Sunday’s exhibition game against Virginia Tech proved to be a learning curve for the South Carolina men's basketball team.
The newcomers got their first taste of what the season is really going to be like in the Gamecocks' 86-67 defeat at Colonial Life Arena.
Virginia Tech is a veteran squad that many college basketball fans thought should have been in the NCAA Tournament last year. The Gamecocks hung with the Hokies through most of the game, but once head coach Frank Martin pulled stars Chris Silva and Maik Kotsar from the court, the Hokies began to expose the Gamecocks defense.
The Hokies started to play inside-out basketball, moving the ball around masterfully and creating open shots. In addition to finding open shots, the Hokies were able to dominate the young, big men of the Gamecocks, outscoring USC 44-32 in the paint.
It was evident in Sunday’s exhibition game that the Gamecocks still need to figure out a lot as a team. Individually, each player is capable of playing at this level, however, it is about how the group comes together. The Gamecocks will need to take a strong look at which players perform well together.
The Gamecocks are still having trouble shooting the ball. Despite Martin saying this is one of the best shooting teams he’s ever coached, it seems the Gamecocks are still trying to find their groove. The Gamecocks shot an abysmal 26.3 percent from beyond the arc. This is a trend that has to change in order for the Gamecocks to be a contender come March.
Silva and Kotsar only played a handful of minutes in Sunday’s contest. Some would have thought Martin was doing this by design to allow his younger guys to get more playing time and experience.
But this wasn’t the case.
“It wasn’t by design, I wasn’t happy with them," Martin said. "Why waste an opportunity to teach some freshmen and guys that need experience?”
The Gamecocks also had a tough time scoring on consecutive possessions. At some points, the offense started clicking and made several consecutive baskets, but the Gamecocks never seemed to put it all together.
“We took some good [shots], we didn’t take bad ones," Martin said. "We’ve got to make some shots, it's just plain and simple. It’s hard to get any flow on offense when you can’t go through a stretch where you can get three, four shots to go for you in a row.”
Despite this trend for the Gamecocks, Martin is confident his guards can start to produce while driving the ball and shooting it.
Wesley Myers produced well for the Gamecocks, totaling 11 points, five rebounds and four steals. Hassani Gravett also played well, adding 15 points, six rebounds and three assists.
According to Myers, the Gamecocks are still trying to work some kinks out when it comes to team chemistry.
“We still, we're in that adjustment stage, but eventually we’ll get there," Myers said.