South Carolina Dealing With Issues

FAYETTEVILLE -- South Carolina coach Dave Odom has more to worry about than on-court issues nowadays.

The Gamecocks' fourth-year coach told junior center Antoine Tisby to stay home while South Carolina traveled to Florida last Friday and he left senior guard Josh Gonner in the locker room after he tearfully pleaded for more playing time after playing nine minutes in the first half Saturday.

Oh, and South Carolina lost 80-72 to Florida to drop its record to 3-4 in the Southeastern Conference and 11-7 overall before the Gamecocks host Arkansas (14-6, 2-5) Wednesday.

Odom said he met with the 6-foot-8, 228-pound Tisby (3.9 rebounds, 4.5 points per game) and the 6-2 Gonner (fourth on team with 8.4 ppg) separately on Sunday and will determine their fates this week.

Both are still practicing with the team.

"It's a serious matter in terms of the future of two young men and more important, the future of our basketball team," Odom said. "I want to make sure I make a wise decision and hear from them as much as they want to be heard from."

Tisby has already been suspended for the last exhibition game and first regular season game because of repeated tardiness for practice, meetings and class.

Gonner was suspended for the South Carolina State game after another confrontation with the coaching staff following South Carolina's 57-53 win against East Carolina.

Their status with the team for the rest of the season is uncertain, but Odom could make an announcement at his press conference today.

"For me to sit here and pretend that everything is all right is inappropriate as well," Odom said. "Things are not all right. It's going to be handled to our satisfaction. If that turns out to be to their satisfaction, fine, well and good. I'm happy. It's a win-win.

"But if it turns out to be anything other than to their satisfaction, then I'll still love them, but I'll miss them."

Without Tisby, South Carolina's biggest and most experienced players are 6-7 forwards Carlos Powell and Renaldo Balkman.

Powell, a senior, and Balkman, a sophomore, are two active players both offensively and defensively.

Powell leads South Carolina with 15.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Balkman, who has an 84-inch wingspan, is second on the team in rebounding with 4.9 per game and is fifth on the team in scoring with 7.2 per game.

The Gamecocks' tallest players are 6-10 senior John Chappell and 6-10 sophomore Paulius Jonelunas, but they average a combined 13 minutes, 2.1 rebounds and 2.3 points per game.

South Carolina is breaking even on the glass this season with 33.4 rebounds to its opponents 33.9.

The Gamecocks are allowing teams to hit 42.1 percent of their shots while connecting on 47.1 percent of their own.

Odom said his undersized and now possibly undermanned team will have its work cut out against Arkansas' freshman post trio of Darian Townes, Steven Hill and Charles Thomas.

"We have to pick up our commitment, determination and intensity on the inside, both on the defensive and offensive boards and our defensive post play," Odom said. "Those areas there must be raised there. We have to keep the game under control defensively and that's been a problem for us."

South Carolina, like Arkansas, has competed but come up short against top teams this season, losing three games by four points each.

South Carolina lost a lead and fell at No. 3 Kansas (64-60), lost by four again at No. 16 Pittsburgh (72-68) and at No. 6 Kentucky (79-75).

"(They're) a basketball team that's had some similarities to us," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath. "They had some tough ball games, some close ones. They're definitely a team that's very strong. They've only lost once at home (63-62 to Clemson in overtime).

"They're a team with a lot of length, a lot of athleticism."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories