Print and Go Back ESPN.com: College Basketball Nation [Print without images]

Monday, December 21, 2009
Archie's season-ending surgery tough blow for South Carolina

By Andy Katz

Dominique Archie was South Carolina’s best inside scorer, its second-leading points producer and a locker-room leader with Devan Downey.

Dominique Archie
Dominique Archie was averaging 14.4 points per game when he injured his knee last month.
After Archie went down with a knee injury early against Miami at the Charleston Classic in November, the Gamecocks ended up losing by 15. Since then, the Gamecocks have had their moments, beating Western Kentucky handily and knocking off Richmond by 18. But when South Carolina hits the road, it struggles.

The Gamecocks lost by 11 at Clemson, which is no shame, and then fell by seven at Wofford. Having Archie is no guarantee they would have won either game, but there is clearly a presence missing.

Now he’s gone for the season, as the school announced Monday that doctors have decided he should undergo right knee surgery. The problem for the Gamecocks in their quest to get to the NCAA tournament is the division within the SEC. Sure, they will have more opportunities for quality wins than teams in the West. But playing Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida and Vanderbilt twice will be made much more difficult without Archie’s veteran presence.

Competition for NCAA bids this season may be tighter than usual because of the overall mediocrity. Differentiating the teams will be even more difficult. Coming into the season, South Carolina fit into that collection of teams that was in the muddled masses -- the Gamecocks had to separate themselves early. They certainly rely more heavily on Downey’s ability to change the game and make plays now, but not having the Archie experience may leave them unbalanced.

South Carolina (7-3) has four more nonconference games -- Furman, Baylor and Longwood at home, and at Boston College. The Gamecocks can’t afford to go limping into the SEC.