A year ago at this time, South Carolina lost seniors and leading scorers Demetress Adams and Brionna Dickerson in back-to-back games.
Freshman La'Keisha Sutton took it upon herself to become the Gamecocks' main offensive option.
In the final nine games of the year, Sutton led the Gamecocks in scoring seven times. A lot of the time, the offense began and ended with her. She would take the ball and drive and, if she was denied, kick it out to open teammates.
But it all ended in a disappointing 10-18 record and a 2-12 mark in the SEC. Now, with a better supporting cast, Sutton hopes the final nine games in SEC play will result in a postseason berth.
"Last year, I was kind of thrown into the mix and when they went down, I kind of found where I fit in," Sutton said. "This year has been much better."
Her scoring average has dipped slightly. She ended last season averaging 11.0 points per game and is at 10.8 this year going into tonight's contest with Mississippi. But she admits her offense has taken a backseat role to newcomers Valerie Nainima and Kelsey Bone.
"I don't mind taking a backseat to them because I feel like I'm doing the same thing, just in a different way," Sutton said.
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley likes the way the sophomore from Trenton, N.J. is playing. She finished in the top ten in scoring in SEC games a year ago and has scored well in the past two games.
She has averaged 14.5 points per game in losses to LSU and Florida."Keisha is playing great, playing at a really good pace," Staley said. "She's got her three going, she's distributing the basketball, (and) she drives to the basket. She's playing like she has been here before. This is the time we probably need her to step it up a little bit."
Sutton knows if the Gamecocks (10-9, 3-4) are to make a push for the postseason after missing out a year ago, now is the time for her to pick up her offense. The best way she knows how to do that is attack the basket.
"I am in attack mode and trying to do the little things to get my teammates involved," Sutton said of her recent offensive burst. "Getting to the basket allows me to score a little more."
Sutton said she has had to adjust from a year ago, when she was given free rein to create her own shots. This year, most of the plays are called for Nainima and Bone.
Staley said she doesn't see much of a drop-off in Sutton's play.
"I thought we were going to pick up where we left off, where she can guard and deviate from our offense and get to the bucket," Staley said. "I thought she took a more conservative role because she wanted to get other people involved. We wanted her in attack mode from the very beginning. She took a little bit of time adjusting to it, but now I think she feels real good about where she is."