South Carolina Gamecocks men's basketball could get starter Jermaine Couisnard back for Mississippi State
{{ timeAgo('2021-02-23 12:08:22 -0600') }} basketball Edit

Gamecocks could get starter back for Mississippi State

Last season, the Gamecocks needed someone to take charge from a leadership standpoint.

Enter Jermaine Couisnard, who famously took that mantle with his bank shot game-winner against Kentucky and didn’t look back with the Gamecocks going 18-13 before the season unceremoniously ended because of COVID-19.

This year, though, as Couisnard’s struggled and fought injury as a redshirt sophomore and it’s affected the team.

Photo by Chris Gillespie
Photo by Chris Gillespie

“Last year his voice and actions worked. We were a young, innocent team. We were willing to follow directions and voices and were more willing to listen to Maik (Kotsar),” Frank Martin said. “This year, his voice was strong early but his actions weren’t as consistent as they needed to be. Then he dealt with his injury.”

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After averaging 12.1 points and shooting 39.2 percent from the field in an All-Freshman season, Couisnard’s taken a step back statistically in his first full year as a starter.

Through 14 games he’s averaging 9.7 points on 29 percent shooting and has taken a step back statistically in most other metrics as well.

While he hasn’t been making the statistically impact this year, Martin’s maintained Couisnard’s still been as connected as ever to what Martin wants done.

The issue currently is Couisnard’s not been on the court for the majority of the last three games with a foot injury.

“The lack of consistency and actions make voices not as strong,” Martin said. “Then bottom line we haven’t heard his voice in three games now. He hasn’t played. Our lack of voice has become even louder.”

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The 6-foot-4 guard missed the second half against Ole Miss along with games at Tennessee and against Missouri (all three losses) but could return Wednesday Mississippi State (7 p.m., SEC Network).

“I don’t want anyone to think I’m trying to convince them to play,” Martin said. “I leave that up to the trainers and doctors and the individual. Our trainers and doctors feel like the injury has healed. Yesterday he did some things on the court and we’ll see what he does today.”

He’ll be a big help for the Gamecocks (5-11, 3-8 SEC) defensively after Mississippi State’s guards cause problems all night the first time these two teams met, a 75-59 Gamecock loss.

DJ Stewart and Iverson Molinar combined for 45 points on 56.7 percent shooting and went 6-for-11 from three.

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"We were doing a halfway decent job and they kept running their stuff and hitting us and we just eventually wilted. When we wilted, they jumped up and made shots. Give them credit,” Martin said.

“As you go through whatever journey you’re on in basketball or life you have to have the resolve to get up and do it again and do it again and do it again. Right now we do it but we’re lacking that resolve to do it again. That’s why winning is so hard.”

The Gamecocks also got Justin Minaya back off a head injury Saturday, coming off the bench and putting up five points and five rebounds in 27 minutes. Martin said no decision has been made but there’s a chance Minaya is back in the starting lineup Wednesday.

“I’ll make a decision after practice today. He was full go,” Martin said. “He played the other day and I’ll make a decision after practice.”