Since 2008, when coach Dawn Staley arrived on campus, the Gamecocks have amassed SEC conference titles, Final Four appearances, and national titles. They knew exactly what to do when they secured their third consecutive trip to the Final Four with an 86-75 victory over No.2 Maryland, extending their undefeated season. It appears that they have had plenty of practice in cutting down the nets.
Freddy Ready’s Achievements with the Gamecocks
Freddy Ready, the team’s director of player development, who has been with the program since 2002, overseed the procedure. Being ready, staying true to his name, and after the Gamecocks’ second conference championship in 2015, he recognized the need for structure. He explained that there was a hiccup. If you let people cut willy-nilly, the nets will lose the structural integrity needed to be worn as a celebratory necklace. This is a rookie mistake. Under Staley, his program commits errors infrequently and seldom repeats them. So, Ready stood by the ladder, steadied players and team personnel as they ascended, and explained to them precisely where to cut.
Each person receives small pieces of the net. There is one exception: seniors. The graduating participants are permitted to take not only a single thread but also a complete nylon diamond. This requires some additional trimming. However, this is a privilege. Ready explains that if you cut too many diamonds, it will be ruined. Therefore, they only grant this privilege to seniors. There are likely no more deserving seniors than the current set.
This group represents the most accomplished recruiting class in the history of the program. In their four-year careers, “The Freshies,” which is the nickname they earned as undergraduates, have compiled a record of 129-8. South Carolina has gone from a rising power to a heavyweight that invites dynasty talk, and after winning the national champ last season, they are now the favorites to repeat.
Cut the Nets Into Pieces!
Their Elite Eight victory over Maryland proved this. The Terps began the game with speed and physicality, forcing turnovers and complicating the play in the half-court. After the first quarter, Maryland held a 21-15 lead over the Gamecocks. This was by far the Gamecocks’ toughest test in March. However, there was no sense of panic. Instead, South Carolina remained steadfast in its signature defense, gradually increasing the pressure until it was oppressive. South Carolina took advantage of the fact that Maryland was forced to bench its best players for extended stretches due to foul trouble. The victory made it simple to recall why the Gamecocks are unbeaten. It was also difficult to imagine how they could lose.
Under Freddy Ready’s watchful eye, the seniors had to ascend the ladder one by one to cut down and get pieces of the nets. He reminded them that they could now go for the diamond, however, most of them didn’t.