Thursday, November 26, 2009

Loss Of Dominique Archie Is Costly

The loss of Dominique Archie for the next few weeks, just as the last segments of the game against Miami on Sunday, has a real negative affect to the offensive chemistry for the Gamecocks.  The multi-position swing Senior can play the 2, 3 or 4 position in any period of a game or during various transition possessions.  His mere presence creates defensive match up challenges and his perimeter shooting will spread the floor and make it difficult for teams to pack the lane to prevent general and forced penetration.  Something the Gamecocks need in their offensive scheme under the floor leadership of Devan Downey, who creates problems for all teams if he can get into the middle of the lane.  Secondly, other than Downey, Archie is the only player on the roster that has consistently proven his capacity to create his shot off the dribble against set defenses.  The loss of Archie was a clear cause for the success of the Miami game plan that was not affective until Archie went down after the first seven minutes of the Miami (5-0) loss 70-85, when the Gamecocks (4-1) were leading 9-2, building to 19-4 before the defensive scheme and superior post presence took over, following the Archie steal, dunk and injury removed Dominique for the remainder of the night.

With the Gamecocks already struggling to find a consistent perimeter shooter outside of Archie.  The transition game is now missing a fast swing player who can finish strong and get into the fast break lanes as quickly as the average back-court player in the college basketball.  This temporary loss will encourage all teams to utilize active and match up zones often to prevent the penetration and force USC to make long range shots they have not made so far this season.  Archie is leading the team in 3-point shooting(46.2%), first in rebounding on both ends of the floor, second in field goal percentage (53.3%) second in free throw shooting (81.8%), second in scoring (14.4 ppg) and second in steals.  I'm sure you get my drift; this young man is possibly the most valuable player on this team.  Without Archie the team shoots 27% from the arch and 41.4% from the field, while drooping from another 3.5% points from the charity stripe.  Not to mention the contribution on the glass.

Brandis Raley-Ross has shown signs of a capability to return to his shooting form of two seasons back before a knee injury derailed his strong shooting at the start of the season.  He has been gradually working his way back to shooting form and confidence.  Recruited as a scorer, Ramon Galloway converted on 4 3-pointers in the loss to Miami, but his consistency has not yet surfaced.  Senior Evaldas Baniulis offers hope from his previous seasons when he was able to drop 3 pointers in key situations, but these opportunities were created by strong post play and Downey penetration leaving Baniulis to spot and drop long range shots.  However, off the dribble, Baniulis cannot create shots, so Sam Muldrow will have to make some perimeter shots along with taking his post game to an enhanced level.  Muldrow has been playing very well, but his play along with Austin Steed and Johndre Jefferson will have to improve immediately to continue to control the outcome of the non-conference schedule.
Great coaches of great teams have said that during the loss of key or great players a good team becomes great when players step up and contribute in the absence of the key player.  South Carolina will have an opportunity to apply the theory as the undisclosed knee injury appears to have the South Carolina star sidelined for at least a couple of weeks, currently rated as indefinitely, which gives the Gamecocks, a projected 3-4 games (Jacksonville, Western Kentucky, Clemson and Richmond) to find the key contributors without an Archie in the ballgame. 

Gamecock head basketball coach Darrin Horn was quoted as saying that.....
"Dominique Archie is one of the hardest working players I've coached and I'm confident he will work just as hard in his rehabilitation with this injury as he does on the court," Horn said. "As a family, this is a time when we will pull together and continue to work toward our goals in his absence."   Somehow you have to believe Horn can motivate a couple of his athletes to step forward and fill a portion of the void, while Downey raises his level of play as expected.

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