He could barely walk normally when he woke up that morning and was nixed for the game at Kentucky that night. P.J. Dozier’s back felt like somebody shoved a porcupine in it.
He no longer has the back spasms, but his jump shot hasn’t returned. It took him a while to grasp it, but Dozier has, and is a big reason why South Carolina is in the Final Four.
“Yeah, just the coaching staff continues to tell me to stay aggressive, attack the rim,” Dozier said. “Being 6-6, 6-7, that’s what you have to do. You have to put pressure on the rim, and I feel like that’s when I play my best basketball.”
Not much doubt about that.
Dozier’s aggressive approach has given the Gamecocks a multifaceted offense, one where teams can’t sell out anymore to double-team Sindarius Thornwell. Dozier can use that windmill frame of his to score from either side, and when defenders do match up with him, he keeps the ball extended until he can flip it off the glass for two, sometimes with an and-1 free throw coming.
The sophomore scored 21 against Marquette, 11 against Duke, 12 against Baylor and 17 against Florida. While Thornwell has no doubt been the guy who got the Gamecocks here, Dozier’s contributions can’t be ignored.
“We signed up to be in this position. To be amongst the great teams, as y’all would call them,” Dozier said. “So we know we have a team ourselves.”
The Columbia native who turned down power brokers to stay home and play for Frank Martin will have a decision to make next week. He’s a hot name on NBA Draft charts, and underclassmen now are able to work out for teams without losing their eligibility.
That doesn’t mean he has to leave, though. It’s a decision Dozier said he hasn’t thought about, as he’s enjoying the ride with the rest of his brothers.
“Personally, I didn’t know where this program could go, but I know that when Frank Martin stepped foot on campus, you just got this vibe that the ball was rolling,” Dozier said.
“Just the sense that Coach didn’t promise us anything, but he did promise us that if we had faith in him and we listened to what he had to say, and we did what he had to say, we did what he said to do, that we would be successful here, and it shows.”
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