The Gamecocks tip off their season on Friday against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Leading up to that game, we’ll take a few minutes and break down key players, expectations, and more of what we’re looking for during the 2016-17 season.
We start by looking at who the team’s most important player will be this year. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments.
Sydney - P.J. Dozier and Sindarius Thornwell. I’m going to cheat and say two players here. This team’s success, or lack thereof, will hinge on how these two perform. For Dozier, Frank Martin’s been counting on him to take the next step as a point guard, and with a year of play in the rear view mirror, we’ll have to see if the sophomore and Gamecocks legacy can do just that. For Thornwell, the opportunity is there to assert himself as a leader for this program, especially as he enters his final year. He’s going to draw every team’s best matchup, so he’ll need to adjust to that starting with Louisiana Tech on Friday.
David - Not a shock to anyone, but it’s without question Sindarius Thornwell. He’s arguably been the Gamecocks’ most important player since the moment he stepped on campus four years ago, and now as a senior, he’s the heart and soul of the team. If the Gamecocks are to finally breakthrough this year and get to the NCAA Tournament, Thornwell has to lead the way with his best season yet.
James - Sure, I’d love to take the obvious approach and drop some names like Thornwell, Dozier or even Duane Notice. But, I’m not nearly as worried about the Gamecocks guard play this season as I am the lack of depth down low. With Kacinas, Chatkevicius and our poster child Carerra off to bigger and better things, it looks mighty thin in the post. In light of this, Chris Silva is the most important player on the roster for me. Frank Martin is going to have to rely on freshman forwards from the get go, but Silva, unlike the rest of the roster’s big men, has the experience playing for Martin at South Carolina. Last season, Silva was on a short leash for Martin, making one mistake and often getting pulled out immediately. In order for this team to take the next step forward, Chris Silva will need to, and he’ll need the confidence of his head coach to do it.