Friday, December 3, 2021

Game #9 - at USC Upstate

The Cats travel to the upstate of South Carolina to face the third (of four) Big South Conference opponents, on this season's schedule. The Cats will be playing the SC Upstate Spartans in the smallest basketball facility in Division I basketball.  The Big South Conference has the two smallest basketball facilities in DI basketball, with the CSU Field House (CSU) and the Hodge Center (SC Upstate) both - both less than 900 seating capacity.   

Who:  University of South Carolina Upstate
When: Saturday, Dec. 4th, 2021
Time: 6:00 pm
Where: Hodge Center (837), Valley Falls, SC
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
-announcers:  Gary Ayers,  (play-by-play); Daniel Hooker, (color/analyst)
TV/Video: ESPN+
Location: Valley Falls, SC (near Spartanburg, SC)
Students: 5,996
Conference: Big South Conference
Nickname: Spartans
Colors: Green, White, & Black
SC Upstate Record: 2-5 overall, 1-2 home, 1-3 away, 0-0 Big South
Head Coach: Dave Dickerson is in his fourth season as the head men’s basketball coach at USC Upstate. Last season the Spartans were 5-18.

The Series: The two teams have only met once on a neutral court back in 2013, with Upstate picking up a 58-72 win in the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament from the M.A.C. Center on the Kent State campus.

The Spartans were picked to finish 6th (last) in the Big South southern division for the 2021-22 season. The Spartans enter the game on a two-game skid, coming off losses to Furman and NC Central, both home games. The Spartans also have a loss to ETSU back on Nov. 23rd.

Key Returners: Dalvin White, Bryson Mozone, Mysta Goodloe, Khydarius Smith
Key Losses: Tommy Bruner, Everette Hammond, Nevin Zink
Key Newcomers: Ahmir Langlais (Western Carolina), Nick Alves (JUCO), Jalen Breazeale, Jordan Gainey, Floyd Rideau (South Carolina St.)

According to Blue Ribbon, USC Upstate missed 28 of a scheduled 32 practice days leading up to the season last year. On top of that, head coach Dave Dickerson coached remotely due to family health concerns related to the pandemic.  No practice. No [in-person] coach. BIG problems.

That COVID tornado derailed the Spartans’ season before it even began. A 5-11 record slotted Upstate in the basement of the Big South standings last season, alongside Presbyterian and a few games ahead of Charleston Southern.

Western Carolina transfer, Ahmir Langlais could be a sleeping giant for the Spartans, particularly if Coach Dickerson plays more through the post this season (as he has historically).

This is a bad time to lose two premier playmakers on the perimeter (Bruner and Hammond), especially with no tagged replacements waiting in the wings. Dickerson’s return to live, in-person coaching will offset a fraction of the personnel departures but this still feels like a transition year for the Spartans.

Upstate Projected starters:
#3 - Mysta Goodloe  - 6.2 ppg
#4 - Jalen Breazeale - 4.0 ppg
#5 - Bryson Mozone - 14.7 ppg
#11 - Jordan Gainey - 9.7 ppg
#34 - Josh Aldrich  - 5.8 ppg

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