WHAT HAPPENED: MANHATTAN

The Gamecocks went to New York City on Saturday evening and won a game which – while not televised – we have on good authority was actually played.  We only listened to the first half of the game while on our commute from the nation’s capital to South Carolina, but will still share a few thoughts based on the box score and what we gleaned from other accounts.

The Four Factors

USC Manhattan
eFG 46.9 48.9
TO% 27.6 18.8
OReb% 47.8 31.0
FTM/FTA 34.7 28.9
Poss. 59

Shooting

USC Manhattan
2PA% 14-29 (48%) 10-21 (48%)
3PA% 6-20 (30%) 8-24 (33%)
FT% 17-25 (68%) 13-24 (54%)

The Gamecocks overcame the Jaspers on the strength of pretty much one thing – making their free throws at a slightly higher clip.  Because of the relative wash between turnovers and offensive rebounds (the first giving away FGAs, the latter creating additional FGAs per possession), South Carolina ended up with four additional attempts at the basket on the evening, through which they obtained a two point advantage.  And then, with one additional FTA, South Carolina’s pedestrian 68% FT% was enough to win thanks to Manhattan’s woeful 54% FT%.  Given you don’t really control how well a team shoots FTAs against you (with a limited exception in that you can theoretically play a different style of defense against players with high or low FT%, based on your fear or hope that they come to the line – remember Hack-a-Shaq?), the evening seems to be simply a display of a slight bit of shooting variance coming out to favor South Carolina.  I wish I had a better way of framing the issue, but there it is.

The number ticked up as the game wore on, but it was incredibly disappointing to see the Gamecocks fail to force turnovers in the first half against a Manhattan team that has been throwing the ball around the gym for most of the season.  Manhattan is turning the ball over on over 27% of their possessions this season, and yet South Carolina couldn’t even force them into turning it over on one of five trips down the floor.  Forcing turnovers is something that Carolina has not done a very good job of this season (the 18.8% from the Jaspers is actually lower than the South Carolina defense’s season average of 19%), but this was a chance for South Carolina to try to exploit an advantage and they failed to do so.

Coach Brad Underwood indicated in the pre-game show he thought a lot of the Jaspers’ turnovers throughout the season were unforced errors, and given the Gamecocks low steal percentage (only creating a steal on 6.6% of opponents’ possessions, which is good for 330th out of 347 D-I basketball teams), they seem to have settled in and hoped for Manhattan to force its own errors.  It worked on the evening, but a defense dependent on the other team missing free throws and throwing the ball around the gym is not what I expected from this team when Martin showed up.  Perhaps the staff simply feels its the team they’re forced to put out there given the talent we have in Columbia right now.  That said, this might be the worst defensive basketball team I’ve seen South Carolina ever put on the floor since I started following them in the late 90s.  Yikes.

Another broken record, but it was great to see (well, hear) South Carolina continue to hammer the offensive glass.  They’re now up to second in the nation in OReb% (behind Minnesota, who is damn fine company to keep) by grabbing 45.5% of their misses.  Other teams in the top 10 include Pittsburgh, Missouri, Kansas State (not terribly surprising, given where Martin came from), and Indiana.  Being excellent at something as important as offensive rebounding is a wonderful thing for this team to have, and something you’d hope they could build on through the other areas.  And, while the eFG and FTR have been good enough to give this team a very strong offensive rating, the turnovers simply kill any chance of being very good or great on that end.  I’m not sure how to fix it, but it remains the central issue for this team.

Individual

South Carolina

Name
Min
Poss%
Pts
2PM-A
3PM-A
FTM-A
OR
DR
A
TO
Brenton Williams
35
18
17
2-3
3-8
4-5
0
1
2
0
Lakeem Jackson
34
18
9
4-5
0-0
1-2
3
8
3
3
Eric Smith
28
25
3
1-2
0-3
1-1
0
2
3
7
Michael Carrera
26
31
13
3-6
1-1
4-6
3
4
1
4
Mindaugas Kacinas
16
6
0
0-1
0-0
0-0
0
1
0
1
Brian Richardson
23
29
12
1-6
2-7
4-5
2
1
0
1
RJ Slawson
18
24
7
2-4
0-0
3-6
2
2
0
1
Damien Leonard
13
10
0
0-1
0-1
0-0
0
1
1
1
L. Chatkevicius
7
-
2
1-1
0-0
0-0
1
0
0
1
Team
8
3
0
TOTAL
200
63
14-29
6-20
17-25
19
23
10
19
1.07
48.3%
30.0%
68.0%
59.4%
69.7%
50.0%
32.2%

Manhattan

Name
Min
Poss%
Pts
2PM-A
3PM-A
FTM-A
OR
DR
A
TO
Rhamel Brown
30
21
10
4-5
0-0
2-10
4
5
0
1
Emmy Andujar
25
16
4
2-2
0-1
0-0
0
1
1
3
Donovan Kates
23
35
13
1-3
1-5
41131
2
1
1
1
RaShawn Stores
22
19
0
0-3
0-2
0-0
0
1
3
2
Mohamed Koita
19
18
5
1-2
1-2
0-0
2
1
0
2
Shane Richards
23
26
18
0-1
6-11
0-0
0
0
1
0
Michael Alvarado
21
15
0
0-2
0-1
0-0
1
0
6
1
Roberto Colonette
12
16
5
2-2
0-0
1-2
0
1
0
1
Ryan McCoy
12
6
0
0-0
0-1
0-0
0
0
2
0
CJ Jones
12
15
2
0-1
0-1
2-2
0
2
2
0
Adam Lacey
1
0
0-0
0-0
0-0
0
0
0
0
Team
1
1
0
TOTAL
200
57
10-21
8-24
13-24
10
13
16
11
0.97
48%
33%
54%
30%
41%
89%
19%

Well, raise your hand if in your preview of this basketball game you predicted that Shane Richards, who had taken 21 3PAs on the season coming in, would hoist 11 and make 6.  If so, please send us an e-mail so you can take over the blog, because we’re clearly outclassed by your thinking.  Also, you should probably get into finance or something and make some money on those skills.

I’m not sure why, but it seems to me I don’t read Gamecock pieces that make it clear that Brenton Williams is unequivocally our best offensive player right now.  So let me write that, just to make sure it’s at least somewhere on the internet – Brenton Williams is clearly out best offensive player right now.  He was the single most important reason the Gamecocks came out victorious, shooting efficiently from all parts of the floor and not turning the ball over a single time.  Add in our only block and two of our six steals on the evening, and that’s another excellent game from someone who hardly saw playing time last season.

At this point, Brenton Williams is now 7th in the nation in individual offensive rating for players who use at least 20% of their teams possessions, according to the irreplaceable KenPom.com, literally right behind Cody Zeller of Indiana.  That’s a fine season, folks.  I know the coaching staff wants more from him on the defensive end, but adding the steals and the block surely help his case.  Without seeing the game it’s hard to know if he was an asset or liability on that end, but I for one was thrilled to see him lead the team in minutes on the evening, and quite comfortable with his possession usage.

Other players who were major contributors to the victory included Lakeem Jackson (who nearly pulled down a double-double) and Michael Carrera, though each could’ve done better by limiting their turnovers.  The other two starters were either dreadful (Smith, who turned the ball over seven times, just brutal) or invisible (Kacinas took one shot in 16 minutes and wasn’t anywhere to be seen on the glass).  One wonders if Kacinas will keep the starting spot from R.J. next game based on this effort.

Martin shortened up the rotation on the evening, though his hand was somewhat forced by the absence of Ellington and Page.  Brian Richardson and R.J. Slawson both were solid contributors who gave meaningful minutes.  Richardson took a lot of shots and didn’t make as many as you’d hope, but if his 41% 3PA% shooting is to be believed as real (or even if it’s 35%, which is what I’d figure based on his past) then taking open 3PAs are valuable possessions, especially if the Gamecocks can rebound them at the clip the Gamecocks currently rebound on the offensive end.  Slawson similarly could’ve done more on the night, but he scored with relative efficiency, hit the glass some, and given the foul trouble many members of the team found themselves in early on, was a useful minutes eater.

Damien Leonard saw a lot more playing time than I anticipated coming in (but I didn’t know about the Page suspension), and didn’t do a whole lot on the offensive end.  I’m happy to see him shooting less than he did last season, but we still haven’t seen Damien step up and really contribute on the offensive side of the field, let alone the defensive side.  Early returns from in-person observers indicate he had a decent evening, but I wonder if he isn’t being graded against his prior performances, as opposed to the performances of others.

From the Jaspers, Rhamel Brown was the beast we thought he’d be, impacting the game as shown above but also with three blocks and four steals defensively.  However, his eight missed free throws would make Lakeem blush, and he ultimately fouled out with only 10 points to his name.  Emmy Andujar similarly was held in check by the Gamecocks, only taking three shots from the field.  Without seeing the game it’s difficult to say, but the Gamecocks may have made a conscious choice to let a guy like Richards shoot away from outside and hope for the best.

Final Thoughts

Another close game against a bad team goes the Gamecocks way, as they move to 4-0 in games decided by eight points or less.  KenPom has South Carolina as the 14th “luckiest” team in the nation, and it’s hard to disagree, as a few bad bounces have the Gamecocks saddled with a few very bad losses on the season.

The story remains the same – a great offensive rebounding team with strong peripherals otherwise can’t stop turning the ball over, and the defense can’t seem to do anything well.  However, it’s another win in the books, and another step toward a potential berth in a post-season tournament that might give the lads another week or two of practice and another game or two that could help build toward hopefully more success next season, when the freshmen will hopefully take a step forward and Sidnarius Thronwell, Desmond Ringer, and Justin McKie can step in and help (especially Thornwell).

It’s a little depressing to be thinking ahead to 2013-14 already, but even given the weakened SEC, this is not the type of team that can excel in that conference playing this way.  The good news is that with games only this Saturday and next Saturday, and with no school in the way, the team can focus on practice for the next two weeks and hopefully make some improvements going forward.  Again, there are some real strengths to build on with this bunch, but it’s a long way to go before we convert that potential into results on the floor.

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About marvinnedick

Blogging from the mid-Atlantic on Gamecock sports, as well as general musings on sports theory otherwise.
This entry was posted in 2012-13 Basketball, Manhattan, What Happened and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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