Saturday, December 8, 2012
Gamecocks Use a Football Mentality to Defeat Dolphins (Recap of USC v. Jacksonville)
As you may know if you are one of my marines, aka the few, the proud, the readers of my site, I work for the University of South Carolina in an IT capacity at the School of Law. It’s been a great nearly four months so far working there.
One of the things I immediately learned when I got to Columbia is that parking is by seniority. And since I have no seniority, I park in what’s known as the Z lot. Let’s put it this way, I get good exercise walking to my office every morning.
But one of the perks of parking in the Z lot is that it is right near the Colonial Life Arena. So on weeknights, I can leave my car in the lot, not pay the $5 for game parking and walk to the arena. However, since I had a good ninety minutes to kill on Friday night, I went to what has become my new pre game hangout, the Thirsty Fellow, located across from the arena.
Her second story concerned how Coach Martin was looking for more offensive production to become as he put it “bowl-eligible” (winning their sixth game on the season). In Berkovich’s article, Martin used a football analogy to describe his team’s communication problems. “Right now, offensively, I’ll call for our tailback to run in the hole between the right guard and the right tackle. Our offensive line is blocking as if we’re going to run in the hole between the left guard and the right.” Martin then went onto explain in Berkovich’s article that bad communication has lead to bad execution.
Well, if Martin decided in practice to let Bruce Ellington instruct the team on a few football drills, it must have resonated with his team. The Gamecocks looked like Steve Spurrier’s run and shoot offense from the get go. They were aggressive and moved the ball around much better than they had done in previous games, especially against Clemson.
South Carolina jumped out quickly to an 11-2 lead on a three pointer by Brian Richardson and had Jacksonville reeling. Ninety seconds into the game, the Dolphins had already four fouls as they couldn’t handle the Gamecocks’ intensity on both ends of the court. In the first eleven minutes, South Carolina had a double digit lead several times. But the Dolphins though hung around, cutting the deficit back into the single digits. With just about nine minutes left in the first half, Jacksonville was only trailing 29-21.
Later in that article on Williams, Martin noted that “one of Williams’ biggest strengths is that he cares and he wants to improve.” Williams is the Gamecocks leading scorer, averaging 13.6 points per game and leads the team in three point and free throw percentages. He has done all this coming off the bench, providing the team a much needed spark early in the season.
Having seen Williams play several times this season, I can tell you that I am impressed with his mental and physical resiliency. In their first home game of the season, Williams was benched by Martin early on against Wisconsin Milwaukee. He didn’t come back into the game until late in the second half but he kept his head in the game. When he did enter the game, he rallied his team to overtime and in extra regulation was a free throw shooting machine in the win over the Panthers.
Williams showed his physical resiliency by coming back and playing the next game after the scary incident at St John’s where a Red Storm player landed on him, resulting in a neck injury and an overnight stay in the hospital.
Williams again gave the Gamecocks a spark when they needed it. He buried two straight three pointers which extended South Carolina’s lead back to double digits as they led now 35-21. Jacksonville would briefly get the lead down to twelve points. But that’s as close as the Dolphins would get the rest of the way.
The Gamecocks would outscore the Dolphins 22-7 over the last nine minutes to take a 57-30 lead at the half. Carrera and Brian Richardson were already in double figures in scoring at the half. Richardson would end up having a perfect night from beyond the arc, hitting all four of his three point attempts.
In the second half, the game, to be honest, got ugly. South Carolina, who looked so good on offense the first twenty minutes of the game, struggled to score. In the first nine minutes, the Gamecocks only scored eleven points and didn’t score a basket for nearly six minutes. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, the Dolphins only scored twelve points in the first nine minutes shooting four of fourteen during that time. With eleven minutes left in the game, the Gamecocks were up 68-42.
Tempers started flaring during this time of ugly basketball. A melee ensued at the South Carolina basket after a hard flagrant foul by Jacksonville’s Brian Powell with about fifteen and a half minutes left in the game. Both teams were assessed double technical fouls. It was also the start of unusual free throw drought for Ellington, who was a seventy seven percent free throw shooter last season, who missed four consecutive free throws.
The Gamecocks had four players score in double figures led by Carrera’s nineteen points . He just missed a double double with nine rebounds and had two blocks. Richardson had a season high sixteen points. Ellington had twelve points as did Williams, who had all his come from three pointers, as he shot four of five from beyond the arc. Laimonas Chatkevicius added nine points while Eric Smith had seven assists and only one turnover. The Gamecocks shot fifty five percent from the field and were ten of sixteen from beyond the arc.
With the win, the Gamecocks became “bowl eligible” at 6-3. Their reward is to play in the Barclays Bowl in Brooklyn on December 22 to take on Manhattan (OK, they are just playing at the Barclays Center on December 22. It's not a bowl game, though it is part of a tripleheader). Before that, they have a home game with Appalachian State on December 19 with an unusual start time of 5:00 PM.
Guess I am leaving work a few minutes early to catch the start of the 5:00 PM game at the Colonial Life Arena. Good thing I can walk there.