The Daily Gamecock

Column: Last spring's incident hurting Gamecocks late in season


February has been unkind to the South Carolina men’s basketball team. 

Any hope for a shot at the regular season SEC Championship is quickly dwindling as the Gamecocks have stumbled to a 3-4 record this month.

South Carolina (20-8, 10-5 SEC) looks like it's run out of gas. The Gamecocks are not getting any offensive production outside of Chris Silva, PJ Dozier and Sindarius Thornwell.

The troubling thing about this Gamecock basketball team is the lack of scoring production from the bench. In the last seven games, the bench is only averaging 10 points per game.

If you remove the 20-point performance the Gamecock bench had against a last-place LSU team, that average falls to 8.3 points per game.

Meanwhile, South Carolina’s opponents are averaging 28.3 points per game from their bench players. This severe difference shows that there is a problem with depth for South Carolina this year.

The problem stems from last spring’s incident that saw five men’s basketball players get suspended. Silva and Temarcus Blanton are the only two players from the group who remained on the team.

Jamall Gregory, Marcus Stroman and Eric Cobb were the three players involved in the incident who are not a part of this year’s team. Raymond Doby, who was involved in a separate incident, eventually decided to transfer last spring as well.

That is a huge amount of attrition in a very short amount of time. The NCAA sets the scholarship cap at 13 players for basketball, so losing four basketball players is equivalent to losing 26 players from a football team, assuming the team was at the 85-player maximum scholarship capacity.

Losing that many players at once put head coach Frank Martin and his staff at a huge disadvantage. Gregory, Stroman, Cobb and Doby were four guys Martin believed could succeed in his system and would help the USC basketball program take the next step.

Stroman flashed a lot of potential in his freshman season as a guard, and Cobb and Doby were big bodies that could have taken a lot pressure off Silva and freshman Maik Kotsar, especially late in games.

South Carolina is desperately in need of quality depth to be able to compete for the entirety of an SEC basketball season and postseason play. The team seems to be exhausted right now, and they are still a couple weeks away from the SEC and NCAA Tournaments.

The four players who were either dismissed or transferred could have played a huge role on the team this season. Instead, the Gamecocks are hoping for a bench player or two to emerge from the shadows so that South Carolina has a chance to make some noise in tournament play.