What Happened: Presbyterian

The Gamecocks won their 4th straight game on Saturday with a 76-60 victory over the Presbyterian Blue Hose.  The game was notable for a few reasons: (1) the Gamecocks played the contest without three of their most important contributors – Michael Carrera (injured), LaShay Page (suspended), and Bruce Ellington (footballing); (2) the Gamecocks did their best job all season of avoiding turnovers, something Martin said after the game the team had been stressing; and (3) Carolina continued to play woefully on defense against a team that other, better teams would shut down.  This was particularly frustrating because one of PC’s most important players, point guard Eric Washington, spent most of the game sidelined with an injured ankle.

The Four Factors

 Four Factors USC PC
eFG% 54.5 51.0
TO% 13.0 23.0
OReb% 45.2 23.8
FTR 26.8 20.4
Pace 62
Shooting USC PC
FT 15-24 (63%) 10-13 (77%)
2P 20-40 (50%) 19-36 (53%)
3P 7-16 (44%) 4-13 (31%)

The Gamecocks got it done on the evening by creating seven more shots from the field and eleven more shots from the line than PC did, and used those extra chances to beat the Blue Hose going away.  That’s the beauty of offensive rebounding, which we’ve known all year, but when you combine it with a low turnover rate, this is the result.

Martin said after the game that the coaching staff had focused on turnovers over the last few weeks and it showed up in this game – a season low turnover rate of 13% is an excellent number, and hats off to the guys for working hard to improve and getting it done.  The 1.23 points per possession also set a season high, and goes to show that turnovers are killing our offense, not our defense.  While PC is a woeful team on defense – that 1.23 ppp is only the seventh best against them this year, and worse than what Furman put up against them, and Cornell threw up 1.42 ppp – it’s a good effort.

I can’t be as optimistic about the other side of the ball.  As briefly noted in the preview, the Blue Hose haven’t ticket at all without Eric Washington on the court, and he only made it 11 minutes on the evening with a re-aggravation of his ankle injury.  Even still, the Gamecocks gave up easy bucket after easy bucket in the paint – PC shot 53% from 2PA against us, which is an awful number to concede, and their best number of the season.

It’s a credit to Carolina in some ways that they posted good numbers in the other three factors – though only one-third of PC’s turnovers came off Carolina steals, which leads you to wonder how much of it was our doing and how much of it was theirs – as the Gamecocks haven’t exactly excelled in any area defensively this season.  But if you have to pick one, you pick shooting, and this wasn’t a game where bad luck did Carolina in.  Rather, this was a game where open-corner threes and dunks were available far too often for the boys from Clinton.  Even against a weak SEC slate, South Carolina has to get better if it wants to do anything in conference play.

Personnel

Presbyterian

 

Min.
%Poss
OR
DR
A
TO
FT
2P
3P
Pts
Khalid Mutakabbir
38
34
1
2
4
4
3-4
7-11
0-5
17
Jordan Downing
30
29
0
4
0
3
0-0
5-8
3-5
19
Joshua Clyburn
29
30
3
4
0
3
2-3
4-7
0-0
10
Ryan McTavish
29
16
1
1
1
1
0-0
2-6
0-1
4
Eric Washington
11
9
0
0
2
1
0-0
0-0
0-0
0
William Truss
27
9
0
2
0
0
3-4
0-3
0-0
3
Austin Anderson
21
9
0
0
1
1
0-0
0-0
1-2
3
Ryan Hargrave
11
19
0
4
2
1
2-2
1-1
0-0
4
Team:
0.97
7
18
10
15
10-13
19-36
4-13
60

As noted, the 11 minutes Eric Washington played represent the most important number on this stat sheet, as with him out PC only recorded 8 assists from the remaining members of their team.  As expected, Mutakabbir was the guy who was going to make this team go, and he was impressive, creating and making plenty of two-point opportunities.  If the three-ball had gone down for him a couple of times, this game could’ve been a lot more interesting.  He won’t be happy with the four turnovers, but using one-third of your team’s possessions is a heavy load to bear, and he did it about as well as could be expected.  Good player.

Without going back to check, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Josh Clyburn went 4-4 on rim-rattling dunks and 0-3 from the rest of the field, but he was able to get far too many easy looks.  Similarly, the Gamecocks gave Jordan Downing five chances from 3PA, and unlike Mutakabbir, he made them pay.  I can’t put my finger on why the defense can’t adapt to Martin’s system, but the team clearly hasn’t yet, and it’s a major concern both for this season and going forward into the future.  I have no reason to suspect that Martin’s system is the flaw, or that when he gets the players he wants that it will be anything but successful.  That said, with this team, it’s not working.  But then again, neither are our switches to zone.  I don’t know the answer, but it’s been one hell of a frustrating question.

South Carolina

Min.
%Poss
OR
DR
A
TO
FT
2P
3P
Pts
Brian Richardson
34
18
1
4
2
1
3-4
2-3
3-5
16
Eric Smith
28
12
0
0
5
1
0-0
0-3
1-2
3
Lakeem Jackson
27
24
3
1
2
0
0-2
5-10
0-1
10
Brenton Williams
26
18
0
1
1
1
2-4
2-4
1-2
9
Mindaugas Kacinas
25
23
3
0
1
1
1-1
6-7
0-1
13
Damien Leonard
25
26
1
5
2
0
3-5
3-4
2-4
15
RJ Slawson
16
21
3
2
1
3
3-4
1-4
0-0
5
Laimonas Chatkevicius
13
34
3
3
1
0
1-2
1-3
0-0
3
Team:
1.23
15-24
20-40
7-16
76

I want to lead off this section with my favorite observation from first glance – every one that played meaningful minutes assisted one field goal on the evening.  That’s a measured improvement from recent games where a large percentage of the assists have come from the work of Eric Smith.  To do that, while also limiting turnovers, is a step in the right direction for this group.

Onward.  It doesn’t take statistics to know that Brian Richardson played his best game of the season thus far, but they’ll certainly prove that point for you.  He was efficient from the floor (going 3-5 from 3PA will do that) and helped out on the defensive glass as well.  Martin says that Richardson is perhaps the best perimeter defender we have, and if that’s the case, then he should be in line for an uptick in minutes, because Brenton Williams did not have his best game on that end of the court (actually, Brenton didn’t have a very great game on either end, as he seemed mostly invisible – I was surprised to find he used 19% of possessions when I checked the stat sheet).

Damien Leonard is also being rightly praised for his effort, and I was especially pleased to see him go 3-4 from 2PA after shooting 28.8% (not a typo) from that range last season.  He also did a great job as a guard of getting to work on the defensive glass, avoided turnovers, and overall played a very nice game.

In fact, it’s hard to look at anyone on the offensive end and find a particularly poor effort.  Probably the worst you can say is that Eric Smith was even more invisible than Brenton, though you have to credit him for the five assists (which don’t show up in possessions used, but obviously have a positive impact on the team that reflect a contribution from him).  As we covered above, I have no complaints about the offensive effort on the evening, but man the defense leaves so much to be desired.

Up Next

Carolina tries to seal up its dominance of the stretch of I-26 between Clinton and Orangeburg next Saturday when the South Carolina State Bulldogs come to town.

That’ll be the last out-of-conference game of the season for a team that has had a schedule that was far weaker than I would’ve predicted before the season.  Given the weakness of the SEC this season, the Gamecocks will have one of (if not the) weakest schedules of any BCS team this year.  Right now, the non-conference SOS is 345th according to Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, and that’s before we account for the coming game against S.C. State, who Pomeroy rates 346th of 347 Division 1 teams.

Since it seems likely that we’ll still struggle to get over .500, this season should not be thought to be too great a success based solely on wins and losses.  As Martin himself says, the team should be judged by how much – if any – improvement is shown throughout the course of the year.  Hopefully it’s coming soon, because while the Gamecocks open the SEC calendar with some favorable (i.e., weak) matchups, they still need to be good enough to take advantage of those opportunities before the meat of the conference schedule comes around.

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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, Presbyterian, What Happened and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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