The holiday break didn't bring as much joy as Susan Walvius wanted.
South Carolina's women's basketball coach saw her team post a 4-4 record over the break but the four losses were to the biggest teams on the slate. The Lady Gamecocks were blistered by Connecticut 97-39, lost to Oklahoma 95-63 and began SEC play 0-2 with defeats to Alabama and Tennessee.
The solid win in the mix was the rivalry game over Clemson, the Gamecocks winning 64-43. But any joy from that was short-lived after the two conference losses.
Then Walvius found out freshman guard Courtney Newton's knee was too injured to continue. Newton, who was hurt Nov. 23 against Illinois, tried to play through the pain but shelved herself and had successful ACL surgery over the weekend.
Newton started four games at point guard and averaged 4.8 points and 3.0 assists. She scored a career-high 17 in a rout of Buffalo on Nov. 17.
Shattered knees seem to be a terrible trend in Palmetto State women's basketball this season. Newton is the second Lady Gamecock to suffer a torn ACL after Ashlie Billingslea was lost in the preseason. Clemson's been hit hard with the ACL woes too -- seniors Tasha Taylor and Adrianne Bradshaw were hurt in the preseason and freshman Bryelle Smith tore hers in the season-opener.
• SUPER STANDOUTS: With only four NFL teams still alive, the next three weeks offer a chance for former USC, Clemson or in-state standouts to shine on football's brightest stage. Five South Carolina natives and 11 Palmetto State connections are in the NFL playoffs.
Three teams have three representatives each while Green Bay has two (listed with hometown/in-state high school and college).
New England: Troy Brown (Blackville/Blackville-Hilda, Marshall), Richard Seymour (Gadsden/Lower Richland, Georgia), Benjamin Watson (Rock Hill/Northwestern, Georgia)
San Diego: Charlie Whitehurst (Duluth, Ga., Clemson), Andrew Pinnock (Bloomfield, Conn., USC), Anthony Waters (Lake View/Lake View, Clemson)
N.Y. Giants: Anthony Wright (Vanceboro, N.C., USC), *Na'Shan Goddard (Dayton, Ohio, USC), assistant offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo (Cambridge, Mass., former USC assistant coach)
Green Bay: *Cliff Washburn (Henrietta, N.C., The Citadel), Tracy White (St. Stephen/Timberland, Howard)
*Goddard and Washburn are on their respective practice squads
In addition, the Packers' Jason Hunter is a Charlotte native and played at Appalachian State.
• NEW BLOOD: Clemson hired Hershey Strosberg as women's soccer coach Monday, replacing Todd Bramble, who left for the position at Alabama.
Strosberg has been an assistant women's coach at Virginia for the past seven years and recruited five Top 10 classes. The Cavaliers won the program's first ACC title and went to the NCAA tournament seven times during Strosberg's stay.
Strosberg has also worked at Cortland College and played for the New York Capital District Alleycats from 1993-96.
• NEW BLOOD II: Former Clemson player Jeff Scott, the son of offensive line/associate head coach Brad Scott, was hired as a graduate assistant Tuesday. The younger Scott comes to the Tigers after a year as wide receivers coach at Presbyterian.
Jeff's rise through the coaches' ranks has been meteoric. After completing his eligibility in 2002, he was an assistant at Ridge View High School before moving to Blythewood High. He coached the Bengals' JV team to a 10-0 record, then became coach of the varsity team.
Scott led Blythewood to a 14-1 record and the Class AAA state championship in its first year of existence before joining first-year coach Bobby Bentley at PC. Scott went to Clemson when former Tigers assistant Andy Ford left to take over the Blue Hose's secondary.
Scott will assist with the Tigers' defense.