The South Carolina Gamecocks will have much bigger news on their hands next season than Frank Martin’s opinion on the confederate flag if they continue to underperform.
The Gamecocks lost seven games last season by two or less possessions, but won five games over teams who went to the 2015 NCAA tournament, including the Iowa State Cyclones, Baylor Bears and Oklahoma State Cowboys. This team was on the cusp of an NCAA tournament berth if they could just close out games against inferior opponents.
This season, South Carolina brings back every key player on the roster except Tyrone Johnson. Duane Notice, Sindarius Thornwell, Michael Carrera, Laimonas Chatkevicius and Mindaugas Kacinas all averaged over 20 minutes per game and at least six points per game. However, no one on this team averaged more than 11.8 points per game. This team is in desperate need of a go-to scorer who can carry the Gamecocks offensively late in games.
If South Carolina can find that go-to scorer, the Gamecocks have a legitimate chance to make the 2016 NCAA tournament. The SEC gets significantly better all across the board next season, but most teams lose a lot of experience – something that Martin’s team has no shortage of.
Expect this team to be the biggest surprise out of the SEC in 2015-16. Martin is a fantastic coach, as we saw with the Kansas State Wildcats, and the talent on this team is undeniable. This should be the season that USC finally makes the jump and wins a few big games. Keep an eye on the Gamecocks.