We're back! The Gamecocks have run out to a 4-0 start on the strength of three wins over marginal opposition (though the win over DePaul was fine enough), but last night's victory ver Hofstra is the first over a team with a real chance to make the NCAAs. Let's bring back our advanced box score matrix to see how Carolina did it.
|Advanced Box Score|
|PPP = Points per poss.|
|Non-TO = PPP on non-turnover poss.|
|eFG = (2PM+(1.5*3PM))/FGA|
|FTR = FTA/FGA|
|3PA% = 3PA/FGA|
Three Thoughts on the Team:
1. That's not good enough on defense. Last night, the Gamecocks played pretty bad defense against Hofstra. Even when you account for what a defense can't control - three-point shooting percentage and free throw percentage - you would expect an average-shooting team from distance and the line to have scored 1.135 points per possession against the Gamecocks last night. Hofstra is a good offensive team, but the Gamecocks are supposed to be a good defensive team, and it was disappointing to see the Pride win so consistently on that side even beyond their torrid outside shooting.
2. But surprisingly, the Gamecocks outscored somebody. Carolina needed - and got - an outstanding offensive evening to grab the win last night. Now, part of this is simply a reflection of who Hofstra is as a team. The Pride play great offense and porous defense and hope they do the former well enough to compensate for the latter. Still, Carolina made them pay by shooting over 50% from 2 (32-59) and 3 (5-9), which will win you most games you play so long as you get the rest of it right.
3. The Gamecocks got the rest of it right. With both teams shooting the lights out - albeit from different spots on the floor - the game turned on who could create more opportunities for themselves. As they normally do, Carolina dominated in this phase. The Gamecocks hoisted 13 more field goal attempts and six additional free throws during the evening thanks to a rebounding percentage advantage of 51% for USC on offensive boards to just 21% for Hofstra, as well as a 14-9 advantage in turnovers.
Just as importantly, Carolina didn't let itself get beat at the free throw line - they didn't put the Pride on the stripe to an unreasonably degree, and while they shot a slightly lower percentage than Hofstra, they actually outscored them 15-12 from the line on the night.
Three Thoughts on the Players:
1. I'm glad we never see Juan'ya Green again. 28 points in 39 minutes while taking just 15 shots from the field is really, really good. Hofstra had some other guys play well but he consistently shouldered the scoring burden.
2. Sindarius Thornwell is a very good basketball player. Thornwell had one of his best games as a Gamecock. This is where he'll be at his best - not having to dominate the ball but working in the offense and letting the game come to him. Just using 18% of available possessions, he went 4-8 from the field and 6-8 from the line, adding nine rebounds and six assists against no turnovers. That'll do, Sin.
3. Seriously, everyone was great on offense. All five starters put up double-digit points (Kacinas, Chatkevicius, Carrera, and Dozier joined Thornwell), and Chris Silva went 5-6 from the floor while adding three rebounds in just 11 minutes of action. Along with taking care of the ball (again, just 9 turnovers), it's the type of game where you struggle to highlight one player for good reason - it takes a group effort to put up 1.34 points per possession.