March 11, 2015 • Volume 37 • Issue 3 • $1.50
Dawn Staley: ‘Gamecock Nation is remarkable’
Back-to-back SEC champs lead nation in attendance
2 • Spurs & Feathers
March 11, 2015
Wide receiver an area to keep an eye on as spring practice starts by kyle heck Reporter
Between graduation, players opting to leave early for the NFL and players leaving for other schools, the Gamecocks lost four of their top As the 2015 season quickly approaches with five receivers from a year ago. The leading the beginning of spring practice, the South returning wideout behind Cooper is senior tight Carolina football team will look a lot different end Jerell Adams, who caught 21 balls for 279 than it did last season. The Gamecocks will be yards and one touchdown in 2014. Overall, the counting on a lot of first-time players to help Gamecocks return six of the 15 players who the team rebound from a 7-6 season after three caught a pass last season. straight 11-win seasons. Despite so much production being gone for The wide receiver position is one particular the Gamecocks at the wide receiver position, area where South Carolina will be counting there will be plenty of talent to fill it this year, on a lot of newcomers to help out. There is either from returning players, redshirt freshone player out of the group, however, that the men who have had a year to learn the system Gamecocks know is going to bring them qual- or from true freshmen looking to burst onto the ity performances week in and week out. scene. Junior Pharoh Cooper returns from a sophoA returning player that is looking to make a more season that saw him lead South Carolina bigger impact this year is Shamier Jeffery, the in both receptions (69) and receiving yards younger brother of former Gamecock great (1136). In fact, he had more than twice the Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery has shown flashes amount of receiving yards than the secondthroughout his career and entering his senior leading receiver on the team last year. That per- season, he has one more chance to make a formance led to a first-team All-SEC selection statement. At the tight end position, Adams will and he is almost a sure bet to be a preseason look to take some pressure off of the wide reAll-American this fall. ceiver group. The Pinewood, S.C. natives’ big, As for who will follow Cooper, much remains fast and physical frame make him a prospect to be seen. One thing that’s certain is that there that NFL scouts will keep an eye on in 2015. will be plenty of opportunities for a lot of playTyshun “Deebo” Samuel, a redshirt freshman ers that have yet to make much of a contribufrom Chapman High in Inman, S.C., enters tion. the spring atop the depth chart before even
a good receiver for us in the future,” said coach Steve Spurrier last October. 5-11, 175 pound speedster Shaq Davidson is another player that redshirted last season and has a good chance to make an impact in 2015. Spurrier also said Davidson, a three-star prospect from Gaffney, S.C., has shown flashes on the scout team and he enters the spring listed on the second-team. A player that is intriguing because of his size is redshirt freshman Terry Googer, from Atlanta. At 6-4, 227 pounds, Googer is a big target that the Gamecock quarterbacks will likely fall in love with. He also played quarterback and defensive back in high school and was a fourstar prospect by Rivals. photo by allen sharpe “Terry is a big kid who gives us that big wide Coming off special year in 2014, even more receiver,” Spurrier said. “We have hopes that he is going to be a good one.” will be expected from Cooper in 2015. In the 2015 signing class, the Gamecocks playing a down for the Gamecocks. He’s a 6-0, signed three wide receivers. Dexter Neal, Jalen Christian and Jerad Washington all enter the 206-pound player who worked with the scout spring hoping to make an immediate impact on team last year and impressed the coaches. In the team. Washington is a three-star prospect high school, Samuel collected nearly 3,000 while both Neal and Christian are four-stars. receiving yards and a school-record 53 total Neal is also a big-time baseball prospect and touchdowns while also adding 12 interceptions will likely be drafted in the upper rounds of on defense. He was a three-star prospect by June’s MLB draft. If he elects to stay with the Rivals coming into college. Gamecocks, he plans on playing both baseball “He has shown good skills, catches the ball and football for South Carolina. well and we really think he has a chance to be
Spurs & Feathers • 3
March 11, 2015
Spurs & Feathers
What’s Inside? - Table of Contents
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Contact Us: 301 Greystone Blvd. Columbia, SC 29210 (803) 335-1399 To subscribe: Please call 800-559-2311; annual subscription price is $50 Ellen Priest Publisher Aiken Communications, Inc. Tim O’Briant General Manager firstname.lastname@example.org (803) 335-1400 Ext. 500 Brian Hand Executive Editor email@example.com (803) 335-1399 Ext. 506 Ed Girardeau Contributing Editor/ Advertising Account Executive firstname.lastname@example.org (803) 646-9807 Dee Taylor Advertising Director (803) 644-2371 Kathy Boyette Advertising Sales Manager (803) 295-3654 email@example.com Brooks Rogers Advertising Representative (803) 446-4022 firstname.lastname@example.org Reporters Kyle Heck and Collyn Taylor
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Positions to pay attention to as spring practice begins.................... 4 Gamecock Club honors longstanding members................................. 7 Inside Look with Glenn Snyder.................................................................10 Effects of Alzheimer’s taught my family so much..............................12 Johnson: “Martin has program going in right direction”.................13 Gamecock Club reinstates dues increase.............................................15 Recruiting Roundup.....................................................................................16 Seniors believed and are now back-to-back SEC champs..............18 Gamecock equestrian partners with Curing Kids Cancer...............21 Langston Moore column............................................................................22 As Gamecocks, we’ve all had the talk.....................................................23 Bill Gunter column........................................................................................26 Gamecock sand volleyball excited to start second year.................27 Inside the Chart..............................................................................................28 Reedy River Rivalry Tailgates add more fun to rivalry......................29 Upcoming Gamecock Club events.........................................................30 Unique views with Ed Girardeau.............................................................31
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4 • Spurs & Feathers
March 11, 2015
Positions to pay attention to as spring practice gets underway by Collyn taylor Reporter
With spring around the corner, the time to start dusting off the shoulder pads and donning helmets is swiftly approaching. Yes, spring practice is starting soon for the Gamecocks and while some position battles are locked up, others are still very much in the air. The Gamecocks had one of the top offenses in the league last year, led by sophomore standout Pharoh Cooper at wide receiver. That kind of dominating play means that the top receiver spot is locked up heading into the fall, but the spots around him are up for grabs. And, with a horde of defensive backs and linebackers returning, those positions won’t have too much competition for starting roles come March and August. Offensive lineman will be a position like the others that won’t be too much of a contest. Even with A.J. Cann leaving, they will fill his spot with another one of their linemen in what seems like a revolving door of top-notch big men. Most other positions will be up for grabs, photo by allen sharpe though. Here, we will walk you through each position that will make an impact come A fifth-year senior, Brandon Wilds could have a breakout season in 2015, but expect David Williams to play a major role as well. the 2015 season. The Gamecocks lost a future NFL Draft Carson also has a chance to prove that he’s These three positions, along with the wide Quarterback pick last season when Mike Davis decided to more than a kick returner and that he can receiving corps, are positions to keep an eye While the top receiver spot is locked down, declare early for the draft, leaving his spot play more of a serviceable role in the Game- out for. They are positions that were once who will be throwing Cooper and the other open for the taking. cocks’ offense. Carson may also get some held by NFL-caliber prospects in Connor receivers the ball is still a question. With Brandon Wilds is penciled in as the starter, work at wide receiver this spring. Shaw, Mike Davis and Jadeveon Clowney Dylan Thompson departing, redshirt sopho- but some believe David Williams is likely and they are now positions to be filled by more Connor Mitch is the likely candidate to step into the role of lead back in the 2015 Defensive Line young, up-and-coming players that can to replace him under center next season, but season. With Shon Carson also returning After a statistically tough 2014 season de- make an impact. it’s not a guarantee. and a host of newcomers in the fold it will be fensively for the Gamecocks, it’s no secret With all three positions, they are ripe with Fellow redshirt sophomore Perry Orth got a fun competition to watch. they will be revamping their defensive line young talent that will be forced to have an equal playing time last season and will be Joining the aforementioned trio in the heading into 2015. They finished 11th in the impact in the 2015 season. But, some of that heavy competition for Mitch. They will also backfield are incoming recruits Mon Denson SEC in total defense and ranked 118th in the young talent will be reserved for later years. have redshirt freshman Michael Scarnecchia and A.J. Turner. nation (last in the SEC) in sacks with 14. Spurrier said that not all of the new reand top-notch recruit Lorenzo Nunez makAs an upperclassmen with tons of experiBut, the defensive line added some talent cruits coming in will be able to play this seaing a play for the top spot. ence, Wilds came back to South Carolina to help get to the quarterback more. son, although they will be able to compete Every quarterback except Nunez will be this year to continue to show the type of The Dixon brothers are back this year to for early playing time. This is what makes participating in spring ball, which will give back he really is and he could have a break- help anchor the defensive tackle spot in Jon the start of spring practice and eventually the coaches a clearer picture of who will be out season in 2015. Blesssed with blazing Hoke and Lorenzo Ward’s scheme. Highly August preparations vital; it gives younger the starter come opening night. speed, Williams is expected to play a huge touted junior college transfer Marquavius players the opportunity to earn a 2015 roster “We got three quarterbacks here,” head role in the Gamecock offense this year. Lewis a likely candidate to see some early spot and veterans opportunities to expand coach Steve Spurrier said. “Lorenzo Nunez While Denson and Turner won’t be in playing time. their roles. “We let them compete with the players that will come over and watch a bunch of pracfor spring ball, they will have roles to fill. Lewis enrolled in the January semester are here when they come in,” Spurrier said. tices on the weekends, but the three guys Denson is similar to a bowling-ball style of and will be practicing with the team come “If they’re a freshman and it doesn’t look that are here now will battle it out and we’ll running back that could come in and bowl March 17. like they’ll play a lot, then we’ll go ahead see which one’s the best and in preseason defenders over. Turner can turn on the jets Along with the line, Sherrod Pittman is a and redshirt them. We encourage every we’ll keep battling it out ‘til the first game.” and leave defenders coughing on his dust. linebacker coming for spring practice that But, for those that are competing in spring can earn a starting job or significant playing player coming in to compete for playing time, then we’ll make that decision.” Running back practice, it could be a proving ground. time.
Spurs & Feathers • 5
March 11, 2015
Comer honored for lifelong commitment to the Gamecocks by kyle heck Reporter
cock Club. Some of my fondest memories, besides of my family, are all in Columbia, at games, at school and all It didn’t take long for Chip Comer of the experiences I had there.” to get involved with the Gamecock A 1983 graduate of the University’s Club after he graduated from the business school, Comer has been a University of South Carolina. Shortly Gamecock fan for as long as he can after graduation, Comer, a Rock Hill, remember. Comer’s youngest son is S.C. native, began serving on the currently pursuing his degree in the York County Gamecock Club board. business school as well. Then, in 1999, Comer stepped into In December, Comer received anthe role as York County Gamecock other once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Club chapter president and has held Director of the Gamecock Club Patthat position ever since. Just a couple rick McFarland asked if he would like of years later, then Director of the to come down to Columbia and be Gamecock Club Jeff Barber asked honored as the legendary fan of the Comer if he wanted to take over the game at a women’s basketball game. position of Chair of the Gamecock Naturally, Comer was thrilled by the Club Board of Directors. opportunity and he and his wife Judy Because he had only been a chapter came to Colonial Life Arena. president for a short amount of time, Comer was able to meet head coach Comer was surprised by the offer, but Dawn Staley, all of her assistant jumped right at it. It was something coaches and all of the players. He he couldn’t pass up. was able to sit right by the Gamecock “If you trust in me, then sure, I bench during the game and was imwould love to do it,” Comer told Bar- pressed with the way Staley coaches ber. “Just because I love Carolina and during the game. Comer was also love the Gamecocks and the Gameable to go in the locker room after the
Photo by Allen Sharpe
game and hear the postgame message. It was a well-deserved honor for a man that has helped the University ever since he stepped on to campus. “It was a really nice time,” Comer said. “They took us in like part of the family. It was something else.” Comer and the York County
Gamecock Club are just coming off of one of their biggest events of the year, the recruiting dinner that took place on Feb. 19, 2015. Tony Morrell, who works for The Big Spur and is a hometown friend of Comer’s, was once again the guest speaker and talked about this year’s recruiting
class. Comer said Morrell did a good job of answering questions and quelling the anxiety people had from several players who decommitted from South Carolina. “He gave a lot of insight as to why some of the players left,” Comer said. “It made a lot of sense. Some of the people were a little disappointed, but they left that meeting not so much.” Now the chapter is getting ready for the football spring game in April, where they will have a cookout event outside the stadium that all Gamecock fans are invited to. Comer is particularly ready for the seasonopening game against North Carolina at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium. Because it is so close to the Queen City, the York County Gamecock Club is planning a big event in coordination with the Charlotte Gamecock Club for the opener of the 2015 season. “We’re going to do it up right and have a good place for Gamecock fans to come to,” Comer said.
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6 • Spurs & Feathers
March 11, 2015
Burkholder: ‘One of the joys in my life is supporting the University, Gamecocks’ by kyle heck Reporter The path to South Carolina for Lynwood Burkholder was quite different from a lot of other people. Growing up on a farm in Virginia with a large family, Burkholder didn’t expect to have a chance to go to college. However, thanks to his skill on the basketball court, he received that opportunity. Chuck Noe, then the basketball coach at South Carolina and a University of Virginia alum, recruited Burkholder to come play for the Gamecocks. He jumped at the opportunity to get a quality education and play in the ACC. “Receiving a scholarship and an opportunity to go to college was a blessing from God to me,” Burkholder said. “I didn’t expect to have the opportunity, but it opened up and I was really blessed by that.” In the spring of Burkholder’s freshman year, coach Frank McGuire arrived in Columbia to start what would be a storied career at South Carolina. Burkholder lettered in basketball from 1964-1967 and was able to participate in the fierce duels with fellow ACC rivals like Duke and North Carolina. After graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering, Burkholder stuck around Columbia and took a job just a couple of days after graduating. Nearly 50 years later, Burkholder still calls the Midlands his home, currently residing in Chapin, S.C. He has been a loyal member of the Gamecock Club for many years. Even more, his wife, their five children and all of their spouses are also graduates of South Carolina. Burkholder was honored for his loyalty to the University and the Gamecock Club by being named a legendary fan before the men’s basketball team took on Texas A&M on Saturday, Feb. 21. “It was a very pleasant surprise,” Burkholder said. “I was deeply honored. One of the joys in my life is supporting the University and the Gamecocks.” Burkholder, his wife, their five children and their spouses combine to boast an amazing 17 degrees from the University of South Carolina. What makes it even more impressive is the fact that Burkholder wasn’t even sure he would be able to go
PHOTO BY ALLEN SHARPE
to college as a teenager. In the 1967 NBA Draft, Burkholder was drafted in the 13th round, 134th overall, by the Baltimore Bullets. It was the same draft that produced legendary coaches Pat Riley and Phil Jackson and Hall of Famer Walt Frazier. Despite the rare opportunity to play professional basketball, Burkholder would’ve had to give up his pursuit of a degree and start playing professionally immediately. Having made a pledge to graduate with a degree, Burkholder elected to finish school rather than leave for the NBA. “I wanted to get my degree. That was the priority at the time,” Burkholder said. “I made that decision to finish my education as I had initially planned and I don’t regret that one minute. I would much rather live and work in Columbia than be wherever I would be had I gone into professional basketball.” Burkholder loves everything about the city and University and has enjoyed giving to South Carolina and seeing the rise of the various athletic programs. “We just love South Carolina, the people, the University, particularly the athletic staff,” Burkholder said. “We just really became involved through college and one of my priorities when I graduated was to find a job in Columbia so I could continue to be associated with the University more closely.”
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March 11, 2015
Gamecock Club honors longstanding members The Gamecock Club started 75 years ago this year and they have come a long way since being established as the BAM Club in 1940. Records show that by 1958 the then renamed Gamecock Club was bringing in $50,000 a year in contributions. Now the Gamecock Club brings in millions of dollars each year and sets membership records each and every year. Established to provide financial support to University of South Carolina student-athletes, presently the Gamecock Club supports over 500 Gamecock student-athletes. There are 62 Gamecock Club chapters around the country. As with all change, there also has to be constants and for the Gamecock Club there are some members that have given their time and resources to be a part of the club for over 50 years. To thank them for their contributions and everything that they do for the University of South Carolina, a special recognition was held in their honor in the Frank McGuire Club at the Colonial Life Arena before No. 2 South Carolina’s SEC regular-season championship-clinching victory over No. 11 Mississippi State on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. The special program featured a dinner and the chance to hear from South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner and Gamecock Club executive director Patrick McFarland. The group was also recognized during halftime of the South Carolina-Mississippi State game. What these grouping of individuals mean to South Carolina athletics – particularly in the 75th year of the Gamecock Club – is not lost on McFarland. “It’s great having these individuals that have been a member of the Gamecock Club for 50-plus years here,” McFarland said. “Think about that? They were members right after the BAM Club changed to the Gamecock Club. They’ve seen history that’s for sure. It’s pretty amazing to do anything for 50 years or more. We have more than 350 members who have been in the Gamecock Club that long. Think about how much the Gamecock Club has changed since then, so it’s great to have them here and be able to thank them.” When talking to those in attendance, Tanner
These longtime Gamecock Club members they’re the backbone of supporting student-athletes and they have been for so many years. Ray Tanner
pointed out that when South Carolina moved into the SEC nobody besides Gamecock stakeholders really ever expected the Gamecocks to compete in the conference in any sport. That has changed completely as over the last eight to 10 years each of South Carolina’s 21 sports has the opportunity not to just compete in league play, but also nationally. Tanner is quick to point out that could not have happened without the long and continued support of those who have been in the Gamecock Club for 50 or more years. “These longtime Gamecock Club members they’re the backbone of supporting studentathletes and they have been for so many years,” Tanner said. “To go back to fiscal year 2014, they’ve contributed in that year about three quarters of a million dollars from that group. The support for the student-athletes, the passion and the enthusiasm by this group is second-tonone and this is where it all started.” To learn more about the Gamecock Club, please visit www.scgamecockclub.com.
by brian hand Executive Editor
8 • Spurs & Feathers
March 11, 2015
South Carolina athletics holds inaugural Gamecocks 6K Run photo by Sean Rayford
by brad muller South Carolina Director of Content
the celebrity starter for the event. South Carolina Athletics partnered with Jam Active from Louisville, Kentucky, to assist Nearly 1,400 runners signed up to brave with organizing the race. unseasonably chilly temperatures for the With plenty of positive feedback, Nichols inaugural Gamecocks 6K Run on Saturlooks forward to having the event again in day, Feb. 28, in Columbia. Ranging in ages the future. from 75 down to toddlers in jog strollers, “We may try a different time of year runners and walkers raced through the where there is more of a guarantee for backdrop of the great University of South warmer weather, but we’ll definitely do it Carolina facilities, starting from Gameagain,” Nichols said. “We received a lot cock Park next to Williams-Brice Stadium, of comments on Twitter, and they were all through the “Roost,” taking participants positive. Everyone seemed ecstatic about past Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckit. Anytime we can bring people to campus ham Field, Carolina Tennis Stadium, and and show off our awesome facilities, it’s a Stone Stadium as well as other University positive.” landmarks such as the Cooper Library, the “I believe the race can become an annual historic Horseshoe and the Darla Moore staple for Gamecock fans to take part in School of Business before finishing at mid- a unique health and wellness event while court in the Colonial Life Arena. getting an up close look at campus and a “We had a goal of signing up around number of impressive athletic venues,” 1,000 runners for this first year, and we added Jam Active Executive Director Matt ended up with a lot more than that,” said Roberts. “Like any first-time event, we Eric Nichols, South Carolina Associate know we can continue to upgrade the parAthletics Director for Marketing. “We ticipant experience, and we look forward were really pleased, especially with the to rolling-out some new features for the cold weather the day of the race.” race’s 2016 version.” The purpose of the race was to promote Cocky and the Cheerleaders were on healthy lifestyles and to also promote hand to encourage participants. Nineteen the South Carolina basketball programs. year old Greg Lowing crossed the finish Pre-registered runners received tickets to line first in the men’s race in a time of 20 recent South Carolina men and women’s minutes, while 19 year old Monica York basketball games, and Gamecock women’s won the women’s division in a time of basketball coach Dawn Staley served as 23:04.
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March 11, 2015
photo by allen sharpe
A freshman All-SEC selection last year, cornerback Al Harris Jr. is a big part of a Gamecock secondary that returns experience, but also adds a strong infusion of talent.
Gamecocks return experience, but also add talent in the secondary
by kyle heck Reporter
In 2014, the members of the South Carolina defensive secondary experienced a “trial by fire” so to speak. After Victor Hampton elected to leave early for the NFL and Ahmad Christian decided to transfer the year before, several young players found themselves in starting roles in 2014 sooner than they or the coaching staff thought they would be. At the cornerback spot, true freshmen Chris Lammons and Al Harris Jr. were a couple of the players forced to learn quickly. As is the case when freshman play major roles so early in their careers, the Gamecocks experienced growing pains. However, as the season went along, the two became more comfortable with their roles and started to improve. In addition, senior Brison Williams moved over to corner from his safety spot at times during the season to help ease the load on the younger players. Lammons and Harris Jr. made 21 tackles apiece last year and Harris Jr. added three pass breakups. More importantly, both players showed obvious signs of improvement as the year went along. Lammons played in 10 games, starting the final seven contests of the season. He recorded a season-high six tackles and a half tackle for loss in the loss at Auburn and added four more tackles later against South Alabama. Coach Steve Spurrier was pleased with the way that Lammons improved as the season went on and the Florida native enters the spring as a leader to start again at one of the cornerback spots.
As for Harris Jr., he was thrust into the starting the other returnees will step into bigger roles lineup in the season-opener against Texas A&M. with the defense. Harris Jr. responded by making five tackles and recording a pass breakup against the Aggies. He ended up playing in 12 games, making four starts, and was named to the 2014 All-SEC freshman team. Harris Jr. is also expected to once again greatly contribute this season and Spurrier has confidence that he will continue to improve. “We feel that he is going to really develop into an outstanding player,” Spurrier said last October. Now with a year of consistent playing time under their belts. Lammons and Harris Jr. are more experienced than a lot of other sophomores throughout the country and look for them to continue to gain confidence throughout the spring and summer. The Gamecocks signed five defensive backs in the 2014 signing class and they all will get an opportunity to earn themselves playing time, either at cornerback or safety. That class includes junior college standout Toure Boyd, who played in California and will likely first get an opportunity at safety. The group also includes four-star prospect Octavis Johnson, a Georgia native who brings good size at 6-0, 185 pounds. “He’s a great athlete,” said co-defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward. “Very explosive and we recruited him as a big corner. We’re real excited about the athleticism that he’s shown.” South Carolina was older at the safety spot last season, thanks to Williams and fellow senior Kadetrix Marcus, junior T.J. Gurley and redshirt sophomores Chris Moody and Chaz Elder. With Williams and Marcus gone, Gurley and
Redshirt freshman Wesley Green also figures to compete for a starting spot in 2015.
10 • Spurs & Feathers
March 11, 2015
PHOTO by ALLEN SHARPE
The spring is about hope, answering questions For years friends have made fun of my an- 8-4 records in 1987-88, those hopeful nual enthusiasm for the start of Carolina’s springs didn't translate to happiness on the spring football practice with field (the '94 team [7-5] won comments like, “Glenn, the the first bowl game) until key word here is “practice” the 2000 (8-4) and '01 (9-3) and “You know the Gamesquads that won back-tococks always win the game.” back Outback Bowls over My rebuttal that "it's my job," Ohio State under Lou Holtz. and that I "know guys who What his last three years take their vacations to watch" proved is that the success of never stopped the jabs. those two seasons did not "Yeah, but do YOU have to put the program into a "rewatch every minute?" load not rebuild" mode. Glenn Snyder When I started writing for After a 9-5 2010 and triple Inside Spurs & Feathers 31 years 11-2's, we believed Coach Look ago, the spring was about Steve Spurrier's program hope. As fans, we wanted to was in "reload" mode, but look for emerging stars, for those one or two for whatever reasons, many of the "plugplayers that could be "difference makers" and ins" this past season did not live up to exlead the Gamecocks to a winning season. pectations. (Note I didn't say championship). For the first time since his first season at After Coach Joe Morrison's back-to-back Carolina there are far more questions than
answers for Coach and his staff entering a spring, and I believe it might be the most important of his storied career. The questions abound. Who will replace quarterback Dylan Thompson? Who will block for that quarterback? Will the addition of John Hoke have an immediate impact on the defense? In my mind, as much as positions, this Gamecock squad needs to fill positions of leadership, something reports of the winter workouts seem to indicate is an issue that is being addressed. The truth is that there were at least a couple of bad apples in the barrel last season, and no one stepped up to hold them accountable. From a few players I’ve talked to, it’s the team way or the highway this winter. I have always understood Coach Spurrier’s fear of injuries in practice, but the Gamecocks need to become more physical – on both sides of the ball – it’s the only
way to survive in the SEC. In the spring, when there is time for injuries to heal, it is the time to ramp up the contact and see who is up to the challenge. In general, I think this team needs to get its confidence back, bring back some of that swagger the 11-2 squads had. If they believe in what they are coached, and focus on every drill and every snap, they will take the next step toward being the team they want to be. I understand that it’s hard to have a lot of optimism about the upcoming season, and it will be a daunting task for a very young team, but what’s important now is to know that the players are doing everything that’s being asked of them in winter workouts, that everybody is on the same page and working to get better. I think that’s all we could ask. Maybe some of the questions can be answered this spring. It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!
Spurs & Feathers • 11
March 11, 2015
Bradley had chance to experience things he never thought he would as a Gamecock by collyn taylor Reporter
come close to his mark is BJ McKie who made 215 career threes. Bradley, who broke the record before Not many players can say they are a a game against Georgia, said that it was member of the 1,000-point club at South something that should not have happened Carolina, played in the Coliseum’s last that night. game and have a record still standing to“That night I had to do a SportsCenter day. Jamel Bradley can. feature and I was tired and I was going Bradley was a guard that played for the through trying to get the video done and Gamecocks from 1998-2002, when he trying to eat,” he said. “I was exhausted, amassed 1,108 career points and was on the but somehow I was able to break that reteam that closed out the Carolina Coliseum cord that night.” with a 82-47 win over Ball Bradley’s record has stood State in the NIT. for the past 13 years and he “It was quite the experithinks that with the way the ence,” Bradley said. “We Gamecocks are getting good made almost every shot shooters in, it’s a record that we threw up. It was a great might change holders somerun. I guess it was meant time soon. to be.” “I’m surprised it’s still Bradley also holds the there,” he said. “We’ll evenAll Gamecock basketball tually get someone that can record for made threecoverage sponsored by pointers in a career with go and stroke it. That’ll be a Yesterdays 264. The only player to fun time to watch.”
Fogler: ‘There’s a great tradition, love of basketball in Columbia’
by collyn taylor Reporter
with his and Frank McGuire’s players. And now, he gets to come back every year to be a part of Legends Weekend and to supTradition is something that is associated port current head coach Frank Martin. He with the Frank McGuire era at South Carosaid he loves to come back because of all lina, but there is a coach that helped build on those relationships that he’s built along the what McGuire started: Eddie Fogler. way. Fogler coached the Gamecocks from 1993“It’s pleasing for me. I’m a big supporter of 2001 with the Gamecocks picking up the coach Martin,” he said. “With Frank, he ap1997 SEC regular-season championship and preciates history. Frank wants this every year both the 1996-97 and 1997-98 teams advanc- ... it’s very cool. There’s a great basketball ing to the NCAA Tournament. tradition and love of college basketball here Under Fogler, the Gamecocks overall went in Columbia.” to two NCAA Tournaments and two NITs. After his time as head coach, Fogler didn’t And now, 13 years after he left, he recently want to go anywhere but the capital city. He came back for Legends Weekend to revisit stayed in Columbia because his family loves the building he called home and the players it here. While he was a head coach at Wichita that played under him. State and Vanderbilt before calling Columbia “The thing that strikes me is that there is a home, he has become a Gamecock through great basketball tradition and a love for the and through. University of South Carolina here. It’s pretty And he’s passed that tradition down to his cool to be back,” Fogler said. “We are spandaughter, who is a student at South Carolina ning three or four decades of loyalty to the right now, proving once again that once a University and basketball. That’s pretty cool.” Gamecock, always a Gamecock. Fogler said he loves to come back because “We could have moved anywhere, but we of all of the relationships that he has made in decided to raise our children in Columbia,” his time as a Gamecock. While he couldn’t Fogler said. “My daughter’s a Gamecock, so pinpoint one favorite memory, he said that we love the University, love the community he remembers the relationships that he made and we decided to live here.”
Bradley said that he’s a big fan of the current basketball team under Frank Martin. He still lives in Columbia and says he tries to make it out to as many home games as possible so that Martin and the team know how much he supports them. It’s that kind of support that he gives that was given to him when he played. Bradley needed hearing aids so that he could hear what was going on around him during games. He didn’t get his first digital hearing aids until he played under Eddie Folger. He said that was a big reason why being a Gamecock was such a positive experience for him. He said that his time in the garnet and black was great because he got to experience things he never thought he would. He was featured in Sports Illustrated and had features air about him on ESPN. But, those accolades don’t mean as much to him as the people he got to meet along the way. He used those connections to continue to succeed as a resource officer at Spring Valley High School.
photo by jenny dilworth
“It was being around positive people that when I had my struggles I was able to go talk to people,” Bradley said. “It showed there were a lot of caring people that cared about Carolina basketball and me as a person. They wanted to make sure I had a positive light outside of basketball.”
12 • Spurs & Feathers
March 11, 2015
Effects of Alzheimer’s taught my family so much by brian hand Executive Editor
People make fun of me all the time for being over the top with how much I say thank you. It’s not uncommon for me to start and end an email with thank you or thanks! After each edition of Spurs & Feathers, I make it a point to email all of those that helped with the publication to thank them for their efforts because truly we could not make it happen without their hard work. I may be over the top with it, but I really want people to understand that I truly appreciate how much they help me whether it be at work or personally. You might say that I am on a personal thank you crusade as I believe sometimes someone saying thank you means as much, or more than, any monetary reward. I am asked a lot of time where this comes from and it’s always an easy answer: my family, particularly my paternal grandmother (Grandma Hand). My father has carried on her tradition as well and is the epitome of a people person. I am much more private than my father. In fact, I am extremely private about my personal life for the most part, but I am always willing to talk with anyone. I have never had trouble really talking in large groups and I am always willing to discuss anything. It’s actually an interesting dichotomy in this way in that pretty much sums up my paternal grandparents. My grandfather passed a few years back, but he was always great to talk to, albeit extremely guarded. My grandmother was beloved because she was always so loving and open to everyone. My grandmother battled Alzheimer’s for 19 years before passing away recently on Valentine’s Day. The fact that she passed away on Valentine’s Day is not lost on any of us as it makes sense since she was always so sweet. Even during her 19-year battle with the disease, my grandmother never lost sight of who she was as an individual and continued to be as sweet as ever. Her visitation and funeral on Feb. 21, 2015, showed this more than ever as our family was overwhelmed by the support whether it be from her friends at church, our family, our friends, whoever it may be. They all said basically the same thing: “she was such a sweet lady and she was willing to do anything for anyone.” My grandmother and grandfather were married for 62 years before he passed away. She wore her wedding ring for 68 years because she fully understand that nothing came above faith and family.
Even when Alzheimer’s made it where she didn’t totally know who we all were she always knew she should know us and affectionately hugged and kissed us accordingly. That’s just who she was. Grandma Hand was my second grandmother to be stricken with the terrible disease. My maternal grandmother (Grandma Crawford) had passed away almost 15 years earlier from Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s struck her a lot quicker. Still, she left an unbelievable legacy of what it meant to love. She and my grandfather were married for over 50 years. Grandma Crawford was always my rock and I always look to her in my mind of what true love is all about as well as she would do anything for our family. Her husband was an incredibly successful businessman who daily taught me what it means to be successful. Papa Crawford had the money and means to do almost anything he wanted, but what was most important to him was his family. He passed away almost two years ago, but still to this day I see so much of myself in him. All of this is noted because right now there is no cure for Alzheimer’s and that is why things like the “We Back Pat” week campaign by the Southeastern Conference are so important. According to a press release by the SEC, the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund was launched Nov. 27, 2011, by legendary Tennessee women’s basketball head coach Pat Summitt after her diagnosis of early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type at the age of 59. In a videotaped statement shown during the announcement of The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund, Pat Summitt said, “Tyler (Summitt) and I have decided to join this battle, not just for us, but also for the millions of families affected by this disease. I have always told our players, our greatest opportunities are disguised as our greatest obstacles. It is time to treat this obstacle as an opportunity and a stepping stone to a cure.” The Summitts just like our family fully understand that awareness is key in helping to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. I am currently 34. Grandma Hand had Alzheimer’s for 19 of my 34 years on the earth. Grandma Crawford lived with the disease for just a few short years and unfortunately she has been gone from this earth for just less than half of my life. I do not wish Alzheimer’s on any family. Just like with cancer, ALS – really, any disease of this nature you can think of – there needs to be efforts to raise money towards eradicating these despicable diseases. I recently asked South Carolina men’s
photo of Grandma Hand by cynthia neely
basketball head coach Frank Martin why he put so much effort into helping the “Coaches vs. Cancer” cause and he looked me straight in the eye and said, “because, cancer sucks.” Truer words have never been spoken and the same can be said for Alzheimer’s. The disease sucks. Hopefully one day a cure will be found for Alzheimer’s, but until that time the word needs to be spread so that the research can be done to make this a possibility.
Grandma Hand was 88 years old when she passed away on Feb. 14, 2015. She like all four of my grandparents taught me so many things, but the most important thing they taught me was the meaning of love. Both of my grandfathers probably had less time on this earth because of the efforts they put in to serving their beloved spouses during their bout with Alzheimer’s. In addition, my mother and my father both showed me this same kind of love because they were willing to do whatever it took to make the battle with Alzheimer’s easier for their mothers. The same can be said for my aunts and uncles. It is kind of surreal not having a grandparent left on this earth, but I was so blessed to have the opportunity to be their grandson. There are lessons in everything in life. In addition to seeing true love, I personally learned how tough it is to battle Alzheimer’s, while at the same time learning so much more about myself, my grandparents and even my parents. Take the time to learn about this disease yourself by visiting www.alz.org and www. patsummitt.org.
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Spurs & Feathers • 13
March 11, 2015
Johnson: ‘I gave everything I had’ by kyle heck Reporter
photo by allen sharpe
way I wanted it to, but I just have to thank my teammates and my coaches for giving it their all and trying to pull out the win for me. I gave it everything I had and it came up short, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to be a better person tomorrow.”
“Real, real proud of him,” head coach Frank Martin said. “If somebody gives their body to a point of exhaustion the way he did today, you have to respect that. It’s disappointing that we didn’t get him a win, but he finished his home career like a champ.”
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It is a common thing in sports to hear players say that they gave it their all during the course of a game. However, on Thursday, March 5 against No. 18 Arkansas on his Senior Night, South Carolina’s Tyrone Johnson exerted so much energy and effort that with a couple of minutes left in the game, his body could take no more. With 2:29 left in the game and the Gamecocks clinging to a 73-70 lead, Johnson fell to the court with cramps in his legs. He tried to get up but could not, spending several minutes on the floor in pain and agony. Teammates Laimonas Chatkevicius and Michael Carrera carried Johnson off of the court where he spent the last couple minutes of the game trying his best to come back in. He wasn’t able to do it and the Razorbacks took back the lead after an extended scoring slump by the Gamecocks. Arkansas would hang State. He made two early three-pointers that on for a 78-74 win after South Carolina turned a kept South Carolina within striking distance. 20-point deficit into an 11-point lead. Then, at the Gamecocks’ lowest point when they What hurt the most for Johnson was the fact were down 20 points, Johnson drove into the that it was his Senior Night and he couldn’t lane, making a tough layup as he was fouled. help his teammates try and close out the game. That kickstarted the comeback and shortly It was, of course, not the way that the senior thereafter, Johnson nailed a pull-up jumper to wanted to end his home career, but it was a cou- cut the Arkansas lead to 14. He also had the rageous effort nonetheless. His family came all Gamecocks’ last points of the first half after the way down from New Jersey to see him play hustling for a loose ball on the offensive end and his final home game as a Gamecock. getting a layup to make it an 11-point deficit. “It’s starting to sink in a lot that this is my last Johnson led South Carolina with 12 points and game as a Gamecock here,” Johnson said after four assists at the half. the game. “Playing my last game in front of the “I thought he was having a great game for great fans we have, playing in front of my great them,” said Arkansas head coach Mike Anteammates and coaching staff we have. But my derson of Johnson. “That’s what seniors do on family being here was most important to me. Senior Night.” That means a lot to me. My emotions were high, The New Jersey native kept up the pressure but I just tried to keep them in. I just gave it my in the second half, making two free throws to all and that is all I can ask for.” get the Gamecocks to within one point before Without Johnson’s play, the Gamecocks would Carrera’s putback gave them the lead. After have had no chance to beat the Razorbacks. the Razorbacks Bobby Portis responded with a With him, they came close to pulling off the three-point play to give his team the lead back, upset. Johnson again got to the charity stripe, where he Down 20 points with around six minutes to buried two more free throws to tie the game up. go in the first half, the Gamecocks locked down Two more free throws later on from the senior on defense and the shots started falling. By gave South Carolina a 67-58 lead with 8:41 left halftime, the deficit was just 11 points. Then, a in the game. little under six minutes into the second half, a But that was all Johnson’s body could handle. put back by junior Michael CarThe cramps sent him to the rera gave South Carolina its first sideline, where he was forced lead at 54-53. Just seven more to watch his team come up just minutes later, the Gamecocks short in its attempt for an upset. had turned the tables and were In his final home game, leading by 11 themselves. Johnson finished with a teamIt could not have been done high 18 points (5-of-11 fieldwithout the play of Johnson, goal shooting, 6-of-9 from free who continued his aggressivethrow line) six assists, three All Gamecock basketball rebounds and three steals. ness from his career-high 28 coverage sponsored by point performance in the previ“I gave everything I had,” Yesterdays ous game against Mississippi Johnson said. “It didn’t end the
14 • Spurs & Feathers
March 11, 2015
Record-setting Gamecock freshman has Olympic expectations by jackson Filyo South Carolina Athletics Media Relations Student Assistant
to competitive swimming. “When I was young, people told me I was talented and pushed me to love the sport,” Akram said. NOTE: In his SEC Championship debut, He first began competitive swimming at Arkram Mahmoud set a school-record of age 11 and found success immediately. With4:15.11 in the 500 freestyle, finishing fourth in a year, Akram medaled for the first time, overall. Mahmoud also swam on South taking gold in the 50 and 100 butterfly. Carolina’s fifth-place 800 freestyle relay The one consistency for Akram, at this team that recorded a NCAA automatic stage, was his success. From age 11 to 17, qualifying time, which ranks second in he underwent a coaching change every two school history. years. He noted that the coaching changes For Akram Mahmoud, swimming came were not naturally and, at a young age, he and his difficult for family knew of his potential in the pool. him and that Fast forward several years and, like many he enjoyed his age, the Cairo, Egypt native was choosworking All Gamecock ing between colleges, weighing the pros with all of swimming & diving coverage and cons of each, hoping to springboard his them. He sponsored by development athletically, educationally, cul- kept a positurally and more importantly, find a place to tive attitude, Aquarian pools of Columbia call home. Unlike most prospective college and kept students, however, Akram was a highly cov- winning. eted recruit deciding between universities an Around age 17, colleges began to take note entire ocean away from home. of Akram’s results. Those who knew of his “I sent my associate head coach, Jason ability did everything they could to get overMemont, over to watch him,” South Carolina seas to watch him swim. head coach McGee Moody said. “Within 48 “It’s not easy to get over to Egypt,” Moody hours I got an email saying, `We’ve got to get noted. “Within our recruiting budget, we this kid here. We’ve got to get him here.’” have to manage how we go to see those guys Akram knew of his own potential and swim. We did, to be honest, get a chance knew that to achieve his lofty goals, the long to see him more than most international transitional process was one that had to be student-athletes because he was so good. Beembraced. An accomplished swimmer for cause he was so fast, we wanted to make sure his age, having competed at the national level we had a chance to see him race whenever prior to turning 18, Akram was a standout, we could.” especially in distance races. The recruitment of all international student“[He has] the ability to just keep going and athletes comes with a distinct set of chalgoing and going,” Moody said. “He can hit lenges. Whether it be language barrier, time a pace and hold it. He swims in a way that, difference or simply the discrepancies in the longer the race, the faster he gets, which culture, coaches must be prepared to make is very unusual. When other swimmers start unique accommodations to pitch their unito break and get tired, he shifts into his final versity to a prospective student-athlete. gear and can just leave people behind.” Universities’ pursuit of Akram presented a Akram knew he wanted to come to Amer- far greater set of challenges. As Akram was ica and was pursued heavily by a number of making his decision between schools, his schools across the country. Having garnered home country of Egypt was in the middle attention from Auburn, Michigan and Misof severe political conflict. Civilian protest souri, Mahmoud made the decision to enroll against the Egyptian government was met at South Carolina. with military force, converting generally “I see it as one of the best universities in communal locations into areas of great danthe States,” Akram said of the university. “It ger, restricting a number of standard operahas the best coaches, best swimmers and I tions, including travel. see myself, after four years, being successful “One of our biggest concerns over there coming from here.” was the unrest that was going on in Egypt *** through the recruiting process,” Moody Like most children, Akram began swimsaid. “He was in a pretty dangerous area for ming for fun. Initially, his parents encourawhile. The concern with those guys is if aged him to swim, and as he did, he discovthey come over here or if they fly back home, ered his own sense of enjoyment. During the they may close those borders rather quickly. summer, Akram and his family would go on Every time they go home, you have to be vacation or to the pool and he loved nothing concerned about when they would be able to more than spending his time in the water. As come back.” years passed, those around him took notice Through the turmoil in his home country, of his swimming ability and opened his eyes Akram remained focused on his goals. He
put his home in the past and made the decision to attend South Carolina. Akram first set foot in America on Dec. 26, 2014 at the age of 18. “I’m a hard worker and I want to achieve my goals,” Akram said. “I have passion and I will never let myself down.” Such an attitude will serve Akram well in competition, but the biggest challenges he would face still remained, most of which would be crossed outside the pool. Socially and culturally, life in the United States was something unlike Akram had ever experienced. The language barrier was enormous, the academic structures in Egypt and the United States had little to no similarities and the pressure was as high as he had ever faced. Furthermore, Akram made his transition in January and was not granted the liberty of a gradual assimilation with his fellow freshmen. “I think the biggest thing for him is figuring out the routine,” Moody said. “Knowing where to go, when to be there. He came in mid-year so it’s not like he had the first few weeks to learn with all the other freshmen. Him coming in mid-year is entirely different from everyone else.” Akram has adjusted well, making friends and working hard in his classes. Since joining the Gamecocks, he has befriended Marwan El Kamash, a junior swimmer hailing from Alexandria, Egypt. Marwan blazed a trail for Akram and was one of the primary factors in his decision to attend the University. From the moment Akram touched down in Columbia, Marwan has served as a mentor and friend to the newcomer. Whether through academics or social assimilation, Marwan has “made everything easier,” as Akram put it. Through all the challenges presented with his transition, Akram has, to no surprise, found respite in swimming. In his first meet with the Gamecocks, Akram finished second in the 500 freestyle, posting a time of 4:29.81, and third in the 200 butterfly, finishing in 1:50.94. With his first meet behind him, Akram’s recent performances have shown perhaps, a glimpse into the future, a flash of brilliance depicting just how great he has the potential to be. Against Duke and Harvard, Akram finished first in the 1000 freestyle (9:13.50), second in the 500 freestyle (4:30.69) and fourth in the 200 butterfly (1:51.93). A week later against Missouri, he improved upon those times, finishing the 500 freestyle in 4:27.46, good for second place, and the 1000 freestyle in 9:11.74, good for first place. Just one week later, Akram showed off his acclaimed distance skills by setting the school record for the mile, finishing in 14:58.72. Despite finding himself at the center of a rotating cycle of coaches throughout his
childhood, Akram recognizes the importance of his mentors and is quick to deflect praise and acknowledgment their way. “[Coach Moody] has helped me so much,” Akram said. “He made this process so easy, he and Coach Kevin [Swander]. They helped me so much in my transition.” Moody, however, reciprocates the praise. “He is one of the quietest, most fierce competitors I have ever seen,” Moody said. “He doesn’t talk much, he’s a very quiet kid, but he’s brutally competitive and hates to lose. That’s a pretty good combination to have.” Akram is aware of the opportunity in front of him and, despite his generally quiet demeanor, displays little reserve when setting goals for himself. He hopes to leave a legacy at South Carolina unlike any before him. “I want to have more than school records,” Akram said. “I hope to be in the finals of the Olympic games in 2016. I have to get a medal before I graduate from South Carolina.” One would be hard-pressed to find a doubter on the team or the coaching staff. Moody, who is in his eighth season as coach of the Gamecocks, recognizes the significance of the goals Akram has set for himself. In their many post-practice conversations, Akram shared a countless amount of goals and expectations with his coach, ranging from school records to those of the Olympic podium. None, however, are too lofty to achieve, in Moody’s eyes. “I’ve watched this young man swim and I absolutely believe he can do it,” Moody said. Akram’s greatest impact cannot be quantified by medals or trophies, record books or a stopwatch, but rather, within the core of the program. Akram’s presence alone raises the standard for the rest of the team, swimmers and coaches alike. “If you have a student-athlete with goals that high and they are that driven, as a coach, you have to make sure you are providing him with the environment that is going to help him reach his potential,” Moody said. “If you don’t, then you are failing him as an athlete. He’s putting it out there and saying `I’ll do whatever it takes. You tell me what’s going to win me that gold and I’m going to do it.’ Our coaching staff has to put him in that environment where the expectation is a gold medal.” Akram Mahmoud has done his part to raise the standard for South Carolina swimming. Those that know him have high expectations. His are higher. Akram’s approach to his craft, combined with his raw ability, pave the way for a golden future for him and the rest of South Carolina swimming. “As we go through the next 18 months here, everyone in Columbia will see it,” Moody said. “He said it since day one, he wants to medal. He’s probably taken it a step further. In 2020, I think he could potentially be the best distance swimmer in the world.”
Spurs & Feathers • 15
March 11, 2015
Gamecock Club reinstates donation increase for 2016 Levels to increase for just the third time since 1989 South Carolina Athletics Media Relations A five-percent increase in annual Gamecock Club donation levels, with the exception of the Roost level, originally approved in 2012, has been reinstated for the 2016 giving year, the Gamecock Club Board of Directors announced today. This will mark just the third increase in Gamecock Club annual donation levels since 1989, and the first donation increase since 2008. “The Board of Directors felt it was important to manage the donation structure of the Gamecock Club by ensuring that we continue to equip our studentathletes with the academic and athletic tools that will assist them in succeeding in the
classroom and field of play,” said Patrick McFarland, Director of the Gamecock Club. “The Gamecock Club has a great history of providing financial support for our student-athletes, whether it be tuition and fees, room and board, books or other education needs,” noted Athletics Director Ray Tanner. “We appreciate the Gamecock Club Board of Directors in approving this increase. It will be a benefit to us as we begin to address the impact of the new NCAA legislation benefitting Cost of Attendance needs for student-athletes at Carolina.” Ted Girardeau, Gamecock Club Executive Committee Chairman, added, “The Executive Committee and Board of Directors felt it was imperative that we stay in line with tuition increases and con-
Here are the current giving levels and contribution levels approved for 2016:
Current Annual Contribution
Diamond Spur $30,≠000 $31,500 Platinum Spur $15,000 $15,750 Golden Spur $10,000 $10,500 Garnet Spur $7,000 $7,350 Silver Spur $3,300 $3,500 Full Scholarship $1,500 $1,600 Half Scholarship $725 $760 Roundhouse $385 $400 Century $165 $175 Roost $55 $100 tinue providing a quality education for our student-athletes. This will be possible by implementing this minimal increase to prevent finding ourselves in a situation similar to 2007 when substantial increases had to be made across the board to be competitive
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16 • Spurs & Feathers
March 11, 2015
South Carolina Gamecocks
Recruiting Round-up By Phil Kornblut
AC Flora WR Denzel Johnson made more improvement on his last ACT and according to his coach should be qualified at the end of May as long as there’s no slippage in his regular grades. “He did improve on his ACT and is going to take the SAT this month,” Flora coach Reggie Shaw said. “His grades are looking real good. He’s going to qualify by the skin of his teeth if he maintains his current grades with that score.” Phil Kornblut Shaw said his latest Contributing information from USC, Writer dating back to Signing Day, was that the Gamecocks suggested Johnson go to Georgia Military JC first. But Johnson has since heard from Steve Spurrier Jr. and said he was told the Gamecocks would be interested in taking him if he gets fully qualified. Clemson also remains on hold for Johnson and Shaw said Georgia Southern just recently came on board with an offer. WR Kyle Davis of Decatur, GA has been a USC commitment since last July and he remains “solid” with that commitment. But, Davis also said he’s not finished with recruiting, and the USC coaches know that. “They encourage me to go and see places,” said Davis who went to Auburn for a junior day recently and visited Georgia for the Kentucky basketball game Tuesday night and visited with football coach Mark Richt. “It would be a waste of the recruiting process if I didn’t go. You only get to enjoy this one time. My recruiting is not done. I’m going to enjoy it while I can.” And that enjoyment will include official visits this fall to schools other than USC. “I will take full advantage of it,” Davis said. Davis will make another trip to USC at this point. He said Alabama is recruiting him hard and will wait for him to visit before offering. And he said Georgia also is working him hard. USC also is doing its work. Davis said he talks with recruiter GA Mangus practically every day. Last season Davis had 64 catches for 1200 yards. USC now has company at the top of the list of Conway WR Bryan Edwards. After visiting Georgia recently, Edwards has the Bulldogs sharing the lead for him with the Gamecocks. The Bulldogs offered him on that visit. “I got to sit down and talk with coach Mark Richt one-onone,” Edwards said. “I got to see what kind of guy he was. I thought that was real cool. I saw the dorms where the players stay, the overall campus, the facilities, weight room, locker room, it was just a real, real nice place. It’s very high on my list of facilities and campus life.” Edwards went to a junior day at USC and he recently visited Wake
Forest. He wants to take a visit to Florida as well. He also plans to go to USC for a spring practice and the spring game. He said he’s in regular contact with USC recruiter Steve Spurrier Jr. “I have South Carolina and Georgia at the top, neck and neck,” Edwards said. “Then it probably would be Florida, Duke and Wake Forest.” Edwards also has offers from Cal, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia Tech. OL Josh Ball (6-7 305) of Fredericksburg, VA has 18 offers at this point including one from USC. Some of the other offers include West Virginia, Virginia, NC State, Maryland, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Ball has been to junior days at Duke, NC State, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Virginia Tech, and he’s been to Penn State, Maryland and Virginia on unofficial visits. One of his future trips will be to USC. “I’m really interested in South Carolina,” Ball said. “I definitely want to get down for a visit soon, maybe for a spring practice. The SEC is one of the best. I’m really excited about South Carolina. I’m doing my research and can’t wait to meet Coach Spurrier.” Deke Adams is recruiting Ball for USC and is in regular contact. He wants to visit as many of the offering schools as he can to check them out, evaluate the coaches and look over the campus. He plans to attend Clemson’s junior day this Saturday. Ball would like to make his decision before his season and does not have a favorite. WR Diondre Overton (6-5 195) of Greensboro, NC is one of the top two sport athletes in North Carolina. As a receiver last season for Page High School, Overton had 61 catches for 1187 yards and 11 touchdowns. And this basketball season he’s averaging 14 points per game. Overton would like to play both sports in college, at least for his freshman season, before deciding on one sport full time. But only Virginia Tech has offered him for both sports at this point meaning football likely will be his ultimate choice. Overton also has an offer from USC but has yet to visit. He has been in touch with Gamecock recruiter Deke Adams. “They have a great reputation football wise,” he said. “I like how they’ve put a name out there for themselves.” Overton also has offers from Clemson, NC State, East Carolina, Old Dominion, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Duke, Louisville, West Virginia, Boston College, Tennessee and Kentucky. He has Clemson and NC State even at the top of his list right now. This summer Overton hopes to land more basketball offers through his AAU performance. He plans to make is decision during or after his football season. He is not graduating early so he can play his senior season of basketball. LB Brandon Hill of Heathwood Hall already has five ACC offers in Clemson, Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh. He can now add the SEC to his conference options af-
ter a recent offer from Georgia. And for good measure, he can consider the Ivy League as well thanks to an offer from Yale. He also has a Notre Dame offer. Hill said USC has been talking with his head coach and has told the coach an offer is close. “That would be a good offer to have,” said Hill who said he would definitely visit if he gets an offer. Hill has been making the rounds of late with stops at Clemson, Duke and Wake Forest for junior days. He was at Florida State over the weekend and he plans to visit Georgia and Yale this month. Hill plans to come up with a favorites’ list soon. USC has had a lot of success recruiting Georgia Military JC over the years and the Gamecocks are targeting OL Akeem Cooperwood (6-7 340) for the 2016 class. The Gamecocks were the first to offer Cooperwood who is a native of Knoxville and joined Bert Williams’ program last season as an unattached prospect. “He’s figuring it all out to be honest with you,” Williams said. “He’s not ready to make any decisions or anything like that. He was pretty excited, though, when Carolina pulled the trigger. He’s a good worker. He’s a long kid with good size. Fluid. Can move his foot. Got good punch. He’s going to be a darn good one. Carolina is the first one in, which always helps.” Others showing interest, according to Williams, include Georgia, Auburn and Tennessee. He said Cooperwood wants to visit USC this spring or summer but no date has been set. And he has a chance to be a mid-year enrollee. Cooperwood plays offensive tackle and will have three years to play two at the next level. USC is already set to add DE Kalan Ritchie to the 2016 class from Georgia Military. The Gamecocks signed him out of Goose Creek and placed him at the junior college. Ritchie will also get some work at tight end this spring. Williams could add to his program this fall Shrine Bowl receiver Eri’reon Hayes of Dillon. Hayes also signed with Old Dominion but will go to GMA if he does not qualify. DL Derrick Brown of Buford, GA has a top eight in order of Georgia, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, USC, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and LSU. USC has offered 2017 LB Kendric Haynes of Murphy, AL. LSU also has offered. Basketball News: USC basketball coach Frank Martin picked up a commitment Wednesday night from 6-11 center Travon Bunch, a native or Racine, WI who attends Score Academy in North Carolina. The commitment was first reported by AllMetroHoops citing Bunch’s coach for the information. Bunch began this academic year at Georgia Prep in Atlanta but when the school suspended its first basketball season, he transferred to Score Academy. Prior to Georgia Prep, he attended Mt.
Zion Academy in Durham, NC and reclassified from the 2014 class to the 2015 class. At Mt. Zion, he reportedly averaged 15 points and 7 rebounds per game and held offers from Marquette, Iowa State, Kent State, DePaul, Texas Tech, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Illinois-Chicago. While at Georgia Prep, he picked up offers from Tennessee, Florida International, Indiana State and Old Dominion He was regarded as one of the top unsigned prospects in Georgia while there. He played his AAU ball for the Atlanta Celtics. Bunch is the third commitment for the Gamecocks’ 2015 class joining 6-7 PJ Dozier and 6-9 Chris Silva. Martin last week offered PF Russell Woods (6-8 220) of John A. Logan College in Illinois. The offer was first reported by Brad Winston of JucoJunction.com. Woods is a native of Chicago where he played his senior season for the powerhouse Simeon High School program. This season at Logan the lefthander is averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds per game. Woods is shooting 62% from the floor and 61% from the foul line. Missouri also has offered and some of the other schools reportedly showing interest in Woods are Iowa, Gonzaga, South Florida, East Carolina and Bradley. 6-2 PG Jaren Sina decided last month to transfer from Seton Hall after nearly two seasons with the Pirates. It won’t take Sina long to find a new home because several major programs have already moved in on him, including USC. “I’m just figure things out, lots of schools are getting involved every day,” Sina said. “I just got released last weekend. I’m building relationships with the coaches.” One of those coaches is USC’s Frank Martin whom Sina expects meet in person Sunday or Monday. He’s looking forward to learning more about Martin and his program. “The program is headed in the right direction and he’s doing a great job there,” Sina said. “They’re getting big recruits and there’s a lot of attention drawn to the place. It’s in a great conference and is a high level of basketball.” Sina said Michigan, Boston College and several other ACC, Big 10 and SEC schools have reached out to him. He’s far from a decision and has no early favorite. “The moment I find a place I feel the most comfortable and find an opportunity to help the team win, I’ll make the decision at that time,” he said. And he’s not concerned about having to sit out next season wherever he goes. “It’s just another year to work on my game and get better.” Sina is a business and journalism major and is interested in a career in broadcasting. He was averaging 7 points and 3 assists per game this season when he left the team. “I’m a knockdown shooter and can shoot off the bounce,” Sina said. “I’m a high IQ guy, team leader and a good passer.” Sina is a native of Jefferson, NJ.
Spurs & Feathers • 17
March 11, 2015
Gamecocks headline SEC coaches’ awards again South Carolina Athletics Media Relations
For the second-straight season, SEC Champion South Carolina hauled in four of the six individual awards, adding three first-team, one second-team and one defensive team entry in the coaches’ vote for SEC awards announced by the league office today. Junior Tiffany Mitchell became the seventh woman in league history to earn back-to-back Player of the Year honors, while senior Aleighsa Welch brought home the Gamecocks’ first ever Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. Freshman A’ja Wilson made it back-to-back Freshman of the Year awards for South Carolina - just the second time in league history that has happened - and joined Mitchell and Welch on the All-SEC First Team. Dawn Staley shared Coach of the Year honors, and sophomore Alaina Coates earned spots on the All-SEC Second Team and AllDefensive Team. “Our players continue to show that committing to team success still allows you to reach individual goals,” Staley said. “In our program, we talk about how important it is to focus on the process of improving every day, not on wins. Focusing on team goals instead of individual is the same thing. I know these players had these awards in mind at the beginning of the season, but their first priority was Welch was a Capital One Academic Allto help our team to another SEC championship. District selection last season and has been It’s satisfying to see them achieve both these a team captain for the last three seasons. A things, with a few more of our team goals still sport and entertainment management major ahead of us. who ranks among the program’s all-time best “It is fitting that Aleighsa [Welch] is our pro- rebounders, she is one of just nine Gamecocks gram’s first Scholar-Athlete of the Year for her to record over 1,000 career points and 800 caleadership of our team both on the court and reer rebounds. She is two rebounds away from in the classroom. That balance is an aspect of becoming just the fourth to reach 1,000 and our program that we don’t highlight enough, 900 career points and rebounds, respectively. but her example is one of the reasons our team Welch’s leadership and sacrifice have been difis successful in that area as well. The team has ference makers for the Gamecocks the last two worked hard on their partnerships with the seasons as she played a key role in developprofessors at the University of South Carolina, ing the confidence of younger teammates by who play a key role in earning honors like ceding minutes and shots early in the season. this.” When the spotlight is brightest, Welch is as Mitchell, who was the Gamewell, averaging 9.9 points and cocks’ first ever SEC Player of 8.7 rebounds against ranked opthe Year last season, did not disponents this season. appoint in her reprisal of the role Wilson managed lofty expecthis season as she became the tations all season long, joining first to earn the award outright the Gamecocks as the No. 1 in consecutive seasons since recruit in the nation. Her talLSU’s Seimone Augusts (2005, ent and maturity allowed her 2006). Her 14.8 points per game to blend easily into the Gameare second in the league, and she All Gamecock basketball cocks’ offense and locker room. coverage sponsored by ranks third in the league in field She is the only freshman to rank Yesterdays goal percentage (.515) and free among the SEC’s top 10 in scorthrow percentage (.828). She ing and rebounding, coming in is one of two SEC players to rank among the 10th with 13.7 points per game and eighth with league’s top 15 in scoring, assists (13th, 2.8 apg) 7.0 boards per outing. Her .516 field goal perand steals (T-8th, 2.0 spg) - sharing the honor centage is good for second in the conference. with Georgia’s Shacobia Barbee, who missed Her efficiency is illustrated by her needing just eight games due to injury. 600 minutes to score her 398 points this sea-
2015 Award Winners Co-Coaches of the Year: • Dawn Staley, South Carolina • Vic Schafer, Mississippi State
Player of the Year:
• Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina
Freshman of the Year:
• Aj’a Wilson, South Carolina
6th Player of the Year: • Jennifer O’Neill, Kentucky
Defensive Player of the Year: • Jordan Jones, Texas A&M
Scholar-Athlete of the Year: • Aleighsa Welch, South Carolina
2015 All-SEC First Team
Photo by Allen Sharpe
son, including 218 points in just 329 minutes of SEC action. She has five double-doubles to her credit, including a South Carolina freshman record-setting 19-rebound performance in the season finale at No. 13/15 Kentucky, pairing with her 16 points. Wilson has led the team in scoring a team-high 13 times this season. She is the eighth SEC Freshman of the Year to make the All-SEC first team as well. Coates is the league’s third-best rebounder at 8.1 per game and is second in the conference with 11 double-doubles this season. Fourth in the league in blocked shots, she has swatted 1.5 per game and is 10th in the SEC in free throw percentage at .705. Coates’ 21 career doubledoubles are already ninth in program history, and she has led the team in rebounds a teamhigh 14 times this season, including seven SEC contests. Staley joins Pat Summitt (Tennessee in 2003 and 2004) and Joe Ciampi (Auburn in 1988 and 1989) as the only SEC coaches to repeat as league Coach of the Year, sharing this season’s honor with Mississippi State’s Vic Schafer after earning the award outright in 2014. Known as a defensive coach, Staley has this season’s team ranked among the nation’s top 20 in scoring at 76.7 points per game and seventh in field goal percentage (.477) while still among the top-10 defenses, yielding just 53.3 points per game. She has improved South Carolina’s overall and SEC win totals every year of her career, including this season’s program-record 15 SEC victories.
• Makayla Epps, Kentucky • Danielle Ballard, LSU • Tia Faleru, Ole Miss • Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina • Aleighsa Welch, South Carolina • A’ja Wilson, South Carolina • Cierra Burdick, Tennessee • Isabelle Harrison, Tennessee • Courtney Walker, Texas A&M
2015 All-SEC Second Team
• Jessica Jackson, Arkansas • Jennifer O’Neill, Kentucky • Jordan Frericks, Missouri • Martha Alwal, Mississippi State • Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State • Alaina Coates, South Carolina • Jordan Jones, Texas A&M • Courtney Williams, Texas A&M
2015 SEC All-Defensive Team • Linnae Harper, Kentucky • Danielle Ballard, LSU • Martha Alwal, Mississippi State • Alaina Coates, South Carolina • Jordan Jones, Texas A&M
2015 SEC All-Freshman Team • Haley Lorenzen, Florida • Mackenzie Engram, Georgia • Alexis Jennings, Kentucky • A’Queen Hayes, Ole Miss • Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State • Morgan Williams, Mississippi State • A’ja Wilson, South Carolina • Rebekah Dahlman, Vanderbilt
18 • Spurs & Feathers
March 11, 2015
Seniors believed and now are back-to-back SEC champions by collyn taylor Reporter
The crowd swelled with pride after the Gamecocks beat the Mississippi State Bulldogs, 69-50. The team gathered on the court to sing the alma mater and celebrate clinching at least a share of its second consecutive SEC regularseason title. Then head coach Dawn Staley grabbed the microphone. She started to talk about her senior class of Aleighsa Welch, Olivia Gaines and Elem Ibiam, who played their last regular-season game on Thursday, Feb. 26. As she talked, Welch hugged Ibiam as Staley talked about their accomplishments and how much they’ve meant to the program. Welch and Ibiam came to play for Staley when the Gamecocks were just an upstart program that hadn’t been to the NCAA tournament in almost five years. Gaines came to Columbia after transferring into the program as the reigning Junior College Player of the Year. Now, they are a national powerhouse that has made three straight NCAA tournaments and are almost a lock for a number one seed in this year’s tournament. “We recruited them just on a wing and a prayer for them to come here,” Staley said. “For them to believe in our vision when we sat in their homes and talked about what we were trying to create, there was none of that here. They believed in what we were saying because we believed in it. When you have people who believe in a vision, you’re going to be able to accomplish a lot of things. It doesn’t mean that the road was easy, but it means at the end of the day, you still believe. And they believed in the process.” The game marked the final regular-season All Gamecock home game for Welch, basketball Ibiam and Gaines as coverage they were honored besponsored by fore and after the game. Yesterdays As they were recognized, emotions were running high with each player, but once the ball was tipped, there was a game to play. “At first, I was jittery. I was nervous at first,” Gaines said. “But once the game got flowing, I picked up energy from my teammates and I felt more comfortable.”
PHOTO BY ALLEN SHARPE
Pictured left-to-right at South Carolina’s Senior Day on Thursday, Feb. 26 is Aleighsa Welch, Elem Ibiam and Olivia Gaines. And comfortable Gaines got. In only her second start of the season, she exploded for a season-high nine points and pulled in three rebounds. Along with Gaines’ performance, Welch and Ibiam combined for 10 points and seven rebounds. Staley said the seniors, who scored eight of the first 15 points for the Gamecocks, were a big momentum boost for the team. “They have led us all season long,” Staley said. “Unfortunately, Olivia Gaines has taken a backseat to some of the more experienced players, but she showed when she’s given an opportunity, she seizes the moment. She did that for us today on both sides of the ball.” Senior night was celebrated in style with 15,047 garnet-and-black clad fans coming to send the three players off. And when Staley grabbed the microphone at the end of the game,
the majority was still there to cheer them on. Sophomore guard and Thursday’s leading scorer Tiffany Mitchell said that they really wanted to come out and win this game for the seniors and the crowd helped will them to victory. “It feels good,” Mitchell said. “The crowd is a big part of what we do, so just to do it on our home court, it makes [winning] that more special.” With that crowd, Colonial Life Arena solidified the top spot in attendance for women’s basketball in the country, beating out Tennessee who held the record for the 14 of the past 15 years. For Staley, she was just trying to get 5,000 people in the stands last season and now she is coaching in front of a near packed house nightly. She credits the fans, who she says re-
ally go out of their way to support the team and come to games. That will continue into March when the Gamecocks will more than likely host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. This gives the Gamecocks two more games to sell out the Colonial Life Arena, something they’ve wanted to do all season. And for Staley, having this many people show up to her games is something she is amazed over. “It’s quite amazing what has taken place on our campus and at Colonial Life Arena,” she said. “It’s incredible what the fans make up their minds to support, especially here. Gamecock Nation is remarkable. I don’t know if this will ever be repeated - I hope it’s repeated in this fashion next year - but it’s truly been incredible to see it unfold.”
March 11, 2015
Spurs & Feathers â€˘ 19
20 • Spurs & Feathers
March 11, 2015
Gamecock cheerleader determined to return after frightening accident by brad muller South Carolina Director of Content Jessie Sherman had always dreamed about becoming a college cheerleader and interacting with the crowd at a big stadium. The 18 year old South Carolina freshman was just a few weeks shy of doing that when a horrific car accident left her severely injured, but still lucky to be alive. “It was pretty scary,” Sherman said. “I just remember the air-bag going off when I was upside down in the car. I had no idea what was going on. I started screaming for help.” On August 4, 2014, Sherman got up early to drive back to Columbia from her home in Raleigh after going home for the weekend in between the first two weeks of summer twoa-day cheerleading practice. She fell asleep at the wheel and her car flew off an overpass on I-20, eventually landing upside down in the median of Highway 601 below. A nearby motorist stopped to assist. He held her hand and kept talking to her, convincing her not to undo her seatbelt before an ambulance arrived. “My back hurt because I was hanging upside down, and I’m thinking if I just undo the seatbelt, then I can get out and I’ll be fine,” Sherman recalled. “He kept holding my hand and told me to stop. Then I realized one of my teeth was missing and it was actually up in my nose. So that sort of distracted me for a while. I kept saying, I’m a cheerleader. I have to have my teeth. I smile all of the time.” She can laugh about that now, but there were plenty of bigger concerns at the time. Rescue workers arrived, cut the doors off her car and began to assess her injuries. She was air-lifted to the Palmetto Health Richland hospital in Columbia. “I broke two different bones in my face,” Sherman recalled. “I had two black eyes. Some of my teeth were broken and several had shifted. There was a big laceration on my forehead. I had also cut all the tendons and ligaments between my L1 and L2 vertebrae.” Sherman had surgery on her face that night to repair her injuries and had back surgery a couple days later to fuse the L1 and L2 vertebrae. “That was probably the most pain I’ve ever been in,” Sherman said. “They had to open me up and put a measuring device in there to see what bones were the best to fuse together, but my doctor did an amazing job. Hopefully I’ll get back all the flexibility that I had.” Sherman soon realized how fortunate she
was to have survived. A friend of her mother was working at the hospital as a nurse and reassured her that she was in good hands. “Honestly, it didn’t really strike me until people visited me in the hospital and later when I got home,” Sherman said. “One of the first people to be at the hospital was Erika (Goodwin), my coach, along with my cousins who live in Blythewood. She was so comforting. My parents had to drive four hours to get there. When my mom got to the hospital, she kind of broke down, and that’s when I realized that it must be pretty bad. We’re not indestructible.” Among the many other visitors to come see her were teammates as well as a visit from South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner. “He and his whole family came to my hospital bed,” Sherman said. “They spent 30-45 minutes just talking to me. I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until my dad whispered to me that he was Steve Spurrier’s boss. I had a lot of people come see me. It was really nice and it was a good distraction so I wasn’t thinking about pain or anything like that.” Her teammates made her a huge card, which is still hanging in her bedroom. She was released from the hospital after only one week when doctors initially thought she would be there a lot longer. “I started walking with a walker while I was there and was able to walk up a couple of stairs, so they told me I could go home.” Sherman regrets that she hasn’t been able to track down the Good Samaritan who cared for her immediately following the accident, but his name was never included in any official reports.
“I’ve been trying to contact him,” Sherman said. “I have a very vivid picture of what he looks like. I just want to tell him thank you and that he is a gift from God.” Doctors had suggested she take the semester off so she could focus on rehabilitation, but Sherman was determined to make it all work without leaving school even though she missed a full month during her recovery. “I said no, I’m going to school,” Sherman said. “I ended up taking three classes, one online, and two on campus. I had them on Monday and Wednesday, and they were back to back and right next to each other. That made it easy to get there and stay there. I registered with student disability services in case I needed a ride to my classroom, but I was determined to walk there. I had to stop a few times at first, but I made it.” Not only did she make her classes, but she earned A’s in all three courses. Mixed in with her class schedule are many sessions of physical therapy. “I started physical therapy the second I got back,” Sherman said. “Our athletic trainer, Lauren Salas, is awesome. I’m with her almost every day. We started working on walking better. I recently was able to run. That was really exciting. I’ve been focusing on arm and stomach strengthening because they cut all of the muscles in my back during surgery. So I’m starting from scratch.” The three inch scar on her forehead is barely noticeable, but there are still internal scars to be healed. Sherman visits a therapist to help her with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to ongoing nightmares from the accident. “It was more of a mental thing than anything else,” Sherman said. “Being a college cheerleader is what I dreamed about since I
was five years old. To be so close and then to have it gone was really tough, and the PTSD was hard. Cheerleading is physical but it’s also a very mental sport, especially with tumbling. I even get scared to do handstands now. I think I’ll get back to where I was, but it’s scary to think that there is a chance I won’t.” Sherman is indeed back in uniform, making appearances with the team. She cannot perform at games or be on the sidelines in order to avoid potential collisions with studentathletes, but she still has hope of being able to fire up the crowd in the future. “It’s hard to just sit there and watch people do what you really want to be doing,” Sherman said. “I’m normally comfortable in front of huge crowds, and that’s why I like cheerleading. It brought me out of my shell. Some of my teammates focus more on the tumbling and stunting aspects, but I enjoy interacting with the crowd and cheering and dancing most.” For now, she is constantly asking her athletic trainer if she can do more. She recently began dancing. Now she is searching for a way to make some good come out of all that has happened. “I think there is a reason that God kept me alive,” Sherman said. “I’m really focused on trying to find that reason and fulfill a purpose. For now, I want to talk about wearing your seatbelt and the dangers of driving when you’re drowsy. I have a platform, being a cheerleader, so maybe I can use it for some good. Maybe I can make a difference in someone’s life.”
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Spurs & Feathers • 21
March 11, 2015
Gamecock equestrian partners with Curing Kids Cancer At the University of South Carolina, its “Team Gamecocks” program involves student-athletes who volunteer their time to the local community in a variety of ways. Each year, members of the Gamecock equestrian team volunteer their time in several different areas – litter cleanup, animal shelters, and the Ronald McDonald house, just to name a few. The idea behind South Carolina’s community outreach program is to positively impact the Midlands area. But South Carolina’s equestrian team also participates in one community service program where even the riders themselves gain something from the experience.
“I knew how special this could be” Three years ago, Grainne Owen was hosting a luncheon for her organization Curing Kids Cancer. She created it in 2004 along Working with her husband Clay with Grainne as a way to celebrate life of their son and Curing the Killian, who lost his Kids Cancer life to leukemia when he was nine years has been old. The organization’s goal is to find a fantastic cures for childhood experience cancers and to support cutting-edge research for our team. that will lead to better treatments with fewer harmful side effects. Boo Major The luncheon involved some of South Carolina’s most prominent names – Ray Tanner, then the head coach of the Gamecocks’ baseball program, Chad Holbrook, who would take over the baseball team in 2012 when Tanner was named Athletics Director, and even Jerri Spurrier, the wife of head football coach Steve Spurrier. Boo Major, head coach of South Carolina’s equestrian team and Jerri Spurrier are close friends, so when Spurrier told her about Curing Kids Cancer and the luncheon, Major offered to help the organization in any way she could. Owen suggested a visit to the team’s facility, One Wood Farm in Blythewood. “Being a horse person myself, I knew how special this could be for all of the kids,” Owen said. “We immediately came up with a bunch of ideas and ways to make it special
photo by Allen Sharpe
for the kids and their families.” Not long after, the happenstance meeting created what has become a staple of the equestrian’s team community outreach program. “Working with Grainne and Curing Kids Cancer has been a fantastic experience for our team,” Major said. “Our girls take a lot of pride in how much community service they perform each year, but I think you could say that they gain more than anyone by getting to work with such a brave group of children.” Twice a year, the equestrian team hosts a Curing Kids Cancer day in Blythewood for children and their families who are living with cancer or are in remission. The kids get the full equestrian experience – from washing and grooming the horses to riding them. “It is so rewarding for our team to offer these kids and parents an opportunity to forget about cancer, chemotherapy, hospital stays and the day to day stress these families endure,” said Major, as she flipped through a photo gallery of last year’s event at the barn. Owen, who learned to ride with legendary Irish show jumper Iris Kellet, has always known how special horses are and the impact they can have on children. Before joining forces with the Gamecocks, she had seen disabled children with horses before and the effect that it had on the kids. “Horses can sense when someone is not 100%,” she said. “Horses can run free and
jump and be very active, but to see a 900 pound animal walk up to a child in a wheelchair and let that child pet him is a moment you never forget.”
Bringing the horses to Richard When Owen talks to other people about her group’s relationship with South Carolina’s equestrian team, she always tells them the story of Richard Culliver. Richard was just seven years old when he was first diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. In April 2014, one month after winning their second straight SEC Championship, the Gamecocks hosted Richard and a group of children for its spring Curing Kids Cancer Day. “It’s awesome to see people take time out of their Saturday to see that these kids have a good time,” Stephanie McMillan, Richard’s mother said in an interview that day with television station WACH Fox 57. “Seeing Richard on top of a horse, it puts tears to my eyes just thinking about him today, because he’s doing so good.” Four months later, summer vacation had passed and the 2014-15 Gamecocks had just returned to campus. Owen called Major and delivered the heartbreaking news. Richard’s recent MRI revealed a new tumor and he did
not have long to live. “I told Boo that Richard was not well enough to come out to the barn one last time,” Owen said. “She immediately said that the team wanted to bring the horses to Richard.” Major, along with several team members, brought out two of the horses, Wrangler and Boomer for a VIP visit “Richard came out in his wheelchair and while the adults were talking, Wrangler walked over to him and Richard kissed him,” Owen recalled. “It was amazing. Nobody said a word.” Along with his kiss from Wranger, Richard got to ride the horses around his yard one last time. His family and the girls from the team posted the photos to social media that night to share their special moment. Richard passed away three days later. Like Grainne and Clay’s son Killian, he was just nine years old. “The impact that he has made on our team is something you can’t really put in to words,” Major explained. “Instead of being sad, our girls are grateful for knowing Richard, his family, and all of the wonderful children they’ve gotten to meet through knowing Grainne, Clay, and everybody from Curing Kids Cancer. Sometime in April, the team will host its next Curing Kids Cancer day, but Major said their memories of Richard and his story will help them remember that the horses they get to see everyday can have a great impact on the lives of kids like Richard. “Seeing Richard give Wrangler that kiss and being there for that moment, I think he had a much greater impact on all of us than we did on him.” To find out more about Curing Kids Cancer, visit www.curingkidscancer.org.
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22 • Spurs & Feathers
March 11, 2015
The reason for the offseason
“There is a season and there is a reason for every season!” Spring practice and the other slew of activities that make up the “offseason” are necessary evils if you want to win on this level in the SEC. This is where programs can take the time to work on players individual weakness and add to his strengths. Something Langston Moore not afforded Contributing players and Writer coaches during the season due to the week in week out “grind.” The offseason gives players and coaches space to reprogram minds, bodies, eyes to be more of a factor when the season rolls around. From the early morning lifting sessions, winter workouts, on to spring ball, this season: “the offseason” is essential to the foundation that must be built every year. This season my seem unimportant or something that keeps us entertained while spring time passes, but this “season” makes or breaks players and their respective teams. “There’s a time for reaping and a time for sowing” Early morning lifting sessions and winter workouts after your team’s most recent bowl victory don’t seem high on the priority list for players. Especially when it’s that time of year when most folks would rather stay in bed on those cold dark mornings then to go out and get “ better.” Even worse prepare for something 7-8 months away. It’s easy to want to rest on the laurels of last year hoping that “yesterday’s” efforts will be good enough for today. If you needed a reminder of how important this time is, just peek your head in any early morning session. You’ll find Joe Connolly and his early morning crew barking out commands and reminders of “why” they are doing this at this godawful time of the morning. The strength staff not only sets the schedule during this season, but the sense of urgency during this “grind time.” This is so important when carrying out new marching orders for the upcoming season, especially when your only opponent for the next four months is your teammate and yourself. Winter Workouts aka “mat drills” prep the individual much like a farmer prepares the ground for “sowing on fertile soil.” Like a
Photo by Allen Sharpe
farmer who tills the soil, winter workouts grind up and turnover “last season “ body/ mind” so new seeds can be dropped into the soil. Much like a farmer the strength coaches create an environment that emphasizes discipline, competition and team building as well plenty of “puke cans.”
player and coach yield fruit later on the playing field during the regular-season. The Spring Game is usually the cumulative event of the 15 practices and scrimmages of the spring offseason. This game is mostly a glorified scripted practice that allows players to “almost simulate” a real game. It’s a good way to interact with the fans and to “It was planted in good soil beside abunplay against some of your teammates who dant waters, that it might yield branches and you may never get to compete against othbear fruit and become a splendid vine.” erwise. This leaves players wanting more, For a player coming off a “so-so” season, just enough to come back to camp to endure injury or looking to move up the depth two a days just to play. Needless to say the chart those 15 practices mean everything. A overall number one goal of spring practice chance to work with your position coach in a is to finish the game with zero injuries and more relaxed environment that will empha- hopefully a better grasp of the system. size technique work and the “ little things.” Little external pressure makes this an ideal “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap learning environment. You also get plenty sparingly and whoever sows generously will of mental reaps being immersed in the game also reap generously.” with these extra on the field reps and meetAs my old high school coach would say ings. This helps to slow the game down (“see “the hay is in the barn, don’t mess it up.” a little, see a lot”) allowing for faster recog- You’ve worked hard to improve your mind, nition come gametime. The information that body, and position on the roster don’t waste flows from these coaches are soaked up by it by losing momentum. No gaining the the players much like a thirsty young sapling weight back you lost during those winter soaks up fresh water. This knowledge helps workouts, no forgetting the intricacies of
your “base defense” and by no means don’t think you’ve arrived at the pinnacle. It’s said that no one ever won the national championship in the offseason, but you can sure lose one. Programs and their players have to make sure they understand that this season is just another part of the journey towards Atlanta. That it’s entirely dependent on how much they want to improve on and off the field between the end of the spring game and the beginning of the season. Workout warriors like DJ Swearinger and other Gamecock greats are the type of guys that are needed in your locker room to demand even more from their teammates during the offseason monotony. Urging their teammates to “sow” as much as possible during this time, in doing so it will lead to more consistent play on the field. For the rest of us we are relegated to waiting on fall to get a glimpse of all the fruit bearing on the field of play. Driving around the fields (Bluff Road, Proving grounds), we hope to get glances of the new sprouts emerging but we must all remain patient not to disturb the seed on the verge of new breakthroughs. Happy planting season!
Spurs & Feathers • 23
March 11, 2015
As Gamecocks, we’ve all had to have the talk by brian hand Executive Editor
Photo by Amy Hand
you never want your children to discriminate against anything or anyone, but how do you relay that it’s just different with If you are a parent, you’ve had to have this? the talk. After having the talk with him, I sat It’s a tough one, but one that you have to down and really started thinking about the make sure and articulate well to your chil- color orange. dren because it is extremely important that I grew up in the Upstate of South Carothey understand the ramifications. lina, so as a Gamecock fan my entire life I am of course referring to why we don’t the color obviously represents the enemy. wear orange. Alexander was born in Greenville, S.C., I recently had to have the discussion with but we moved to Aiken, S.C., six months my 6-year-old on the way back from school after he was born. In Aiken, for the most one day after he was telling me how much part, it is all Gamecock. Living in Columhe liked the color orange. bia, S.C., that is obviously the case. I told him we don’t wear orange because So, when I realized that he had never rethat is what Clemson wears. He responded ally had to deal with the color smothering not all orange is bad. I quickly told him, him on a daily basis, I started thinking of a “well, Tennessee also wears orange and so different approach. does Florida.” But how do you break down to a 6-year“It’s just not something we do,” I said. old that picking a side means you have to “Daddy, it’s okay to wear orange someabide by the rules? times,” Alexander, my 6-year-old, fired Alexander is always quick to point out back. to others when asked who we root for that I once again reminded him that orange is “we are Gamecocks,” but does he really just not something as a Gamecock fan you know what this means? are supposed to wear. So many questions and not enough As a parent this is a tough spot because answers, but as a parent the only thing I
can continue to do is explain that we are Gamecocks. I was talking to a friend about this talk with my son recently and I simply said “sports is what defines us.” It’s true, particularly at the college level in the Palmetto State. Even if you are not from here, you have to pick a side. Some say they root for South Carolina and Clemson and that may be true, but inherently one would watch more of one than the other. There’s just not enough time in this world and to be honest, it’s just human nature. You pick a side internally whether you know it or not. The sociology of sports is fascinating in this way. Sports definitely inhabit our cultural norms because we learn our values, etc. from our parents, teachers, friends along with many others. For example, I’m a Gamecock because my parents are Gamecocks. There was never a question. Now my son and daughter should be Gamecocks because I’m a Gamecock. That’s just how it works. Why don’t we wear orange then? Simple, because we’re Gamecocks.
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24 • Spurs & Feathers
March 11, 2015
Conrad loves the family aspect of men’s basketball at South Carolina by Collyn Taylor Reporter For Branden Conrad, his career in basketball has continued even after concluding his Gamecock career. After transferring in from Navy, he spent three years in the garnet and black, where he played alongAll Gamecock basketball side Devan coverage sponsored by Downey and Yesterdays Zam Frederick, Jr. Now, he has extended his basketball career outside of Colonial Life Arena, using the skills he learned in college to perform his job working as a commercial lender for BB&T. “I mention the advantages for playing college basketball,” he said. “Not only is it a full-time job over 40 hours a week, you add in studies you do and you learn to be disciplined and live a structured live.” Along with doing that, he still gets to be around the sport he loves. Conrad is the head basketball coach at Cardinal Newman High School. His team went 16-9 this season and he said that it’s great getting to impact lives the way that his coaches impacted his. “I hear some of the things come out of my mouth that coaches were telling me back in the day. It’s been a huge advantage,” Conrad said. “I try to tell our kids that my goal is to make them men by the time they go to college and prepare them for life out of basketball and that’s the thing that Horn and coach Odom set forth for me.” Conrad still looks back on his college career with fondness. He remembers them beating Kentucky at Rupp Arena and Zam Frederick, Jr. hitting a buzzer beater to beat Florida at home. That game is remembered as the game which introduced the student section as the Garnet Army, which has transformed into the Roost under Frank Martin. While names and makeups change, Conrad said there is still one common factor from that night against Florida until now — the fans. “That was my senior year. That was the first night they introduced it. We beat Flori-
photo courtesy of south carolina athletics media relations
da at the buzzer,” he said. “They changed it a bit, but it’s the same awesome fans.” Now, he gets to watch the current team play where he once used to. He said that he likes the way this team is heading and likes to stay involved in the program.
That’s because he loves the family aspect of going to South Carolina. Even after transferring and only spending a short amount of time as a Gamecock, he said the closeness and familial feel to the team is something that he’ll always remember.
“It’s the best three years of my life. I made tremendous friends in the basketball program and I set a tone from day one to help me grow as a person and athletically as well,” Conrad said. “I owe a lot to the University for what they’ve done.”
Spurs & Feathers • 25
March 11, 2015
Gamecocks down Auburn in top-5 showdown on Senior Day by kyle heck Reporter
It’s one thing to be the winningest class in school history in your sport. It’s quite another to be one of the most accomplished classes in the entire school’s athletic history. That’s the situation that this year’s South Carolina equestrian seniors find themselves in. They’ve won back-to-back SEC championships – the first Gamecock team to ever do that (South Carolina women’s basketball just equaled that) – and also won the final Southern Equestrian Championship in 2012. The meet against Auburn on Saturday, Feb. 28 was South Carolina’s Senior Day and it ended just as most of the other meets throughout their careers have ended – with a win. The then No. 2 (now No. 1) Gamecocks knocked off the No. 4 Tigers, 11-7, to send out the accomplished senior class with a victory. Tied at four points apiece, South Carolina went on a tear, winning the next seven points, including a 4-0 sweep in Horsemanship, to take an 11-4 lead and wrap up the win to improve to 8-3, 4-2 SEC on the year. It was senior Amber Henter’s 63-55 win over Auburn’s Tory Hoft that was the 10th and deciding point. It was a very important win, not only for the seniors, but for the entire team as the Gamecocks were coming off of a loss to Texas A&M that snapped a seven-meet winning streak. “That was the big thing that we needed to do was bounce back,” head coach Boo Major said. “To have the Horsemanship riders come out with a 4-0 win was huge for us. As a whole, I thought the girls rode well, the horses rode well and that’s all you can ask for.” Major has gotten more than she has asked for from her talented senior class that includes nine riders. She calls this 2015 class probably the most talented class in her 17 years of coaching the Gamecocks, saying that the class that won the 2007 national championship is the closest competition. “The seniors have been consistent performers since they were freshmen,” Major said. “It’s going to be extremely hard to see this group go.” If South Carolina can make it a three-peat this season with the SEC championship, the senior class will have won a title in all four of their years. While Major says that winning three in a row is incredibly hard, “if anybody can do it, this group can.”
Photo by Allen Sharpe
The class includes Katherine Schmidt, the winningest rider in the history of the National Collegiate Equestrian Association, threetime team captain Henter and Cody McMillion, Layla Choate and Samantha Chiodo, all who have at least 29 career wins. The other seniors are Adele Norton, who has burst onto the scene this season with seven wins and four MVP’s, Melanie Cormier, Elizabeth deGolian and Alexa Anthony, all who have made contributions to South Carolina on and off of the pitch. One of the biggest reasons this class has accomplished so much is because of how closeknit they are. That is why Schmidt was quick to deflect the attention off of herself and onto her teammates, who she says has helped her be who she is today. “There’s not one person in this senior class that I don’t admire, whether at the barn, in the classroom or in community service events,” Schmidt said. “Not only are they my best friends, but they also have been role models for me. They are fantastic teammates so today I wanted to ride not just for my career here, but for them. I wouldn’t be here today without all of their help.” “I think they have a lot of confidence,” Major said of her senior class. “They’ve got a lot of presence and really go out there and get the job done.” It was a busy day all around as the se-
Photo by Allen Sharpe
Jeff Mishoe and Horry County Gamecock Club present Major with a $2,500 check. niors presented University president Harris Pastides with his own 2014 SEC Championship ring before the meet. In addition, Horry County Gamecock Club president Jeff Mishoe, whose family is known as big fans of horseback riding, presented Major and her
team with a $2,500 check, something that was a pleasant surprise for Major. “We wanted to make a point of appreciating what the Horry County Gamecock Club did for us,” Major said. “That money will go to good use. We’re real excited to have it.”
26 • Spurs & Feathers
March 11, 2015
‘Baby Steps’: Martin is building the program the right way The term “baby steps” can be used in different facets of life to explain different situations. For Frank Martin, it has been the best way to describe the process he has endured in turning one of the worst basketball programs in the country into one capable of competing night in and night out. Consider for a minute that for Gamecock fans 42 years of age Bill Gunter or younger, they Contributing have witnessed Writer just four trips to the NCAA tournament with none of those resulting in a victory and you realize just how dreadful the situation Martin walked into was. Prior to writing this article, I did Google the meaning of the term “baby steps” to make sure it applied to what I was about to write and as expected, it fit the bill and then some. The Google definition is “a tentative act or measure that is the first stage in a long or challenging process.” I think we can agree that as we bring season three of the Martin era to a close, that is what we have witnessed. The South Carolina men’s basketball job was never one that could be turned around in the short span of two or three seasons. Instead it would require the patience of a coach willing to make small strides or “baby steps” with each season slightly improving upon the previous one. Season three of the Martin era has given Gamecock fans a reason for optimism at times. Following the January 3rd victory over Iowa State, I wrote in this same column how meaningful basketball was likely going to be played at Colonial Life Arena in late February and early March for the first time in a while. The promising 9-3 start to the season diminished over the next few weeks with tough losses in the closing minutes of several games. However, there was different level of play from the team against the SEC which has proved to be at its toughest in several years. Given that there is just one senior on the team, the hope would also be that players have learned more and can carry the lessons over to next season in order to help improve. The 2014-2015 season for the Gamecocks
photo by jenny dilworth
has once again provided the true definition of the term “baby steps” for Gamecock fans but it could prove the last of those miniscule steps they have to take. While I am not saying the next step in 2015-2016 will be a gigantic leap forward, the pieces have been set in place through the myriad of small steps that leads one to believe good things are ahead. Along with a more experienced ball club that should feature three senior leaders and several juniors, Martin will welcome to the fold McDonalds All-American prospect Perry Dozier Jr. Also coming to campus will be highly recruited power forward Chris Silva giving Martin the type of athletic post player he has lacked through the building phase of the Gamecock project. Looking ahead to next season I believe the
frontcourt nucleus of Stroman, Thornwell, Dozier, Duane Notice and redshirt freshman TeMarcus Blanton will be on par with most teams not named Kentucky. Combined with returning seniors Mindaugas Kacinas, Laimonas Chatkevicius and Michael Carrera the Gamecocks should have the veteran leadership and athletic ability to continue their upward ascent in the league. It may not be easy for you to read the words above and believe what I am telling you. I understand, Gamecock basketball fans have had it rough for the past 40 years and have been told countless times their team is almost ready to turn the corner and become a contender. Still there is actual tangible evidence that you can see for yourself to believe that Martin is baby stepping this program to being one fans
will be proud of. In each of Martin’s three seasons in Columbia the Gamecocks have increased their win total in conference from four wins in his first season to five wins last year and six wins this year. Recruiting has improved as well with the additions of top flight recruits each year starting with Thornwell, carrying over to Stroman and now with the addition of Dozier. In the microwave society that we live in now, everybody wants their results right away. That was never going to be the case for South Carolina basketball regardless of who they brought in following Darrin Horn. Instead, Martin has built the program through “baby steps” and if fans continue to show patience and believe in the process, the days of those “baby steps” will come to an end sooner rather than later.
Spurs & Feathers • 27
March 11, 2015
Schmidt off to solid start as a Gamecock by Brian Hand Executive Editor
the Gamecocks out of a couple of big jams in the rivalry series, including navigating South Carolina out of a no out, bases loaded scenario Dwight and Renee Schmidt had an interest- in the seventh inning of game two of the seing weekend during the annual South Caroliries. Clarke Schmidt’s efforts on the mound in na-Clemson rivalry series. the inning allowed South Carolina to eventuThe parents of Clemson junior right-handed ally hold on for a 4-1 win in the Reedy River pitcher Clate Schmidt and South Carolina Rivalry game at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C. freshman right-handed pitcher Clarke Schmidt on Saturday, Feb. 28. had the interesting dilemma of watching the Through South Carolina’s first 12 games of Palmetto State rivalry series impartially. Well, the year, Clarke Schmidt (2-0) has fanned 10 except for Clate and Clarke. They of course in 10.2 innings on the hill. cheered wildly for both. Admittedly, Clarke Schmidt did not expect “They’re going to be rooting for both of us. to have such a large role so early for the GameThey bought the split jerseys - half Clemson, cocks. Nevertheless, he is ready for whatever half South Carolina, so it’s going to be fun,” opportunity is placed in front of him by the Clarke Schmidt said before the Gamecock coaches. rivalry series. “Whatever they throw at me, The rivalry series did not end whatever role they want me the way Clarke Schmidt and in, I’m going to take it and run South Carolina had hoped, but with it,” Clarke Schmidt said. that was not because of the efSome may wonder how forts of Clarke Schmidt, who Clarke even ended up a GameAll Gamecock baseball cock and Clate recruited Clarke home. has had an immediate impact coverage sponsored by hard at Clemson, but Clarke with the Gamecocks. “(Clemson) was always in consideration, DiPrato’s In fact, Clarke Schmidt got just felt like South Carolina was but like I said when I visited here, I loved it.
photo by allen sharpe
I visited there and I loved it too. I liked it just as much, but I felt right here and I was right at home here,” Clarke Schmidt mentioned.
Gamecocks excited to start second year by Brian Hand Executive Editor
South Carolina second-year sand volleyball head coach Moritz Moritz knows that the Gamecocks have come a long way with their fledgling program. He is excited that the second season is beginning, but as all coaches he still wishes there was a little more time before South Carolina starts the 2015 season. campaign. “It’s one of those things, where you are super “I don’t think we’ll know (from the outset of excited for the start of the season, you’re super the season),” Moritz relayed. “That will be the excited for the players that they have somebody fun thing is that we won’t know until maybe else to compete against, but you still wish you had through the first two weekends to really kind six months to prepare or another year to prepare of have an idea of exactly where we are versus just because we are on a daily basis realizing little where we need to be. We want to be playing things that we need to tweak along with devel- our best volleyball at the end of March and so oping partnerships and chemistry and things of we still have a little bit of time to move into that sort,” Mortiz said. “Some of those things that, but I think we’re better prepared than we are better realized through competition, but it’s were last year. Obviously being a year in and that balance between eagerness being a little exposed to the to compete and anxiety at the structure and everything resame time.” ally helps. And then the girls South Carolina finished its kind of having that perspecinaugural season in 2014 with tive as well of this is what a respectable 5-12 record. With we’re jumping into, this is our the second season about to be- All Gamecock sand volleyball level of competition, this is coverage sponsored by gin, Moritz is enthusiastic to what we’re working towards see where things will go, but James W. Smith Real Estate Co. and really continuing to get he does not think he will know better every day.” exactly where that is until a little bit into the 2015 Moritz is quick to point out that in year two
Now we have this expectation of we need to be better than we did (last year) and we need to be better prepared to create that,” Moritz expounded. One of the unique things coming into this year is seven South Carolina sand volleyball duals will be broadcast on SEC Network+. This is an opportunity that is not lost on Moritz. “That’s huge,” Moritz stated. “I think there’s Photo by Allen Sharpe been a couple other beach volleyball matches there are certain goals, but for a program that is that have been televised - obviously the national championship has been televised - but still building it is about winning now and also to have that exposure, to be able to highlight continuing to prepare for the future. our team against some of the best teams in the “We have certain expectations for certain country and to be able to broadcast that is such opponents,” Moritz commented. “I think you an amazing opportunity.” can always go through the list and say, ‘these Moritz says that if you’ve never been to a should be wins, these should be on the bubble, the coin-flip 50/50s’ and then there are a couple South Carolina sand volleyball match, give it a try as the experience is second-to-none. that we know will be a challenge (like) No. 1 “The fact is it’s beach volleyball, so you get Pepperdine, Florida State; those are going to be that part of the environment, but you also get a challenge. Even if you bring in a team that’s a very high-level SEC-type of environment as unranked like Arizona State that’s from the Pac-12, they’ve had great success on the indoor well,” Moritz said. “It’s this amazing blend of competition, but also the fun that you can have. side and they’ve got some crossover players that are legit players, you never know what the You’re watching high-level student-athletes compete at a high-level and that’s kind of a fun expectations are for some of those opponents necessarily, but you know it’s going to be high- component to it, but also you can have your kids running around and there’s music playlevel volleyball and high-level competition. ing and there’s this kind of beach culture that “That’s more what we’re looking towards, which is what’s the measure, where are we and comes along with it even though we’re not on improvement. We know what we did last year. the beach there is something that we can kind We know what we should have done last year. of inject into the environment because of that.”
28 • Spurs & Feathers
Building better basketball: Why Frank to watch. Martin believes proposed rules changes are Martin isn’t buying the rhetoric. He points to misguided a team like Wisconsin, which ranks 345th in the Frank Martin loves college basketball. Like nation in adjusted tempo according to KenPom. many, he cares deeply about its future. com yet averages 71.5 points per game, ahead of He’s also not shy about speaking his mind. the national average. Which is why Martin balks at some of the rule “Why? Because the guys on the court for changes being proposed to clean up college them understand how to play. They know how basketball, and make the game more offensefast to run cuts. They know how fast to pass. friendly. They know when to shoot, they know how to The conversation has picked up steam in make a post entry, they know how to use a flare recent weeks, as the NCAA gears up for its an- screen. So they get good shots,” Martin says. nual March Madness tournament that will draw “It’s the rest of us that don’t have the nucleus of millions of viewers. Coaches, commentators guys like Wisconsin. Our pace of play is faster, and conference officials are growing concerned yet we score less. Why is that? It’s not the pace about the continued decrease in scoring, and of play. It’s the players in the pace that don’t have how it may affect the long-term health of the the skills or the understanding [of] how to play.” game. According to research by Sports IllusMartin says the rule changes would fail to adtrated’s Seth Davis, Division I teams are averag- dress the root cause of the problem. The crisis ing 67.9 points per game in 2014-15, its lowest is not at the collegiate level, he says. It’s at the level since 1952. Scoring has dropped in 13 of level below them. the last 15 seasons. “Have people at the high school level teach it Games have gotten rougher, choppier - and in the way they used to teach it, and maybe we’d the eyes of many, less appealhave good college basketball,” ing. They worry about losing he said. “I’m having to teach a generation of casual fans, stuff to our incoming freshmen turned off by the slow, physical that I used to teach 9th or 10th play, the game stripped of its graders.” beauty and artistry. Every other rule change, he College basketball’s caretakargues, would be cosmetic. In ers have offered a number of fact, it may magnify the lower solutions. Coaches like Kanskill level coming into the colsas’ Bill Self favor a 30-second lege game. shot clock. Others prefer a Martin points to the 35-secwidening of the lane, an exond shot clock as an example. pansion of the restricted area In a survey of Division I coachbeneath the rim, or a lengthes conducted by ESPN’s Jeff ening of the three-point line Goodman, a majority favor a to the international standard. shorter shot clock. The NIT Whatever the suggestion, the will experiment with a 30-secgoal is the same: to pick up the ond shot clock this postseason. Andy Demetra pace, jumpstart scoring, and Martin sees a chilling Contributing make the game more pleasing glimpse of the future when he Writer
March 11, 2015
watches the NBA. “Those young teams in the NBA, it’s painful to watch them play with a 24-second shot clock because guys don’t understand how to play. It’s not the pace of play. It’s nothing other than the fact that we no longer teach high school basketball, or high school grassroots basketball, the way it used to be taught,” he said. “So if we shorten the shot clock, you what we’re going to have? More possessions of bad basketball.” He also chafes at the idea of widening the lane, which currently measures 12 feet across. Some believe that switching to a 16-foot paint like the NBA would improve floor spacing and bring much-needed freedom of movement to the game. Martin thinks it’s a misguided solution. He also believes it would make a certain type of player extinct. “The problem with the NBA lane is that the NBA rules are different,” he explained. “It you put the NBA lane in a college game, you pretty much take away low-post play and guys that play with their back to the basket, and throw them away. They’ll never be any good in college basketball ever again, because the defensive rules are different. You can do that in the NBA because their defensive rules don’t allow for weak-side help. If you do that in college basketball, forget it. There’s no longer a low-post player.” Without a corresponding change to the NBA defensive rules, Martin predicts a college game where teams sit in a zone “because [opposing teams] don’t have skill guys. And they have to shoot it within 15 seconds because it’s going to take eight seconds to cross the halfcourt line. It just makes no sense to me.” Better spacing, Martin says, should come from better enforcement of the rules. Last year, NCAA officials enacted a series of 28 rule changes meant to crack down on the clutching,
grabbing and excessive contact that had crept into the game. Whistles shrieked incessantly in the early season as players and coaches adapted. It worked: in 2013-14, teams averaged 3.8 more points per game than they did the year before. Slowly, though, that officiating style tailed off. Games don’t look much differently now than they did two years ago. Scoring averages have regressed to their pre-crackdown levels. The NCAA rules committee also reversed its stance on the block/charge rule, which required a secondary defender to be in legal guarding position by the time an offensive player was in the air. If officials enforced the rules tightly, as they did during the 2013-14 season, would the game continue to clean up as players adapted? Would their old, physical habits die off, like when the NBA eliminated hand-checking in the early 2000’s? There’s a case to be made for it. But for Martin, the larger issue is the lack of skill development at the grassroots level, which he says leads to unprepared players and an unappealing product. Yes, it’s up to college coaches to develop those skills. But it’s hard to do when there are rules governing the amount of contact a coach can have with his players during the offseason. And during the season, the focus naturally shifts to beating the next opponent. Also, college coaches can’t control what happens at the grassroots level. They can’t legislate how often a player practices in the offseason, compared to how often he plays games. Besides, players use those games to showcase themselves to recruiters and get scholarship offers. How do you de-incentivize that in favor of more skill work? It’s a tricky question, and one that has no easy answer. Until then, Martin doesn’t see rule changes as a cure for college basketball’s ills. As he puts it: “We got to teach kids how to play and stop trying to blame the game. The game is not the problem.”
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Reedy River Rivalry Tailgate adds fun to rivalry by Brian Hand Executive Editor
was also festivities outside of the stadium. The Reedy River Rivalry Tailgate party on Field Street just outside of Fluor Field started One of the things that makes the South Caro- mid-morning on gameday and had representalina-Clemson rivalry so unique is just the over- tives from South Carolina and Clemson there all logistics of the weekend for both programs. along with entertainment and fun activities. The three games in the annual rivalry series According to Fluor Field tenant the Greenare played at three different locations. ville Drive, food was available from Table 301, “I think we like it this way and I think Clem- Chick-fil-A of Pelham Road and the Drive. son does as well,” South Carolina baseball There was also live music from Spencer Rush, head coach Chad Holbrook said last year of the Jose Ortiz and Uptown Entertainment, The three-venue series. “It is unique, but you get fans in attendance at the party also had the opone game at home, one game at their place and portunity to win a prize pack including tickets one game at a neutral site. It’s great for the fans to the 2015 BMW ProAm presented by SYNin the state of South Carolina and it’s great for NEX Corporation. our fans in Greenville. They get to watch us South Carolina’s special area at the Reedy come play there. I think that it’s great for both River Rivalry Tailgate included the opportubaseball programs … the venues nity for Gamecock fans to are great. Our facility we think grab calendars, posters and is good, Clemson has got a great much more. They could facility and playing at Fluor Field also take pictures with the is always fun for our players.” baseball national champiSouth Carolina picked up its onship trophies and take fourth win in five games against batting practice. There was the Tigers at Fluor Field this year also an inflatable slide that All Gamecock baseball with a 4-1 victory over Clemson, even Cocky had a little bit coverage sponsored by but before the Gamecocks put on of fun with before the start DiPrato’s a show inside the stadium there of the game.
Photo by Allen Sharpe
Former Gamecock baseball great and current Assistant Director of the Gamecock Club Jay Brown talking with Gamecock fans in front of the national championship trophies. Gamecock Club Executive Director Patrick McFarland loves the chance to promote the garnet and black every year in Greenville. “This is the greatest rivalry in college baseball. Everybody says that and I can’t imagine
anybody having a better rivalry than us. It’s nice to be out here and be a part of the festivities and talk to all the Gamecocks from this area and from all over the state,” McFarland said.
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Upcoming Events: Gamecock Club Greenwood County Gamecock Club Steve Spurrier dinner When: Wednesday, March 18th, 6PM Where: American Legion in Greenwood The Greenwood County Gamecock Club is hosting a dinner on 3/18/2015 at 6 pm with coach Steve Spurrier. The tickets are $25 each. It will be held at the American Legion in Greenwood. There will be a silent auction with Gamecock and NFL merchandise and door prizes. There will also be a cash bar. For more information or tickets please contact Ray Lewis at 864-396-0920 or Alison Burns at 864-344-2813. Sumter County Gamecock Club Spring Banquet featuring Steve Spurrier When: Wednesday, March 25th, 6 p.m. Where: USC Sumter Nettles Building The Sumter County Gamecock Club is hosting South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier for an event on Wednesday, March 25. The event will also feature former South Carolina baseball head coach and New York Yankees legend Bobby Richardson. Tickets are just $25 and dinner is included. To purchase tickets, please contact Paul Weissenstein (803-418-5700), Libby Aycock (803-968-2738) or David Stewart (803-773-9316). Tickets must be purchased in advanced and will not available at the
door. SAVE THE DATE! Steve Spurrier is visiting Aiken, S.C. on April 22, 2015. More details in near future. **Current listings of known upcoming Gamecock Club events: Please contact Brian Hand (firstname.lastname@example.org) if your upcoming event is not listed** The Gamecock Club remembers a member of Gamecock Nation who has recently passed away... Barbara Roney Whittington - Born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, she was the daughter of the late Henry Grady Roney and Velma Holland Roney. She was the wife of the late Philip Wesley Whittington. She received her Bachelor’s in Education from Coker College and her Master’s in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Carolina. A devoted teacher with over 30 years of service, she retired from Harbison West Elementary School in 1997, although she never stopped teaching. Her passions included bridge, cooking, reading, and gardening, but most important to her was glorifying God through serving family and friends. Photo from twitter by Steve spurrier, jr. (@coachspurrierjr) Barbara was also a longtime supporter of the Steve Spurrier is officially now on Twitter. Give the HBC a follow at @SC_HBC. Spurrier was Gamecock Club. an instant Twitter sensation, picking up more than 45,000 followers in less than 24 hours.
Make sure to visit www.GamecocksOnline.com/GamecockClub. Make sure to also visit www.SpursandFeathers.com and www.GamecocksOnline.com daily for all your Gamecock information.
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March 11, 2015
There is not much better than a Gamecock baseball game with friends
It is a family tradition that my father, brothers and I go to the South Carolina – Clemson baseball game in Columbia together in celebration of my birthday. It is always played in and around the 1st of March. I’m not sure when this tradition started, but it dates back to the old Sarge Frye Field Days. In more cases than not, the Gamecocks have won that game, Ed Girardeau but baseball being Contributing what it is, winEditor ning all the time is impossible. A bad hop here, a opposing pitching performance there, and you are on the short end of score of 2-1, 7-0, or even 19-6. It’s not fun, but it happens. Thus, South Carolina’s series with Clemson this year did not offer much fun from the winning perspective losing two of three. It was the first time that the Gamecocks had lost to their rival in Columbia since the 19-6 loss in 2010. It has been pointed out and I will reiterate here, that year South Carolina went on the win the first of back-to-back National Championships. I can tell you sitting there that day watching Carolina getting beat, the furthest thing from my mind (or anybody else’s) was Omaha. But that’s baseball. A hitter gets hot, a pitcher finds his groove, and a team can go from can’t get out of their own way to a well oiled machine and unstoppable. I’m not suggesting that this is absolutely going to happen for USC, but its possible as the two convincing wins would indicate that followed last Monday’s loss to the Tigers. On a good note from this past Monday, the weather warmed up and the 30-degree temperatures of Sunday were gone, not to mention the rain. I have to admit, the idea of sitting in the stands in that weather was not something I was looking forward to. I found myself going through my closet finding attire that I wore on duck hunts years ago. A few phone calls and the decision had been made. We would watch the game on television together. No need to get sick. I went on to church and got the word shortly thereafter that the game was postponed. Apparently, nobody else wanted to sit, much less play, in that weather.
photo by brian hand
It’s been roughly 40 years since I played baseball, but I can remember none of us liked playing baseball in the cold. The pitcher could keep somewhat warm through the process of winding up and throwing and the catcher has to get up and down. Those two might stand a chance. But the rest of the team? For nine innings you go out in the field and try to ignore that you’re cold. It is easy to be distracted - real easy. You find yourself thinking about the heater in the dugout (if you were lucky enough to have one) and thinking how fast you can get off the field to get next to it before somebody else beat you to it. And then there’s the hitting of the ball with the bat. Nothing sticks in your mind like the vibration of a bat after hitting a ball in cold weather. I tell you, it hurts. Playing baseball in cold weather is not fun. There is some talk in NCAA circles about moving college baseball’s start to
April (or around then). If February baseball becomes a thing of the past, I will celebrate it! It was a long time ago, but I don’t remember playing baseball in February. We were still playing basketball. I don’t think we started until late in March and of course it would still be cold (it can be cold in April, too), but not February. I know that the schedule and much more would have to be worked out, but baseball is meant to be a summer sport. We would play baseball all summer long, if not in leagues, pick up games in the park. The sooner it can be worked out to later in the spring, the better in my opinion. I don’t put a lot of stock in February baseball. How many times have we seen teams win all their games in February to tail off when it warms up? Then there is the opposite where teams come alive once it warms up. And guess what? Once it warms up, it is
going to stay warm. However, Monday was the aberration in terms of the weather. After high 30s, low 40s on Sunday, the temperature rose into the mid 70s on Monday. By the late innings the wind cooled things down, but it was an indication of better days ahead. The game did not go the way we would have preferred, but we were able to see friends in the stands and talk about other things. On the way home, we stopped and got a bite to eat and my father and brother entertained with stories from the doctor’s office. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say it was hilarious and at least I didn’t wreck the car while laughing so hard. Despite the loss, it was still a happy birthday. And whether its cold or not, there’s not anything much better than a Carolina baseball game with friends. See you at the ballpark!
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