Assessing Some Positives Amid an SEC Meltdown

Posted by Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) on November 17th, 2014

Hard as it may be to believe, SEC teams did do some good things on opening night (try not to fall out of your chair). Here are several positives that might have fallen through the cracks amid the conference’s Friday night meltdown.

Kentucky Bigs Own the Glass. The rebounding numbers that the Wildcats put on Grand Canyon Friday night were absurd. John Calipari’s gaggle of ultra-talented bigs grabbed 64.7 percent of the teams’ missed shots, which was good for 22 offensive rebounds. The Antelopes only had 20 total rebounds on their side, finishing the game -27 on the glass. Every Kentucky forward who played grabbed at least four boards, and while there are some open questions about the Wildcats’ outside shooting, that doesn’t really matter when they absolutely dominate on the glass. Opening night was a perfect example of this: Kentucky was just 3-of-14 from three-point land but still won the game by 40 points because Grand Canyon couldn’t take advantage of those misses.

Dakari Johnson led Kentucky's rebounding feast against Grand Canyon with 13 boards (

Dakari Johnson led Kentucky’s rebounding feast against Grand Canyon with 13 boards (

The Aggies Offense. Texas A&M burned up the nets in Reed Arena on Friday night against Northwestern State, averaging a whopping 1.30 points per possession in their 109-68 win against the Demons by shooting 57 percent from the field and 47 percent from three. Seven Aggies scored in double figures, led by Antwan Space and Jalen Jones with 16 apiece. Tavario Miller was the biggest opening night surprise for Billy Kennedy, as the sophomore who averaged just 1.8 points per game last season went a perfect 6-of-6 from the field and scored 15 points. Texas A&M’s offense is a hot topic because it brings back a good defensive team from a year ago. Northwestern State wasn’t an ideal litmus test (#206 in KenPom’s rankings), but the offensive clinic the Aggies put on against them was still a very good way to start the season.

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SEC Transition Basketball: South Carolina Gamecocks

Posted by Brian Joyce on August 20th, 2012

It’s hot out there, and to many of us, college basketball is the last thing on our minds. But here at the SEC Microsite, we’re going to be rolling out mid-summer resets of each of the (now) 14 basketball programs in our league. We’re calling it Transition Basketball, and you can expect we’ll cover three or four teams a week until we’re done. By that time, we’ll actually start to be turning the slight corner into the fall, and from there it’s a smooth slope down to Midnight Madness in mid-October. Today’s update: South Carolina.

State of the Program

Last season couldn’t have been much worse for South Carolina. USC suffered early season losses to Elon, Tennessee State, Southern California, and Providence, and got a dose of high level basketball with a 25-point loss to North Carolina and a 34-point defeat to Kentucky. Things didn’t get any easier for the Gamecocks as they struggled to stay competitive all season. Coach Darrin Horn’s squad won just two games in conference play, and were eliminated in the first round of the SEC Tournament. However, there were a couple of bright spots as the season went on. Leading scorer Malik Cooke developed into a consistent threat, averaging 12.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Forwards Damontre Harris and Anthony Gill progressed throughout the year, finishing up the season with offensive rebounding percentages of 10.8% and 9.0%, respectively. But after the season, a shakeup was inevitable. Horn was fired. Cooke graduated. Harris and Gill transferred. South Carolina basketball reached a low point, and digging it out of its deep hole seemed impossible. Enter Frank Martin.

Frank Martin changes everything for the Gamecocks

Hope and excitement throughout Columbia was restored. Martin won at least 21 games in each of his five seasons as the head coach at Kansas State. He took four of those teams to the NCAA Tournament, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2010. How athletic director Eric Hyman lured Martin to South Carolina we will never know, but Martin is there to begin an epic rebuilding job. He inherits a team that hasn’t been to the Big Dance since 2004, and there’s not much talent to work with this season. It’s hard to imagine Martin not making progress over the next couple of years, but it’s also difficult to envision that happening this season.

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