South's Greatest Basketball Programs: No. 24 South Carolina Gamecocks

Ryne E. HancockCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2010

University of South Carolina

Location: Columbia, South Carolina

Nickname: Gamecocks

Reason For Nickname: There are many variations to how the nickname “Gamecocks” came about. According to the USC athletic department, one of those reasons came from the fact that war hero Thomas Sumter (for whom Fort Sumter in Charleston is named for) was known as the “Fighting Gamecock.” Not only that, the state is known for breeding gamecocks, which would explain the origin of the nickname, which has been popular since the early 1900’s.

Colors: Garnet and Black

Conference: Southeastern Conference

Arena: Colonial Center (built 2002, capacity 18,000) 

SEC Champions: 1997

SEC East Champions: 1997, 2009

ACC Champions: Regular Season (1970), Tournament (1971)

Southern Conference Champions: Regular Season (1927, 1933, 1934, 1945) Tournament (1933)

NCAA Tournament: 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1989, 1997, 1998, 2004

NIT Tournament: 1969, 1975, 1978, 1983, 1991, 1996, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2009

Coaching Legacy: Frank McGuire, who led the Tar Heels to their first national championship in 1957 against Wilt Chamberlain’s Kansas squad, is credited with the advancement of basketball in the Palmetto State, coaching the Gamecocks from 1965 to 1980 and winning 283 games, still the best in Gamecock history. The Cocks’ former home, Carolina Coliseum, was renamed in his honor in 1980 as Frank McGuire Arena.

Big Man On Campus: South Carolina’s greatest player was Columbia native Alex English, who is the second-leading scorer behind B.J. McKie. English starred for the Gamecocks from 1972 to 1976 and would later have a successful career in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets. He would later be inducted into the Naismath Basketball Hall of Fame for his career in 1997. Other greats to play for the Garnet and Black are Antonio Grant, B.J. McKie, and Ronaldo Balkman, who is currently with the New York Knicks.

Rivalries: Any Gamecock fan will tell you that without a shadow of a doubt the Clemson Tigers are the Gamecocks’ biggest rival in any sport, including basketball. In the all-time series, the Gamecocks lead 86-74 with the Tigers winning 72-61 this season against the Gamecocks in Clemson.

Did You Know?: The year that the Gamecocks last won an NCAA Tournament game was the same year that the Memphis Tigers made it to the Final Four for the first time, which was 1973. That team included English and a skinny white kid by the name of Mike Dunleavy


South Carolina Gamecocks basketball by the numbers

Seasons: 102

Wins (through 2009): 1,259

Postseason Appearances: 19

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 8

Conference Regular Season Titles: 7

Conference Tournament Titles: 2