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March 19, 2014 • Volume 36 • Issue 3 • $1.50

SEC Champs headed to the


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SEC Champs!

Gamecocks claim regular-season championship outright by brian hand

season crown, South Carolina finished its 2013-14 season a perfect 16-0 at home. South Carolina went undefeated at home for the COLUMBIA, S.C. - The fourth-ranked first time since the 1978-79 season. South University of South Carolina women’s basCarolina’s 16 home regular-season victories ketball team claimed its first outright SEC is a new Colonial Life Arena record. regular-season title in a 67-56 victory over “That’s a feat in itself to go undefeated Georgia before a crowd of 12,458 at the Colo- at home in a league like we have - the best nial Life Arena. league in the country,” Staley remarked. With the win over Georgia, South Carolina “For our players to be able to do that it is clinched the sixth regular-season conference quite amazing. I think winning the SEC is an title in program history. This title is the first amazing thing but you never think of it takfor the Gamecocks since joining the SEC. ing 14 games to win it. You have an opportuThe title garners the Gamecocks their fourth nity to do it at home. Kudos to them; they’ve outright conference title with the other three worked hard both on and off the floor and coming when South Carolina was a member why not us. Why not us? It’s something that of the Metro Conference (1986, 1988 and I said six years ago. Why not South Carolina 1990). and we made it happen.” The SEC championship is the 12th SEC South Carolina’s Tiffany Mitchell and AlaiChampionship for the University of South na Coates reiterated Staley’s thoughts after Carolina. the win over Georgia. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley “It feels great,” Mitchell articulated. “The noted after the Gamecock championshipcrowd created this homecourt advantage for clinching win that it all hasn’t really sunk in us all year and I’m just glad we could win it yet. on our home court.” “I think that you work so hard to accomCoates continued by noting “we were just plish this that you tend not to think about really excited that we were able to get the how you’re supposed to act,” Staley menchampionship on our floor and that we went tioned. “It just seems so surreal. I think our undefeated. It was just a really good feeling kids have worked extremely hard, have put to go and do the things that we did with the themselves in a position to be SEC champiteam that I had and with the coaching staff ons and we took care of business. I’m glad and everybody.” that we did it in front of almost 12,500 fans For the second straight game the crowd who were able to join in and share in this joy- of 12,458 marked the second-best women’s ful moment for us.” basketball attendance in the history of the In addition to claiming the league regularColonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks had

what is now a Colonial Life Arena third-best attendance of 10,547 in their 69-55 win over Florida on Feb. 23. Neither team scored in the first two minutes of the contest, but South Carolina arrived on the scoreboard first when Mitchell connected on a driving layup with 17:47 left in the first half of action. South Carolina would go on to score 12 of the first 14 points in the contest to own a 12-2 lead with 13:33 remaining in the opening half. Mitchell was the catalyst for the Gamecocks in the early going of the game, scoring eight of South Carolina’s first 12 points in the game. South Carolina continued to extend its lead over the ensuing minutes with the Gamecocks owning a 13-point advantage at 20-7 after a Coates jumper with just under eight minutes left in the inaugural half of play. The Gamecocks held a 24-8 lead with 5:43 to play in the first half. South Carolina allowed Georgia to shoot just 3-for-22 from the field as a team in the first 14-plus minutes of the contest. South Carolina would lead by as many as 16 in the first half, but the Gamecocks lead at intermission was 12 points at 30-18. Mitchell almost outscored the entire Georgia team in the first stanza with 16 points. South Carolina as a team concluded the first half shooting 40.9 percent (9-for-22). The Gamecocks were a perfect 12-of-12 from the free throw line in the first half. Please see Champs, Page 13

South Carolina Women’s Basketball Championships 2014 - SEC Regular Season 1991 - Metro Conference Regular Season 1990 - Metro Conference Regular Season 1989 - Metro Conference Tournament 1989 - Metro Conference Regular Season 1988 - Metro Conference Tournament 1988 - Metro Conference Regular Season 1986 - Metro Conference Tournament 1986 - Metro Conference Regular Season 1979 - NWIT Tournament

SEC Championships University of South Carolina 2014 - Women’s Basketball 2013 - Equestrian 2011 - Women’s Soccer 2011 - Baseball (co-champions) 2005 - Women’s Outdoor Track & Field 2002 - Baseball 2002 - Women’s Outdoor Track & Field 2002 - Women’s Golf 2000 - Baseball 1999 - Women’s Outdoor Track & Field 1997 - Softball 1997 - Men’s Basketball

All Gamecock basketball coverage sponsored by Yesterdays

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Spurs & Feathers Published by Aiken Communications, Inc.

March 19, 2014

What’s Inside? - Table of Contents How sweep it is! Gamecocks sweep series from Clemson on diamond.............................6 Seasoned Seven leading Gamecock baseball ...... 9 Checking in with York County chapter.................11 “Recruiting Roundup”.................................................12

Contact Us: 218 Richland Ave. W. Aiken, SC 29801 (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 (803) 335-1400 Ext. 500 Brian Hand Executive Editor (803) 335-1399 Ext. 506 Mike Kucharski Reporter (803) 335-1399 Ext. 507 Ed Girardeau Contributing Editor/Sales Account Executive (803) 646-9807 Dee Taylor Advertising Director (803) 644-2371 Kathy Boyette Advertising Sales Manager (803) 295-3654 Matt Socha Graphic Designer Postal Information: Spurs & Feathers (ISSN 074454368) is published weekly by Aiken Communications, 326 Rutland Drive, Aiken, South Carolina 29801. Application to Mail at Periodicals Postage Prices is pending at Aiken, SC. POSTMASTER: please send address changes to Spurs & Feathers, 326 Rutland Drive, Aiken, SC 29801.

Longstanding members honored..........................13 All-new .............................14 A Shawesome halftime celebration ......................15 Martin building men’s basketball program........16 Football spring practice preview ...........................17 SEC Network has a new deal, broadcast team in place ...........................................20 Sand volleyball home opener approaching.......21 Fan support grows for basketball teams.............22 Reedy River Rivalry Tailgate Fundraiser................23 Spring sports roundup........................................ 24-25 “Inside the Chart” with Andy Demetra....................................................26 Sir Big Spur honored...................................................28 Gamecock Club: Upcoming Events........................30 Unique views from Ed sponsored by Unique Expressions.........................31

Something to crow about! Thornwell named to SEC All-Freshman Team South Carolina guard Sindarius Thornwell was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team. The native of Lancaster, S.C., finished the regular-season averaging 13.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, while being the only Gamecock to start all 31 games. In SEC play, he led all freshmen in scoring (15.6) and assists (4.0) in conference games this season. Thornwell passed Gamecock great B.J. McKie for the most 20-point games in SEC play in South Carolina history with six. He was a three-time SEC Freshman of the Week honoree and was named the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week for the week of Feb. 18. Williams Named to SEC Community Service Team In a continuing effort to recognize the accomplishments of student-athletes beyond the field of competition, the SEC once again highlighted a Community Service Team for men’s basketball for the 2013-14 season. South Carolina senior guard Brenton Williams was named to this year’s squad. Williams visited with members of the community at the Edgewood Community Empowerment Event and volunteered at the Tunnels To Towers Charity Walk/Run in Columbia. On campus, he visited with fans prior to a Carolina football game, acted as a guest host for USC Trivia and has participated in a Thank-A-Thon, calling season ticket holders to thank them for supporting Gamecock Athletics. Abella, Darty named to AVCA’s Thirty Under 30 List South Carolina assistant coach RJ Abella and associate head coach Julie Darty were named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Thirty Under 30 list for 2014. The list was made up of 30 rising coaching stars at all levels of volleyball who are under 30 years old. South Carolina is the only school with two coaches on the list and the selection is Darty’s second consecutive. With Abella and Darty helping lead the way this season, Gamecock senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin was an AVCA Honorable Mention All-American, first-team AVCA All-Southeast Region and All-SEC selection. All courtesy of South Carolina Athletics Media Relations

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How sweep it is:

Gamecocks plate four in ninth to take game three, sweep Tigers by brian hand

we’ve got some guys off the bench that can help us … it’s just one series. We’ve got to keep it in perspective ... we’re playing well, CLEMSON, S.C. - Down to their final out, we’re doing some good things, but we got a long way to go and we’ve got a lot to improve the then third-ranked South Carolina baseon.” ball team plated four runs in the top of the The Tigers arrived on the scoreboard first in ninth inning to claim a dramatic 5-3 game the game when with two outs Steven Duggar three win over 11th-ranked Clemson before a singled up the middle to plate leadoff hitter crowd of 6,016 on Sunday, March 2 at Doug Tyler Slaton who had singled through the Kingsmore Stadium. right side to start the bottom of the first inThe thrilling game three win allowed ning for Clemson. South Carolina to sweep the Tigers. The The Gamecocks tied up the game at 1-1 Gamecocks won game one, 9-6, at Carolina with a two-out RBI of their own in the top of Stadium in Columbia, S.C. on Friday, Feb. the fifth when Tanner English singled to left 28 before taking a 10-2 game two win over field to bring home DC Arendas from second. Clemson at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C. on Clemson garnered a 2-1 advantage in the Saturday, March 1. The total attendance for bottom of the sixth inning when Garrett the special three games at three venues weekBoulware scored from third base. South end was 21,430. Carolina shortstop Marcus Mooney made a The Gamecocks have now won 23 of their nice diving stop to limit it to just the one run last 31 games against Clemson. South Caroas he was able to start the double play on the lina has obtained four consecutive series vicChris Okey at-bat. Boulware was still able to tories over the Tigers. get home on the double play for the then goThis year’s sweep of the Tigers marks the photos by allen sharpe and jenny dilworth ahead run. first time since 2008 that the Gamecocks Connor Bright (4) and Tanner English (3) celebrate a run in the game two sweep of Clemson. The Gamecocks looked as if they may take have taken all the lead back in the top of the seventh with of their games runners on the corners and one out. Mooney from Clemson have a chance to win it,” South Carolina at each other usually it’s 2-1 one way or the would then hit into an inning-ending double in the regularsecond-year head coach Chad Holbrook men- other and sweeps are very, very rare. We’ll season. South tioned after the dramatic game three win. take it and our kids are resilient. They played play to close out the Gamecock threat in the Carolina took Holbrook is very cognizant of the fact that hard and for the most part, I think they played frame. Clemson would tack on another run in the all four meetsweeps over your rival is not the normal rewell. We made some mistakes today, but it’s bottom half of the seventh when Tyler Slaton ings between sult, but at the end of the day he is proud of a gritty bunch I got. I got some older players singled through the right side off Gamecock the rivals in the sweep of the Tigers. and they’ve been around the block a time or All Gamecock baseball reliever Vince Fiori to set the score at 3-1 in 2008. “It doesn’t happen,” Holbrook, who is 5-1 two and I think that showed today.” coverage sponsored by “I didn’t ever against the Tigers, noted. “That’s what I told Holbrook continued later by saying that DiPrato’s Please see Sweep, Page 23 think we didn’t the guys. When two really good teams go he thinks “we’ve got a tough group. I think

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Seasoned Seven leading Gamecock baseball team There’s life, and then there’s baseball. Sometimes they overlap, but more often the joy of baseball has a lot to do with getting away with the stuff you can’t get away with when you’re not playing baseball. You can test this out by doing some work outside, coming into the house sweating with dirt on your pants and chest, flop down in a living room chair and spit sunflower seeds on the floor. Not a good idea to generate a happy home, but it’s perfect for fitting right in Bart Wright with your teammates in a Contributing dugout. Writer Baseball makes it own rules, one of which has been evident on the Carolina baseball team this season. In high school, we all learned if you don’t learn the lessons of history, you are doomed to repeat the past. With the Gamecocks, it’s the exact opposite effect that come from history’s lessons. If everyone on the squad can only learn the lessons of the past, they just might repeat the

successes. Seven juniors, all freshmen when Carolina won its last national championship in 2012, form the core of this year’s team, for secondyear head coach Chad Holbrook. “They are,” Holbrook said of the junior class, “who we are, if that makes any sense. They all went to Omaha with us, they were part of the whole experience of being part of that championship team and to be honest about it, we’ll go as far as those guys take us.” The Seasoned Seven are scattered throughout the lineup, in the outfield, infield, behind the plate and on the mound and early on, they are leading the team on the field and in the clubhouse where teams come together. They include Connor Bright (infield, outfield), catcher Grayson Greiner, left-handed pitchers Jordan All Gamecock baseball coverage sponsored by Montgomery DiPrato’s and Kyle Mar-

tin, right-handed pitcher Joel Sneddon, outfielder Tanner English and infielder/outfielder Joey Pankake. They began last week 16-0, but because it’s baseball and not everyday life, there have been no celebrations. Even thinking about it would be poor form, for baseball. “It’s nice, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining,” Holbrook said, “but that first part of the season is kind of over and we’re at the point where we’re looking at the strength of our schedule right in front of us and we’re going to have to get better to get through it.” That’s where the link to the past is energizing the present. Just as Greiner learned the Carolina Way from former pitcher Michael Roth, now in spring training with the Los Angeles Angels, just as Bright picked up on the winning mental approach from Evan Marzilli - in the Arizona Diamondbacks minor league camp - so are this year’s young players learning from the Seasoned Seven. “What they’re learning, I hope, is that we have to get better, all of us, every position, me included, on a daily basis,” Holbrook said. “That’s how you build a team during the season whether it’s after a few wins like we’ve had or whether it’s after a loss.

photo by allen sharpe

“We are not bulletproof,” he said, “we have weaknesses and when they rear their ugly head, we have to be able focus and get better or we won’t end up where we want to be.” That last part requires no in-depth learning. National championships, especially when they come back-to-back, have an endurance all their own. After that, it’s replicating the formula that separates the champions from all the others.

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Checking in with York County by mike kucharski

date on what is going on with the facilities at South Carolina. “Jay did a great job with it; showing all The York County Gamecock Club had a the slides, what’s going on in Columbia great turnout for its first event of the year and where their money is going. That’s to continue the tremendous support the what I try and stress with our chapter, that chapter has from its members and Gameall the events they attend and the dollars cock fans. we generate go to help there,” Comer said. Chapter president Chip Comer said that “ I tell them ‘it’s because of you we can dothere was a record crowd at the chapter’s nate to South Carolina. You come to these Recruiting Wrap-Up on Thursday, Feb. 27. events and you support us.’ That’s what the The event was a dinner and meeting that Gamecock Club is all about.” featured guest speaker Tony Morrell from Comer said that he was able to give a The Big Spur to discuss the 2014 South teaser for the meeting that there may be a Carolina football signing class. special guest in attendance, but would not “Having Tony Morrell there is cool bereveal who it would be. The secret special cause he’s a Rock Hill guy … he does a guest was two-time All-American Jadegreat job. We enjoy having him because veon Clowney who made it right after his he’s so up on everything and can take showing at the NFL Combine. Comer said whatever questions are fired at him,” Com- he was thankful that Clowney was able to er said. “Normally we have about 125 for show up, especially because he said the apthis meeting and this time we had about pearance was virtually his only reason for 150-170 that night.” coming to town. Another aspect of the meeting was as“It turned out great that he was able to sistant Gamecock Club director Jay Brown make it and people were so happy to see coming to give those in attendance an up- him. As soon as he walked all the cell

phones came out for photos and people say ‘oh my gosh! It’s him!” Comer said. “It was just great for him to show up.” Comer said that the chapter has great support for events throughout the year, whether that be viewing parties for road football games in the fall, an annual bus trip to an away football game, the annual Rock Hill Christmas parade that Comer books Cocky for every year or a get together at the bowl game location. Two of the next upcoming events - the spring and summer cookouts - are some of the best attended according to Comer. The next event is the York County Garnet & Black Game Cookout that will be held before the South Carolina spring football game. The event will start at 10 a.m. and last until 30 minutes before the kickoff with great food and refreshments to be provided. Those that plan to attend should respond with the total number attending for food planning purposes by emailing: “We’ve done this for years … we draw a couple hundred people at least,” Comer

commented. “The fact that people come over and join us to have a good time is pretty neat. That’s another pretty decent fundraiser for us too.” The York County chapter works closely in concert with the Charlotte chapter of the Gamecock Club because of their proximity. Comer said that many times the members of each group will attend one another functions and they have a great relationship. “What’s pretty neat is that we’ve got 600-plus members on my email list who are pretty loyal. Then we work with (chapter president) James Wolf of the Charlotte Gamecock Club … he’s doing a really good job up there,” Comer said. “We work back and forth with each other. He posts our events and I post his. We work together well … that’s a good thing that works out really good for both of us.” To find out more about the York County Gamecock Club, you can visit their website at or like them on Facebook as York County Gamecock Club.

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South Carolina Gamecocks

Recruiting Round-up By Phil Kornblut

OL Paris Palmer (6-8 305) of Lackawanna JC, PA was offered last Wednesday by USC and he plans to see the Gamecocks up close later this month. Palmer is from Plymouth, NC which is in northeast North Carolina near the Virginia border. He was home for spring break last Friday and during the break he’s going to check out practices at USC and East Carolina. Palmer said right now he has a high interest level in USC.  “Basically what they’ve told me is they want me to come in and fight for a spot, they like me and I can fit in well in their system.” Palmer said right now USC, East Carolina, Penn State, Ohio State and Arizona State are five schools he’s highly interested in but he’s not ready to name a top five. He said he’ll take an official visit to Ohio State and he also plans to visit Arizona State. Palmer was not offered by any school out of high school and went to the junior college to improve his grades and his football status. He does not plan to make his decision until after next season. “I want to finish everything I started here at Lackawanna,” Palmer said. “Make sure all my grades stay up. And football related at Lackawanna, I want to make sure I finish strong and I don’t want to let all of these offers get in the way of my focus of what I’m supposed to be doing right now.” Palmer also has offers from Temple and South Florida.  He was redshirted last season and will have three to play three starting in 2015. Palmer is on track to graduate in December. DE Marquavius Lewis of Hutchinson JC, KS and DL DJ Jones of East Mississippi State now have offers from USC and Clemson.  Both have become national recruits as they move towards their final season in junior college. Lewis, a Greenwood product who played for two state championships, is thrilled to now have the option of choosing staying close to home, and having a choice within his state. “Everybody knows they lost Clowney and another end so they need someone to come in with a little bit of experience,” Lewis said of USC. “Both of the schools are in-state and both are close to home.  It’s another blessing and great opportunity to say I have both offers. But I don’t think it’s a priority to up and choose one of them right away.” He also has offers from Alabama, Florida, Kansas State, Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas, Miami, Missouri, West Virginia and Auburn. “If I just keep a level head about everything, everything will work itself out,” he said. But he admitted his fami-

ly would like him close to home. He’d like to make his decision by the end of this season. Last season Lewis had 60 tackles with 17 for loss and 6.5 sacks. Jones grew up a Clemson fan while attending Wren High School, but the Tigers didn’t recruit him in high school. Despite getting that offer, Jones said he wasn’t tempted to commit quickly.  “It was more happy than to pull the trigger,” he said.  “I know to keep them in my top five, my top ten whenever I go down the list.” Jones also has offers from Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida State, Ole Miss, South- Phil Kornblut ern Cal, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Contributing Writer Kentucky, Arkansas and LSU. Jones was at Clemson Saturday to watch spring practice. He plans to formulate his top ten soon and he expects Clemson and USC to be on that list. There are no favorites at this point. Jones had 49 tackles with 8 sacks last season. OL Shane Lemieux of Yakima, WA was offered last week by USC and is very interested in the Gamecocks. In fact, he will visit them next weekend. And while in the Palmetto State, he may get over to Clemson as well. Lemieux’s father lives in Lancaster and a friend of his made the contact with USC that got the ball rolling with the Gamecocks.  The same friend has also made contact with Clemson and something could be brewing there as well. “The Gamecock, Clemson rivalry, I mean I’m a Gamecock but I’m definitely keeping it open. That would be my first ACC offer.  I just want to see where Clemson sees itself going. I’d love to get an offer from them.” Lemieux has visited Oregon, Washington and Washington State in recent weeks. “Gamecocks and Oregon are definitely my top right now. I definitely want to get down to visit Boise State, Arizona State and Cal.  They are good teams and I feel like they would be up there too.” Utah offered Lemieux last week and he also has offers from East Carolina and Idaho. WR KJ Hill (6-0 180) of North Little Rock, AR has been offered by USC along with Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Arizona State, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Arkansas State, Texas Tech, Georgia, Oklahoma and

major programs interested in him. Sheppard made an official visit to USC in early February and the Gamecocks became the frontrunners at that point and Huckaby said Martin was the primary reason for that.  “He likes the values that Frank Martin stands for, just like I do,” Huckaby said.  “How Frank coaches his team and his desire to win, but more importantly Shamiek really appreciates the discipline and the structure that Frank demands of his players and the accountability.” Huckaby was certainly aware of the controversy stirred up around Martin last week but said Sheppard is not afraid of that inyour-face style of coaching. “There’s not a coach in America that doesn’t get in a player’s face and say some tough words,” Huckaby said. “My opinion is Frank has taken a hit to that unnecessarily.  I don’t see people making those same comments about some very well known coaches coaching today, so why he gets piled on on that and other coaches get a pass I have no idea.” Sheppard averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds per game this season and his coach says he’s the type of player he could call on to fill a variety of roles. “His passion is just to win,” he said. “If that requires some offensive output, he’ll do that. The defensive end and glass, he’ll do that. If it’s to play point guard, he’ll do that. He’s a versatile player and that’s something I tried to emphasize.” Sheppard is very athletic and his coach said he gets his points in a variety of ways.  “Mid-range, low block, transition, defensive steals, he’ll hit a three very now and then. He’s a guy that’s going to fill the stats in a lot of areas, but more importantly he’s used to winning.” Sheppard becomes the third member of USC’s 2014 class joining guards Marcus Stroman and Temarcus Blanton. He will sign during the spring signing period in April. 2014 C Adonis Delarosa of New York will announce April 18. His top 5 is South Basketball News: Carolina, St. John’s, Rutgers, Fordham & 6-6 Shamiek Sheppard of Fishburne Hofstra. Military School in Waynesboro, VA comFormer USC signee 6-9 Tyrone Haughton mitted to USC last Monday according to his of Iowa Western JC has committed to Pittscoach Ed Huckaby Jr. Sheppard is a New burgh. York City native who signed with Towson in The Miami native signed with USC when 2013, but after qualifying late, he decided to Darrin Horn was the coach, but was told by enroll at Fishburne to enhance his recruiting Frank Martin he would not be able to get stock and his coach said he had several other him into school academically.

Penn State among others. Hill wants to take all five of his official visits prior to announcing a decision and says he does not have any favorites. He did say, however, he has the Gamecocks high on his meter. “They got coach Spurrier there and I’ve been watching him for a long time,” Hill said. “I like his offense and I think I could fit in there. He has put a lot of players in the NFL. It’s a place I think I could develop and get to the next level.” Hill named Georgia, Oklahoma State, and Alabama as other schools he likes. Hill has plans to visit USC, Alabama and Notre Dame this spring but says nothing is set. He has family in North Carolina. ATH Jalen Christian of Damascus, MD announced a short list of 11 schools he’s still considering, and USC is on that list.  Also making the cut were Duke, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Tennessee, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Christian also has offers from Clemson, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Virginia Tech. He recently visited Maryland and has been to USC. East Carolina is the first school to offer OL Shaq Crouch (6-5 333) of Johnsonville according to his coach Lewis Lineburger. Several other schools continue to show a lot of interest in Crouch including USC, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, NC State and North Carolina. Crouch said USC is his favorite right now. USC last week joined the numerous schools around the country to offer highly skilled TE Jackson Harris (6-5 240) of Columbia, TN.  “It’s a big SEC offer that I’m excited about,” Harris said. “Look forward to looking into them.” Clemson was a very early offer for Harris and he visited there last season for the Boston College game. He’s been strong on the Tigers and they remain a factor. “Still think very highly of them, talk to coach Caldwell about every other week,” he said. Harris has visited Alabama and Florida. He doesn’t have any other visits planned right now. He does not have favorites at this point.

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Champs, continued from page 2

photo by Allen Sharpe

Gamecock Club Executive Director Patrick McFarland greets Arthur and Dorothy Joseph.

Gamecock Club honors longstanding members by mike kucharski The Gamecock Club honored its long-time members before the historic women’s basketball SEC regular-season championship in the Colonial Life Arena. Gamecock Club members for 45 consecutive years or more were welcomed with a celebration in the McGuire Club prior to the women’s basketball game between the Gamecocks and Georgia. “Right now it’s a great time to be a Gamecock, maybe the best that it ever has been,” Pete Stokes, Gamecock Club member and previous Legendary Fan of the Game honoree said. “I’ve been a Gamecock fan a long time and things are about as good as they ever have been.” Willard Lassiter, a Gamecock Club member for 65 years, said that it was an honor to have the Gamecock Club celebrate the long-time members and he was happy to be able to make it out. Gene and Jan Schofield of the Fairfield County chapter also said they were happy to attend and it was nice to be honored while getting to watch the Gamecocks win the SEC championship. After guests were served a dinner, Gamecock Club executive director Patrick McFarland, executive director of My Carolina Alumni Association Jack Claypoole and South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner addressed the guests. McFarland thanked all the Gamecock Club members in attendance and pointed out the section reserved for the special guests before introducing Claypoole. “We have a lot of our life members here. We can’t do this without a great partnership between our alumni and Gamecock Club members. Not only is our basketball team going to make history on the court tonight, you all buying tickets have helped us make history here at the Colonial Life Arena by showing

your interest and support to help us cheer on our Gamecocks and we greatly appreciate it,” Claypoole said before introducing Tanner. Tanner next addressed the group and thanked them for their years of support and pumped up the excitement in the room for the game. “This is a tremendous celebration and when you were invited here tonight, you didn’t really know that it was going to be a historic night, but it is a historic night … thank you all for your years that you’ve been a part of Carolina athletics and the University of South Carolina. We’ve got almost 17,000 members of the Gamecock Club and we’re going to continue to build … we have wonderful fans here and we have loyal fans. You are the foundation; you are the bedrock of our organization. So as we celebrate tonight, we celebrate you,” Tanner said. After the reception, McFarland talked about what the commitment of those honored means to the Gamecock Club. “This is phenomenal. We have over 800 members who have over 45 years of consecutive membership and that speaks volumes. It speaks to the loyalty of our fans,” McFarland explained. “It’s not just about winning and losing; it’s about wanting to support the Gamecocks. They are raised, born and bred and always will be Gamecocks, so their support is the bedrock of the Gamecock Club. “What better night to do it than when we win our first SEC women’s basketball championship. Obviously we’re already co-champs, but as coach Staley said, we want to be greedy. We want our long-time fans to be here to see it because they’ve earned the right to be here and see us win that championship,” McFarland added. In all 500 people attended the celebration, 200 from the Gamecock Club and 50 from My Carolina all with guests, to be honored before the game and watch the Gamecocks beat the Bulldogs for the outright SEC regular-season championship.

Georgia ended the inaugural half of action shooting 25.8 percent (8-for-31). The Gamecocks commenced the second frame by keeping their lead in double digits with South Carolina clinging to a 13-point 38-25 lead after a Mitchell layup with 15:22 left in the contest. The South Carolina advantage was 14 points at 55-41 with a little over six minutes left. The Gamecocks would keep their lead in double digits from there with the Gamecocks emerging with the 11-point win. South Carolina finished its win over Georgia shooting 41.9 percent (18-for-43) as a team. The Gamecocks concluded the contest shooting 78.8 percent (30-of-38) from the free throw line as a team. Georgia closed out its loss shooting 32.8 percent (22-for-67) from the field as a team. Mitchell led all in the game with a careerbest 25 points. She shot 70 percent (7-for10) from the field and she was a perfect 10-for-10 at the charity stripe. Mitchell also had six rebounds, two assists and two steals. Coates was the only other Gamecock in double figures with 18 points. She also had eight boards. Coates was 8-for-10 from the free throw line and 5-for-9 from the field in the game.

Two Bulldogs closed the game in double figures with Erika Ford leading the way with 17 points. The Gamecocks finished their victory over Georgia with 11 blocks. Elem Ibiam claimed five of the 11 blocks in the contest for South Carolina. South Carolina and Georgia ended the game with each obtaining 38 boards. The SEC regular-season champion Gamecocks will learn their fate for the NCAA Championship on Monday, March 17 at 7 p.m. during the live NCAA Tournament Selection Show. The selection show will be broadcast live on ESPN, but Gamecock fans are encouraged to come to the Colonial Life Arena with doors opening at 5:45 p.m. with many promotions for those in attendance. The first round of the NCAA Tournament begins on either March 22 or 23, depending on the site. With the NCAA Tournament still in South Carolina’s future, Staley and the Gamecocks know that conference regularseason championship is just the beginning this year. Staley at this time does not know exactly what that means or where the year will go from here, but she is excited about the prospects. “I don’t know,” Staley said. “To be SEC Champions, I think they put us in position to compete with the rest of the country.”

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Check out the all-new by Brian hand

When Aiken Communications was awarded the rights to produce Spurs & Feathers it was with the understanding that for the first time ever that along with the publication there would also be a website with daily coverage as well as a strong social media presence. To this end, was created. We also made a strong push on social media on Facebook and Twitter. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever imagine that we would have such a great grouping of individuals visiting daily. We also could never imagine that in less than eight months we would have almost 4,000 followers on Twitter, while also compiling almost 6,000 likes on Facebook. Since taking over the publication in early August of 2013, the current Spurs & Feathers editorial staff has produced 19 newspaper editions as well as two magazines. Our staff has made it a point to make all editions of Spurs & Feathers visually appealing. From hearing from many of you, we are ecstatic that you have enjoyed what we have produced so far in the 2013-14 athletic year. To this end, we also wanted a website that reflected our approach to make Spurs & Feathers aesthetically appealing to everyone. We feel that we have accomplished that with the all-new The website was developed through a lot of hard work between our staff and our new website provider, PrestoSports. PrestoSports, founded in 2002, is a leading provider of athletic content management software to colleges and conference offices across the country. It markets solutions for website design and hosting, live stats, award management, merchandising, officiating and photo hosting. When designing the all-new we made sure to make it simple to use for all those in Gamecock Nation. The first thing you see when you visit the website is the dominant photos that link directly to the stories. Right under that is our banner ads that celebrate all things Gamecock as well as our advertisers. Under that you can see there is a simple tabbed area that shows you everything going on with our social media avenues. There is also a calendar that shows you all the South Carolina athletic events as well as Gamecock Club events. The final tab is for the latest headlines. To the right of the tabbed area is one of our favorite areas of the new website. This area shows you the cover of our latest magazine and newspaper editions. If you click on the covers it will take you to each edition.

At the top of is the new logo for Spurs & Feathers along with each of our sections. The headlines section allows you to click on the headlines and the news area takes you to our special daily Current News & Notes from around Gamecock Nation section. The community link gives you direct access to the Gamecock Club website as well as the South Carolina Athletics website, the University of South Carolina website and the My Carolina Alumni Association website. The columns area has all the latest columns from featured Spurs & Feathers columnists Ed Girardeau, Andy Demetra and Phil Kornblut. One spot over in the directory is all you need to know about our staff here at Spurs & Feathers. The past editions section takes you directly to the covers of each of the 2013-14 editions

of Spurs & Feathers. All you have to do is click on each cover to access the edition. Finally, the social directory section gives you direct access to like our Facebook page as well as how to follow us on Twitter. You can also watch all of our videos in the Spurs & Feathers YouTube playlist. Also, at the top of the new you will see links to our Facebook page, our YouTube playlist and the Spurs & Feathers calendar. For more information or to subscribe to Spurs & Feathers, please call 1-800-559-2311. The annual subscription price is $50. Gamecock Club members at the Century giving level and above will receive the print publications as part of their membership. For more information about the Gamecock Club, please visit this link. Thanks for your support of Spurs & Feathers. Go Gamecocks!

March 19, 2014

A Shawesome halftime celebration by mike kucharski

dance including Victor Hampton, Kelcy Quarles and Bruce Ellington who was honored himself during the Senior Day celebration Legendary Gamecock quarterback Connor with the basketball team. Shaw was unable to attend the recognition “It’s good to be back home with you guys. for the South Carolina football team during Man, I’ve missed this place. First of all I’d like the Ole Miss game earlier this year, but he got to thank coach Spurrier for … helping me to a night to himself on March 4 at halftime of become the quarterback that I am,” Shaw said. the South Carolina-Florida men’s basketball “All the coaches here - my quarterback coach game. (G.A.) Mangus developed me each and every Head coach Steve Spurrier took the floor year to get me to where I am now to have a first to introduce and welcome Connor Shaw chance to play in the NFL. I appreciate that. - even though he needs no introduction for “There is a reason why I never lost at home Gamecock fans. and that’s because of you guys right here. Y’all “Back on Jan. 18 we had our football team make Williams-Brice the hardest place to play out here and honored and recognize those in the country when we’re out there. Keep it guys to celebrate what we had done, like up for these other guys and I love you all. Go three-straight 11-2 season, three-straight Janu- Cocks!,” Shaw concluded. ary 1 bowl victories, three-straight top-10 finAfter the halftime ceremony Spurrier made ishes, five-straight state championships and 18 a few more comments as well. consecutive home victories,” Spurrier opened. “It was real nice to get Connor here and “Our quarterback wasn’t able to be here bethe fans give him a nice ovation and so forth. cause he was playing in an all-star game out in Certainly all the successes, all the accomplishCalifornia; well he’s here tonight.” ments, he probably played the biggest role of Spurrier then went through some of Shaw’s any of us. So it was nice for him to get a little excellent records and statistics, including his ovation here tonight,” Spurrier said. “He’s 27-5 record as a starter and the 17-0 record at very good on and off the field. He’s already home. He also noted Shaw’s 24-to-1 touchgraduated; he’s a model student-athlete. He’s down to interception ratio this past season what we all hope they all are, but obviously and the comeback that Shaw led in Columbia, they don’t all perform and act the way Connor Mo. over the fifth-ranked Tigers among other has done it. He’s got a wonderful attitude. I achievements. Spurrier even joked that the think he’ll go a long way; I think he’ll play in home stadium could be renamed “Williamsthe NFL and whatever he does in life he’ll be Brice-Shaw Stadium.” To the delight of the successful.” fans, Spurrier also congratulated the GameShaw also took some time afterward to talk cock baseball team on its sweep of “that Upabout what a meaningful time the ceremony state school” over the weekend as well. was for him. Finally Spurrier recapped Shaw’s MVP per“I’ve been looking forward to this. I wasn’t formance in this year’s Capital One Bowl vic- here the last time that coach introduced the tory over Wisconsin before introducing Shaw players, so it was really special for me to come and saying that he may have been the biggest back and see the fans like this. The support contributor to all of the recent successes for was great and I’m very appreciative,” Shaw Gamecock football. said. “It was very special for me for coach Shaw then took the microphone and adSpurrier to come out and say all that and addressed the fans in attendance. Many of dress me to the fans like this. It’s something Shaw’s former teammates were also in atten- that I won’t ever forget.”

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Martin working hard to build program, make Gamecock fans proud by brian hand

the SEC. The five wins in league play were one more than Martin’s first year at the helm. South Carolina started the year 1-9 South Carolina head men’s basketball in league play, but including their two SEC coach Frank Martin truly appreciates what Tournament wins over Auburn and ArkanDawn Staley has done for the women’s bassas the Gamecocks were able to finish their ketball program at the University of South year off at 6-5 in their last 11 games. South Carolina. Carolina won four of its last six games. When she arrived many said an SEC South Carolina’s 2-1 record in the 2014 championship and national relevance was SEC Tournament marked the first time the almost an impossibility. Six years later, Gamecocks had captured two wins in the Staley’s Gamecocks claimed the SEC reguleague tournament since 2006. The tournalar-season championship. ment-opening win over Auburn garnered When Martin took over the South CaroSouth Carolina its first SEC Tournament lina men’s basketball program almost two victory since 2008. years ago he knew it was going to take After the SEC Tournament quarterfinal some time, but he also knew South Carolina loss to Tennessee on Friday, March 14, was a special place and that is one of the Martin remarked how proud he was of his main reasons Martin among a host of other team. coaches, including Staley and Gamecock “I couldn’t be prouder of our guys,” Marhead football head coach Steve Spurrier, tin remarked. “We’re at Texas A&M, and have decided to call Columbia home. we had spent two and a half months develEcstatic for Staley and the SEC regularoping a style of play because of our personseason champion South Carolina women’s nel and after that game we had to revamp basketball team, Martin is confident those everything (due to Tyrone Johnson injury). good times are coming for the men’s basketOur whole thought process, our continuity, ball program as well. we had to change because we didn’t have “It’s coming for us too … our marketing a point guard any more. We didn’t have a people are telling me that our home atpoint guard to play the system that we had tendance is going to be the best it’s been in implemented. almost six years,” Martin said. “Ole Miss “Duane (Notice) and Sindarius (Thornwe had close to 15 (thousand) in here. The well) did a great job. Brent (Williams) kind Georgia crowd was pretty good.” of spread his wings and grew as a player. South Carolina’s Colonial Life Arena Like I’m telling you, just check a month photo by travis bell/sideline carolina ago. A month ago we stepped on the floor is the fourth-largest basketball facility in South Carolina senior guard Brenton Williams celebrated with fans on the court afer the against the same Tennessee team and there the conference with a seating capacity Gamecocks took down No. 17 Kentucky at the Colonial Life Arena on Saturday, March 1. was a mismatch. Today we fought. Today of 18,000. Only Kentucky’s Rupp Arena (23,500), Tennesee’s Thompson-Boling we got shots. Today we grabbed rebounds. Arena (21,678) and Arkanasas’ Bud Walton of the arenas. So our fans are doing a pretty A diehard Miami Dolphins fan, Martin Today we fought them on defense. It just Arena (19,368) have a higher seating capac- good job. Now we have to continue to grow appreciates what being a fan is all about. wasn’t there,” Martin continued. ity. as a program and take advantage of the mo“You give them your emotion, your monThe future may be bright for the GameThis is a fact in which Martin is keenly ments against Ole Miss and Georgia and ey and your time it hurts you when your cock men’s basketball program, but Martin aware as he tries to build the South Carolina so forth and go wins those games. We did team doesn’t play the way you want them to does not have any expectations for his team men’s basketball program. that against Vanderbilt and it was awesome. play,” Martin articulated. “So I get that part. going into his third year in charge in the 2014-15 season. He just wants to continue to “Here’s the thing that we all have to unAgainst Alabama it’s the first time in my Fans that are right now sitting back and build the program. derstand. When you have 6, 7,000 in there time here where I feel we had a homecourt they’re still not ready to jump on board, I “My expectation is to make our players (Colonial Life Arena) it’s embarrassing, but advantage coming down the stretch in that get it. We got a great number that are. I have our fans are starting to come. Our fans are game. It’s coming.” an unbelievable responsibility to this school better,” Martin said. “My expectation is to make sure my guys don’t get in trouble, that coming.” Even with the uptick in the attendance and those fans to make sure this program they grow as men, go to class, continue the The Gamecocks closed out the year avnumbers, Martin fully understands there is built and built for the long haul … at the eraging 10,074 fans per game in 16 home are many Gamecock fans out there still on end of the day our business does not work if process ... I said it the day I got hired, I don’t have a five-year plan. I don’t know what that games (also check out story on page 22). the fence. it’s not for fans. It’s our jobs to make them means. I don’t know how to work that way. “If you go with the number of fans in our “It’s their money, their time, their emoproud to be a part of what we’re doing.” I work on today and now today’s over. Now building this tions,” Martin commented. “They have to In his efforts to take the South Carolina we have to figure out how to attack the next year, you say determine when they want to sacrifice those men’s basketball program to much higher well there’s a three things to become part of it. The fans I levels, Martin and the 2013-14 Gamecocks day. “I know this: if our young kids accept lot of empty don’t want to get on board are the ones who concluded their season with a 14-20 record work and accept responsibility, they’re goseats. Well if sit back and criticize our kids right now. with the ninth-youngest roster in Division ing to become better men, they’re going to you put that They can stay home. The ones that are still I basketball. According to ESPN’s Joe Lusame numtrying to pass judgement, that are sitting nardi the Gamecocks had the 39th-toughest become better students, they’re going to become better players. If they do that, all that ber in every back and they’re not ready to commit yet, I schedule in college basketball and despite other stuff will take care of itself. I don’t SEC arena, get it. I understand. We’ve got to play better. this and with such a youthful team the 14 get wrapped up in the future and prediction you’ve prob- All Gamecock basketball We’ve got to win more. We’ve got to earn wins still equaled Martin’s 14 wins in his coverage sponsored by ably sold out their trust for them to give us their time, first year at the helm in the 2012-13 season. or any of that stuff. I’m extremely proud of Yesterdays 80 percent their emotion.” South Carolina closed out its year 5-13 in where we’re at right now,” Martin finished.

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March 19, 2014

Gamecock football spring practice preview by mike kucharski The Gamecocks are coming off a third consecutive 11-2 season and top-10 ranking entering head coach Steve Spurrier’s 10th year in the program. The Gamecocks won their final six games to end the 2013 season. They return the entire coaching staff as they look to continue the winning ways South Carolina fans have become accustomed to in recent years. The Gamecocks return 14 of 22 starters on offense and defense from the 2013 campaign, creating some strength and continuity for the team, but there are a few questions heading into spring practice.

What to watch on offense

Spurrier has named Dylan Thompson to be the starting quarterback for the upcoming season and his in-game experience should help him to try to fill the big shoes Connor Shaw left behind. Thompson has said that he wants to be the team leader and has shown his determination, even going out for workouts during the snow earlier in the spring semester. The major question at the position will be who will be the backup to Thompson coming out of spring practice. Sophomore Brendan Nosovitch and redshirt freshman Connor Mitch both plan to compete fiercely for the job and push Thompson. South Carolina boasts a deep, talented backfield as well with the four deep at tailback. Starter Mike Davis is a possible Heisman Trophy candidate after racking up 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns. Davis may be lightly used in the spring because of the injuries that wore on him as the hits added up late last fall. Behind him are two experienced players in Brandon Wilds and Shon Carson, both of whom contributed to the team last season. Wilds is an experienced SEC starter and Carson boasted a 100-yard rushing game against Florida in 2013. Redshirt freshman David Williams has size, speed (reportedly ran a 4.38 40 to close winter workouts) and was highly recruited out of Philadelphia coming to South Carolina and he figures to see many reps this spring. The receiving corps also has big shoes to fill with the loss of Gamecock great Bruce Ellington, but there is plenty of talent in the spring depth chart. Senior Damiere Byrd will not be used in the spring as he is still rehabbing a knee injury suffered in preparation for the Capital One Bowl, but he will figure prominently in the mix in the fall. Junior Shaq Roland will be looking for a breakout year in the fall coming off a strong end to the 2013 season and a big spring could help with that. Pharoh Cooper was used all over the field in 2013 and will see

photo by allen sharpe

Dylan Thompson is the unquestioned leader of the offense heading into spring practices. plenty of action again. Senior Nick Jones will probably see the field often despite a backup status and Shamier Jeffery, Kane Whitehurst, K.J. Brent and Jody Fuller will all compete for reps this spring and playing time in the fall. The Gamecocks return a big, experienced and talented offensive line that has four of five starters coming back this season that co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Shawn Elliott should have ready to protect in the passing game and clear the way for the talented backfield. The left side of the line is particularly strong and experienced with seniors Corey Robinson (22 career starts, started every game in 2013 season) and A.J. Cann (38 career starts, started every game but one in career). Right tackle Brandon Shell bookends the line with center position boasting experience as well. Right guard will be the spot with the lone new starter, but there is versatility and talent to fill the role.

What to watch on defense

The most secure position on the defensive side of the ball likely is the linebacking corps, which returns all of the two-deep at each position along with plenty of depth. Last season’s leader in tackles and interceptions Skai Moore returns as the starting WLB. The starters at the MLB and SPUR position return as well in Kaiwan Lewis and Sharrod Golightly. The most interesting battles will be for playing time between Lewis and T.J. Holloman in the middle spot and Golightly and a host of talented backups at Spur. Expect to see plenty of rotation in the spring to learn who the top linebackers will be in the fall. The Gamecock defensive line must overcome the loss of a pair of All-Americans in Kelcy Quarles and Jadeveon Clowney, plus Chaz Sutton and that process will begin this spring. The defensive tackle position looks to have the easiest transition with J.T. Surratt returning as a starter in one slot and an

experienced Phillip Dukes slated to start beside him. The payer to watch of this group may be transfer Abu Lamin who could make an impact and is said to be built in a Quarles-like mold. The end position sees the most turnover with Gerald Dixon and Darius English listed as starters going into the spring. There is not much experienced depth behind these two players so there will be a great competition this spring among the other ends. Cedrick Cooper is being converted from linebacker to defensive end this spring, so watch for his development. Director of strength and conditioning Joe Connolly will have to work with these players to become bigger before the season in the fall, but the group has plenty of speed off the edges already. South Carolina’s defensive backfield may be a little thin in spring practice at the cornerback positions until more recruits arrive in the fall. Ali Groves, Rico McWilliams, Sidney Rhodes and Jamari Smith are the four players slated for these positions in the spring as Smith returns to corner after playing tailback in 2013. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward says that Smith is naturally a corner and he is concerned with getting these players better because he knows there are talented players coming in August to bolster the group. The better news in the defensive backfield is the two-deep at both safety positions should be able to direct traffic in the secondary. Brison Williams and Chaz Elder are starters at safety for the spring, but T.J. Gurley and Kadetrix “J.J.” Marcus will push them as well.


It has been said “the good thing about freshmen is they become sophomores” and after having one of the youngest teams in the nation in 2013, the Gamecocks have gained some experience and age. South Carolina returns 58 lettermen from last season while losing only 10 and there are 20 seniors on this squad after having only four scholarship seniors this past fall. There should be fierce competition throughout the defense in the spring to angle for playing time next fall and although there is plenty of experience returning on offense, the players will push each other to improve. The results of spring practice sessions can be seen in the culmination of the training period at noon on April 12 for the Garnet & Black Spring Game in Williams-Brice Stadium. Admission to the game is free and it will be televised on ESPNU as well. Also, the annual Pro Timing Day is open to the public and is set for Wednesday, April 2 beginning at 10 a.m. when former Gamecocks will run through drills for NFL scouts prior to May’s NFL Draft.

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March 19, 2014

‘Being the Change’ at the SEC Tournament by mike kucharski

14 media guide. For that purpose, innersole, a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization was founded by South Carolina women’s basketball head Staley. The organization takes donations coach Dawn Staley has used the slogan of new sneakers and provides them to “Be the Change” as a motto for her team children who are homeless or who are in all season long and she continues to be need. an example of that even during the SEC “It is just an extension of ‘Be the Tournament. Change.’ Innersole is an organization that “Be the Change” refers to those in and I and a couple of my friends decided that around the program becoming the change we want somebody to benefit from having that one would want to see in the world a new pair of sneakers. I know what I felt and challenged “the program and its fans like when I got new sneakers. Obviously to commit 50,000 random acts of kindness the homeless child or the child that’s in this season in order to ‘Be the Change’ in need needs a pair of sneakers. We want to the world around them” according to the provide that and the outpour of support South Carolina women’s basketball 2013- with the shoe collections and giveaway

has been remarkable and we want to continue sharing the love,” Staley said. The organization’s website says “Innersole is a sole movement. A movement that effectively changes the negative impact of poverty on our children. A sole movement that allows a common bond of compassion and humanity uniting us by the gift of giving new sneakers and the responsibility of shaping and enduring imprint.” Even during one of the most pressurepacked times of South Carolina’s unprecedentedly successful basketball season, Staley does not forget to “Be the Change.” On Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9 at the 2014 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament in Duluth, Ga., innersole

partnered with a Girls Scouts of Greater Atlanta community initiative, Scouting for Shoes, to hold a shoe collection at the Arena at Gwinnett Center during the tournament. All gently worn shoes went to the Scouting for Shoes initiative and all new shoes donated went to innersole to help provide shoes for someone in need. Each donor received a SEC lapel pin and an innersole t-shirt. Staley said that the support has been great, but the project is ongoing and there is always a need to help children. To learn more about innersole, go to: http://www. or follow on Twitter as @innersoleorg.

March 19, 2014

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March 19, 2014

New deal, broadcast team for the SEC Network ESPN and DISH (NASDAQ: DISH) have reached an agreement for nationwide carriage of the SEC Network on DISH when the multiplatform network launches, August 14, 2014. The deal is part of a larger comprehensive long-term distribution agreement announced by DISH and the Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS). DISH is the SEC Network’s first nationwide television provider. The channel will be available to fans and followers of the Southeastern Conference in DISH’s America’s Top 120+ and higher packages across the country. DISH subscribers will also have authenticated access to additional live events scheduled for the SEC Network’s digital platform, with the ability to watch SEC Network content anytime, anywhere on their television, computer, tablet or mobile device. “Few fanbases rival the passion and loyalty of the SEC and DISH is proud to be the first nationwide television provider of the SEC Network,” said Dave Shull, DISH executive vice president and chief commercial officer. “We strive to give our customers and consumers what they want and there’s no better place for the college sports fan than with DISH.” The SEC Network and its accompanying digital platform will air more than 1,000 live events in its first year, including at least 45 exclusive SEC football games, more than 100 men’s basketball games, 60 women’s basketball games, 75 baseball games, 50 softball games and events across all of the SEC’s 21 sports. The network will be an all-access pass to nationally competitive events, news and information, expert analysis, classic games and in-depth features on the most storied conference in college athletics. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said, “this is an important day for the SEC Network. We are pleased to welcome DISH to the SEC family. More than five months ahead of the network launch, it’s exciting to have a national distributor and our first satellite provider onboard. Now SEC fans from across the country have another way to show their conference pride and sign up to get the SEC Network.” “This agreement provides DISH customers nationwide with access to every SEC college football game this fall and an unparalleled fan experience of more SEC content than ever before,” said Justin Connolly, ESPN senior vice president, college networks. Details on the SEC Network’s channel number will be available on at a later date. Financial terms and other details of the agreement were not disclosed.

About DISH

of Fame sportscaster and the former Florida quarterback have each reached an agreement with ESPN to be the lead college football game commentators on the new network. The pair will kick off the season with Texas A&M at South Carolina on the SEC Network Thursday, Aug. 28. About SEC Network “Each weekend this fall, the stories of SEC The Southeastern Conference and ESPN have football will be told by one of the legendary signed a 20-year agreement through 2034 to voices in broadcast history together with the create and operate a multi-platform network sharp insight and perspective of a former SEC which will launch in August 2014. The new student-athlete,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive network and its accompanying digital platform said. “The national team of Brent Musburger and will air SEC content 24/7, including more than Jesse Palmer brings an added level of excitement 1,000 events in its first year. The network will to the SEC Network.” televise approximately 45 SEC football games, Musburger is one of the most recognized more than 100 men’s basketball games, 60 voices in the history of sports television and he women’s basketball games, 75 baseball games, and events from across the SEC’s 21 sports annually. Programming will also include studio shows, original content such as SEC Storied, spring football games, signing day and pro days coverage. Hundreds of additional live events from various sports will be offered exclusively on the digital platform. AT&T U-Verse, DISH and National Rural Telecommunications cooperative (NRTC) have agreed to carry the SEC Network. Subscribers enjoy a high definition lineup with more than 200 national HD channels, the most international channels, and award-winning HD and DVR technology. DISH Network Corporation is a Fortune 200 company. Visit com.

Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ: signed as lead announcer team DISH), through its subsidiary DISH Network Sports broadcasting legend Brent Musburger L.L.C., provides approximately 14.057 million satellite TV customers, as of Dec. 31, 2013, with will be joined by college football analyst Jesse Palmer in the booth every Saturday on the SEC the highest quality programming and technolNetwork when it launches next fall. The Hall ogy with the most choices at the best value.

will continue to be a staple of ESPN’s sports coverage with a multi-year contract extension. In addition to lending his voice to one of the three football games slated for the network each Saturday, Brent will remain a play-by-play announcer for Big 12 college basketball games across ESPN networks. He and Palmer will call multiple college football bowl games on ESPN as well. Musburger’s new booth partner, Palmer, has also reached a new agreement with ESPN that includes the role. In addition to calling Saturday games for the conference with the most BCS Champions, he will continue as an analyst on ESPN’s Thursday Night College Football package. Palmer’s expertise will also be featured in ESPN’s extensive postseason coverage. (SEC Communications)

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March 19, 2014

Pictured: (Kneeling L-R): Chynna Ratner, Morgan LaVigne, Haley Guyton, Helen Récaborde, Paige Wheeler, Litsa Darby, Jordan Wilson-Talmadge, Shiloh Burgreen, Jade Vitt. (Standing L-R): Rebecca Hirschhorn, David Mincberg, Georgia Walker, KoKo Atoa-Wiliams, Mikela Christaansen, Sarah Blomgren, Megan Kent, Zuzanna Reszka, head coach Moritz Moritz, Colleen Nosovitch, Erin Nuenfeldt, Jordan Loney, Katie McCormick, Lauren Horton, assistant coach/recruting coordinator RJ Abella, G.A. director of sand volleyball operations Morgan Thomas.

Sand volleyball opens spring competition, first home dates approaching by Mike Kucharski

first hand what it is that we’re working to get to … it was a long trip, but at the same time the level of excitement just kept us going.” South Carolina’s newest sport has kicked South Carolina began the season 2-4 by off its championship season as the Gamealso claiming a victory over Florida Atlantic cock sand volleyball team prepares to host and narrowly falling, 3-2, to Mercer in Atits first home competition at the brand new lanta. facility. “It’s always tough because you don’t want The Gamecocks got their inaugural season to come back from any weekend with a losunderway March 8 with a tournament in ing record, but I think the most valuable Jacksonville, Fla. and earned the program’s piece is ‘what did we learn and what strides first victory over Jacksonville University, are we taking to get going in the right direc3-2, on the first day of competition. The tion?’ Really we got to gauge where we are Gamecocks faced six teams over a fourin relation to some of these other programs day stretch to get the season started, facing that have been doing it for the last two years. North Florida, Jacksonville, Florida Interna- To know where we are in year one versus tional and Florida Atlantic in Jacksonville, where some of the programs are in year then traveling to Atlanta to take on Mercer three is very encouraging to us as coaches and Georgia State. and to the players as well,” “The first win was aweMoritz commented. some, but just competition Playing in six competiin general was great. I think tions in four days put to test that’s what the girls were so the Gamecocks strength and hungry for was just to see conditioning programs and how they measure up against All Gamecock sand volleyball also helped to identify the coverage sponsored by other teams and to also have strengths and weaknesses that feeling of being able to James W. Smith Real Estate Co. of the program according compete against somebody to Moritz. He noted that the that you’re not so familiar with,” head coach competition helped to highlight some things Moritz Moritz said of the opening weekend. that the team can work on and tweak going “The weekend helped to build some perforward. Moritz added that despite a loss to spective to see what an FIU looked like who Georgia State close the season-opening trip, is currently No. 9 in the country and play he felt it was the best the team competed the against teams that are really good … a lot whole weekend, ending on a positive note. of the teams we faced were represented in “It was reassuring to know that the kids the last AVCA Championship, so it’s kind of were ready and willing to take that step - recool to see that level and really start to get gardless of the conditions or other variables

that you can’t or don’t expect - and work through it with incredible effort,” Moritz expounded. “I think the most important thing is that the girls are just as hungry at the beginning of a tournament as they are at the end of the tournament. Regardless of what happens in between, we’re just as eager to compete and just as eager to learn and improve. We want to end on a high note regardless of the result.” The Gamecocks will get to put their brand new facility on display to the public as they host Oregon, UAB, LSU and LouisianaMonroe in the program’s first-ever home competitions. South Carolina hosts Oregon on Friday, March 21 at 7 p.m. to kick off the weekend before facing UAB (3:15 p.m.) and LSU (7 p.m.) on Saturday, March 22. The home-opening weekend will close on Sunday, March 23 as the Gamecocks face off with ULM at 1:15 p.m. Moritz noted that the excitement level and anticipation for the home-opening weekend have been building among the team and coaching staff, as well as around the community. The program has been featured on local newscasts, Moritz has made radio appearances and even participated in a Twitter Q&A session to help build excitement and raise awareness of the program leading into the home matches. “I think it’s something that we take from every other sport on this campus similarly; Williams-Brice is one of the hardest places to play in the country, when Colonial Life is packed out … it creates a huge advantage. That’s something that we’re not neces-

sarily used to ourselves, but it’s definitely something that we want to create,” Moritz said. “We’re excited about developing this environment around the combination of the beach culture and combining with SEC culture. That’s going to be the fun piece of this whole thing. “I think slowly but surely our facility is turning into one of the best, if not the best, in the country and we’re going to bring in the people who are going to come in and see really what our sport is all about, what our program is all about and see how we compete. They will see that what these girls do is high-level, competitive stuff,” Moritz concluded.

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Fan support grows for Gamecock basketball teams by Mike Kucharski

“the Roost.” Out of this came the hashtag #BoosttheRoost, which both Martin and the players utilized throughout the year. The The attendance numbers for both of South women’s team had the #WBBTweetWk with Carolina’s basketball programs grew this multiple promotions, giveaways, questionseason over the previous year and combined and-answer sessions and special insights over 250,000 fans attended Gamecock bas- into the program the week the Gamecocks ketball games in the Colonial Life Arena hosted Ole Miss and Missouri. this season. The Gamecock women’s basketball team The SEC regular-season champion South also drew the second-largest crowd in CoCarolina women’s basketball team drew the lonial Life Arena history in each of its final 10th-most fans in the nation with 101,935 two home games, with the Georgia game fans attending games. South Carolina was (12,458) - when the Gamecocks claimed third in the SEC in attendance behind Tenthe SEC regular season title - displacing the nessee and Kentucky. Florida game (10,547) as the second-best South Carolina’s men’s basketball team attended. drew 161,117 fans this season, good for the “We always joke that the best marketsixth-best attendance numbers in the SEC. ing tool is winning, so winning definitely In explaining the uptick in the attendance helped there but even early in the season we numbers, marketing director Josh Waters saw season ticket sales jumping,” Waters describes a tool belt that the department said. “After Dawn was inducted into the uses to help raise support for all of the proHall of Fame, we put out the “Drive for 5.” grams on campus. He said She wore number five and that just like building a house the goal was to average 5,000 uses multiple tools, creating fans. In my five years here support for and a buzz around I’ve learned that Gamecock teams takes multiple tools. fans respond well to a chal“For both the men and the lenge, so they jumped behind women, (head coaches) Frank that and did really well which (Martin) and Dawn (Staley) was huge for the home court are both the best marketing advantage.” All Gamecock basketball On the men’s side, Waters tools that we have. They do anything for us,” Waters said. coverage sponsored by said the marketing department Yesterdays “We know how active Dawn helped to create the Coca-Cola and her team are in the comfamily section, which almost munity and Frank is wonderful. He’ll go on completely sold out the promotion that inthe day of the game to Greene Street (in the cluded four tickets, four drinks and a t-shirt heart of campus) … the students get behind for the season as part of the ticket package. him too.” “Families really got behind that so we Both coaches talked throughout the season were excited and hope that for years to come about the home court advantage the the fans it just keeps expanding so instead of one created and thanked them for their help in section, we can do two or three sections,” making the Colonial Life Arena a tough Waters commented. atmosphere for opposing teams. Waters also Waters also credited the entire sports marmentioned the in-game entertainment and keting staff and assistant director Lauryn the big heads in the stands to find different Dugan for helping with all the work that ways to entertain the fans during the games goes into promoting the teams and running as well. the entertainment during the games. He said “In this day and age, it’s not just about go- that the whole staff worked really hard on ing to a game anymore. People want to be helping to promote the basketball programs entertained, dollars are tighter in every fam- all year long. ily and it’s more than just going to a game; The women’s basketball team raised its they want an event. We were able to do that, season ticket sales by about 61 percent from which was a huge help with attendance,” 3,952 to 6,371 while the average attendance Waters said. rose about 81 percent. The men’s basketball Another important tool the marketing team increased it’s season ticket sales by department used to garner support is social 10 percent and improved it’s average attenmedia. There was a contest to rename the dance by 17 percent to over 10,000 fans per student section and the students decided on game.

Check out the all-new

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Sweep, continued from page 6

Reedy River Rivalry Tailgate Fundraiser makes rivalry even more unique by Brian hand

The Reedy River Rivalry Tailgate Fundraiser put together by the Single-A affiliate of the Red Sox this year started four hours before The college baseball rivalry between South first pitch and ran until 6 p.m. Carolina and Clemson is arguably the best in The special event featured live music from all of college baseball. Spencer Rush, Doug McCormick and The Over the recent years the rivalry has become Swingin’ Richards. There was also a special even more unique in that they have played one children’s area with face painting, balloons game at Carolina Stadium, one game at Fluor and bounce houses. Field in Greenville, S.C. and one game at In addition, there were beverages and food Clemson’s Doug Kingsmore Stadium. for sale for all in attendance. The three different venues over the course Both South Carolina and Clemson had speof the weekend makes for logistical troubles, cial booths at the fundraiser with the Gamebut nevertheless South Carolina and Clemson cock and Tiger cheerleaders in attendance. seem to be in favor of the current arrangeCocky and the Clemson mascot also made an ment. appearance. “I think we like it this way and I think All the proceeds from the Reedy River RiClemson does as well,” Holbrook said of the valry Tailgate Fundraiser benefited Donate three-venue series. “It is unique, but you get Life SC. one game at home, one game at their place “To have both schools come here and parand one game at a neutral site. It’s great for ticipate in this game and play in a neutral site the fans in the state of South Carolina and is just unbelievable,” Greenville Drive general it’s great for our fans in Greenville - they get manager Eric Jarinko noted. “Also to creto watch us come play there. I think that it’s ate such a unique atmosphere outside of the great for both baseball programs … the venballpark with some of the local restaurants ues are great. Our facility we think is good, and having some musical acts ... really makes Clemson has got a great facility and playing a unique environment that will make the at Fluor Field is always fun for our players,” schools want to come back and play here each Holbrook expounded. year. To see this turnout is great.” The Reedy River Rivalry game in GreenJarinko says that the Drive go out of their ville over the past couple of years through the way to mirror Boston’s Yawkey Way and they efforts of Fluor Field tenant the Greenville plan to continue having the all-day fun for Drive has made the event into an all-day afSouth Carolina and Clemson fans as long as fair for fans of South Carolina and Clemson. the game is played in Greenville.

favor of the Tigers. Things dramatically changed in the top of the ninth with the Gamecocks plating four runs to take a 5-3 advantage. All four runs came with the two outs. Kyle Martin got things going in the inning when he singled up the middle. Grayson Greiner then singled up the middle to place runners at first and second. Pinch-hitter Brison Celek then singled through the left side to load the bases for Mooney. Mooney took advantage of the situation, singling to centerfield to score Martin and Greiner and tie the game at 3-3. Tanner English then doubled down the left field line to bring home Mooney and Zack Madden, who had come in as a pinchrunner. The two-out, two-RBI double by English put the Gamecocks ahead 5-3. After the game, English was obviously ecstatic to sweep a series, let alone a series against your Palmetto State rival. “I think to sweep in any series is huge,” English mused. “Coach Holbrook always says the team that wins on Sundays is going to go far into the postseason.” Connor Bright led the Gamecocks at the dish in their third game win over Clemson, going 3-for-4. He has now hit safely in every Gamecock game this season.

English ended his efforts by going 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Mooney had two RBIs and a run scored. Slaton, who was named the Bob Bradley Clemson MVP of the three-game series, finished Clemson’s third game loss by going 3-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI. Duggar was 3-for-4 with an RBI for Clemson. South Carolina’s Grayson Greiner, who had the grand slam in the series-opening win on Friday, was chosen as the Tom Price South Carolina MVP of the series. Greiner was 1-for-3 with a run scored in the third game victory. Gamecock reliever Cody Mincey pitched the final two innings to claim the win on the mound for South Carolina. Mincey struck out three and allowed just two hits. Gamecock starter Wil Crowe dealt the first 6.2 innings. He allowed three earned runs and eight hits. Crowe fanned two. Clemson reliever Clate Schmidt suffered the loss on the hill. He pitched the final 2.2 innings. He allowed four runs, but struck out five Gamecocks. Clemson as a team out-hit South Carolina in the game, 11-10. The Gamecocks left five on base in the contest, while Clemson stranded seven.

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Gamecock athletics spring sports roundup Staff reports

ries to close the fall, South Carolina obviously commenced the five regular-season Equestrian finishes regular-season on events on their spring schedule with a great high note, looking to championships deal of confidence. The Gamecocks have The nationally top-ranked Gamecock placed third as a team in each of their two equestrian team closed out the regular seaspring tournaments thus far, placing four son with a 13-7 victory over University of golfers in the top-25 at the most recent tourTennessee-Martin to secure the most regunament, the Cleveland Golf Palmetto Interlar-season wins in program history at 11. collegiate in Aiken, S.C. Head coach Boo Major said that the mileMcDonald noted that despite a pair of topstone was great for the team and she was 3 team finishes, the Gamecocks still have a proud of the records and recognitions the great deal to work on going forward. team has achieved this season. “I think it’s a sign of how talented the team “It’s kind of funny because it’s really is that we can have an off week - one of the something that we didn’t even know that we worst weeks we’ve had all year - and still be had done … I think it’s great,” Major said. in contention,” McDonald remarked. “We “Breaking records is all good and fine, but have a whole lot to work on (with) our short in the long run it’s really just a matter of game. We need to spend a lot of time around whether or not you’re up to the level of com- the greens. peting with everyone else in the SEC on any “This (Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiven day. So I’m certainly thrilled for our giate) is a great lesson for these guys to work team, I think that they’ve worked really hard on their decision making,” McDonald comthis year at home and away. mented. “We played way too aggressive and The Gamecocks locked up the top seed in Palmetto will burn you. Good lessons all the upcoming SEC Championships by dearound and we’ll make the necessary adjustfeating Auburn, 12-7, on March 1, creating a ments and get ready for Wilmington.” matchup with fourth-seeded Texas A&M in The Gamecocks are next in action at the the first round of the conference champion- Seahawk Intercollegiate hosted by UNC ship. South Carolina and Texas A&M split Wilmington. The tournament will be contheir two matches during the season with tested on Sunday, March 16 and Monday, each winning at home. March 17 at the Country Club of Landfall in “Certainly they’re going to be a challenge Wilmington, N.C.  and when you look at all the teams that haven’t beaten us, Texas A&M is the only Women’s golf building off spring start team that has beaten us outright this year South Carolina’s women’s golf team has … so we’re definitely very wary of Texas had a strong start to the spring season, movA&M. We know that they have the ability ing up in the rankings and they hope to to beat us. They’ve done it before and could maintain their level of play as the schedule do it again and if we’re not at the top of our moves toward postseason play. The Gamegame and really prepared for what’s comcock are ranked eighth in the latest Golfstat ing at SECs, they could very easily beat us rankings and they continue to challenge again,” Major commented. themselves with the grueling schedule that The Gamecocks will begin the SEC Cham- head coach Kalen Harris has composed. pionship hosted at their home facility on Fri“It’s always nice to see your ranking go up, day, March 28 at 10 a.m. taking on Auburn. but we try not to get too caught up in (rankOn Saturday, March 29 the Gamecocks will ings). It’s just a poll part of the way through match up with either Auburn or Georgia at the year and we’re always pushing to the either 9 a.m. or 2 p.m. depending on the repostseason. The end of the season is the sults of the first day. most important; when we get to the SEC, the Regional and the National Championships Men’s golf using each event to improve are really where it counts,” Harris commentSeventh-year South Carolina men’s golf ed. “I know it gives us some confidence, head coach Bill McDonald expects a lot out gives the players some confidence, but of his team and he should. The Gamecocks certainly we’re not going to be complacent. have proven that they are a force in the colWe’re working hard toward the postseason legiate golf world and their schedule to date and that’s really where our goals are set for this year has just reinforced the continual the future. growth of the program.  “We’ve really had four core people step The Gamecocks have a great deal of talent up here with Katelyn Dambaugh, Sarah and are currently just outside of the top-25 at Schmelzel, Sam Swinehart and Justine DreNo. 26 in both the Golfstat rankings and the her these last couple events of the spring. Golf World/Nike Golf Division I Coaches’ They’ve really stepped up and kind of sepaPoll. rated themselves and they’ve done great Coming off the back-to-back team victothings in the fall as well … I think the things

that they’ve been doing mentally and working on in practice have carried them through and we’ll continue to see good things from them throughout the regular season,” Harris said of the individual play. South Carolina has two more events left in the spring before going into the SEC Championships in Birmingham, Ala. on April 1820. The Gamecocks will travel to Greensboro, N.C. for the Bryan National Collegiate on March 28-30 and go to Tempe, Ariz. for the PING ASU Invitational April 4-6. In the last two regular-season tournaments, Harris said that she hopes to see the team continue to do the things that they have been doing well - working on the short game, the individually-tailored mental work of controlling emotions and hitting one shot at a time, putting to build confidence and working on all-around mentality. “Those are some of the things that we’re going to focus on the rest of the year and we should be pretty good to go from there. I just want to see them playing the best golf they can as the season winds down and we reach the postseason,” Harris concluded. Softball begins SEC eyeing postseason South Carolina’s softball team has gotten through the early-season schedule successfully with a signature win at third-ranked Arizona State and now they will face top competition the rest of the season in the nation’s premier softball conference. Head coach Beverly Smith knows that the Gamecocks must carry the momentum from their early season success into conference play in order to have the confidence and to earn spots in postseason play. “I thought it was a great experience for our team because Arizona State has a great softball team and it showed our team the talent that we have when we play good softball, we can compete with anybody,” Smith remarked. “I talk about it all the time, it’s about who plays best on gameday and we played a great softball game for seven innings … I think it just showed our team that when we put together a good game we can compete with any team in the country.” The Gamecocks showed that in league play recently as well as they took a series from No. 13 Texas A&M in Columbia, S.C. Now that South Carolina is into the thick of SEC competition, Smith said that some of the more experienced players will be counted on to guide some through the difficult schedule that features teams five more teams that are currently ranked in the top25, including a trip to No. 2 Tennessee for three games from March 21-23. “Every time we’re walking into an SEC series it’s tough, but this stretch with Texas A&M followed by Tennessee is tough. There

is no easy away venue to play at either,” Smith commented. “I like our home schedule and I certainly hope that our fans will come out and support us so we can get those wins at home. “I think it’s important for us to feel like we have a home-field advantage and that’s what is exciting about the new stadium. It’s exciting that we have the number of season ticket holders that we do, so I think it’s important for them to come on gameday and let the other team feel our presence because it helps our players,” Smith added. South Carolina will next be at home hosting a doubleheader with Furman on March 25. They then welcome Ole Miss for a threegame conference set March 28-30. Men’s tennis looking to capitalize from early-season experience South Carolina’s men’s tennis team has faced challenging opponents throughout the season to prepare for competition with some of the best in the nation in the grueling SEC schedule. Head coach Josh Goffi said that the experiences have helped the team learn about themselves and prepare them to capitalize down the stretch of the last month of the regular-season. “We’ve definitely had a challenging schedule this year so far in the non-conference and we haven’t been shocked in the SEC … our wins just haven’t come yet,” Goffi explained. “We approached the early SEC matches thinking that they would be a little bit tougher than they were and the guys now realize that they’re a good team. We’ve just been playing really good teams day-in and day-out. We’ve just come up short, but we know we’re going to get our wins and I think Please see ROUNDUP, Page 25

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ROUNDUP, continued from page 24 the guys are entering a mode of excitement at this point. “It’s been a tough season with a lot of grinding, but I think our guys are actually getting hungrier to get those wins. They’re starting to figure out that we are a good team and we are where we need to be right now. I think we’re prepared going into the rest of the SEC season,” Goffi continued. Goffi said that even though the SEC Tournament is about a month away, the team’s focus is still on getting better every day knowing that the results will be there if they can improve daily. “We’re trying to get better every day; trying to get these guys up to speed. If we do things the way that we’re supposed to, that first round of SECs we’ll be playing like one of the best teams in the conference. That’s where we’re headed,” Goffi said. “We’re going to be going after it every single match and there is a stretch in there where we really could pick up some serious steam. “We’re playing the best teams in the country right now. Our ball tolerance, our ball striking, our expectations are getting finely tuned and our sense are becoming a little more acute by playing the best teams. It’s great practice and that’s the way we’re looking at it; it’s just another test,” Goffi concluded. The Gamecocks host a pair of matches at home on March 21 and 23 at the Carolina Tennis Center. Carolina will play Alabama on Friday, March 21 at 5 p.m. and Auburn comes in on Sunday, March 23 with the first serve scheduled for noon. Women’s tennis looking for breakthrough South Carolina’s women’s tennis team is looking to make some noise in SEC play as head coach Kevin Epley feels that his team is right on the cusp of earning some conference victories. “I think that we played some teams close and I hope it gives us confidence to realize that we can compete against the best,” Epley said. “We’re just waiting for that moment when we believe enough to turn a corner or when we see a finish line in doubles and go get the doubles point. I think that the wins that we had earlier this year, the teams that we beat haven’t really had the wins to help their schedule, so it really hasn’t helped us that much. “What we really need to do is we really need - confidence or not - we need to go win some matches and get some ranked wins to move our team up the rankings. We’re definitely a better team than our ranking shows,” Epley added. The Gamecocks are about a month away from the SEC Tournament, but Epley said that the team’s focus and goals remain simple: improving each day. “That’s one thing we focus on is the notion that we can get better from day to day as long as our standards rise. ‘Yesterday’s ceiling is

tomorrow’s floor’ is what we always say, so we just need to keep that going. It requires as we get through an SEC season that you maintain yourself physically, emotionally and mentally and that you keep challenging yourself to get better when you start to wear out a little bit … we’ve really got to put in that we’re focused on the process of getting better so that down the line we will be a better team than we were today. If we do that at a faster clip than our opposition, then that may be the point where we get the wins that we need,” Epley concluded. The Gamecocks are in the midst of four consecutive conference road matches against some stiff competition. South Carolina will next be home on March 28 and 30 as they host LSU (5 p.m.) and Arkansas (1:30 p.m.) at the Carolina Tennis Center. Track & field finds individual successes South Carolina’s track and field teams earned three bids to the NCAA Indoor Championships and a pair of silver medals at the SEC Indoor Championships to close out the indoor season. The Gamecock women’s team put through the women’s 4x400-meter relay team, high jumper Jeannelle Scheper and pentathlete Sarah Graham to the NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. The 4x400-meter team and Scheper earned silver medals at the SEC Championships as well. “These particular persons that we’ve got going to the Championships I’m very excited about. Our 4x4 getting in last I was excited about it. From the beginning of the season I thought that we would be one of the top teams in the country,” head coach Curtis Frye said. Graham became the fourth women in program history to break the 4,000-point barrier in the pentathlon, putting up 4,107 points, the second most in South Carolina history while earning sixth at the SEC Indoor Championship to earn the NCAA bid. “We redshirted Sarah and invested in helping her become a thrower, improve her from a consistent 5’7” to a consistent 5’10” in the high jump and improved her hurdles,” Frye said of Graham. “At the conference meet she put it all together. She put the power together, she put the technical side together and her mental side, being very, very smart, she was able to handle the stress of the contest … she handled that very well and we’re excited about her going (to the NCAA Championships).” Scheper was named the Women’s Field Athlete of the Year for the Southeast Region by the USTFCCCA on March 10, the first Gamecock to earn the award since 2011. Frye said that he was impressed with the way that Scheper has lived up to high expectations throughout the season. “She’s been the strength athlete for the USATF for all sports and all athletes, she’s been the champion in the Caribbean Islands Games many times over, she’s been to the World Championships as a collegiate athlete … she’s a conglomerate of the staff so what we have

right now is somebody that we think can win the National Championship,” Frye said. Frye said that he was pleased to see so many athletes on both the men’s and women’s teams set personal records during the SEC Championships and knows that with a young squad that he can help them develop. The Gamecocks

will begin the outdoor portion of their schedule on March 20-22 in Conway, S.C. at the Shamrock Invitational before hosting the Weems Baskin Invitational on March 28 and 29 in Columbia, S.C. For extended stories, visit

Photo by megan Hartsell

26 • Spurs & Feathers

Brenton Williams walked onto the floor for Senior Night March 4, joined by his teammate Bruce Ellington, across from his opponent that night, the University of Florida, and it all seemed fitting. Had it not been for Ellington, Williams might never have landed at South Carolina. Had it not been for a stop in Gainesville, he might never have proven he could compete at the high-major level. Instead, the 5’11,” 172-pound guard comAndy Demetra pleted a walk few Contributing could’ve imagWriter ined, from Division I afterthought to one of the SEC’s most feared shooters. “Brent Williams, his growth as a player, his willingness to believe in our vision, to work at it, to sacrifice, to give us a chance to win games and the year he’s had (are great),” head coach Frank Martin said. Williams finished his Gamecock career with the second-highest three-point percentage in school history (41.2%). His 93.0% free throw percentage – 120 of 129 – broke an SEC record. His scoring increased with metronomic steadiness during his three seasons, from 6.1 points as a sophomore to 11.0 as a junior to 14.9 as a senior. And that shooting. Oh, that shooting. His form may not be textbook – he raises the

March 19, 2014

ball through the middle of his body, and he fades back slightly on his release – but Williams has used it to devastating effect. As a junior, he poured in an SEC school-record 38 points against Mississippi State. He made five three-pointers in a game seven times this season. Coaches recall him draining 31 straight threes in a post-practice shooting drill. “Williams is as good a scorer as there is in our league,” said Billy Donovan, head coach of the SEC champion Florida Gators. Ironic, considering Williams was hardly a marked man coming out of Osceola High School in Kissimmee, Fla. He had the bona fides - he averaged 25.7 points per game as a senior, and led his team to a 23-3 record. But 5’11” shooting guards aren’t exactly a hot commodity in college basketball. By the time his senior year ended, Williams only held three Division I scholarship offers according to his head coach, Steve Mason: Florida A&M, Bethune-Cookman, and Louisiana Tech. FAMU and Bethune-Cookman were coming off sub-.500 seasons in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, the second-worst RPI conference in the country. “I go to the Final Four every year. I was screaming to the heavens to everyone, ‘I’ve got a high D-I player,’” Mason said. “Coaches would see his size and think he’s too small.” He also suspects that Williams’ quiet, laid-back nature kept programs off his scent. Williams never made a grand show of his shooting or athletic abilities. He didn’t pound his chest or spin imaginary sixshooters after made threes. He never sought

out YouTube-worthy dunks, even though at 5’11” he could throw down between-the-legs dunks with ease. He was an efficient player, not a volume shooter who chased stats at the expense of his teammates. Those are all admirable qualities. But in the world of cutthroat high school recruiting, they’re an invitation to be overlooked. “The biggest thing was getting Brenton to believe in himself how good he could be. I see a lot of kids that have a false bravado. But with Brenton it was the opposite,” Mason said. Asked to describe his frustration at the time, Williams answered with typical nonchalance. “I was like, if somebody finds out about me, they’ll eventually find out about me. That’s the focus I kept,” he said. Instead of accepting one of his scholarship offers, Williams enrolled at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla., hoping to play his way into a bigger look. Santa Fe is only located two-and-a-half miles from the University of Florida campus. But in the junior-college world of bandbox gyms and 100-person crowds, the SEC felt like worlds away. Williams was unfazed. “I played against some very good players. It definitely was a good experience,” he said. Williams averaged 11.8 points on 39% three-point shooting in his lone season at Santa Fe. As an academic qualifier out of high school, he could sign immediately with another Division I program. More teams showed interest – Eastern Kentucky, UCF – but Williams still wasn’t considered a highmajor prospect. The fact he missed part of the season due to injury didn’t help, either.

That changed in April of 2011. Over at South Carolina, starting point guard Bruce Ellington had just decided to resume his football career. Along with other attrition, the Gamecocks were in sudden, desperate need of backcourt help. “It was kind of a scramble, to be quite honest, to patch up the roster the best we could with some guard play,” said former assistant Mike Boynton, now at Stephen F. Austin. “We made some calls around. We needed somebody who could come in and not only impact the game, but do so from a scoring standpoint.” Their search eventually led them to WilPlease see WILLIAMS, Page 31

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Gamecocks ‘feel they can win every game’ by mike kucharski

preaches of never giving up and battling. “Through thick and thin, against a great opponent they competed their rear ends off and that’s The top-ranked South Carolina baseball team all I can ask them to do,” Holbrook said after the (18-1, 2-1 SEC) took its first SEC series of the series victory. “Sometimes the ball is not going year from No. 12 Ole Miss in dramatic fashion to go your way … but we just kept battling and to continue its excellent start to the season. battling. We did handle adversity and you have After falling in the first game of the series and to in this game. You have to overcome it … and still trailing, 4-2, with two outs in the ninth inI’m lucky to coach a group that thinks they can ning of game two, the Gamecocks got a pinchovercome it.” hit home run from a hobbled Max Schrock to tie Junior center fielder Tanner English echoed the game. South Carolina then rode the momen- Holbrook, saying the team’s resiliency allows tum of that play to a 5-4 victory in the 10th inthem to come through in clutch situations, ning and then obtained a hard-fought, 3-1, game which they have proven throughout the year. three win to claim the series. “We’re not going to give up; we’re going to Head coach Chad Holbrook said he was exkeep fighting. As you can see, we’ve been down tremely proud of his team’s resiliency and ability in some games and we’ve come back. You to fight through adversity, something he said can’t ever let your guard down and just give he discusses with the team often. In a weekend up because baseball is a funny game. Coach where the Gamecocks were one out away from Holbrook always talks about the baseball gods losing the season’s first SEC series, the team and the baseball gods are going to help you out embodied that characteristics that Holbrook if you’re playing hard and giving it your all for

all nine innings. So we’re going to do that every time we’re out on the field,” English explained. One of the strengths of the team that Holbrook has talked about throughout the season has been the bullpen, which had not given up a run in 61.1 innings through March 15. Closer Joel Seddon boasts a 1-0 record and six saves this year while setup-man Cody Mincey has been stellar as well. The players talk about a simple strategy which leads to their success. “We don’t really talk about (the streak),” Mincey said. “The main thing is just try to get a win, win the series and throw strikes. (The streak) is never on my mind when I’m out there … just try to throw strikes; that’s the main thing.” The Gamecock offense has been led by multiple players with contributions up and down the lineup. Max Schrock (against Ole Miss) and Grayson Greiner (grand slam against Clemson) have had the most memorable home runs of the season, but English, Connor Bright and Kyle Martin have made contributions throughout the

season as well. Holbrook discuses pitching and defense often and feels those are the teams strengths currently, but he knows the offense will continue to develop. Overall Holbrook is most pleased with the way the team competes, handles adversity and battles no matter the score. “All we ask them is to never give up and I think that they feel they can win every game,” Holbrook said. “I think how you develop that is you’ve got great kids in the dugout, you coach kids with great character and they believe they’re going to win and they’re going to play All Gamecock baseball their rear ends coverage sponsored by off until the last DiPrato’s out.”

Gamecock baseball honors Martha Childress by mike kucharski

to enable her to continue to receive care for the rest of her life from the baseball program here for $1,000,” Holbrook continued. The South Carolina baseball team took time “Martha we want you and your family to before its game with Furman on Tuesday, March know that we’re with you every step of the way. 11 to honor University of South Carolina freshYou’re our university’s sweetheart and you will man student Martha Childress who was parabe forever. Thank you so much for being here,” lyzed by a stray bullet last fall. Holbrook closed. Childress, 18, was struck by a bullet in her Holbrook and the entire team came out to ribcage on Oct. 13, 2013 and rushed to the hoshonor Childress before the game as she posed pital. The bullet lodged in her spinal cord and on the field for pictures. Childress threw out paralyzed her from the waist down. Gamecock the ceremonial first pitch for the game with the baseball head coach Chad Holbrook expressed entire Gamecock baseball team - minus Logan that Childress was in the team’s thoughts and Koch who caught the pitch - standing behind her prayers in the fall on social media and invited her in support. to throw the first pitch at a game in the spring. Childress made an appearance on the GameOn March 11, Holbrook made good on that cocks IMG Sports Network’s radio broadcast of promise as Childress was honored on the field the baseball game in the second inning and she before the game as Holbrook addressed the fans and her family were able to enjoy the game from in Carolina Stadium prior to the game. Athletics Director Ray Tanner’s suite at Carolina “Thank y’all for being here. It’s an honor for Stadium as well. our baseball program to have Martha Childress After South Carolina’s eventual 5-0 win over here tonight,” Holbrook opened to applause Furman, Holbrook reiterated just how special the throughout the stadium. “On October 13 of this evening was for his team. past fall, she was involved and injured in a ter“It was a great day for our team and our playrible accident. Around this baseball program ers. As important as the game was, I felt like we like to talk about battling and ‘win anyway.’ what transpired before the game was as imporWell Martha has showed us truly how to battle tant. That girl, Martha, has been an incredible and win anyway. She is taking two online inspiration to our student body and our athletic classes right now and to the thrill of us all, she department in how she’s handled a very unfortuwill be a full-time student back in Columbia this nate situation with such grace. It’s simply amazcoming fall. ing to me. I’m certainly glad that our program “She’s a true Gamecock. She has shown the has gotten to know her … I feel lucky to know Gamecock spirit and our baseball program her and I look forward to spending a lot of time would like to give her a game jersey tonight with with her and her family going forward. If that her favorite number, seven, and we would also doesn’t put baseball in perspective, then I don’t like to present her with a check to her trust fund know what will,” Holbrook concluded.

photo by jenny dilworth

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March 19, 2014

Sir Big Spur honored at S.C. Statehouse by Mike kucharski

South Carolina boasts one of the top live mascots in collegiate athletics according to Sports Illustrated and Gamecock fans and the live Gamecock Sir Big Spur have recently received another honor. On Wednesday, March 5 Sir Big Spur and his owners were honored in the South Carolina Statehouse as Feb. 5 was declared “Sir Big Spur Day” in the state. Owners Mary Snelling and her husband Ron Albertelli are residents of Aiken, S.C. and have traveled with Sir Big Spur to South Carolina Athletics events for years. “It was a very, very humbling experience. We’ve been doing this for about 15, 16 years, depending on how you count that and it was wonderful to be acknowledged at the highest level of the sate. It was really a great day,” Snelling said. South Carolina Representative William “Bill” Clyburn representing Aiken County honored the couple at the Statehouse with a state proclamation honoring their devotion by taking a long line of Sir Big Spur gamecocks to South Carolina Athletics events. “It’s one of the few live mascots in the country,” Clyburn said. “This is a University of South Carolina mascot who brought so much fame and joy to their programs and the bird is from Aiken. They (Snelling and Albertelli) are from Aiken and I wanted them to be recognized. They have traveled with that bird all over the place and on their own expense. “He’s a symbol of the university and has brought so much joy to the students, fans and to the people of Aiken County. It’s just really important that now they are recognized,” Clyburn added. The origination of Sir Big Spur dates back to Snelling’s younger years and stems from her love of the Gamecocks. “This started because I have been a fan my whole life … my dad worked down at Graniteville Company and there was a guy down there who raised gamecocks. He gave my dad one to give to me as a pet or joke because I was such a diehard Gamecock he thought that I ought to own a gamecock,” Snelling continued. She said that she and her husband won a dinner with Ray Tanner in his first year at South Carolina and asked him at the dinner if they could bring Sir Big Spur to the baseball games. Tanner approved with the caveat that the gamecock not go on the field and if there were a problem he would let them know. They were already baseball season-ticket holders, so the situation worked out well and the relationship with

“He’s a symbol of the university and has brought so much joy to the students, fans and to the people of Aiken County. It’s just really important that now they are recognized.” ~ Representative William Clyburn

South Carolina has grown ever since. Snelling said that bringing the live gamecock to games has helped them to educate Gamecock fans about the mascot at events all over. She said that it was great to be able to go out to inform the fanbase about live gamecocks, something that Snelling photo by SAM hammond said her husband excels at and enjoys. Owners Ron Albertelli, middle, Mary Snelling, left, and S.C. Rep. William “Bill” ClySnelling said that her favorite sport to burn, D-Aiken, pose at the South Carolina Statehouse on Wednesday, March 5. attend is baseball because she feels it is the most personal, but adds that she loves football as well. They travel with Sir Big Spur to basketball for both the men’s and women’s games and they even made an appearance at the Gamecocks’ most recent men’s golf tournament, the Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate in Aiken. “That was new and the gamecock did not know proper etiquette for golf; he was not quiet. That was fun and coach (Bill McDonald) was very gracious. The Clemson guys weren’t too happy with us being there, which we thought was pretty cool that they weren’t too happy about us being there,” Snelling said with a laugh. Sir Big Spur travels all over the nation in support of Gamecock Athletics as Snelling and Albertelli have taken him to countless events. “We’ve been to Omaha (for the College World Series) six times. We’ve been as far away as Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico. We’ve been on every field in the SEC except Vanderbilt who does not allow live mascots,” Snelling said. “We haven’t been able to do Texas A&M yet, but we’re hoping to do that … we’ve had a lot of experiences that the average fan does not have and we’re thankful to do that. “We did start doing this for the love of the University and we continue that. My husband tells the story that he loves me and I love the University … so it has worked out wonderfully for us,” Snelling concluded.

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March 19, 2014

photo by by Safran’s Antiques and The Gamecock Shop

Pictured is the family at the dedication at the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center. From left-to-right they are Polly Player, Lou, Cody Sossamon and Kit Smith.

Gamecock Legends: Lou Sossamon by ed girardeau

Since 2009, the University of South Carolina has had at least one football player named to the Associated Press All-America team with Kelcy Quarles being named second-team this past year at defensive tackle. Over the years, the Gamecocks have had 27 All-Americans named an AP All-American on either the first, second, or third teams. The first AP All-American for the Gamecocks was a center from Gaffney, S.C., Louis “Lou” C. Sossamon, in 1942. Sossamon played for Head Coach Rex Enright from 1940-1942 after playing high school football at Gaffney High School and playing in the Shrine Bowl after his senior year. “I thank the Good Lord every day for the opportunity for going to the University as my life was so much better because of that as I met my wife and friends and the education I received,” Sossamon reminisced. Freshmen did not play varsity ball in that day, so it wasn’t until his sophomore year that Lou got his chance. “In my first game, after five minutes Rex Enright called a timeout and called me over to the sidelines,” the 1942 Captain of the team

explained. “He put his arm around me and he said, ‘Lou, I need to teach you something about football. Now that green grass out there with the white lines on it, that’s a football field. Now when you go out there, you’re supposed to play football, not watch the cheerleaders!’ Kat was a cheerleader and I didn’t know her yet, but I had my eye on her.” Kat was Kathryn Edgerton, who would later become Sossamon’s wife. “I met my wife (at USC) and we were married for 65 years and four days,” Sossamon remembered. “I had a wonderful coach in Rex Enright. I’ve made so many friends. Going to the University has meant a lot to me both socially and business-wise and I’m very happy that it happened to me.” Kat was not only a cheerleader at South Carolina, she was Phi Beta Kappa, vice president of the student body (Sossamon was the President) and graduated magna cum laude. She was also the daughter of Dr. N. Bruce Edgerton, the head coach of the University’s football team from 1912-1915. “He was a medical doctor and he moved to Columbia and to make a little extra money he coached football,” Sossamon replied. The biggest win while playing at USC was in 1941 when Carolina beat No. 14 Clemson, 18-

14, on Big Thursday. “Anytime you win it’s a big deal,” Sossamon said. “But after that particular game, Sol Blatt, from the House of Representatives, was in charge of getting the funds together to buy Coach Enright a new Cadillac since we won the game. It was a pretty big deal.” After the 1942 season, Sossamon was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but never played for them as he entered the Navy and served during World War II. When he returned, Lou played professionally for the New York Yankees of the All-American Football Conference which merged with the NFL in the early 1950s. Sossamon was named to the USC Athletics Hall of Fame in 1968. He served as a member of the USC Board of Trustees and was the publisher of The Gaffney Ledger from 1969 until 1999. These days, the 92-year-old legend still finds time to go see his Gamecocks play. “Right now I enjoy going to the baseball, football and basketball games. I don’t move around as fast as I used to, but I’m still moving.” On November 1, 2013, a dedication was held at the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center and put in the name of Louis C. and

Kathryn E. Sossamon. The Tutoring Room was named in honor of the Sossamons by their children: Kit Smith, Polly Player and Cody Sossamon. “I have a wonderful family, so much to be thankful for. I can’t count all my blessings. I just say ‘thank you Lord for everything you have given me,’” Sossamon concluded.

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March 19, 2014

The Gamecock Club remembers the following members of Gamecock Nation who have recently passed away ...

Gamecock Club Upcoming Events

Spartanburg Gamecock Club Golf Classic When: April 5, 2014; 11 a.m. Where: Woodfin Ridge Golf Club, Inman, S.C. Cost is $75 per player or $280 per foursome and includes: 18 holes of golf with cart, lunch prior to start, range balls, door prizes and more!

Gamecock Club Fan Fests Featuring: Head Football Coach Steve Spurrier, Cocky and the cheerleaders, photo opportunities with trophies, kids activities and food and drinks available for purchase. Admission is FREE for Gamecock Club and My Carolina Alumni Association members and their immediate family with a valid membership card. All other tickers are $5 and can be purchased upon entry. Greenville, S.C. When: April 7, 2014; 5:30 p.m. Where: Fluor Field - Greenville Drive Stadium Charleston, S.C. When: April 9, 2014; 5:30 p.m. Where: Mount Pleasant Memorial Park Charlotte, N.C. When: April 14, 2014; 5:30 p.m. Where: NASCAR Hall of Fame Greenwood, S.C. When: April 22, 2014; 5:30 p.m. Where: Uptown Greenwood - Corner of Main St. & Court Avenue West Myrtle Beach, S.C. When: April 23, 2014 Where: Conway’s Riverfront Park

Roger W. Elliott Roger was born on June 26, 1944 in Denver, York County Gamecock Club Colorado to the late Ivan and Margaret ElGarnet & Black Game Cookout liott. He graduated from Annandale High When: April 12, 2014; 10 a.m. School in Annadale, Virginia. He played Where: Williams-Brice Stadium Gamecock Park (Old Farmers Market) baseball for the University of South CaroAlong the fence at the Premium South Parking Lot lina and graduated from USC in 1966 with Lasts from 10:00 a.m. until 30 minutes prior to kickoff. Great food and re- a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business freshments will be provided. If you plan to attend, please respond with Administration. He was a member of the your total number of people for our food planning. Respond by email USC Association of Letterman, Phi Kappa to: All Gamecock fans are invited. Sigma Fraternity, and Life Member of the USC Alumni Association. Roger was an avid Fourth Annual Lexington County golfer and a Gamecock Club member. Junior Gamecock Club Baseball Event When: Saturday, April 26, 2014; 2 p.m. Donald Jack Custer Where: Carolina Stadium Born in Grand Rapids, MI on December 29, 1932 to the late John and Dorothy Custer. A The 4th Annual Lexington County Junior Gamecock Club Event will be graduate of Ottawa Hills High School, Jack held on Saturday, April 26th, beginning at 2:00 p.m. We will have lots eventually moved to South Carolina where of fun activities and surprises for your children from 2:00 until 3:30. The he became a devoted fan and supporter of opening pitch against Alabama is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. A limited the Gamecocks. He was a Gamecock Club number of baseball tickets are available for $5.00 each for this game. member for 34 consecutive years. Children 3 and over (per NCAA compliance) must purchase tickets. A cookout is not being held this year. However, a $5.00 voucher will be William Davis Trask given to each Jr. Gamecock Club member to use at the concession William was born on April 21, 1951, in stand during the game. Charleston, SC, and raised in Beaufort, SC, Please RSVP to by Wednesday, April 16th, if the son of Harold Eugene Trask and Margayou wish to attend with the number of baseball tickets you are orderret Scheper Trask. He was a member of the ing, how many Jr. Gamecock Club concession stand vouchers (one first graduating class of Beaufort Academy. per member) are needed, and the names attending. Tickets are nonWilliam was a graduate of the University of refundable. South Carolina and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He was a Gamecock Club member for 34 years.

March South Carolina Athletics Events March 20-22 Track & Field at Shamrock Invitational

Softball at Tennessee.......................... 1:30 p.m. Women’s Tennis at Auburn..................... 2 p.m.

Softball vs. Ole Miss...............................6 p.m. Baseball vs. Tennessee..........................7 p.m.

March 21 Men’s Tennis vs. Alabama..................5 p.m. Women’s Tennis at Alabama.................. 6 p.m. Softball at Tennessee................................ 6 p.m. Baseball at Kentucky...........................6:30 p.m. Sand Volleyball vs. Oregon................7 p.m.

March 23-25 Men’s Golf Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate

March 29-30 Sand Volleyball vs. Florida State/Jacksonville/LSU/Stetson - bracket play

March 22 Baseball at Kentucky................................. 2 p.m. Softball at Tennessee..........................2:30 p.m. Sand Volleyball vs. UAB.................3:15 p.m. Sand Volleyball vs. LSU.......................7 p.m.

March 28-29 Equestrian SEC Championships Track & Field Weems Baskin Invitational

March 23 Men’s Tennis vs. Auburn...................12 p.m. Baseball at Kentucky................................. 1 p.m. Sand Volleyball vs. ULM................1:15 p.m.

Lula Mae Sutton Jowers Daughter of the late John D. and Norma Lee Sutton, Lula Mae was born in Columbia and attended Columbia High School and The University of South Carolina, where she was treasurer of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. An avid Gamecock, her blood truly ran garnet, and her love of Atlanta Braves baseball was legendary.

March 25 Softball vs. Furman................................5 p.m. Baseball vs. College of Charleston.....7 p.m.

March 29 Softball vs. Ole Miss...............................2 p.m. Baseball vs. Tennessee..........................4 p.m.

March 28-30 Women’s Golf Bryan National Collegiate

March 30 Women’s Tennis vs. Arkansas...........12 p.m. Men’s Tennis at Arkansas........................... 1 p.m. Softball vs. Ole Miss...............................1 p.m. Baseball vs. Tennessee....................1: 30 p.m.

March 28 Men’s Tennis at LSU...................................... 4 p.m. Women’s Tennis vs. LSU.......................5 p.m.

All home events are ........................................Bold For full schedules, visit the calendar section of the allnew

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Unique views sponsored by Unique Expressions SEC regular-season champions I don’t think it ever gets old winning championships, particularly when it’s the first time that it’s been done. Thus, the women’s basketball SEC regular-season championship is one to be savored, particularly when you consider that a program like Tennessee resides in the conference. It reminds me of the men winning in 1997 over Kentucky and the joy that brought (much less the ACC in 1970). This is just as sweet! It will be interesting to see where we end up in the NCAA tournament. Experts Ed Girardeau say we’ll be a number two Contributing seed and play in Toledo. I Editor don’t think where will matter so much. The team will be rested and ready for the challenge! USC has lost four games so far this season: North Carolina, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Kentucky. All four of those teams are projected to be seeded between 1-4. South Carolina making the Sweet 16 is a projection that most people are making and I think it is fair to expect. It doesn’t always happen the way you expect, but anything less at this point would be a disappointment, to the coaches, the players and the fans. I have no doubt that Coach Staley will have the team up and ready to go. Here’s hoping that we have a long run and with some things dropping the right way for us, maybe the Final Four! Men finish strong The men’s team struggled early in the season. A tough schedule toughened the team up for SEC play and the Gamecocks responded by making most games close in the early going of the SEC schedule. The team lost point guards Bruce Ellington to his preparation for the NFL draft and then Tyrone Johnson to an injury and without a quarterback to run the offense the record in conference fell to 1-9. Honestly, at that point, I thought we were sunk. To ask true freshmen who were not prepared to be point guards, had not even practiced to be point guards, seemed to me to be a no win situation. Boy was I wrong. Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice responded and worked hard and became better. They are both extremely talented and that goes a long way. The rest of the team responded as well. In a situation where they all could have mailed it in and just lost hope, things turned around. Back-to-back wins over Vanderbilt and Alabama opened some eyes. Then a matchup with a ranked Kentucky team turned into a thrilling win for the Game-

cocks. What had seemed improbable at best had been accomplished. And very satisfying in this particular game was the play of our post players. Against a team known for their talent our guys were up to the challenge. Beating Kentucky anytime is sweet! This one was particularly nice! Just when things seemed to be picking up, a bump occurred following the Florida game when head coach Frank Martin was suspended for one game by Athletics Director Ray Tanner. Martin was caught on camera during a timeout using what can best be described as “salty” language, something Coach Martin had apologized for earlier in the season. Once again, here was a place where the wheels could have come off completely, but give coach Martin credit. He stood up, owned up to it, apologized and faced questions. He took it like a man, no excuses! The players, which when all was said and done, were the most important part of this, came out in support of their coach, hands down. And to prove it, they went out and won their last regular-season game at Mississippi State, the first road game win of the year. Then, after losing twice to Auburn in the regular season, beat the Tigers in the SEC Tournament. Now that would have been enough (the first tournament win since 2008), but the Gamecocks came back the next day and not only beat Arkansas, but probably knocked them out of the NCAA tournament. Tennessee, who will go on and play in the postseason, knocked out a feisty group from South Carolina, but not before USC left their mark. After starting 1-9, Carolina finished 6-5 against SEC teams the rest of the way. No one is satisfied, but the general feeling is it’s a good foundation set for the future. Six years ago, coach Dawn Staley had a program at the bottom of the conference, but now they are champions of the SEC! Frank Martin is two years into his building of the men’s basketball program. If the finish is any indication, I wouldn’t bet against him and his basketball team reaching the same heights! It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!

WILLIAMS, continued from page 26 liams. Boynton said he was struck by Williams’ efficiency – his numbers at Santa Fe never adequately measured his impact. He also noticed that Williams’ shots were rarely off target. “When you watched him play, his shots were never left or right. And even though he’s got a low release, he didn’t have a hard time getting it off. He’s got a quick release, and it was always on. That, to me, is a sign of a guy who is always dialed in,” Boynton said. That shooting, combined with Williams’ athleticism, convinced the Gamecocks that he could be a good fit. They brought him to Carolina Stadium on his official visit. Williams was impressed by the atmosphere and passion. He signed with South Carolina, fending off the pursuits of his hometown school UCF. He began his career as South Carolina’s third-string point guard, a position that became entrenched when he missed five non-conference games due to a knee injury. Defense and deference often kept him from playing more. He also had to adapt to a new head coach when Martin arrived in March of 2012. The pairing of the fiery Martin with the laid-back Williams concerned some of his friends back home. “I knew what to expect, but I didn’t know when it was going to start happening,” Williams says, laughing at the memory. “I had a bunch of high school coaches calling me like, ‘Do you think you need to leave?’ I was like ‘No, I think I’m fine. I’m going to stick it out, and see what I can learn from him. “I definitely made the right decision.” Martin would agree. He admits he’s had his battles with Williams – he’s the only player he’s coached that he’s begged to shoot more – but his consistency was irreplaceable in a year in which the Gamecocks broke in seven new freshmen. He grew as a leader when South Carolina’s other two upperclassmen, Ellington and ju-

photoS by allen sharpe

nior Tyrone Johnson, were out by mid-January. He responded by raising his scoring average from 12.0 points in non-conference play to 18.0 points in the SEC. In addition to his three-point shooting, his free throws became a precise, finely-tuned piece of basketball engineering, both the envy and dread of opposing head coaches. “He’s been phenomenal,” Martin said. His high school coach is equally proud. Mason said he e-mailed a picture of Williams, arms raised in triumph after the Gamecocks’ upset over #17 Kentucky, to the entire teaching staff at Osceola. The joy on his face told the journey. Four years after starting on the fringes of college basketball, Brenton Williams is overlooked no more.

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