This is the first article in a series of player preview pieces we plan to post in advance of the Gamecocks' 2014-15 season. In addition to these pieces, we'll bring a complete preview of the season to come for the Gamecocks as well as the opening tip against North Florida on November 14 rapidly approaches.
Whether it was the position change or something else entirely, South Carolina junior forward Michael Carrera admittedly wasn't himself last season. Before his sophomore season, the decision was made to move Carrera from the power forward position to the 3, a position that in theory fits his skill set better. The results were disappointing for Carrera and Gamecock fans.
Carrera saw his averages dip from 9.9 PPG and 7.2 RPG his freshman year to 6.0 PPG and 5.6 RPG last season. In SEC play his freshman year, Michael led the team in points per game and rebounds per game. He scored in double-figures in 12 games two years ago but in just half as many games last season. With Carrera's relentless rebounding characteristic, he is always a candidate for a double-double. In 2012-2013, Carrera posted 5 such games but only accomplished 1 double-double in 2013-2014. Carrera even shot worse from the field during his sophomore year, going 37.9% from the field, compared to 44.3% his freshman season.
Carrera did improve on a few things from his freshman year to his sophomore year. He turned the ball over at a lower rate, committing only 38 turnovers last season compared to 51 the season before. He committed less turnovers while being an absolute force in the same department defensively. Carrera finished with 26 steals last season, compared to nine he year before while also blocking 32 shots, almost twice as many as his freshman year. With Carrera's high energy and ferocious play, it's always a worry that he'll get into foul trouble. Although he had about the same number of fouls in his first two seasons, Carrera fouled out in five games his freshman year compared to just once last season.
South Carolina head coach Frank Martin has said time and time again that he just wants to see continued growth from his team. Carrera showed promise during his freshman year to become a good college player but fell on hard times last season. Much of it could be blamed on the position switch,however the bottom line is that Carrera just did not play up to his abilities or his own expectations last season. The position switch back to the 4 will provide some relief for Gamecock fans and Carrera but at the end of the day he just has to play better, and he will.
Carrera will never be a guy that can be counted on to put the ball in the basket or be a consistent scorer for your team but he brings a lot to the table. No one on this team will be more relentless on the boards, more ferocious on defense, or play with more charisma on the floor. His style of play is attractive to both fan and foe. Every team needs a high-energy player with a work ethic and hustle like Carrera but not every team has that blessing. Carrera truly plays like a prize-fighter, and they usually bounce back when they fall. Can he?