The Rubber Chickens blog had a really great post last week that posed a couple of excellent questions about individual plays in USC's athletic history. Thinking about the second question led me to today's Q&A topic. What is your single favorite play in each of the big three sports at South Carolina? You can choose one play each for football, baseball, and basketball (men's or women's).
I feel like favorite is always such a tough choice, so I normally default to plays that win us things that are important:
Football - There are plays I certainly love more than this one, but one of the best feelings I remember in my last 10 years or so of Carolina fandom was the realization that yes, we were going to win the SEC East. Thank you, Stephen Garcia.
Basketball - In the same vein, the charge that we drew in Rupp Arena to secure our 15-1 SEC regular season and first SEC Championship. The play isn't available on YouTube, and for all I know I'm misremembering it, but I'm pretty confident that's how we sealed that, and it was euphoria.
Baseball - I mean, come on.
Football - I'll be the first to snag Clowney's Hit. In terms of exposure for the program, the value of that individual play is incalculable. And of course, it was a major contributor to us winning that Outback Bowl and cementing Clowney's legend. It's nice to know there will be a Gamecock uniform appear (in a positively light) in Iconic Plays Throughout CFB History highlight packages.
Basketball - Terrance Kinsey's shot that won us the 2005 NIT because of the resulting exchange to which I was privy. The morning after we won it, I was getting gas on Broad River Road. The guy at the pump next to me--a squat, disheveled fellow driving a plumbing company van--walked over.
"Are you a USC student?" he said in an intense drawl.
"You see that game last night?"
"Yeah, it was really great!"
"Let me tell you something." He locked eyes with me and pointed a stoney finger at my chest. "Those boys are heroes. Those boys gave us all something to be proud of. And you know what else?" He then leaned in close, and without a shred of sarcasm, declared: "Each one of them deserves to take bong hits today."
He turned, got in his van and drove away forever. It was so delightfully weird and I'll never forget it. And you know what else? If anyone "deserves to take bong hits", it's the winners of the NIT.
Baseball - Since Hoops took "I mean, c'mon" we were all planning to write, I'll go another direction and pick Scott Wingo's acrobatic play against Florida in game one of the 2011 College World Series. Bases loaded, no outs, infield in. Chopper to the pitcher's left, and Wingo lunges to his right, stabs it, and fires home for the out. He'd follow it up with a near identical stop, initiating a 4-1-3 double play to end the inning. Still the most stressful and rewarding baseball game I've ever watched. Even rewatching the highlight package gave me heart palpitations and chills.
Football - Ryan Brewer had a chip on his shoulder. He was snubbed by Ohio State but got an offer to play for the REAL USC. So when Gamecocks played the Buckeyes in 2001, he took it out on them. He made plays. He scored, but I'll never forget when he flipped a Buckeye over his shoulder that was trying to "step over" on him. The next play he runs it in for a touchdown.
Baseball - In 2010 the Gamecocks beat the Tigers in Game 2 of CWS. It was an intense 9th inning. The Tigers were in position to score a run that would tie the score, but they fell short with a grounder to first and the game was over. Of course, come on....the rest is history!
Basketball - Great memory of Gamecocks beating Wildcats in 2010. The fans rushed on the court and the celebration was very memorable too. That game was historic because it was the first time we had beaten a #1 team.
Football- It's hard to pick a favorite out of the great plays I've seen over the past few seasons, but I think I have to go with this one. It's perfect. A successful fake punt, a large defensive player scoring a touchdown, a distressed Georgia mascot. What's not to love?
Baseball- Yes, Hoops already posted the obvious one, but my thoughts were more along the lines of what Jorge posted from the very beginning. Jake Williams throwing the Florida runner out at home in the bottom of the 10th inning in game 1 of the 2011 CWS Finals (at about 1:45 in the highlight video that Jorge posted) is my all-time favorite Gamecock baseball play. I'm not sure why this play stands out so much to me with all the other great/improbable defense in that game, but I think it's because it felt like such a long play and there was time for so much emotion. I remember watching it live and being so disappointed because I knew the runner would score and then losing my mind when the throw was in time and we got the out.
Basketball- I'm letting some serious recency bias and my deep love for this year's women's basketball team determine this one for me. Olivia Gaines hitting an improbable 3 to tie our Sweet Sixteen game against UNC and help send us to the Elite Eight was wonderful. I'm a sucker for plays that succeed when they look like they should fail and for heroics from unexpected sources.