Frank Martin let three Gamecock guards bring the ball up the court in South Carolina’s 78-60 win over Western Michigan on Monday night for the 2017-18 home-opener at Colonial Life Arena.
Hassani Gravett started the game just as he did for the season-opener against Wofford. He lost the ball twice and committed a foul within the first three minutes of the half.
Martin quickly pulled Gravett and replaced him with Kory Holden — the junior redshirt transfer from the University of Delaware. Holden immediately took the ball up the court and laid it in for two points. On the next drive, Holden drew a foul on the floor.
Following Holden, the Gamecocks put in Wesley Myers to take control of ball handling responsibilities.
Gravett was put back in around the 13-minute mark, but was pulled nearly 30 seconds later after tallying his second foul on what many Gamecock fans considered to be a questionable call by referees in favor of Western Michigan.
Holden came back out and preceded to score another lay up for two points.
Roughly three minutes later, Myers replaced Holden and made his presence known with a lay up of his own for two points. The ensuing rotation saw Holden re-enter the game with Martin skipping over Gravett’s spot in the order. Holden would remain in the game to finish out the first half.
Gravett started the second half, as expected, considering his past performances in addition to his implied role as a returning leader for the Gamecocks this season. After scoring just two points in the first half, Gravett finished with a career-high 15 points. He was not pulled until there was one minute and 17 seconds left and an 18-point Gamecock lead. At his best moments, Gravett appeared to be the guard and was most comfortable at the helm of the offense.
Holden finished with six points and three rebounds, along with one assist. For a brief three minutes in the second half, Martin had both Holden and Gravett on the floor — an intriguing idea considering the play-making potential of both players.
Myers finished with four points and two rebounds. He had one incredibly strong pass to Silva in the first half that demonstrated high court awareness. Myers did not see action in the second half until there were just two minutes remaining.
It is still far too early in the season to draw any major conclusions from Martin’s guard rotation against a non-conference opponent like Western Michigan. Western Michigan’s best player, guard Thomas Wilder, finished with 21 points and was effective at exposing areas where South Carolina’s guards need improvement. It will be interesting to follow how Martin allocates minutes to his players in all positions throughout the season, so that he can put a well-rested, versatile team on the court at all times, especially when it comes time for SEC matchups.