Cloninger Soundoff: Buzz back in the building?

Posted by DAVID CLONINGER on January 3, 2014 

Jan 3, 2014; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin directs his team against the South Carolina State Bulldogs in the second half at The Colonial Life Arena.

JEFF BLAKE — USA TODAY Sports

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. After four years of mostly blah basketball, I heard South Carolina fans screaming for their team, and getting in the heads of the opponent. I didn’t think that was possible anymore.

It is. Three students took over in USC’s last game against Marshall, and on Friday, several others from a nice-sized crowd at Colonial Life Arena were rowdy and loud.

Rhett Munson, Russell Ritchie and Joseph LeBlanc, each Columbia natives who attended Dreher High School and each in USC’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, heckled Marshall all game long. “We know how to bring hospitality to the other team,” LeBlanc cracked.

The Thundering Herd’s Chris Thomas, who had a small patch on the crown of his head, was termed “Rogaine.” Kareem Canty, who killed flies on a first-half 3-point attempt, was serenaded with chants of “Air-Ball” every time he touched the ball thereafter, and ended 2-of-14 from the floor. Tyquane Goard and Cheikh Sane were bantering back and forth with the three during timeouts.

Frank Martin has been trying anything he can to build excitement for the program, knowing very well that nothing will bring it around like wins, and it may be a while before USC can do that consistently. But against Marshall and S.C. State, there was a buzz in the building.

“Carolina basketball is back!” the students proclaimed.

They just might be onto something.

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