Tag: Frank Martin

Frank Martin
Associated Press

Coach: South Carolina finally has depth to make NCAA run


COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Fourth-year basketball coach Frank Martin believes he has finally reached a key milestone at South Carolina.

“I don’t have to play the guys I get mad at anymore,” he said. “We’ve got enough people.”

Martin said he has depth and a group of upperclassmen, including guards Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice and forwards Laimonas Chatkevicius and Michael Carrera, who can take ownership of the program and mentor young players like McDonald’s All-American P.J. Dozier.

Martin and the Gamecocks are looking to build off last year’s 17-16 mark, South Carolina’s first winning record since the 2008-09 team went 21-10.

“They’re out there teaching the freshmen. They’re out there talking. They’re out there helping the next guy,” Martin said. “They understand what they’re doing which then allows me to be more creative”

The Gamecocks could surely use some creativity. The team won just 14 games in each of Martin’s first two years, the first two seasons of his career he finished with losing records. South Carolina looked ready to make a splash last season when it entered Southeastern Conference play at 10-3 and fresh off a victory over then-No. 9 Iowa State.

But the Gamecocks lost 11 of their next 14 games and were filled with problems. Thornwell, an SEC all-freshman a year earlier, played on two bad knees and Martin suspended forwards Demetrius Henry and Shamiek Sheppard were suspended for the rest of the season for violating team rules.

The two later transferred.

Still, South Carolina rebounded to win four of its last six games (including two in the SEC tournament) to ensure a winning mark.

Martin said his newcomers, which include 6-foot-9 forwards Eric Cobb and Chris Silva, are the kind who can compete in the rugged SEC.

Thornwell had injections during the offseason to fight off tendinitis in his knees, which he played with all last year. His numbers showed that. A season after averaging 15.6 points and 4.9 rebounds against SEC opponents, Thornwell had just 10.6 points and 4.2 rebounds this past year. Even worse for the Gamecocks, Thornwell has little of the high-flying spring he showed as a freshman.

The other day, though, Thornwell dunked to the delight of himself, his teammates and coaches.

“I told him, `I hadn’t seen that since the third grade,”‘ Martin joked.

Thornwell, the 6-5 junior, hopes to show more of that this year.

“Physically, I feel good,” he said. “I can walk better, run better, cut better, move better. That was first time dunking since freshman year. It felt going being able to touch the rim again.”

Guard Duane Notice, the team’s leading scorer last year at 11.7 points a game, went through a midseason drought last year and coincided with South Carolina’s SEC struggles. Martin said Notice has worked to make sure he’s prepared for a full season.

It helps to have Dozier, the 6-5 son of former South Carolina player Perry Dozier and sister of Asia Dozier, a starter on the Gamecocks’ Final Four women’s basketball team. The newest Dozier turned down Louisville, Michigan and North Carolina to stay near home in Columbia.

Martin said Dozier has worked at the point guard spot because he thinks and plays that way.

The biggest impact for South Carolina could be along the front line.

Chatkevicius, Carrera and Mindaugas Kacinas have handled much of the work underneath the past three seasons. Martin believes Cobb and Silva will do their share, despite their youth.

“I think we have too many guys now,” Chatkevicius said. “I’m not used to that. Glad to see so many faces here.”

The depth gives Martin hope these Gamecocks can get back to the NCAA Tournament, someplace they have not been since 2004.

Former Kansas State commit to announce decision Monday

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One attribute that many college basketball programs look to add, especially late in the recruiting calendar, is size. 6-foot-10 Eric Cobb certainly has that working in his favor, and since his decision to reopen his recruitment in April the former Kansas State commit has been the focus of some high-major programs.

One of those programs is South Carolina, which has some holes to fill in its front court and hosted Cobb on a visit in late-April. According to a report by Phil Kornblut of The State, Frank Martin’s program may be well-positioned to reel in Cobb with the big man due to announce a college decision on Monday. It was believed that Cobb would visit UMass this weekend, but that trip was canceled.

“He wants to hold it a secret but I would say South Carolina is in good shape,” said Nick Myles, Cobb’s coach at St. Francis Prep in Baltimore. “He was looking for a connection with the coaching staff and did want to be close to home so his family can see him, and that’s why South Carolina is in good shape.”

Also of note in the report is the mention of Seton Hall and VCU as programs that joined in the pursuit of Cobb following his de-commitment from Kansas State. However with VCU landing 6-foot-10 Lee College power forward Ahmed Hamdy Mohamed on Friday, new head coach Will Wade has added some size to his front court rotation.

South Carolina has three seniors in its front court rotation, led by Michael Carrera, with freshmen Chris Silva and Travon Bunch on board to join the program this summer. Adding Cobb would give the Gamecocks not only more size, but another young player to groom for the future.

6-foot-4 shooting guard becomes South Carolina’s fourth 2015 commitment

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With guard Ty Johnson being the lone player out of eligibility at the end of the season, South Carolina head coach Frank Martin won’t lack for depth on the perimeter going into the 2015-16 season. Yet that didn’t stop the SEC program from picking up another commitment, as 6-foot-4 shooting guard Jamall Gregory announced his decision to become a Gamecock Wednesday morning.

Gregory, who attends Elev8 Sports Institute in Delray Beach, Florida, made his decision less than a week after taking a visit to South Carolina. And he is the fourth player to have committed to South Carolina in the 2015 class.

In a story written by Phil Kornblut of the Charleston Post and Courier, Gregory made note of the intensity Martin wants his teams to play with defensively as something that appealed to him. He joins fellow guard P.J. Dozier and forwards Chris Silva and Travon Bunch in South Carolina’s 2015 class, with Bunch having verbally committed last month.

Those additions, plus the school’s continued pursuit of junior college big man Conor Clifford, place South Carolina in a spot where they’ll need to make some room for the additions. With that being the case, Johnson (who’s out of eligibility) may not be the only Gamecock on the move this spring.