Sunday, December 14, 2008

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.

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