B-ball notebook: USC moves on without Conrad

The Gamecocks return to the court Saturday afternoon to host The Citadel. For the first time since the second game of the season, there will be a change in the starting lineup. Branden Conrad, who replaced the injured Brandis Raley-Ross after the first game, broke his foot in practice and will be replaced in the lineup by Evka Baniulis.


"He didn't do anything," coach Darrin Horn said about the circumstances surrounding Conrad's injury. "There wasn't anybody within 15 feet of him. We were doing ‘Dummy offense,' which means there's nobody around. He just took a step and came up hopping."

Conrad joins forward Sam Muldrow (elbow) on the sidelines. Both are out "indefinitely," and neither is expected to return anytime soon. Carolina has a tough two game stretch against Clemson and Baylor around New Year's, followed by a game against Wofford and then the conference schedule. There is an outside chance Muldrow could return by the Clemson game. Although Horn said he does not expect to lose Conrad for the year, he sees no chance of him being ready for the Tigers.

"When a kid breaks his foot, everybody heals differently; we're not going to throw a time out there that we really don't know," said Horn.

South Carolina is fortunate that Conrad's injury comes one game after Raley-Ross returned from his knee sprain. Basically, the Gamecocks will have the same number of players against the Bulldogs as they have had all year. The biggest challenge is not replacing Conrad's minutes or spot in the starting lineup, but figuring out who will replace him as the backup point guard behind Devan Downey.

"What affects the rotation more is that Branden was our guy that slid over to the point immediately when we wanted to sub Devan. That's more of an issue than who's starting and who's not," Horn said. "We're going to have to do that a little bit by committee. It will be something we'll have to work through not only in practice but through some games."

Along with Zam Fredrick and Robert Wilder, Raley-Ross will be part of the committee. He struggled in his return to action Tuesday night, and was yanked from the game when he took "an incredibly bad, horrible, selfish shot that we're not going to tolerate," according to Horn. Raley-Ross is 100% healthy or he would not be playing, according to Horn, but he has been slower to get back in the flow of things mentally. Fortunately, Raley-Ross is beginning to come around.

"Since the game on Tuesday, the last two days he's made strides," Horn said.

Regardless of how quickly Raley-Ross is able to get back in the flow of things, the Gamecocks still have to play The Citadel. As Downey reminded reporters several times, the Bulldogs do not care that Carolina has lost a starter.

"In reality, nobody cares. The opponents don't care, and don't nobody want to hear the sad story about being tired or anything, so the guards have just got to step it up and get it done," Downey said. "We can't sit around and feel bad for ourselves, we've got to find a way to get it done."


Notes:

- Saturday's game will be the 100th all time between the two schools. Coming in, the Gamecocks lead the series 76-23. The Bulldogs last beat Carolina during the 1988-89 season, 88-87.

- As big as the Gamecocks' win over North Carolina Central was on Tuesday, it was not the biggest win in school history. That dis-honor belongs to, you guessed it, The Citadel. The Bulldogs lost 103-42 last year.

- Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy, who coached Downey during each's lone season at Cincinnati, was arrested on Thursday and accused of using racial slurs and assaulting a cab driver. Downey was close to Kennedy, and probably would have stayed with the Bearcats had Kennedy not moved on to Oxford. He defended his former coach on Friday. "Coach Kennedy is a good dude, I wish him the best. I don't know the details; I don't know what happened. He said he didn't do it, so I'm behind him. He didn't do it."


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