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The End

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Perhaps the only surprising thing about Dave Odom's tenure at South Carolina ending Friday, on the second day of the SEC tournament, was that it didn't end on Thursday, the first.

It was a "perfect" ending to this season, and to an extent a perfect ending for Odom's time coaching the Gamecocks. They always seemed to be one step away. They always seemed to come up just close. They always seemed on the cusp of greatness.

That's about as far as they got.

No one doubts that Dave Odom is a good man.

But you have to win the games.

He is the kind of person you want to coach your basketball team, or any team for that matter. Unfortunately, he never proved to be the kind of coach you wanted coaching your basketball team, at least not at South Carolina. (Final record: 128-103)

I will, in a way, miss Dave Odom. He was a comforting presence, if not a great coach. Kind of like the uncle who never did anything to bring him fame but was nice to have around anyway.

Farewell and good luck to him, in whatever life brings him next.

But life must go on. The first priority, as everyone knows, is finding a new coach. As The State points out, Capel appears to be the guy who will have the job if he wants it.

Capel was not the only one surprised that a squad once seen as a bubble team earned a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament. If they live up to that, it will only take longer to get Capel or move on if he or South Carolina loses interest.

Beyond that, there is the hope that Devan Downey's denial of NBA interest is heart-felt and won't be changed by the agents. The record-holder for SEC steals in a single season.

"There were some rumors that I was talking about entering the draft. But let me get on record there's not anything like that," Downey said. "I'm not entering the draft, I'll be here next year. So I don't know who put that rumor out."

Downey is only 5-foot-9, but had a great first season with the Gamecocks, after transferring from Cincinnati. He broke the SEC single-season record for steals, averaged 18.6 points and 5.2 assists per game, and was a first-team All-SEC selection by the coaches. ...

"I feel like I'm not running out on my team to try and accomplish something individually," Downey said. "I'm gonna be here when the new coach comes. I'm gonna have 13 guys ready to work."

Here's hoping. Downey would be a nice piece for the new staff.

The big dance will still be played. There is some good news to come out of that; the team from the Upstate is a No. 5 seed, meaning there's a decent chance they'll be upset in the first round.

Oliver Purnell consider hara-kiri after hearing his team is a No. 5 seed.

Villanova is your team to pull for in that one.

The spelling-challenged Dawgs from Athens, who get into the tournament after winning the SEC title (sigh), will take on Xavier in a 14-vs.-3 matchup. Root for the favorite.