The JSU men’s basketball team is gearing up for the new season with games at Auburn and the British Virgin Islands to look forward to.
Last season the Gamecocks finished 17-11 and although they have lost a few key starters there is still much to be excited about.
The Gamecocks scored an average of 66.3 points per game last year, 1.4 percent higher than their opponents. They were 8-8 in conference play and 9-3 in non-conference play.
Even losing several key starters the Gamecocks also have several exceptional players returning to play another season.
Senior Brian Williams returns this year after finishing fifth in the OVC in assists. Williams started in all 28 games of the previous season and had a .402 field goal percentage. He also averaged 13.1 points a game last year along with 2.4 rebounds a game.
In addition to having Williams back as a starter the Gamecocks also have Junior Darion Rackley returning. Rackley is a 6-3 guard who averaged nearly 13.7 points a game, only a little higher than his teammate. A more compelling statistic is his .741 free throw percentage having made 86 of the 116 shots that he took last season. While playing half the time of Williams he shot 40 more free throws on the year than his teammate.
Those two key players have to fill big shoes in the form of former starting guard Ronnie Boggs and forward Tarvin Gaines. Combined the two players had nearly 28 points a game and made 265 of the 556 field goals that they shot over the course of last season.
The Gamecocks have several key games coming up this season not including the several important conference games that are on their schedule each year. On Nov. 11 the Gamecocks will travel to Auburn to take on the in-state Tigers of the SEC.
In addition they will also take part in a tournament being held on the British Virgin Islands on Dec. 20 through 21. They will play Arkansas-Little Rock in the first game then take on either Southern Miss or Coppin State before returning home to Jacksonville.
After a break upon returning home, JSU will open conference play at home against UT Martin. Last year the matchup was not easily won by the Gamecocks and it will be interesting to see if the Skyhawks will be able to overcome last year’s 9-21 record.
Another big OVC matchup will be against Belmont who the Gamecocks will play twice once again this year. The previous season Belmont won both games only winning the second by only seven points. The Bruins finished their season 26-7 and made the NCAA Tournament.
The Gamecocks have a tough season ahead but no reason not to be excited about the prospect of great wins.