GLENDALE, Ariz. — South Carolina basketball had its first practice at University of Phoenix Stadium on Thursday — and it did it without star guard Sindarius Thornwell.
The senior was back at the team hotel, resting as he came down ill when the team landed in Phoenix on Wednesday night.
“He had a little body temperature last night when we landed,” coach Frank Martin said. “He was a little better this morning. I told our trainer just feed him fluids. Do what doctors do. Let him rest rather than stress him right now.”
Martin opted to hold Thornwell out of practice to allow him to get rest instead of being on the court. He had no concern about missing practice impacting Thornwell’s play.
“He is our most intelligent player,” Martin said. “He understands basketball at a high, high level. He does not need to be on the basketball court to understand what we are doing.”
The Gamecocks face No. 1-seeded Gonzaga at 6:09 p.m. ET Saturday in the Final Four with a berth in the national title game on the line.
Thornwell’s teammates said not having him at practice was a different experience, one they found out they would be having when they left the hotel to come to practice.
“We found out he was feeling under the weather,” senior guard Duane Notice said. “We knew yesterday that he was feeling kind of sick, but we didn’t know he wasn’t going to go today.”
Thornwell is averaging 25.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in the tournament, leading the Gamecocks to the first Final Four in program history.
His teammates aren’t concerned that they won’t have Thornwell on the floor come Saturday night against Gonzaga.
“He is a warrior,” freshman guard Rakym Felder said. “He is going to be out on this court. He has a lot of heart.”