For the second time in 4 years, the team that finished fourth inside the SEC failed to participate in the NCAA Tournament or NIT.
That became authentic Sunday night time when South Carolina was unnoticed by the NIT’s 32-crew field. LSU turned into dealt the same destiny in 2016 — but it got here under extraordinary instances because the Tigers, after a 33-factor loss in the SEC Tournament, introduced they wouldn’t accept a postseason bid.
That LSU team turned into 19-14 and possibly would have made the sphere. These Gamecocks had been 16-16.
At the top of the day, USC’s ordinary report become the determining aspect in Frank Martin’s bunch no longer playing again until November. The Gamecocks had been 15-16 in opposition to Division I competition, the report that topics to the selection committee. It remains authentic that no group underneath .500 has ever made the NIT.
But, unlike LSU of four years ago, Carolina desired to preserve playing.
“I’d love the opportunity to run another ball exercise,” Martin said after USC lost to Auburn in the SEC Tournament.
Martin’s reward of the 2108-19 Gamecocks changed into consistent in the course of the yr. Even after a loss to Clemson on Dec. 22 — losing USC to 4-7 — he informed reporters, “I definitely, surely like this team. I like the humans in this group; I just like the make-up of this team.” After the Gamecocks rolled Georgia on March nine to clinch the fourth location in the SEC, Martin said, “Whenever I break free the season, I’m gonna appearance returned … This is my considered one of my favorite seasons I’ve ever had in coaching.”
Here’s what we discovered from an eventful Season No. 7 underneath Martin:
THE SLOW START WAS TOO MUCH TO OVERCOME
Yes, South Carolina didn’t make the NIT simultaneously as Arkansas — No. 9 in the SEC — and Alabama — No. 10 — did. It doesn’t appear right until you consider the fee of a full season’s frame of work.
The Gamecocks went 5-8 against their non-conference opposition. Losses to Virginia, Michigan, and Wofford didn’t impact their postseason candidacy. Losses to Stony Brook, Wyoming, and Oklahoma State did. Beat one of those fighters — and their combined forty four-52 record — and USC is in all likelihood making ready for a recreation proper now.
Related: This 12 months’ agenda, according to KenPom, ranks because of the state’s 24th-hardest within the united states of America. It ties with the 2016-17 slate for USC’s toughest schedule seeing that 2005-06.
THE LAST OF THE INJURIES PROVED MOST DAMAGING
From a Jan. Thirteen recreations in opposition to Missouri to 31 minutes, 36 seconds into Alabama sports Feb. 26, South Carolina had to be had eight scholarship gamers — and managed quite nicely. It turned into whilst A.J. Lawson sprained his ankle overdue against the Crimson Tide while the death of our bodies caught as much as the Gamecocks.
Lawson became searching to break Sindarius Thornwell’s report for most factors by a USC first-year student beneath Martin. He missed parts of 4 video games and came up 66 factors short. In recreation, the Gamecocks had to stay in NCAA Tournament dialogue, were misplaced to Alabama, and subsequently fell at Missouri. When Lawson returned towards Auburn in Nashville, he definitely wasn’t a hundred percent. The 6-foot-6 shield was held scoreless (in 13 minutes) for simplest the second time all season simultaneously as his backcourt pals — Hassani Gravett and Tre Campbell — went 5 of twenty-two from the field in a 9-point loss.
Eight USC gamers — which include 4 starters — missed a mixed 130 video games due to damage, soccer duty, or an eligibility issue.
CHRIS SILVA TURNED INTO AN NBA PLAYER
In publish-game Friday, Martin discovered that Chris Silva suffered proper wrist damage inside the Ole Miss game on Feb. 19 and “didn’t pass over a 2d” the rest of the season. That’s simply any other instance of the unique durability Silva’s shown throughout his South Carolina profession.
But the two-time All-SEC forward didn’t come lower back to USC for his senior season to reveal better durability for seasoned scouts. That a good deal was already well-known, he came lower back to enhance particular sport elements.
Guys, his length — 6-9, 230-plus pounds — aren’t posting up all of the time at the subsequent degree. They want to be a fringe chance. Silva proved he might be that by way of shooting 50 percent from the 3-factor range (23 of 46). Over Carolina’s closing seven games — consisting of the Ole Miss win whilst the damage apparently happened — Silva went 12 of 20 from past the arc, including a four-for-four performance in the finale in opposition to Auburn.
THIS TEAM FLEW
The additions of Lawson, Keyshawn Bryant, and Tre Campbell — mixed with Hassani Gravett moving lower back to his natural -defend role — made this the most precise South Carolina crew of the Martin generation.
Martin had solid pace and athleticism at almost every role at the ground, showing in numbers. The Gamecocks finished sixtieth nationally in KenPom’s adjusted tempo rating. That crushes the 2015-16 Carolina group — No. Eighty-four in pace — as the quickest-paced bunch of Martin’s seven groups. These Gamecocks averaged 15—eight seconds ownership, nearly a full 4 seconds quicker than Martin’s first USC group in 2012-thirteen.
South Carolina scored eighty or more factors 10 times, trailing only the 2015-sixteen crew for the maximum under Martin.
Somewhat related: USC finished 76th nationally in KenPom’s protective performance rating. That’s the worst below Martin since 2013-14.
MAIK KOTSAR LOST HIS STARTING SPOT
Maik Kotsar, courting again to the 2017 NCAA Tournament, started sixty-two of sixty-four games till he has become a reserve player on March 2 whilst USC traveled to Missouri. The junior stayed in that function for the final 4 video games, averaging 4 factors and 4 rebounds.
Martin stated the lineup flow — which passed off after Lawson was given harm — became to spark a better offensive begin for the Gamecocks. He changed Lawson with Gravett and Kotsar with Felipe Haase.
While the 6-eleven Kotsar remains a treasured protective participant — his potential to protect a couple of positions often is going not noted — his struggles on the other quit are getting greater obvious. Take away his 25-point outburst that spurred the Mississippi State win, Kotsar averaged 6.1 factors according to sport this season. During SEC play, he made simply 33 percent of his free throws and at one point ignored 23 of 26.
Silva’s departure creates a huge void inside the middle for South Carolina. Can Kotsar snap out of his funk to fill it?