Spurrier plays waiting game with Garcia

Coach is ready for quarterback to make dramatic progress in his development

Special to The StateApril 13, 2010 

Women's basketball coach Dawn Staley speaks to the Richland County Gamecock Club at Seawell's in Columbia, S.C., on Monday, April 12, 2010.

RICH GLICKSTEIN/RGLICKSTEIN@THESTATE.COM

Steve Spurrier reiterated Monday that he is waiting for Stephen Garcia to make that next, giant step in his progression as a quarterback.

"We're hoping Stephen Garcia will improve," the USC football coach said at the Richland County chapter's Gamecock Club meeting at Seawell's. "Stephen is the type of young man that you keep waiting on him to really, really improve and start tearing it up, but it hasn't seemed to happen. We're hoping he's going to have a summer where he really commits himself to learn the game."

Spurrier was critical of Garcia for much of spring practice and had strong words for his signal-caller in an ESPN.com report last week and again after the spring game Saturday.

That leaves the door ajar for the backup quarterbacks.

Freshmen Connor Shaw and Andrew Clifford will try to work into the mix for playing time.

"They look like freshmen, but they do have hope," Spurrier said. "They will practice. They will go out on their own to try to improve. I'm not so sure we've always had that around here."

On other topics, Spurrier said:

- Signing instate players the caliber of Stephon Gilmore, Alshon Jeffrey and Marcus Lattimore in consecutive years might show prospective recruits that players growing up close to the program are starting to take notice.

- Gilmore might get one or two series at quarterback per game as well as see action at wide receiver. "I wouldn't mind putting him out there at wide receiver just to decoy the defense," Spurrier said. "He's a talent with the ball in his hands. I look for Stephon to play a little bit of offense, but he wants to play defense and specialize in being an outstanding defensive player."

- His 35 victories in five years at South Carolina were an "average" amount. "We have no excuse why we can't play big-time football here at South Carolina," Spurrier said.

The women's basketball team also is trying to take the next step. But the program was dealt a blow recently when SEC freshman of the year Kelsey Bone announced she would transfer. Coach Dawn Staley said Monday she hasn't talked with Bone since the decision was made and that the player has not decided on her destination.

"For us, the recruiting game just continues," Staley said. "You don't want to lose a player like that, but at the same time, you want people that want to be here. The players that we have and the ones that we will sign this week want to be here. I think we're in a good place."

Staley, who will leave today to join Virginia's coach Debbie Ryan as co-coaches of of the U.S. Select Team, said the Gamecocks will open with Elite Eight participant Xavier and will play at national runner-up Stanford early in the 2010-11 season.

Leading scorer Valerie Nainima and forward Jewel May played the final six or seven games of this past season with injuries, according to Staley.

Nainima had stress fractures in both legs and didn't practice. May broke a bone in her foot and was limited.

Staley said Lauren Falohun will graduate in May and begin coaching next year at her former high school, Pace Academy in Georgia. Nainima and Courtney Newton are scheduled to graduate as well and will enter grad school before next season.

Cypheus Bunton represented the men's basketball team at Monday's gathering, attended by about 200. Bunton said Devan Downey participated in the Portsmouth Invitational, which hosts the top 65 senior college players in the country. Every NBA team had scouts in attendance, and Bunton said Downey played well.

With the news that Dominique Archie will not receive a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, he is looking to continue his career overseas.

Bunton also said Bruce Ellington, a freshman guard from Berkeley High in Moncks Corner, is the newcomer most likely to contribute next season.

Athletics director Eric Hyman said renovations to various team meeting rooms, locker rooms and offices were 99 percent complete. He said there no longer would be parking for football games at the Williams-Brice Stadium lot.

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