Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Excellent comments all

It’s nice to know there are people out there, and the responses have been excellent.

Let me comment on your comments.

First, on the schedule. The JSU officials I’ve talked to are adamant that the Gamecocks will not play nine games this year.

“We’re going to have 11 games,” one told me. "We've got enough choices at hand."

I’ve heard Maine bandied about. You’re right, it would make an intriguing matchup if only for whatever feel-good factor there might be from the JSU fan perspective if the Gamecocks were to win.

(But remember, it will be one year late, and how many of the impact players from either team in that selection show drama will be back. It’s kind of like last year’s proposed volleyball trip overseas to reward the players for the previous NCAA Tournament season; those who most made it possible wouldn’t be playing).

Still, like the Furman games, Maine would create interest.

I think McNeese State is a potential target. That’s the team the JSU coaching staff always used as the bar when the Gamecocks were in the Southland. And Georgia Southern is itching to play the Gamecocks again.

If it’s the Southern Conference, you crave, Wofford would be a quality fit and don’t forget JSU athletic director Oval Jaynes has Appalachian State ties and JSU coach Jack Crowe is close with Appy coach Jerry Moore.

Feasability is the big factor here. Those teams you're talking about have to have an opening, and in the correct spot so not to derail any conference title hopes. And then the game has to fit in the JSU scheduling philosophy; that is attracting somebody to play at home this year to impact the home-road balance. And if it is on the road, you don’t want to spend a fortune to play it.

And, above all, remember, it’s all well and good to play these kinds of games, but it does no good unless you win them.

As far as Perrilloux’s future, barring any undisclosed complications, I would suspect he’ll come back. I also suspect the NFL report will tell him he hasn't played enough to project in this year’s draft. True, he has ability not seen in these parts, but he’s really only played one year as a college starter.

Keep those (insightful) comments coming. Just keep all others.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New podcast up, with a request

The latest edition of The Star's JSU Sports Podcast is up, and there's a special request for your opinion in this week's edition. More on that in a minute.

This week Al and I talk about how the JSU men's basketball team turned a six-game win streak into a two-game losing streak, and how they hope to turn that around in tonight's visit from Berry College before diving into the meat of the conference schedule against Eastern Illinois on Saturday. Also, we talk about the women's team finally scoring its first two wins this season against Division I teams before falling prey to N.C. State in a big way.

Then we get into the still-developing football schedule for 2009, and that's where your opinion comes in. JSU officials have said they want to beef up the schedule to better impress the playoff selection committee in case they wind up in a situation at season's end like they did this year. Plus, the UTC series has been delayed at least year. That leaves Jax State with two games left to play. Who would you like to see visit Paul Snow Stadium, or where do you think the Gamecocks should go? Should they line up against the Championship Subdivison's elite (A la Appalachian State), or look for middle-of-the-pack teams more like themselves (think Coastal Carolina or Nichols State)? Or, should they play for the pocketbook, and schedule another Georgia Tech-style game against one of the upper-tier Bowl Subdivision squads?

Let us know by posting a comment here, or e-mailing me at Be sure to tell us what specific teams you'd like to see them play, and why. And don't forget, there are two openings on the schedule. We'll discuss your picks on the podcast when we get enough suggestions to work with.

In the meantime, click the player below to hear this week's episode.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Is anybody there?

Sometimes when I look at the empty response box on the blog, I can’t help feeling like the John Adams character played by William Daniels in the musical “1776.” If you know the show, you know the scene, where Adams/Daniels looks out to the world as he contemplates the question of independence and wonders “Is anybody there? Does anybody care?”

In an effort to spark some conversation, here are a few questions to ponder for the new year:

Does anybody care if Ryan Perrilloux comes back for his senior season or comes out for the NFL Draft?

Does anybody care if the Gamecocks fill their future football schedules with teams that would bring some appeal to the playoff selection committee?

Does anybody care if the JSU basketball team gets the services of Brylle Kamen this year? The 6-7 freshman still supposedly waiting a decision from the NCAA over his status as an international player?

Does anybody care?

Is anybody there?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

There's something happening here

JSU administrators appear to be making the moves necessary to make their non-conference schedule more appealing to the folks who sit in the NCAA playoff selection committee. What those moves are, you'll have to wait until they decide they're good and ready to give it to you.

It takes an Act of Congress (or at least the State Attorney General) to get any substantial insight into the athletic program, so don't look for your hot stove to ever get really hot. If the Gamecocks have any more midyear football signings other than independently confirmed commitments of Mississippi JUCO running back Jamal Young and former Auburn punter Patrick Tatum, school publicists say they aren't likely to release them until around Christmas. Other teams make those announcements when they happen.

By the time the official word gets out, you've forgotten there were signees. Or the newcomers have been on campus for a while and already made the acquaintance of fans and fellow students. So who's being served here?

What's all this have to do with future football schedules? Well, JSU athletics director Oval Jaynes said Wednesday night the Gamecocks have football games scheduled "through 2013, 2014," but he wasn't prepared to make any announcement or drop any hints to stoke the interest until the contracts were signed. School publicists are were the same way.

This is what we do know.

1. The Gamecocks' entourage to the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame ceremonies in New York last week engaged in numerous conversations with their peers about the possibility of playing games. It would be only a guess to say some were successful.

"We've got some opportunities," Jaynes said.

2. One thing those future schedules won't have are non-Division I games. "We're not playing any Division II or Division II teams on the schedule," Jaynes said.

That's a clear shot at the two non-DI games that prevented UT Martin from any serious playoff consideration and a veiled shot at the weak non-conference schedule of Maine, the team that bumped JSU from the last playoff spot.

3. The Gamecocks have guarantee games still with Georgia Tech (next year) and Ole Miss (in 2010), but you already knew that.

4. There will be no Chattanooga game next year because of a scheduling conflict, but there will be games in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Jaynes said. So the Gamecocks are looking for a game for 2009 and they're not immediately prepared to say who's under consideration.

"We tried every way we could to work with Chattanooga (for 2009)," Jaynes said, but noted an unnamed OVC team didn't want to change to accommodate the move.

Could there be a Maine in the Gamecocks' future? Now wouldn't that be interesting, a year after the fact. The Gamecocks did start a home-and-home with Furman the year after they played in the playoffs.

Perrilloux's future for JSU

If you want another indication JSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux is coming back for his senior year, those inside the program said when the player went home at the end of exams last week he left his stuff here in Jacksonville.

He has to at least come back to get it, right?

While some players have said Perrilloux will come out for the NFL Draft this June -- he was expected to ask the NFL Advisory Board for an evaluation of his draft prospects -- JSU coach Jack Crowe "fully expects" the quarterback to return.

If he does return, don't expect any loosening of the reins during this off season. Once Perrilloux got here amid reports of a troubled LSU past, he was continually shadowed by coaches, administrators or teammates, which created some underlying resentment. "Babysit" was the word heard more than once.

Crowe said his quarterback met all of the non-football requirements put before him "that had any major consequences." But there still were what he called "inconsistencies of a minor nature" that if stacked up over time could become major.

(For his part, Perrilloux said during the season he didn't mind the structure.)

"He was micromanaged, that made the inconsistencies tougher," Crowe said. "He needs to become a better leader for this team from just his day-to-day influence, because his influence was basically an on-the-field influence. He's got to become more of a day to day positive influence.

"He's a leader in his nature, but he's got to take on the total responsibility of being a leader. It's no different than than (defensive end) Duane Tolbert. This time last year I had the same questions about Duane Tolbert. I brought him in and had a very serious discussion with him ... and with (running back) Daniel Jackson.

"I'm not going to have any different conversation with Ryan Perrilloux. Now, where did those two guys go? They went to another level. (Perrilloux) has got to accept the responsibility of being a senior and all the things that go along with it or he's going to be a distraction to this football team."

Perrilloux said the night the Gamecocks were snubbed by the NCAA selection committee the team had a new focus. They won eight games, but were denied a spot in the playoffs by Maine, one of five CAA teams that made the playoffs.

"We have a new goal to look forward to," he said. "We were 6-5 the last three years and we went 8-3 this year, so we have a new goal. We feel like if we don't get eight or more wins, we weren't productive. We'll come out and work hard on the things we didn't do well this season and continue to get better."

And that goes for him as well.

"Of course I'm upset we didn't win a championship and didn't make it to the playoffs, but I felt like I went out there and played my hardest week in and week out and I think the team did the same thing," he said. "That's all you can ask for a player or person to do -- their best.

"I definitely tried as hard as I could. Jacksonville State is a good program and hopefully next year we'll come out better than we did this year."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New podcast up

The latest edition of The Star's JSU Sports Podcast is up. Al and I go over all the math (OK, some of the math ... OK, very little of the math ... we're writers) in JSU's high RPI rating and how their opponents' wins and losses are moving them up and down. And we look ahead to Wednesday's matchup at even higher-rated UAB.

Click the player below to hear the latest episode.

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If you have comments or questions you'd like us to address next week, send me an e-mail at

Hoops on the tube

According to's college basketball schedule, Jacksonville State's game at icy Iowa State on Saturday will be part of the network's Full Court Package and can be seen on

Before the Gamecocks go to Iowa, however, they have to take care of some business called UAB.

It'll be an emotional game for JSU guard Jonathan Toles, no doubt. Toles was hoping to follow his pro-playing twin brothers Ronell and Donell Taylor to UAB, but the Blazers chose another guard over him in the recruiting process. He'll talk about that in Wednesday's print edition of the Star.

It isn't immediately known if freshman forward Brandon Crawford will be available to play against the Blazers. Team officials are hoping he will, but it likely will be a game-time decision.

Crawford hurt his knee in a game-day practice hours before the Gamecocks' OVC opener at Tennessee Tech Dec. 6. That day, by the way, was the last time UAB played.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Keeping track

No one really believes Jax State could beat Kansas, but that's what comparing scores would lead you to believe after UMass knocked off the Jayhawks Saturday.

Under that line of thinking, JSU beats UMass, UMass beats Kansas, so JSU beats Kansas. Keep dreaming. There's a reason coaches don't compare scores when talking about common opponents.

But it did help the Gamecocks in their RPI. After of noon Sunday, the Gamecocks had elevated to No. 42 in and, in games through Sunday, No. 66 in

UAB, Wednesday's opponent, is No. 31 and No. 30 in the two polls, respectively. Iowa State, their Saturday foe, is 177 and 150.

Kansas, by the way, was No. 147 in and No. 86 in rpiratings on Sunday. Still, they're 25 and 23 in the AP and coaches polls, respectively.

If the Gamecocks beat UAB and Iowa State on the road this week, do you expect they'll start getting votes in the big boys' polls?

Exhibition counted for a lot

Even though the game didn't count on their record, there was a lot about Saturday's exhibition win over Reinhardt that was good for the Gamecocks.

(1) It was a game to be played, so they had some live activity before playing UAB in a game that will count Wednesday night; if it weren't on the schedule at all, the Gamecocks would go 11 days between games.

(2) It allowed them to shake off the mental cobwebs after a week's worth of semester finals that impacted their practice routine.

(3) It gave them another chance to put their product in front of the home folks, a rare feat for a team that has only five home dates before the new year.

That last point may be the biggest plus for the future of the program.

"We've been on the road so much, to have a home game and have some people come in and be able to look at this team give the effort that they've been giving ... they'll know a little bit about what they can expect in January and February," JSU coach James Green said. "It's kind of a program situation, where people can come in and be a part.

"I really think that's going to be crucial come league play, how involved will our fans be? How enthsiastic will they be? Will they be our sixth man?"

There will have to be a lot more of them to have an impact. The Gamecocks' last two home outings drew a listed crowd of fewer than 800. Of course, one was played the afternoon of the Iron Bowl when students were on Thanksgiving break and the other was played on a Saturday afternoon following exams.

Their next home date doesn't bode well for a good draw either -- it's the Tuesday between Christmas and New Year's against another non-Division I foe.

The Gamecocks do offer more appealing games to open 2009. They start the new year with conference home games against Eastern Illinois (Jan. 3 on ESPNU) and SE Missouri (Jan. 5), teams that given their play to this point in the season they should be favored to beat.

Monday, December 8, 2008

New podcast up

The latest edition of The Star's JSU Sports Podcast is up. Al and I talk about the red-hot Gamecock men's basketball team's rise in the RPI rankings, and look ahead to their games against Reinhardt and UAB.

We also talk about what's gone wrong with the women's team, which picked up its first win last week, but is 1-7 following a Saturday loss to Tennessee Tech.

Click here to load the file in your browser, or visit the XML page here to subscribe. Or, just do it the easy way and sign up through iTunes. There's also a player on this page, over on the right hand side, where you can push a play button and listen.

If you have comments or questions you'd like us to address next week, send me an e-mail at

Charging for a game that doesn't count

If the JSU basketball team's early season winning ways have piqued your interest and you're planning to check out its next home basketball game, 4 p.m. Saturday against Reinhardt, be prepared to dig into your wallet.

JSU designated the game as an exhibition after the schedule was announced (because the Gamecocks have too many non-Division I games on their regular season schedule). But because the game is included in the regular ticket package, they're charging to see it -- at regular ticket prices. The Gamecocks' preseason exhibition with West Georgia was free.

The Gamecocks' next home game after Saturday is Dec. 30 against Berry. It's a game JSU will count, but Berry has designated as an exhibition.

Their stock is rising

After spending virtually all of last year languishing near the bottom of the publicly available basketball RPI rankings, Jacksonville State is now living in the upper atmosphere.

The Gamecocks, who have the best overall record in the Ohio Valley Conference through Sunday’s games, are the highest rated OVC team in both the and indexes.

They are No. 66 in rpiratings and No. 67 in realtimerpi. Murray State is second on both lists at No. 88.

The Gamecocks are also the top OVC team in the Sagarin ratings (No. 97).

What’s next? Getting points in the AP or Coaches poll?

The JSU women, meanwhile, are No. 330 out of 340 teams in the list and No. 333 on the realtimerpi list.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A chance to step up

If Brandon Crawford’s knee injury becomes a prolonged absence to the Jax State basketball team, freshman Stephen Hall just might be called upon to pick up the slack.

The Gamecocks got hit with their first serious bit of adversity in the James Green Era when Crawford, their leading scorer, sustained what team officials would only call a “right knee injury” during a game-day practice Saturday before the Gamecocks’ OVC opener at Tennessee Tech. He did not play in the game.

Since no one would say specifically what the injury was, it can only be assumed it’s anything from a sprain to a tear to a simple bump. The latter seems unlikely considering Crawford left the building after the game on crutches and a sleeve.

Green didn’t want to give a prognosis of the injury after the game, deferring to the team’s training staff. He appeared, however, prepared to move ahead even if Crawford isn’t available.

Luckily for the Gamecocks, they have the luxury of time to allow Crawford to heal. They don’t play a real game again until Dec. 17 at UAB. They do have an exhibition with Reinhardt on Saturday.

“I don’t know much about it until we find out a little more, but it is a nice break,” Green said, “but I’ve always been of the philosophy, not that we don’t care about guys being hurt or discipline reasons or whatever, you’ve still gotta go play. We’re going to do whatever we have to do to go play, and I thought our guys did a good job of that (Saturday).”

If Crawford isn’t back quickly, Hall, also a 6-6 forward, proved his ability against Tech to give comparable quality minutes.

Hall, an early signee who kept his commitment through the coaching change, scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the Golden Eagles. His previous career highs were 18 points in the double overtime victory at Georgia State and eight rebounds against VMI.

“I think Hall and (Nick) Murphy had more production (in Crawford’s absence), probably had more minutes to get more production,” Green said. “I don’t know how many minutes we played (Amadou Mbodji) and Geddes (Robinson), but it appeared just from me looking at their minutes (in the box score), Geddes’ minutes probably weren’t as many as he normally gets, but part of the reason is they had (big players) stepping up shooting 3s, and we thought we needed to get out there and cover them a little bit better being smaller.”

It also would help the Gamecocks' inside presence if they could get 6-7 Brylle Kamen back. He has been out since the season began for administrative reasons pertaining to his status as an international student. He reportedly has fulfilled a suspension for games played overseas, but his paperwork, according to JSU officials, remains clogged up in the NCAA process.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tootle being watched

JSU junior right-hander Ben Tootle already is on the radar screen (and radar guns) of the most major-league scouts. Friday, he was named to the college Player of the Year watch list.

The Oxford product was named to the preseason Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Award Watch List as announced by the College Baseball Foundation.

After leading JSU to the OVC regular-season title, he went to the Cape Cod League in the summer and was simply sizzling. Regularly hitting the radar gun in the high 90s and ocassionally hitting 100, he went 3-3 with five saves and a 1.97 ERA in 22 relief appearances.

After that summer, Baseball America called him the fourth best prospect on the Cape and ESPN listed him as the 13th best prospect in the country.

Award winning runner

JSU distance runner Lesley Binning was among the six athletes named Ohio Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete winners Friday morning.

She was selected from a group of 19 finalists -- among them, JSU punter Zach Walden -- by a vote of OVC Faculty Athletics Representatives. Honorees must have performed athletically with distinction, earned at least a 3.25 grade point average and conducted themselves in an exemplary manner. The award is based on achivements during the 2007-08 school year.

The other winners were Austin Peay's Carrie Burggraf (track and field), Murray State's Amber Guffey (women’s basketball), Eastern Illinois' Brian Morrell (baseball), Tennessee Tech's Bradley Thompson (football) and UT Martin's Andrey Yesipov (men’s tennis).

Binning is in her fourth year at JSU and has been the team’s No. 1 distance runner. She was All-OVC in track in 2007 and 2008. She was third in the 10,000 at the 2008 OVC Outdoor Championships after finishing seventh in the 5,000 meters at the Indoor Championships. She also holds school records in the indoor 3,000 and 5,000, and the outdoor 5,000 meters. In four years with the cross country squad, she set program records for both 5K and 6K.

In the classroom Binning has a perfect 4.00 grade point average in exercise science/wellness, health and physical education. She has been a recipient of the OVC Medal of Honor three times, the OVC Commissioner’s Honor Roll three times and the JSU President’s List three times.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Murphy's law

The last time out, Nick Murphy showed signs of being the Nick Murphy he was last year. That can only be a good sign for the Gamecocks.

The sophomore forward who led the Gamecocks in scoring last season had his most productive game of this young season in JSU’s 80-61 victory over Norfolk State. He played a season-high 25 minutes and scored a season-high 18 points.

He had only 15 points in his previous three games combined.

Some might say it has taken the native New Yorker a while to get used to what new coach James Green wants, but Murphy pegged his slow start on aggravating the ankle injuries that have plagued him for two years and kept him from being “as bouncy and mobile” as he’d been in the past. He hurt both of them last year and fractured his right ankle two years ago.

“It wasn’t really like it was slow in this offense,” Murphy said. “I had a little injury and I was recovering slowly and slowly.

“I was feeling good that night. He (Green) did tell us in the locker room that he had a feeling someone was going to step up. He kept looking at me. I had the feeling and I know he had the feeling I was going to have a good game.’

Green said he never had a question about Murphy‘s approach. Murphy may have gotten off to a slow start, but the Gamecocks were fortunate guys like Brandon Crawford, Jeremy Bynum and Jonathan Toles picked up the slack and got those minutes, so he couldn’t simply play his way through it.

“Nick Murphy has been a warrior, he has been into winning, he has tried to do everything we’ve asked him to do, from preseason conditioning on,” Green said. “I just think it‘s something that happens to players. Some players get off to better starts, and at different times.

“I know he had a great year last year. People always talk about sophomore jinxes. I don‘t know if he had a little sophomore jinx, where people pay a little closer attention to you when you‘re a sophomore … When he puts another couple games together then we’ll say he turned himself out of it. One game won’t do it for me and I know it won’t do it for him, but I know it tells him he still can.”

Murphy‘s good friend, Geddes Robinson, had a big game for the Gamecocks against Norfolk State, too. Robinson scored 17 points against a Spartans, a team that had several players they faced in the schools and playgrounds growing up in the Bronx.

You’ll be able to read more about the bond Murphy and Robinson have forged in an upcoming edition of The Star.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Helping hands

There are a lot of reasons Jacksonville State is taking a 4-1 record into tonight’s game at Norfolk State. Perhaps the biggest is the Gamecocks’ ability to get the ball in the hands of the players who can put the ball in the hole.

Going into tonight’s action, the Gamecocks rank third in Division I in assists. They average 20.6 assists per game, right behind Sam Houston State (21.8) and North Carolina (21.3).

The Gamecocks have 145 buckets and 103 assists. No telling what that figure would be if they counted “coach’s assists,” getting the ball to a guy who doesn’t get the basket but gets fouled in the process.

“We preach about sharing the ball,” JSU coach James Green said. “Obviously, we’re better when we play well together.

“For it to be early in the year and us to be able to play very unselfish and share the basketball and move the basketball and get it in the hands of people who can score and in the position they can score it is a credit to our guys.”

And to senior guards DeAndre Bray and Jonathan Toles in particular. Bray leads the OVC in assists at 7.2 per game. Toles is tied for second at 5.0.

“I’m sure our last game against VMI probably helped that, in the fact VMI is a team that was pressing and trapping full court, half court, and we were able to get through that and find people around the basket,” Green said.

But the Keydets haven't been the only team to turn up the pressure on the Gamecocks. Georgia State, Umass and South Carolina all trapped them as well.

“For a team that’s young overall, having two senior guards who have handled the ball fairly well for us I think has been our strongest deal to be able to combat the pressure,” Green said. “We could easily be 1-4 instead of 4-1 for a lot of different reason, but the biggest reason (they're 4-1) is we’ve been able to play against a little pressure and handle it.”

New podcast up

This week's edition of The Star's JSU Sports Podcast is up. Al and I discuss the dramatic rise in the stock of the Gamecocks' men's basketball team, which posted big wins over UMass and VMI in the last week. They take on Norfolk State tonight, of course.

Stock in the women's team, to continue the market analogy, is plummeting as the women are out to an 0-6 start. Al says they hope to reverse that trend with a home date tonight against DII West Georgia.

And we go over whether, why and when JSU quarterback Ryan Perroilloux might declare for the NFL draft.

Click here to load the file in your browser, or visit the XML page here to subscribe. Or, just do it the easy way and sign up through iTunes. There's also a player on this page, over on the right hand side, where you can push a play button and listen.

If you have comments or questions you'd like us to address next week, send me an e-mail at

Monday, December 1, 2008

Instant impact

James Green may be looking for “5 or 6 guys” to give his JSU basketball team consistently good minutes every night. So far, Brandon Crawford and Geddes Robinson have.

Crawford was named OVC Freshman of the Week for the second time this season for his efforts in the Gamecocks’ two wins last week.

The 6-foot-6 forward who has a reputation for playing big in big games averaged 17.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in wins over UMass and VMI. He hit a four-point play in the final 30 seconds of the UMass game to cut JSU’s deficit to one and give the Gamecocks a chance for that upset.

Crawford currently leads the Gamecocks in scoring with a 16.4 average. He’s shooting 55.8 percent from the floor, including 55.6 from 3-point range.

“We’re short right now, but he’s shown that he’s played above the level of a freshman, not just because he’s made plays, but because of the confidence he’s gone and done it with,” Green said. “He looks like a guy that’s midway through his sophomore year right now in these first games.”

JSU players have won Freshman of the Week honors each of the first three weeks of the season. Robinson won it last week.

Robinson is the Gamecocks’ second-leading scorer, averaging 13.6 points a game. He’s also their leading rebounder with a 9.0 average. That’s 22.6 points and rebounds in an average of 24.4 minutes a game.

“He’s not a 40-minute guy, but probably one of the most productive guys in the country with what he gets done in the minutes he plays,” Green said.

That’s because he plays at only one speed.

“Coach always tells me I have to have a motor, so that’s what I try to do, just start going out there and getting it,” Robinson said. “I just try to spark the team so we can get the W. Whatever they need me to do, I just try to pick the extra slack up.”

Who have been some other newcomers woh've made instant impacts in the JSU basketball program? Walker Russell immediately comes to mind.

Changing expectations

OK, so it’s still early in the season, but four straight wins – the longest winning streak since the end of the 2005-06 season – may start some people rethinking their opinion about the Jacksonville State basketball team.

The Gamecocks are 4-1 going into Tuesday’s game at Norfolk State. They’ve beaten Georgia State in double overtime, beat UMass by scoring the last six points in the final 28 seconds, and held the nation’s top-scoring team to 44 points below its scoring average.

And after hovering around the bottom of the RPI all last year, the Gamecocks are now 191 on the most recent list. They’re the third highest OVC team in the RPI – behind Austin Peay (13) and UT Martin (159) -- not bad for a team picked last by the league coaches.

“I know things, as well as they go up, they can go down, but I do feel good about what I’ve seen,” Green said. “I know we haven’t been perfect and I know there are some areas that we’ll be better, so whether we can go play games and feel like we’ve got a chance to win, I think we’re there.

“Now, whether we can show up every night and play that way, that’s what concerns a coach, because you have (off) nights. But if you have enough guys … and we can always find 5 or 6 guys that play good valuable minutes for us, then we can have chances to win.

“When you’re trying to build a program, you want to figure out how you can be competitive every night and so far we’ve done that. And fortunately we’ve won while we’ve done that.”

The last time the Gamecocks started off this well, they went 20-10. The last time they won back to back road games was 2005-06, when the eventually made the OVC Tournament semifinals.

Which team will this one eventually come closest to becoming? Or will it fade as the year goes on?