Gamecocks Men’s Basketball Start Season Brightly


The Gamecocks got their season started on the right foot Friday evening, with an 81-56 win at the Colonial Life arena over North Florida. While the win itself, against an overmatched Atlantic Sun team, isn’t cause for a great celebration, the way the team played showed positive signs for how the team can play this year.

With last year’s ALL-SEC Freshman Sindarius Thornwell struggling to get going, the Gamecocks used a very balanced attack, with eight of the nine players who saw action scoring between 6 and 12 points. Ball movement was also a big key, as they ended the game with 19 assists on 29 made baskets. Balance and teamwork helped USC shoot 50% from the floor, while they also took care of the ball, committing only 9 turnovers. Led by Sophomore big man Demetrius Henry and Senior point guard Ty Johnson, who both scored 12, Coach Martin’s team built a 21 point first half lead and never looked back.

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Guards Duane Notice and freshman Marcus Stroman spearheaded the unselfish play by combining for 11 assists, and having only one turnover between them. The inside play was also a plus, with Henry and the two junior big men from Lithuania, Laimonas Chatkevicius and Mindugas Kacinas, all contributed solid games in both points and rebounds, helping the team to a 42-28 edge on the boards. Coach Martin was slightly let down with his team’s performance in the second half, but that just show his mindset. Even winning by 20+ for most of the game, he still demands the focus, energy and execution its takes to play like a champion.

The Gamecocks Basketball program had already picked up a big win earlier in the week before the first game even tipped off, though this one was not on the court. Spring Valley HS senior P.J. Dozier committed to Coach Martins program, and signed his letter of intent during last week’s early signing period. This is looked at as a major coup by nationwide, as Dozier chose the Gamecocks of perineal hoops powerhouse Louisville. Dozier is rated very highly by most recruiting services, even as high as number 21 in the nation by ESPN. The local hoops star also keeps basketball at USC a family tradition, as both his father and uncle played here in the 1980’s, and his sister is currently on Dawn Staley’s nationally ranked women’s team. P.J., a 6-7 versatile guard, joins 6-8 Chris Silva from Roselle Catholic High in New Jersey as the two members of next year’s incoming freshman class so far. Both are ranked in top 100 seniors in the country according to ESPN and Scouts Inc.

The Gamecocks next game is at the CLA on Tuesday at noon, against the Baylor Bears.  It is part of ESPN’s 24 hour college hoops kick off marathon.