South Carolina-Seton Hall Preview
Unbeaten and 16th-ranked South Carolina will be without its best player when it takes on Seton Hall on Monday in the Under Armour Reunion at Madison Square Garden.
Senior forward Sindarius Thornwell was suspended indefinitely by Gamecocks coach Frank Martin last week. Thornwell leads South Carolina in scoring, rebounds and assists.
Martin described the reason for Thornwell's suspension as a "mental mistake" and said the senior would travel with the team to New York, but would not play. No timetable for Thonwell's return has been announced.
"He will do everything other than play in the game," Martin told reporters. "That's important. Sometimes, you miss time because of ankle injury, a knee injury, a pulled hamstring. You can't allow an injury to deprive your team of becoming who it's supposed to be. ... This is a mental injury. He made a mental mistake. It's the same deal. He's fine and Sin's earned my respect and my trust for who he is. No different than my own son."
Seton Hall (7-2) will look to take advantage of Thornwell's absence and win its fourth straight game. The Pirates are coming off a 60-57 win over California in a Pearl Harbor Invitational game played in Hawaii. Junior forward Angel Delgado scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the win over Cal for his third straight double-double.
Delgado is one of four Pirates averaging in double figures. Junior guard Khadeen Carrington leads the Pirates, averaging 20.0 points per game. Carrington scored 17 or more points in eight of nine games this season and is shooting 55.3 percent from 3-point range. Junior forward Desi Rodriguez (14.6 points) and freshman guard Myles Powell (12.6) also are averaging double figures for the balanced Pirates.
Without Thornwell, the Gamecocks will need senior guards Duane Notice and Justin McKie to step up.
Sophomore guard P.J. Dozier is having a breakout year for South Carolina. Dozier is averaging 12.8 points and 4.5 rebounds for the Gamecocks.
"We like to prepare our team to depend on who we are, not to be dependent on a player," Martin said. "Where things get dicey is not one guy is going to step in and be Sindarius.
"What a wonderful opportunity for others to step forward and embrace more responsibility," Martin added. "That's only going to make us a stronger team moving forward."
South Carolina has been impressive this season and already posted wins over Michigan and Syracuse. The Gamecocks (8-0) also started hot last season, winning their first 15 games. But South Carolina stumbled down the stretch and ended up being left out of the NCAA tournament.
The Pirates won last year's Big East tournament, knocking off eventual national champion Villanova in the conference tournament title game. They reached the NCAA tournament, but were eliminated in the first round by Gonzaga.
South Carolina and Seton Hall will be the second game of a doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. Auburn and Boston College will battle in the first game.
Monday's meeting is only the second all-time game between the Pirates and Gamecocks. They last met in 1974, with South Carolina winning 75-74 on a pair of free throws by Mike Dunleavy Sr., at Madison Square Garden.