It's time to put a moratorium on the season. Last night, the Gamecocks lost to a game but, in the grand scheme of things, vulnerable Alabama Crimson Tide team that was playing without its best player. The Gamecocks roared out of the gate to a commanding lead, but allowed the Tide to claw back into it, stick around, and finally rush ahead in the final minutes. Players like Senario Hillman, Justin Knox, and Mikhail Torrance led the charge for the Tide, while Devan Downey and Ramon Galloway led the 'Cocks.
The Tide deserve a lot of credit for their scrappy performance, and I applaud their guts. For us, though, this game served as an indication of how far this team has fallen from where it once was. We were playing against a beatable team, we came out stoked, and we had the game in control at points. However, we still lost, the game itself in the end seeming like a microcosm of a season in which we once had a clear, manageable path to at least some form of postseason play but that was finally a wash. We now face the extreme likelihood of finishing sub-.500 and heading into the offseason with a bitter taste in our mouth.
How disappointed should we be right now? I've said all along that the position we found ourself in after the Kentucky win was probably a false one. True, NCAA hopes were alive at that point. However, we were probably never really that good, and I think we all knew that. Still, though, we should have won this game last night. We had more depth, more talent, and homecourt advantage. I'm not willing to call this season a failure after this game, as this team has had to fight through quite a bit to get here. The odds were always against this group. I will, though, certainly say that last night's loss was utterly inexcusable and a true failure. I would have liked to see this team go our on a note of pride, but they failed to do so in one of the few opportunities in which they had the cards stacked in their favor.
I really don't know what else to say about our season. It's been painful to watch over the last few games.
A few more specific thoughts on the game:
- The key stat was clearly rebounding. The Tide--playing without their star big man JaMychal Green, I should add--dominated us on the boards 46-26, including a +7 in offensive boards. Those second-chance points they got from the offensive rebounds likely made the difference for them, as they negated our commanding turnover differential.
- The other key stat was FT%. We shot sub-50% from the line. If we had made, say, half of the misses, we would have gone into the final minute with the game within reach.
- This was probably Ramon Galloway's best game so far. If there's been one shining light in the late-season slide, it's been the emergence of Galloway and Lakeem Jackson as quality players. If Horn's current recruiting class is as good as it's supposed to be, I think the core of Galloway, Jackson, and the talented newcomers should lead us to a tournament run in a couple of years.
That's a wrap here. Don't really know what else to say. I love Gamecocks basketball, but I'm honestly ready for this season to end.