South Carolina Basketball: Is There Any Hope in the 2011-2012 Season?

John RozumCorrespondent INovember 19, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 10:  (L-R) R.J. Slawson #33, Malik Cooke #15, Damontre Harris #24 and Eric Smith #5 of the South Carolina Gamecocks react during their 55 to 66 loss to the Ole Miss Rebels during the first round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Georgia Dome on March 10, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

South Carolina basketball had promise after Darrin Horn arrived in Columbia, but it has been on a downward spiral since his first year as the Gamecocks basketball coach.

After sharing the SEC East title with the Tennessee Volunteers in the 2008-2009 season, the Gamecocks have finished with a losing record in back-to-back seasons. The energy appears to have left the program and fan support is dwindling down.

However, the new season always brings new hope and this year started off with promise for South Carolina. The young talent came to play in the season opener against Western Carolina with a few underclassman leading the charge in a 75-50 win.

True freshman Anthony Gill led the team in scoring with 14 points while JUCO transfer Brenton Williams provided a spark off the bench for 13 points.

So far so good.

Things were looking up for South Carolina. People began to hope this could be a turning point in South Carolina basketball with a young basketball squad growing up together and getting better over the year.

Up next: A road game at Elon. Yes at Elon. That's an easy win right?

Wrong. South Carolina fell 58-53 to Elon Nov. 15.

South Carolina got away from their half-court offense that worked against Western Carolina and began to launch an array of three-point shots that didn't fall and there appeared to be no offensive game plan whatsoever as USC lost to Elon.

The Gamecocks shot 31.3 percent from the field while only shooting 11.1 percent from three-point range with 3-of-27 shooting.


It's amazing how this basketball team regressed from Friday to Tuesday night. A mere few days and all the optimism brewing from the opening game is demolished. Now that outlook has become grim as the Gamecocks play North Carolina, Ohio State, and Clemson in the coming weeks.

They also play Kentucky, Florida, and Vanderbilt each two times this season in SEC play. This schedule isn't getting any easier. If South Carolina can lose to Elon then what happens when they play the No. 1 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels?

Darrin Horn will needs to make some adjustments quickly to give hope back to the Gamecock nation for the rest of the season. The talent on hand seems solid. Damien Leonard and Anthony Gill entered the starting lineup almost immediately as true freshman and players like Malik Cooke, Lakeem Jackson and Damontre Harris should be better this season.

Bruce Ellington plans to return to the basketball team after he plays against Clemson in football on Nov. 26 to give the Gamecocks its leader from the 2010-2011 team.

The pieces are there for this team to fight for, at the very least, an NIT bid but you can't give away what should have been a guaranteed win in Elon.

Now questions will arise when the Gamecocks play lesser teams this season and then wonder if whether they will finish with a winning record in 2011-2012. It will continue to cross the minds of Gamecock fans all season long.

Maybe it's too early to give up hope when the Gamecocks have only played two games this season, but fans won't put up with bad basketball for long. There needs to be some immediate results soon.

This basketball team needs to show improvement or else it will be essentially the same team from the past two seasons and there won't be any signs of growth in the program.

Darrin Horn appeared to be the right guy for the job when he was hired but if he can't pull it together this season then he could be looking for a job in the near future. The support behind him and this program has all but faded over the last few years and another losing season will surely wipe out what has remained.

South Carolina fans always have hope. They've been through a lot over the years. There will be hope this basketball team will come around this year but they won't wait around forever.

It could be now or never for Darrin Horn and right now, unfortunately for him, it looks like it could be never.