USA TODAY Sports
I hate to beat a dead horse, but it certainly pained me tonight to watch bits and pieces of La Salle's victory over Boise St. in this evening's NCAA First Four. As you're probably aware, La Salle is where former Gamecock Ramon Galloway landed after being pushed out of the program during Darrin Horn's tenure. Since then, Galloway has blossomed into one of the Atlantic 10's best players. He scored 21 tonight on 8-13 shooting, including 3-6 from beyond the arc. This kind of performance was no rarity for Galloway. On the year, he averaged 17 per game and shot 41% from the field, a solid percentage for someone who shoots from deep a lot. Galloway also averaged nearly four assists per game.
Galloway's story is a cautionary tale for coaches (and fans) who want to push players who are perceived to be underperforming out. In Galloway's final season at Carolina, he averaged a solid 10 points per game, but like many of our guards in recent years, he was a terribly inefficient player, shooting for a poor percentage and churning out turnovers. However, considering that talent we had on the team at the time, you have to to think that we should have kept a place for a player who had shown as much potential as he had. Galloway's work at La Salle proves the potential wasn't a mirage. This kind of transition isn't uncommon. It takes the average D1 guy time to evolve into a truly productive player. Sometimes, we're disappointed when a young player doesn't come in and perform like John Wall. However, there aren't many John Walls to go around, and for the time being, those kinds of players aren't coming to Carolina. Frank Martin and Carolina have to build around a few excellent players (Bruce Ellington, hopefully Sindarius Thornwell) and several players who can eventually be good after seasoning (guys like Michael Carrera). The guys in the latter group need seasoning, but if, a few years down the line, Martin has a lineup with a couple of semi-elite players and some veteran above-average players, he can get us back to the tournament. That's not to say you never part ways with a guy. Someone like Stephen Spinella was likely never going to make it as an SEC player. But Galloway was different. He showed sparks of greatness. He could have been one of those veteran above-average players for us this year. He likely wouldn't have gotten us back to the tournament, but he would likely have made a difference in a few games. We were offensively challenged this year, and anyone who watched La Salle this year can see that Galloway has developed some serious offensive game. If you haven't seen him yet, you'll have the chance, because La Salle is still in the Big Dance, while Carolina, yet again, is sitting at home.