Non-Conference Schedule Solid for Gamecocks


Frank Martin announced the Gamecocks non-conference schedule for the 2015-16 season on Tuesday. At first glance, it seems that the competition is not strong enough especially after last years brutal non-conference schedule that included games against Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Iowa State. I think the non-conference schedule is solid, and deceptively difficult, however.

Let me preface by saying that this schedule is not nearly as difficult on paper as last seasons schedule. However, the schedule should not hurt the Gamecocks with games against Clemson, St. John’s, Memphis, and playing in the Paradise Jam.

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I believe this schedule will allow the Gamecocks to play a few quality teams along with some teams that are sure wins. This builds confidence for a team that finally has veteran leadership along with a young core that will be counted on to provide quality minutes, especially in the post. It gives Michael Carrera time to adjust to playing on the wing, also.

The Highlights

Norfolk State should not be overlooked after going 20-14 last season. The Gamecocks open the season against a team that returns a senior trio of Jeff Short, RaShid Gaston, and D’Shon Taylor that combined for 47.6 points and 18.8 rebounds per game. Interesting enough, these two teams could face each other again in the Paradise Jam if the stars align. Regardless, this is a team that should not be overlooked by fans just because of the name.

DePaul returns three of its top four scorers after a 12-20 record. Freshman, Raymond Doby originally committed to DePaul before spurning them for the Gamecocks. It’s the first game of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, in which a strong showing could go a long way for South Carolina. It’s also a game the Gamecocks should win.

The annual rivalry match-up is worth noting after the beating that took place last season. Things probably won’t change much this season.

St. John’s should be down this year a little bit and will look to Rysheed Johnson to lead the team after losing 4 players from last seasons NCAA tournament team. The incoming recruiting class should help them be a solid team, however.

Last, but definitely not least, Memphis comes to town. The good news for the Gamecocks is that Memphis’ leading scorer, Austin Nichols, transferred out of the program. The bad news is it’s still Memphis. Boasting a top 15 ranked recruiting class and winning the Ricky Tarrant sweepstakes should help Memphis continue to be the powerhouse program they have been for many years now. The added motivation of coming off a disappointing 18 win season could make this team even more dangerous.

The Lowlights

Francis Marion – Really, FMU? A division II program that was 13-15 last season seems out-of-place on an SEC teams schedule.

Having South Florida on the schedule does not sound bad. They were bad last season though finishing with a 9-23 record.

Drexel could have been a solid team last year if not for getting a strong case of the injury bug. However, they lose their top scorer and will be a relatively young team.

The In-Between

Western Carolina and Lipscomb are schools you expect to see on a non-conference schedule as a lesser-tiered opponent. These two teams return solid talent. While they are not necessarily lowlights, they offer no real wow factor either.


The Gamecocks should enter SEC play with at most 3 losses. That’s not bad, but the quality of wins may not be anywhere close to where it was during the 2014-15 season, so a strong SEC showing is a must if the team hopes to see its first post-season birth since 2009 and an NCAA tournament appearance since 2004.