The South Carolina basketball team begins the 2017-18 regular season Friday at Wofford. The Gamecocks finished exhibition play 1-1 with a win over Division II Erskine and a loss to the ACC’s Virginia Tech.
Some thoughts on USC following the Sunday showing against the Hokies:
Friendship gets in the way of a fun regular season series
Buzz Williams didn’t let the reporter finish his question.
“It’s never even been broached,” said the Hokies coach, “and it never will.”
Sunday’s game – an 86-67 win for Virginia Tech – marked the ninth consecutive preseason Williams and Martin have faced each other in a scrimmage situation. The series dates back to their Marquette and Kansas State days. Yet, their teams have never competed against one another in the regular season.
“We know our teams will help each other being around each other when no one’s watching,” Martin said. “Unless (Williams) calls me and says, “I got a guy looking at you and he’s got a red dot on your forehead, sign the contract,’ I’m not doing it.”
So there’s no future plans for the Hokies and Gamecocks – separated by 265 miles – to get together when it counts. Their coaches, as shown by this weekend’s events, are too close.
Point guard remains position to watch as season nears
Hassani Gravett’s first half stat line – two points, three rebounds, four turnovers, one assist – didn’t inspire confidence for the USC backcourt. To Gravett’s credit, the junior saved 13 points and no turnovers in the second half, but the PG position is far from settled.
Wes Myers (11 points, one turnover, no assists), David Beatty (no points, four fouls in 11 minutes), Frank Booker (eight points, one assist, no turnovers) and Kory Holden (DNP-injured) remain in the mix.
Promising start for freshman duo
Justin Minaya and Felipe Haase combined numbers in the two exhibition games: 35 points, 27 rebounds, seven assists.
Minaya started against Erskine. Haase started against Virginia Tech. Both rookies – Minaya, a big guard; Haase, a 6-foot-9 four-man – have flashed enough to make one think they’ll be making serious contributions this season.
Defensive lapses, too
Asked afterward for where the Gamecocks need to improve going forward, Gravett addressed defensive issues before the shooting woes.
“Our guards need to do a better job of guarding the ball,” he said. “Myself and some of the other guards, we didn’t push up on the ball enough and they drove past us too many times.”
Martin’s program is based on defense, first. The Hokies on Sunday got too many things easy. Tech won the fast break points battle, 24-5. They crushed the Gamecocks in the paint, 44-32.