As SEC play begins this weekend, South Carolina is looking for a second scorer.
Freshman point guard Bruce Ellington leads the team with 14 points a game. The Gamecocks’ next five high scorers are bunched between 8.6 and 9.8 points a game. USC has had seven different high scorers through 13 games after having four all of last season.
Forward Sam Muldrow and guards Ramon Galloway and Brian Richardson have shown scoring flashes in some games but not enough to count on for 15 points a game every night, head coach Darrin Horn said Thursday.
“We haven’t had anybody but Bruce show that kind of consistency or ability (to score),” Horn said.
An additional scorer could help players on the young team better learn their roles.
“Any time you can score the ball easier and any time a team understands more clearly how something is going, I think it helps.” Horn said. “We have not had the second guy step to the forefront. For building, we want to be terrific defending and rebounding anyway, that’s where the most easy baskets are going to come from.”
Ellington is “having a better feel for running the team,” Horn said, but the freshman from Moncks Corner needs to do small things to become a better point guard -- such as getting farther down the court to take outlet passes so he can better use his speed in transition.
It’s up to you
Horn said he believes his players are ready to handle any bumps in the conference because he’s made them accountable to themselves. “I’m really big with giving guys ownership,” Horn said. “We’re going to let the guys play, in terms of, ‘This is what you wanted, you wanted to come to the SEC, you wanted to be at the highest level, you wanted to help turn a program around. ... You like that playing time? Well, you’ve got to perform.’ ”
Looking at Saturday’s opponent No. 22 Vanderbilt, Horn said he was impressed with how junior point guard Brad Tinsley, the league assist leader, has taken care of the ball. Horn called junior guard Jeffery Taylor, who’s making 51 percent of his attempts, the league’s best shooter. “They’re big, they’re deep. Their team looks a little like I hope ours does in a year or two,” the coach said. “They’ve got some guys who took some lumps and got some experience early, but now are nice SEC players.”
Yes, the Gamecocks are excited to start league play. When Ellington said Thursday that practices this week have been more intense, forward Lakeem Jackson’s eyes got wide and he nodded in agreement. “Everybody is just really amped up,” Jackson said. “We have been waiting for this day since spring and summer.”