings -- Arkansas ranks 8th nationally, getting transition baskets on 21% of its possessions. 

 

It begs the question:  will the threat of a fast break affect South Carolina's ability to offensive-rebound?  Might they sacrifice sending some players to the rim, so they can cover themselves for potential runouts?

 

Lakeem Jackson (left) on the boards vs. Arkansas last year.  Get ready for a showdown between Carolina's offensive rebounding and Arkansas' transition offense.   

 

Frank Martin has been down this road before, when his Kansas State teams battled Anderson's squads at Missouri.

 

"If our guys go to the glass, then Arkansas is going to have to stay in there and rebound, and not be able to leak out," he explained on "Carolina Calls." 

 

"In the past, the battles between Mike's teams and my teams have been who's going to be better at what they try to doWe try to rebound.  They try to turn you over.  The games where we haven't turned it over and out-rebounded them, we've had success.  You either run everyone back or you got to go rebound.  I like to go rebound," he said.    

 

That tug-of-war - South Carolina's offensive rebounding versus Arkansas' quick-trigger transition - could decide a winner Saturday.  Freshman Michael Carrera, the Gamecocks' highest-percentage offensive rebounder, will need to bounce back after managing just one offensive rebound against Missouri.

 

Mardracus Wade.jpg"Hell" To Pay:  Anderson, a longtime Nolan Richardson assistant, has rekindled his boss' famed, frenetic "40 Minutes of Hell" style.  Using a blistering full-court press, the Razorbacks have forced 17.8 turnovers per game in league play, most in the SEC.  Junior Mardracus Wade is Arkansas' top turnover merchant (1.8 steals/game).

 

Arkansas' press isn't technical, or tactical, or loaded with principles.  It's meant to be simple, and chaotic, and panic-striking.  See ball, swarm ball, steal ball. 

 

But Arkansas has another impressive stat.  Usually teams that play a fast-paced, trapping style get reckless with the ball themselves.  Yet Arkansas also ranks 8th nationally in Turnover % Offense, throwing it away on just 16% of possessions.  According to kenpom.com, they're the only team in the top 25 in both TO% Defense (i.e., forcing turnovers) and TO% Offense (avoiding them).

 

Arkansas - Turnover Percentage (% of Possessions Ending in a TO)

Offense:              16.1%  (8th)

Defense               24.8%  (14th)

 

Valuing possessions will be key Saturday.  No "jailbreaks," as Martin called Missouri's runouts.  Fortunately, Carolina has improved dramatically in keeping the basketball, as the numbers below show:

 

South Carolina Turnover Margin

Non-conference:                -3.6        (14th SEC)

Conference:                       +2.6       (4th SEC)

 

Man to Stop:  Arkansas guard B.J. Young.  He may rank third in the SEC in scoring (16.9 ppg), but no team's offense flows through a single player more than Young.  A crafty, long-armed, 6'3" sophomore, Young leads the SEC, and ranks 46th nationally, in Possession Percentage (29.9%).  Also called Usage Rate, it's the percentage of a team's possessions that ends with a player a.) making a shot; b.) missing a shot that isn't rebounded by the offense; or c.) committing a turnover while that player is on the floor.

 

B.J. Young-2.jpgArkansas runs very few ball screens compared to South Carolina's other SEC opponents, preferring an offense based around constant moving, cutting, and passing.  They like to spread the floor, and get perimeter defenders leaning and off-balance to set up driving opportunities.  Few players thrive in those conditions better than Young, who torched the Gamecocks for 27 points in a 76-65 win last year.

 

B.J. Young (photo courtesy:  WholeHogSports.com)

 

In terms of height, ball-screen usage, and driving habits, Young's game compares favorably to Vanderbilt's Kedren Johnson, whom the Gamecocks - Bruce Ellington in particular -- held scoreless from the field last Saturday.  Young is a more athletic, souped-up version of Johnson.  Can Carolina experience the same success?

 

And Another Thing.... Don't forget about 6'7," 240-pound junior Marshawn Powell, either.  A true inside-out threat, Powell has career averages of 23.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game against South Carolina.  He missed all of last season with an ACL injury.  Powell ranks second behind Young in scoring (15.4 ppg) and leads the Hogs in rebounds (5.4 rpg).

 

Kicking Glass:  Rebounding is a port of entry in Frank Martin's system.  Don't contribute on the boards?  Don't expect to last long.  Against Missouri's towering front line, both 5'8" Bruce Ellington and 5'11" Brenton Williams chipped in with career highs in rebounds.

 

If it feels like we've called out career highs often, you'd be right.  South Carolina's five returning backcourt players have set career highs in rebounds 8 different times this year:

 

Player                              Previous Career High   New Career High '12-13

Brian Richardson              5 vs. USC-Upstate            8 vs. Elon, 8 vs. Miss. State

Brenton Williams               4 vs. Florida                     5 vs. Missouri

Bruce Ellington                  8 vs. W. Kentucky            9 vs. Missouri

Damien Leonard               4 vs. Tennessee              5 vs. PC, 8 vs. SC St., 9 vs. Auburn

Eric Smith                          3, 10 times                       4 vs. S.C. State

 

The Redemption of Brenton:  Junior Brenton Williams looked adrift.  Through two SEC games, the Gamecocks' leading scorer had posted a grand total of 2 points.  Turnovers and timidity had limited him to 12 minutes, and reduced the Kissimmee, Fla., native to a shadow of his former self.

 

But Martin doesn't believe in abandoning a player.  Nobody goes into his doghouse - "I didn't have a dog growing up."  Every game - and more importantly, the practices in between - represents a new chance to earn playing time.

 

Brenton Williams driving.jpegWilliams has made the most of his new chance.  Since his slow start, Williams has scored 16 points in the last three games, steadying a backcourt in which Ellington has struggled to find his touch (23% FG in SEC play).

 

Brenton Williams (right) has scored 16 points in three straight games.

 

"He's playing aggressive again.  He got un-aggressive all of a sudden," Martin said.  "You can't succeed as a player if you're tentative out there."

 

Martin also credits a better understanding defensively with sharpening Williams' play on offense.

 

"The more attention to detail you pay to what we do defensively, the more patience I got with you offensively," he said.

 

With Arkansas ranking second in the SEC in scoring (79.6 ppg), Williams' scoring may be required Saturday.

 

Free & Easy:  The frontcourt trio of Lakeem Jackson, R.J. Slawson, and Laimonas Chatkevicius has enjoyed a free-throw shooting renaissance:

 

Player                                   Started                               Since

Lakeem Jackson                    7-29       (24.1%)                 7-13       (53.8%)

R.J. Slawson                          16-25     (64.0%)                 13-16     (81.3%)

Laimonas Chatkevicius          2-6         (33.3%)                 8-8          (100.0%)

 

 

And Finally...  Chatkevicius and freshman Mindaugas Kacinas brought their own cheering sections to Missouri.  Kacinas' host family at his high school, Word of Life Traditional School, made the five-hour trek from Wichita, Kan., to watch him play.  So did neighbors of Chatkevicius' host family - the Klaipeda, Lithuania, native spent two summers playing AAU ball for a team based in Kansas.

 

Now that we're prepared, we hope you are as well.  Our pre-game coverage begins at 1:00 p.m. EST on the Gamecock IMG Sports Network.  See you at Colonial Life Arena.  -AD--

Inside The Chart.pngThe tweet, sent at 8:32 p.m., immediately sparked Gamecock fans' curiosity:

@GamecockRadio:  Frank Martin told me tonight that he played the offensive line coach in the movie "Any Given Sunday."

That's right.  "Any Given Sunday," the Oliver Stone-directed, Al Pacino-starring, 1999 film-turned-basic-cable staple about the fictitious Miami Sharks.  Before he rose to small-screen stardom as a successful college basketball coach, Frank Martin played an extra in the film when it shot on location in Homestead, Fla.

Any Given Sunday.jpgNot all stories - especially one as far-fetched as this - can be explained in 140 characters.  So here's the backstory from Coach Martin himself:

At the time, Martin was working as a high school coach in his native Miami.  His athletic trainer, who had signed up to play a referee in the movie, approached him in school one day.  The football players in the movie - all of whom were actual ex-football players - were grumbling.  They hated the actors who had been cast as coaches, believing they were inauthentic.

The directors asked Martin's athletic trainer if he knew any real coaches who could fill the roles.

"He said, 'Hey, they want new coaches.  Are you interested?'" Martin said.

It was after basketball season, so Martin figured why not.  He ended up spending eight days on set, playing the Sharks' offensive line coach during the film's game scenes.  (No word on whether this makes Martin part of Al Pacino's coaching tree, too.)  The days lasted from 6:30 in the morning until 8 o'clock at night, and Martin remembers them mostly for standing around between scenes.  He recalls earning somewhere betwen $100 and $200 per day.  He didn't receive a credited role, either, which explains why he doesn't appear on any IMDb.com page. 

Incidentally, the man who choreographed the football scenes in "Any Given Sunday," Mark Ellis, is the brother of Gamecock football radio voice Todd Ellis.  The two re-united at Thursday's edition of "Carolina Calls."

Now for the second-most popular question:  can you see Martin in the film?

Good luck.  The final cut melded him into the background of most shots.  He says his staff has tried to spot him for ages, to no avail.

Although it might require a change to the movie poster.    -Andy Demetra

 

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IMG_2527.JPGOver 230 invitees from Gamecock Club chapters across the state were welcomed to campus last Saturday for tours of various athletic facilities. The fans were guided through the football facilities at Williams-Brice, the Carolina Stadium baseball facilities, and the newly opened Rice Athletics Center.

"Our goal is to let people see where their money is going," said Executive Director of the Gamecock Club Patrick McFarland. "Their dedication, support, and generosity make it possible for us to be able to support student-athletes and to be able to have the Rice Athletics Center, which replaced the Roundhouse. They hadn't seen [the Rice Athletics Center] yet and they got to see areas of Williams-Brice Stadium and Carolina Stadium they wouldn't typically see. Everyone really enjoyed it."

With the tours held in the morning, fans were also offered a group rate on tickets for the men's basketball game vs. Auburn that afternoon, including the halftime recognition of the football team. For many fans it was great to turn the day into one big celebration. Roger Sloan, president of the Dillon chapter of the Gamecock Club, brought several members of his family for the day, including his mother, Fay, who was celebrating her birthday with the tours and a family lunch. Fay and her husband, Howard, attended ball games at Carolina for about 35 years straight starting in the 1950's. Now in their more elder years, they do not come to games as often, so the opportunity to come see the updated facilities was special.


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The Sloan family taking their turn in the hot seat in the media room at Williams-Brice


"It's really great to be able to come up here and see everything behind the scenes, get a feel for what the student-athletes and coaches have," said Roger Sloan. "It's great to be a Gamecock right now. The university is second to none in facilities. For fans and Gamecock Club members it's great to come up here and be a part of this, feel more connected to the university and Gamecock family."

For his part, Roger says he is really looking forward to more of the same success from the Gamecocks on the gridiron in 2013.

"We're expecting to win now. Coach Spurrier has gotten great recruiting classes and gotten us to where we expect to win. When I was coming up we would hope to win; now Gamecocks expect to win. We're expecting good things for years to come."

Photos: Softball Stadium Progress Continues

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The first game scheduled to be played in our new softball stadium is set for March 13th and progress is coming along! Check out some of the latest photos below under today's gorgeous Carolina skies
. For more photos check out our Facebook photo album for the project!




Softball Stadium Progree: 1-23-13

Softball Stadium Progree: 1-23-13, 2


More information to come later on season tickets in the new stadium, but season ticket deposits for the 2013 softball season are available now for just $25 for adults! Click here to purchase online. View the full 2013 schedule here.