South Carolina opened up the 2013-2014 season with a dominating victory over the Longwood Lancers by a score of 82-44 win.
It was a new start for the Gamecocks this year as there were eight players who saw their first action with South Carolina and it was a positive start to what hopefully will be a good year for the men's basketball team.
Here's some quick thoughts on today's game in this new feature called "Jump Shots."
- Tyrone Johnson got great news on Friday night when the NCAA granted him eligibilty to play right away for South Carolina. It paid off as the point guard for South Carolina led the way with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 6-of-7 from free throws. He had two rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal. It's clear that Johnson is quite the talent and he looks so fluid out on the court for South Carolina. He should be the leader for this young basketball team and will be a major focal point of this team moving forward.
- Sindarious Thornwell came alive in the second half after being held scoreless in the first half against Longwood. Thornwell finished with 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting and was 6-of-7 from free throws. He had four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal on the day. Early on, it seemed that Thornwell was pressing too hard for the Gamecocks. He seemed to force his shots early in the game and just didn't seem in sync. However, he took a challenge from Frank Martin and started playing within himself and had a strong second half. He'll clearly get better with time but the hype is real with him. He's a tall, long, athletic wing player that can do a lot of things for South Carolina this year.
- It was a surprise to see Michael Carrera on the bench to start the game but it worked out well for the sophomore. He had 12 points in the game and added a boost of energy off the bench in the first half. He even knocked down two three-point shots and looks more comfortable with his jump shot from the outside. If that is something he can do consistently, he's certainly added value to his game.
- I like what I see out of Duane Notice. He looks physically ready to handle the game at this level. He appeared to play smart basketball today and just seems to have a knack of knowing what to do on the court. He also hit a few three-pointers and led the team in assists with four today. He's a nice talent who can be a quality point guard for this basketball team.
- Seeing this team on the court for the first time was impressive. They all just appear to be physically bigger than Gamecock basketball teams of recent memory. I think that will pay dividends this year for South Carolina and it certainly did today on defense. They shut down Longwood, who wasn't a great team, and dominated on the boards by a total of 50 to 27. They should get better each time out on the court as they get used to playing with one another. Defense may help carry them early in the season as they figure out their strengths on offense.
Overall, it was a nice start to the basketball season. There are definitely some quality players on this team who look like they can fit into what Frank Martin wants to do with his basketball team. The offense struggled early but that's likely expected. It's going to take some time to get used to so many new faces on the court together and thus there will be some struggles at times. Luckily, these guys are athletic and can get down the court in a hurry. Defense will help provide some offense as long as they listen to what the coaches want them to do.
A good win and beginning of a new era of Carolina basketball.