Thursday, November 20, 2014

Charleston Classic Previews

Below, some previews of the Charleston Classic...

A week away from Thanksgiving, the South Carolina Men's basketball team hits the road for Charleston, SC and the Charleston Classic. Tonight's tip-off in the Charleston Classic pits the Gamecocks vs. Cornell University. The two schools have only met one previous time, a 83-60 South Carolina win in 1970. The Gamecocks look to rebound after a tough home loss to Baylor while Cornell tries to continue their progress.
Cornell's head coach is not Andy Bernard but Bill Courtney who enters his 5th year as the head man of the Big Red. He was hired after the 2010 season when then head coach Steve Donahue left Ithaca for Boston College. Donahue led Cornell to three consecutive Ivy League titles and three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Courtney has not found the same success at Cornell, only winning more than 10 games twice in his 4 seasons, a 12-win campaign in 2012 and a 13-win season in 2013. After an impressive road win to open the season against George Mason and a win in their home opener against Colgate, Cornell matched their season total in wins from last season already. That's right, the Big Red won 2 games last season. After finishing 2-26 last year, Cornell is off to a 2-1 start, the lone loss coming at Loyola. They are led by a trio of seniors: Devin Cherry (12.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 5.3 APG), Galal Cancer (11.3 PPG), and Shonn Miller (16.0 PPG, 9.3 RPG). Cornell is actually without their best player from the last few seasons, forward Errick Peck.  Peck was lost for the season last year but was not granted a 5th year of eligibility because Ivy League schools do not let their players play as graduate students. He'll finish his college career at Purdue while Devin Cherry takes charge of the Big Red. Cornell was down by double-digits for the majority of their contest vs. Colgate but Cherry led his squad back for the win. He ended with 21 points, five assists, four rebounds, and three steals as the Big Red closed on a 28-9 run to capture their second win.
South Carolina also mounted a comeback in their latest game but couldn't close like Cornell did. The Gamecocks, down by 10 for the majority of the second half vs. Baylor, trimmed the Bears lead to 2 with under a minute to play. South Carolina was unable to finish off their revival as they fell for the second consecutive year to Baylor as part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon. There is still reason to be optimistic in Columbia. The Gamecocks looked impressive in their 81-56 opening night win over North Florida and put up a valiant effort to force a close game against a well-coached Baylor team despite a very poor shooting performance. South Carolina shot 40.7 percent from the field versus the Bears, which included a 5-of-21 showing from behind the arc. The Baylor zone forced them into several shots from outside which definitely isn't a strength for the Gamecocks. South Carolina has had several contributors through two games but senior Ty Johnson has led the way. Johnson (16.5 PPG, 3.0 APG, 3.0 RPG) tallied 21 points vs. Baylor. The Gamecocks also boast a rotation that features six players averaging at least 7.5 PPG. Freshman Marcus Stroman has been a big bright spot for South Carolina thus far. Stroman has dished out nine assists with only one turnover in his first two collegiate games. Preseason All-SEC wing Sindarius Thornwell bounced back after a poor opening night game to combine with Johnson to score 37 of South Carolina's 65 points Tuesday afternoon.
Frank Martin was adamant that his team's loss to Baylor would help them down the road. Courtney's Cornell team has struggled offensively thus far but has been solid on the defensive end and if he doesn't play zone against South Carolina, he should be fired. The game tips at 7:30 ET and will be broadcasted on ESPN3/WatchESPN. The winner plays either UNC-Charlotte or Penn State in the semifinals of the tournament tomorrow. The losers of both games will meet in a consolation game.
The South Carolina men’s basketball team will play in primetime Thursday night in the Gildan Charleston Claissc, the first game of three in a four day stretch. The Gamecocks (1-1) will take on Cornell (2-1), a team they haven’t played in over 40 years.
Other teams in the tournament include Akron, Charlotte, Drexel, Miami (Fl.), Penn State, and Southern Cal.
Charlotte and Penn State join the Gamecocks and Big Red in one half of the bracket and depending on the result in both games, the Gamecocks will play either the Nittany Lions or 49ers on Friday night.
Tip-off essentials  
Opponent: Cornell
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: TD Arena, Charleston, SC
Television: ESPN 3 with Bob Picozzi (play-by-play) and Dino Gaudio (analyst)
Series: Carolina leads 1-0
Last time out: 83-60, South Carolina win on Dec. 26, 1970 in New York City
Television: ESPN3
Radio: Gamecock Radio Network with Andy Demetra (play-by-play) and Casey Manning (analyst) (Sirius 119; XM 190)
--South Carolina played in the 2009 Charleston Classic, posting two wins, over LaSalle and USF, before falling to Miami (Fla.) in the Championship game. --The Gamecocks are coming off a home loss against Baylor, 69-65, on Tuesday. Senior guard Tyrone Johnson led all scorers with 21 points. He leads the Gamecocks with a 60.9 field goal percentage.
--The Gamecocks have struggled from beyond the arc this season, hitting just 9-of-32 attempts.
Scouting the Big Red
--Just three games into the season, Cornell has as many wins as last season (2-26).
--The Big Red is led by fifth-year head coach Bill Courtney.
--First-team All-Ivy Selection Shonn Milller, who missed the 2013-14 season with a shoulder injury, is leading the team with 16 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per game.
-- “Someone told me that Cornell was picked to finish last in the Ivy League. Well they just went to George Mason and beat George Mason. Ivy League plays good basketball.”- South Carolina head coach Frank Martin on Cornell
-- “It’s quality teams and it’s a challenge to play really well three times in a four-day period and because of the way we scheduled we’re going to have to do that five times in an eight-day period. We expect our guys to go out there and take it on as best as they can.”- South Carolina head coach Frank Martin on the tournament
Possible Friday opponents
Charlotte 49ers
--The Gamecocks lead the series history 2-1.
--Charlotte is 1-0 with a 73-60 win over Elon.
Penn State Nittany Lions
--South Carolina is 2-1 all-time against Penn State.
--Penn State is 2-0 on the year with senior guard D.J. Newbill averaging 17.5 points per game.
  • The Post and Courier writes, "Cornell (2-1) has already matched its win total from a season ago. 'They play really good basketball in the Ivy League,' [Frank] Martin said, 'and Cornell is going to be a handful.'" 
  • See a preview on South Carolina at the Charleston Classic in the Greenville News.
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 20, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: TD Arena (5,100) -- Charleston, South Carolina. Television: Home Record: Cornell 1-0, South Carolina 1-1. Away Record: Cornell 1-1, South Carolina 0-0. Neutral Record: Cornell 0-0, South Carolina 0-0. Conference Record: Cornell 0-0, South Carolina 0-0. Series Record: South Carolina leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The first round of the Charleston Classic concludes on Thursday night at TD Arena with a matchup between the Cornell Big Red and the South Carolina Gamecocks
The winner advances to the semifinals on Friday to play either Penn State or Charlotte. The losers will also play each other in the consolation bracket.
Cornell is off to a great 2-1 start to the season, as it has already matched its win total from a disastrous 2013-14 campaign (2-26). The Big Red played their first home game of the campaign on Tuesday night and came away with a 58-52 victory over Colgate.
South Carolina won its season-opening contest at home against North Florida, 81-56, but then it dropped a 69-65 decision to Baylor on Monday as part of the Tip-Off Marathon.
In the only previous meeting between the teams back in 1970, South Carolina came away victorious, 83-60.
The Big Red dug themselves a 13-point hole against Colgate midway through the second half but turned it on late, closing out the game on a 28-9 run to capture the victory. Although they were outshot from the field, 45.1 percent to 38.8 percent, they gained extra possessions by winning the turnover battle, 14-10, and they outscored Colgate at the foul line, 14-1. Devin Cherry was the catalyst in the low-scoring win with 21 points while helping out elsewhere with five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Cornell hasn't been very explosive on the offensive end of the floor this season, shooting less than 41 percent from the field for 65.7 ppg, but its defensive effort (.371, 62.7) has been stellar. Shonn Miller is a mainstay in the paint with 16.0 ppg and 9.3 rpg. Cherry stuffs the stat sheet on a regular basis with 12.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 5.3 apg, and Robert Hatter (14.0 ppg) and Galal Cancer (11.3 ppg) are also off to strong starts.
The Gamecocks trailed Baylor for most of the second half earlier in the week, including by 10 with under five minutes to play, but while a late push brought their deficit to just two in the final minute, they could not complete the comeback. They were plagued by a lackluster 40.7 percent showing from the floor, including a mere 5-of-21 from 3-point range. Tyrone Johnson led the way with 21 points on 9-of-16 from the field. Sindarius Thornwell tallied 16 points, four assists and two steals before fouling out, while Michael Carrera and Marcus Stroman netted 10 points apiece. South Carolina, which scores 73.0 ppg on 45.9 percent field goal shooting this season, have six players who score at least 7.5 ppg. Johnson's big game against Baylor catapulted him to the team-leader in scoring with 16.5 ppg. Thornwell adds 11.0 ppg, and both he and Johnson hand out 3.0 apg.
Cornell appears poised for a much-improved campaign and should give South Carolina a run for its money in this one, but the Gamecocks' deep bench will make the difference.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Carolina 70, Cornell 65
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina opens tournament play at the Charleston Classic against Cornell on Thursday at TD Arena in Charleston. The game is the second all-time between the two schools, and the first since the 1970-71 campaign. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 with Bob Picozzi and Dino Gaudio on the call.
Game Date: Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014
Arena: TD Arena (5,100)
Broadcast: ESPN3
Talent: Bob Picozzi (pxp), Dino Gaudio (analyst)
Radio: Gamecock Radio Network
Talent: Andy Demetra (pxp), Casey Manning (analyst)
Sirius: 119; XM: 190
Series: South Carolina leads 1-0
Last Meeting: 83-60, South Carolina win on Dec. 26, 1970 in New York City

- South Carolina is in its 107th season of varsity basketball in 2014-15.
- The Gamecocks are led by third-year head coach Frank Martin. His associate head coach is Matt Figger, his assistant coaches are Perry Clark and Lamont Evans, and his director of operations is Andy Assaley.
- South Carolina returns 11 letterwinners from last season's 14-20 team, including starters, sophomore guard Sindarius Thornwell, junior forward Michael Carrera, junior forward Mindaguas Kacinas and sophomore forward Demetrius Henry. Senior guard Tyrone Johnson started nine games before being sidelined with an injury as well.
- South Carolina looks to rebound on Thursday after suffering a 69-65 loss to Baylor on Tuesday in Columbia. The game was part of ESPN's College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. Despite a career high 21 points from Johnson and four Gamecocks in double figures, Baylor held on to a slight lead at the end of regulation and point guard Kenny Chery hit two free throws with one second remaining to secure the victory. The game featured six ties and six lead changes, with both teams shooting poor from 3-point range, as Baylor hit just 33.3 percent (6-18) and the Gamecocks 23.8 percent (5-21).
- Carolina's participation in the Charleston Classic is its second time in the event, as the Gamecocks also participated in the 2009 edition, posting a 2-1 record with wins over LaSalle and USF, before suffering an 85-70 loss to Miami (Fla.) in the Championship game.
- South Carolina's game vs. Cornell on Thursday is one of four first-round games at the Classic. Also participating are Akron, Charlotte, Drexel, Miami (Fla.), Penn State and Southern Cal.
- The Gamecocks tipped off their season with a solid 81-56 victory over North Florida on Nov. 14, led by nine different Gamecocks posting at least six points in the win, led Henry and Johnson with 12 points each. The win pushed head coach Frank Martin's all-time record in season openers to 8-0 for his career.
- After the Nov. 14 win over North Florida in the 2014-15 season opener, Carolina owns a 78-29 (.728) all-time record in season lidlifters, including a perfect 10-0 record in the last 10 seasons. The last season-opening loss for the Gamecocks came against the Ohio Valley's Tennessee Tech during the 2000-01 season, as the Golden Eagles edged the Gamecocks, 73-67.
- The Gamecocks return 71.3 percent (1,658/2,323) of their scoring from last season. The biggest void was left by the graduation of senior guard Brenton Williams who tallied 505 points.
- South Carolina posted a 92-47 victory over Benedict in the team's lone exhibition game this season. Johnson led the Gamecocks with 23 points, six rebounds and six assists in the win. Carrera was huge on the boards, collecting 15 rebounds, while junior forward Laimonas Chatkevicius also pulled down double-digit rebounds with 12. Sophomore guard Duane Notice accounted for nine of Carolina's 23 assists (on 32 made baskets) in the game.

Cornell is led by fifth-year head coach Bill Courtney, and the Big Red has already matched its win total from a season ago with victories at George Mason and vs. Colgate. Cornell opponents have hit just 37.1 percent from the field early in the season and the Big Red is averaging over five blocked shots per game. The biggest difference from last year is the return of first-team All-Ivy selection Shonn Miller, who missed the 2013-14 season with a shoulder injury. The 6-7 forward returned with a bang, recording 21 points and 13 rebounds in the upset of George Mason and collecting 20 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals at Loyola (MD). Miller leads the team with 16.0 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.
Once again, the Charleston Classic has come through with storylines befitting a college basketball tournament held among historic homes and imaginative menus.
South Carolina opens the seventh annual tournament Thursday night against Cornell, whose greatest former athlete - 1971 Heisman Trophy runner-up Ed Marinaro - happens to live in the Lowcountry.
Potential Gamecock matchups at TD Arena on Friday and Sunday offer more intrigue than most antebellum graveyard ghost tours.
South Carolina-Miami pits Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin against his hometown, and one of his former Kansas State players.
 South Carolina-Southern Cal is a USC-USC showdown that should include all sports and take place in some carefully chosen neutral site between Columbia and Los Angeles.
Sure, South Carolina-Penn State sounds more like an Outback Bowl.
But South Carolina-Charlotte means the Gamecocks might face a formidable winning streak.
That's not all.
Akron is the only team in the Mid-American Conference to win 20 games each of the last nine seasons.
Drexel fans, unique within the bracket, care more about basketball than football. Mostly because there is no Dragons football team.
Martin vs. Miami
South Carolina-Miami would be a rematch of the 2009 Charleston Classic championship game won by the Hurricanes before Frank Martin and Jim Larranaga were hired as head coaches at the respective schools.
When Miami ignored Martin to hire Larranaga in the spring 2011, it was newsy in South Florida. Martin, 48, grew up playing basketball in the shadow of the old Orange Bowl. He was an accomplished Miami high school coach before guiding Kansas State to three NCAA Tournament appearances by 2011.
He evidently wanted the job.
"Everyone's reporting that my (Kansas State) salary is $1.55 million. Actually my salary is $1.1 million," Martin told AP reporter Doug Tucker after Larranaga was hired. "Now, I'm an old high school teacher who was making 32 grand when I moved to Boston and I'm extremely grateful and thankful for the salary I make right now. If I stayed the length of the (five-year) contract and I collect every bonus in the contract it will average out to $1.55 (million). And you know what? There's a chance that the University of Miami never called because they think I make $1.5 (million). There's a chance just because it was released at $1.55 (million) the University of Miami said, 'We can't call him. Why waste our time? We can't pay him.'"
Martin later said he was very happy for Miami and Larranga, and stressed that he was never a candidate. Things worked out for everyone.
Martin jumped from Kansas State to South Carolina in 2012 and got $1.9 million in the first year of an escalating six-year deal.
Larranaga, the former George Mason head coach, led the Hurricanes to an ACC championship in 2013. Miami upset No. 8 Florida, 69-67, on Monday night as guard Angel Rodriguez scored 21 of his 24 points in the final 9:02.
Rodriguez, a 5-11 redshirt junior from Miami, originally signed to play for Martin at Kansas State. He transferred to Miami after two seasons with the Wildcats.
USC, or USC?
Southern Cal head coach Andy Enfield also has a Sunshine State connection. After earning an Economics degree from Johns Hopkins, an MBA from Maryland, making millions and marrying a model, Enfield found time to take tiny Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet Sixteen of the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
The Trojans were picked to finish 10th in the preseason Pac-10 Conference poll, but Enfield's freshman class is rated No. 16 nationally by
Though Penn State was picked to finish 12th (of 14 teams) in the preseason Big Ten poll, the Nittany Lions are off to a 2-0 start.
Watch out for Charlotte. The experienced 49ers are on a six-game win streak in regular season tournaments. They won the 2012 Great Alaska Shootout and 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-Off titles.
So if the Gamecocks can just hurdle Ed Marinaro's alma mater, snap Charlotte's streak, grab more SEC bragging rights against the Big Ten, assert themselves as the real USC, keep Cornell and Akron humble and contain the tournament's littlest Angel, they can use the Charleston Classic as a boost toward South Carolina's first winning season since 2008-2009.
South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Cornell Big Red - 11/20/14 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Cornell Big Red (2-1) at South Carolina Gamecocks (1-1)
College Basketball: Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 8:00 pm (TD Arena)
The Line: South Carolina Gamecocks -12 -- Over/Under:  The Cornell Big Red hope to continue winning when they tangle with the South Carolina Gamecocks.
The Cornell Big Red are off to a nice start thanks to a 58-52 victory over visiting Colgate that upped their record to 2-1 with South Carolina on deck. A strong second half erased an eight point deficit heading to the locker room with their coring and defense dominating the second half. Colgate was the better shooting squad at 45%-38.8% but the Big Red prevailed because of a 14-1 edge at the foul line. The Big Red leaned heavily on Devin Cherry who pumped in a game high 21 points with five helpers on 8-15 marksmanship while JoJo Fallas and Galal Cancer contributed eight points apiece but production outside of Cherry was difficult to come by.
After throttling North Florida in their opener South Carolina found the going a bit tougher in a 69-65 loss to Big 12 power Baylor. The boxscore was close throughout with neither team having a big advantage over the other in most categories. Baylor did shoot the ball better at 44.7% with the Gamecocks countering with nearly 41% from the floor but all that did was keep the game close. Tyrone Johnson tossed in game high 21 points followed by a 16 point performance from Sindarius Thornwell who fouled out in 32 minutes. Michael Carrera and Marcus Stroman each added ten points and combined for eleven rebounds. The biggest issue was the starting five were in some foul trouble at the end and Baylor didn't miss their free throws.
The under is 6-2 in Cornell's last 8 non-conference games and for South Carolina the under is 14-2 in SCAR last 16 overall. Cornell is picked last in the Ivy and the Gamecocks are picked last in the SEC so the big question is whether the worse team in the SEC is double figures better then the bottom in the Ivy. I don't have an answer for that but my question would be is it worth paying to find out and I know I don't think so...

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