The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks open Paradise Jam tournament against DePaul


The Gamecocks men’s basketball team will travel to St. Thomas to face the DePaul Blue Demons as part of the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam tournament.

Since its establishment in 2000, the Paradise Jam Tournament has hosted some of the nation’s elite college basketball teams with all but two earning an NCAA Tournament berth since 2001. The tournament spans over four days and consists of three rounds with eight total teams participating. Losers of each game will participate in consolation games for final tournament placement, as the outcomes count toward season win-loss records.

DePaul’s basketball program has struggled for most of the past decade with eight consecutive seasons without a winning record. The Blue Demons have split their first two games to start this season, defeating Western Michigan in the opener.

Senior forward Myke Henry and junior guard Billy Garrett Jr. are DePaul’s top scorers averaging 16.5 points per game apiece. Henry is shooting 81.3 percent through two games on eight field goal attempts per game, while Garrett Jr. has shot just 30.4 percent hoisting up 11.5 field goals per game.

As a team, DePaul is not productive from three-point range, shooting 15.4 percent thus far. This plays to South Carolina’s strengths defensively, as the Gamecocks boast a deep frontline consisting of 6-foot-11 Laimonas Chatkevicius and 6-foot-7 forward Mindaugus Kacinas who grabbed 13 rebounds last game.

Freshmen big men Eric Cobb and Chris Silva, both four-star recruits, have been head coach Frank Martin’s go-to reinforcements off the bench, each averaging 10 or more minutes per game. Neither freshman will provide much offensively, but will clog the paint, crash the boards and do the dirty work necessary to stagnate the opposition’s offense. Expect an emphasis on interior defense to force DePaul to shoot the ball, which has been its major downfall.

The Blue Demons average 66 points per game, opposed to South Carolina’s 84 points per game.

Veteran guard Duane Notice has played a key role in the Gamecocks’ explosive offense, nailing 3.5 three-pointers per game off the bench. Notice, a starter last season, has welcomed his new role as the sixth man, stepping aside for five-star point guard recruit P.J. Dozier to run the offense.

Being more of a pure point guard, Dozier’s style of play meshes well with the starting unit, whereas Notice’s scoring abilities are more cohesive with a second unit that lacks an offensive punch. Most of South Carolina’s second unit consists of freshman recruits, so adding Notice into the mix provides reliable leadership on the floor with young, inexperienced rookies.

The Gamecocks should handle business in the first round of the tournament, but could have trouble should they advance further.

The teams are set to tip off on Friday at 6 p.m. with the tournament wrapping up on Nov. 23.