April 7, 2003 The PooP
Two years ago, Dave Odom took over a program that appeared to be locked into middle-of-the-pack status in the pecking order of the SEC East Division. No coach is likely to change that standing in the immediate future. South Carolina usually has enough talent on hand, and in its traditional recruiting base, to usually finish ahead of Vanderbilt but not enough to overtake Kentucky or Florida. The Gamecocks' lot in SEC life, and as a frequent NCAA bubble team, hinges on their ability to finish ahead of Georgia and Tennessee. To a great extent, the recruiting trail holds the answers, and right now that's not necessarily good news for USC fans.
Done For Me Lately
|1997||15-1||24-8||NCAA 1st Round|
|1998||11-5||23-8||NCAA 1st Round|
SEC Totals: 70-90 (.438)
Overall: 157-148 (.515)
Projected 2003-04 Roster
NOTE: Scholarship/rotation players only.
The Good News
Perhaps the best news is that Odom has been in these kinds of difficult situations before, and he often has managed to overachieve and build consistent winners without the luxury of prep All-Americans. He's a true teacher, a master tactician, a hard worker and a wonderful representative of the university. They just don't make more reliable coaches anymore. If he can get this group of players to buy into what he's selling, and his history suggests he can, there's still hope that the Gamecocks can build a team that's better than the sum of its parts.
The Bad News
This program became extremely top-heavy in talent over the last few years, and that's always a concern for the long-term future. There are just no obvious stars in the freshman, sophomore or junior classes, and star power is almost a prerequisite to success in the powerful SEC these days. Eddie Fogler deserves the blame for the mediocre crop two years ago the new staff had to scramble for some last-minute scraps after the spring coaching change but Odom failed to overwhelm anyone in his first two recruiting cycles. If the Gamecocks' fortunes are going to turn, so must the recruiting tide.
This is a real danger zone for the program. The junior class is small in numbers and relatively weak in terms of talent. The sophomore class consists of three players who might turn out to be SEC-caliber but might turn out to be recruiting mistakes. The incoming group includes three promising talents, although two of those talents still must qualify academically, and yet another project big man. In the best-case scenario, everything will be OK. In the worst-case scenario, Odom could be in very hot water a year from now.