“And it’s coming closer.”
---------- KINGS OF LEON
South Carolina basketball is almost here – not the games, of course, but the date of the first team practice, which is just as good for those of you, like me, who are hoops junkies.
The Gamecock men will begin practice on Monday, and the Gamecock women should start around that same time. The schedules were recently released – check the Who Else? blog for them, and also to keep building those magic hits that make us all feel better – and Wednesday brought some other news nuggets.
Frank Martin announced that he has promoted longtime assistant Matt Figger to associate head coach, which (in position) replaces Brad Underwood. As you recall, Underwood left USC for the head job at Stephen F. Austin after the season (which was coincidental to how Scott Cherry left for the head job at High Point after his first year under Darrin Horn).
“Figgs,” as we’ve come to know him, has been with Martin for years and will still head up the Gamecocks’ recruiting. Lamont Evans and Perry Clark are the two assistant coaches.
What’s the difference between associate head coach and assistant coach? I’ve often seen it as kind of a declaration to the rest of the country that he’s good enough to be considered a head coach. Martin seemed to say the same in his statement on Wednesday. “I just want everyone to understand and know -- players, and everyone who is around us -- that Matt is ready to take on the challenge of being a head coach."
Whatever you want to call it, Figger has another step in his long career. Not only has he served at Kansas State, South Alabama, Wabash Valley, Vincennes and Odessa College, he did everything the hard way, as play-by-play man Andy Demetra wrote last year (Click).
On the women’s side, USC announced that seven of its SEC games will be televised this year. The Gamecocks will play Vanderbilt on ESPNU and again on ESPN2, Tennessee on ESPNU, LSU on ESPN2, Auburn on SportSouth, Florida on SportSouth and Arkansas on SECTV (or WOLO-ABC in Columbia). USC will also be on TV in the SEC tournament.
This ties into the new initiative for the women’s team, which is Dawn Staley’s “Drive for 5” campaign. The idea is to bring at least 5,000 fans for every USC women’s home game this season.
The Gamecocks vaulted from 43rd to 26th in the country in average attendance last year, bringing in nearly 4,000 fans per game. Staley wants to improve that and keep building on the momentum of two straight 25-win seasons and NCAA tournament appearances. The Colonial looks pretty good on TV, so DVR your favorite NFL team on those Sunday afternoons and come on out.
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