The 2012-13 season has concluded. What now?

The Gamecocks’ season ended last Wednesday night in Nashville with a disappointing loss to Mississippi State, 70-59.  State jumped out to an 11-point lead over the last 10 minutes of the first half and Carolina never really threatened from there on out.  There’s not much to be said about the game because, frankly, everyone associated with it moved on almost immediately.  The season is over.  Now what comes next?

The question that lingered over the Gamecocks for nearly the entirety of the 2012-13 season had nothing to do with the results on the floor.  While fans certainly hoped for better, a 14-18 (4-14) record was completely in line with expectations coming into the season.  The Gamecocks, bereft of talent in many spaces and trying to adapt to an entirely new system, simply didn’t have the firepower to hang with the middle-tier of the SEC, let alone the upper crust.

The questions at this point immediately turn to three things – who is coming back, what will the new guys bring, and just who will the new guys be?  We know from the staff’s additional recruiting that they anticipate some attrition coming up.  We know that we’re bringing in a strong lead recruit in Thornwell, and there’s reason to think that Ringer and McKie can hopefully bring something (at the least, the “winner” intangible to the extent that might exist, as both won state championships last month).  And given the additional recruiting, there may be more new faces joining Carolina alongside the returning players and the recuperating Carlton Geathers.

So what do we take from what we just witnessed?  The players that matter most now are probably everyone but the juniors – they’ll likely (sadly) never play on a Carolina team that plays meaningful basketball.  As much as I like Brenton Williams, I don’t think we’ll have the supporting cast to go anywhere next season, despite the fact I do think we’ll be an improved basketball team (as a major conference team, we can hardly be worse unless we start reaching Utah 2012 levels).

And I think Carlton Geathers – if he stays, which is a huge if with just about everyone in the program right now – can contribute on a Martin-coached team.  Geathers couldn’t figure out how to use possessions at all his freshman year (he only shot 7.6% of the shots taken while he was on the court, and even then wasn’t very effective), but his rebounding percentages of 8% on OReb and 16.9% on DReb, along with Carolina’s lack of depth in the frontcourt, may mean he gets to stick around.  That said, it will require substantial improvement from Carlton if he’s ever going to play meaningful minutes on a team playing meaningful basketball games.

The pieces of a winning program

We know that Michael Carrera is the type of player that can contribute to a winning program.  He had an outstanding freshman season – playing over 50 percent of the minutes available to him, he ranked in the top 25 in both individual offensive and defensive rebounding.  He shot relatively efficiently while taking a bunch of shots, and got to the free throw line a bunch.  He has things to work on, but he can be an outstanding small forward or undersized power forward on an upper-echelon basketball team.  And he’ll probably get that chance, if not next year.

And for now, given the age of the rest of the team, that might be the one piece we have in the fold.  We’ll learn more about Thornwell, McKie, and Ringer in the coming months, and to the extent we add additional recruits to the 2013 class, they may also be those contributors.  And of course, Tyrone Johnson will have a chance to show that he’s the guy who warranted a four-star rating coming out of high school, and not the guy who couldn’t make shots or stop turning the ball over in his freshman year at Villanova (though he did a great job of distributing the basketball).  So if everyone there pans out, we have a potential starting five.

But the thing I’ve taken from this year is just how important the 2014 class is going to be.  The Gamecocks are likely to struggle – though I would anticipate an uptick from where they are this year – next season as well, and that will two years under Martin without marked success.  He’ll need to get momentum going toward improved things quickly, as his reputation from Kansas State will age in dog years if he and the staff can’t get us into the NCAAs by 2016 at the latest.  The goal should be 2015, and given the roster issues we just discussed, that’s going to require an excellent 2014 class of 2-3 players that can contribute on a team that will make that run (of course, outstanding 2015 freshmen will similarly be able to help, but we’ll make or  break our chances in the class of 2014).

So for now, we bid adieu to the 2013 season, a flawed team that did the best they could with what they had.  Our eyes turn to recruiting (and retention).  We’ll post haphazardly over the coming months, but this is a South Carolina basketball blog, and South Carolina basketball has ended for the year.  Let’s hope this is the last time we have to type that in early March for a while.

About marvinnedick

Blogging from the mid-Atlantic on Gamecock sports, as well as general musings on sports theory otherwise.
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5 Responses to The 2012-13 season has concluded. What now?

  1. Gary says:

    I think USC has a chance at a post-season tournament next year, though maybe not the NCAA. It depends on who is on the roster, and whether they are good enough to make that happen. We are actively recruiting several players for the spring. I don’t see us signing more than about 3 of those targets. Everyone we sign now is a scholarship that won’t be free for the class of 2014, unless there are more departures after next season.

    Because we are recruiting more players for next year, that shows me that our coaching staff is not willing to take a long time to improve the program. It seems their attitude is, fix it as soon as possible, even if that means players have to be removed from the roster before their eligibility ends. Since I have suffered so long with Gamecock basketball, I agree to that strategy. Though I hate to see players run off, I more want a winning team. I don’t think Martin would have recruited any of the players left over from the Horn era, and I’m not sure he really wants any of them to be back. Some of them probably will be back next year, but some won’t. if we sign anyone else this spring. For the next few weeks, my attention wil be on who else is going to be signed, and who is leaving.

  2. Walter says:

    I think it is insane to expect postseason next season and I think it is insane to say that Martin wouldn’t have recruited Slawson – a Mr Basketball from SC – or Harris, Gill, Leonard and Jackson, who were ALL concensus 4 star recruits widely recruited by other Major Div 1 programs as was Brian Richardson. Furthermore, if Harris and Gill had stuck around we would still be playing basketball this season. Can we please just quit blaming Horn for everything that is wrong with our program? It was broken long before he got here and he was able to recruit several players that we were fortunate to get. It’s fair to say he didn’t turn the corner with our program but he was after all fired after only 3 recruiting classes and now Martin with his heavyweight reputation is having a hell of a struggle with many of the same issues Horn and Odom grappled with.

    Has Martin been successful getting even one quality blue chip big man to set foot on this campus for a visit? No, he has not. This University is a basketball pariah – even with Frank Martin to some extent. If my son were a big time recruit and I could choose between a scholarship from Florida, UNC, Kentucky, Duke, and USC, as much as I love USC I know his chances of playing in postseason or being drafted into the NBA are greatly less if he comes here. Is Martin to blame for that? No. He can’t change this program overnight, no matter how badly we all want it. It is going to take several years of recruiting to prove to parents and players that we have something stable that we are committed to. We badly need to build some credibility and establish trust with the basketball community nationwide. The hiring of Martin was a step in the right direction but not a quick fix or a panacea.

    For once, why can’t we take a longer term perspective around here? Frank Martin will get the job done – I am certain of that. I hope he can do it in the amount of time you and others expect, but I think it is more important to make sure we create a program with stability and continuity to change the rotten image people have of Gamecock basketball – that of a turnstile outside the Head Coach’s office, players transferring away, and former players wanting nothing to do with the program after they leave.

    As far as next season is concerned, Thornwell is a guy who probably wouldn’t play more than 5 to 10 minutes per game at a big name program (as alluded to above) as a freshman, yet we are counting on him to turn our program around next season? Johnson played 17.7 mpg and scored 3.3 ppg for a Villanova team that finished 12-17. Ringer? Might be some help as a junior. McKie? …..?????? Are you people drunk or what? All these guys are pretty good but they ain’t the kinds of hosses we need to ride into postseason next year. Put successive classes like them together for a few more years and we might be able to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

    But please don’t run off our coach by acting out and crying like babies if it doesn’t happen in the next two or three years. This is a program with a dismal reputation which has to compete even for instate talent with the best programs from the ACC and the SEC. We have a lot of positives to sell but that right there is not going to fade away and vanish very quickly. Frank Martin is going to have to wrestle with that every day for several years to come.

  3. Gary says:

    One of the reasons why USC basketball has a bad reputation, and has done so poorly over the years is because the various administrations have made a series of very poor decisions: getting out of the ACC(HUGE mistake), forcing McGuire out, not hiring Cremins when he was young, hiring Bill Foster, firing Felton, hiring Newton, building the CLA instead of updating the Coliseum, hiring Horn, etc..

    I was thinking of the Horn players that played for USC this season when I said I didn’t think Martin would have recruited any of the players Horn left. You might be right that he would have recruited some of them, but I’m not convinced. If Martin would have recruited Leonard, then he is a poor judge of talent.

    If it is going to take more than 3 years for Martin to make the CBI or the NIT, then he is not the right coach.

  4. Walter says:

    You jump to conclusions without any foundations for your reasoning. Was Leonard a 4 star rated recruit – yes or no? He was. Do recruits get rated 4 stars for no good reason? No, they are skilled players, as is Leonard, and they are widely recruited by most Major Div 1 programs and Martin would definitely have been delighted to sign him. I will bet you here and now that Leonard is going to have an excellent conclusion to his college career and you will eat your ignorant words about him.

    • Gary says:

      Regardless of how many stars he had in high school, or who recruited him, Leonard has proven that he is not a good enough player to cause Frank Martin to not want to recruit over him. He is the least athletic of all the wing players on the USC team, and a poor jumpshooter. For proof of his shooting, look at his stats. If USC is able to recruit any guards this spring, I will bet Leonard will be at, or near, the top of the list of current players whose scholarships Martin will use for the new recruits. If Leonard has an excellent conclusion to his college career, I don’t expect it will be at USC.

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