The South Carolina men's basketball team opened the 2017-18 season with an exhibition against Erskine Monday night.
The Gamecocks won big, 85-44, despite a large number of newcomers seeing their first taste of competition on the squad. Junior forward Chris Silva led all scorers with 15 points on just 15 minutes played. Freshman forward Justin Minaya also played well, adding 13 points and four rebounds.
The Gamecocks attempted several three-pointers, but shot just 25.7 percent from behind the arc. When asked about the large quantity of shots, guard Frank Booker said, “Some shots were off balance or not shots that we usually take, we are going to try and get the ball inside more and play inside-out basketball.”
Head coach Frank Martin added, “I can’t sit here and tell you we're a good shooting team and then tell them they can’t shoot ... we got to find a happy balance.”
Whether it was nerves, bad shots or a combination of both, the Gamecocks are hoping to improve their shooting performance in their next time out.
In the first half, the Gamecocks came out of the gate quickly. Just over halfway through the period, they posted a commanding 23-8 lead over the Flying Fleet. The Gamecocks continued to dominate the first half by finishing it with at 20-10 run over the last seven minutes.
Overall, the first period proved to be the better of the two halves, with the Gamecocks shooting 43.2 percent from the floor and 40 percent from deep.
The second half was a bit of a different story.
While the scoring never slowed down, the shots stopped falling. The Gamecocks began to utilize their size inside, along with easy fast-break points to blow the game wide open. Despite shooting just 6.7 percent (one for 15) from three-point land, the team still shot for more than 40 percent for the game.
The Gamecocks played many different player groups to experiment with who meshed well together. Players who stood out include Booker and Minaya, along with Silva and sophomore forward Maik Kotsar, who most fans expect to have breakout seasons. While they showcased very even scoring, David Beatty, Kory Holden and Khadim Gueye didn't have as many notable moments on Monday.
Martin preaches heavy ball movement to help his players find open shots and that’s exactly how they played on Monday. They were very unselfish with the ball, sometimes even passing up open shots, and will look to continue that playing style on Sunday in their second exhibition against Virginia Tech.