Frank Martin

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26:  Sindarius Thornwell #0 of the South Carolina Gamecocks drives to the basket defended by Tyler Lydon #20 of the Syracuse Orange in the second half during the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational at Barclays Center on November 26, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Frank Martin comments on Sindarius Thornwell suspension

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South Carolina head coach Frank Martin commented on Sindarius Thornwell’s suspension during his call-in show on Thursday.

Thornwell, who was the leading scorer for the 8-0 No. 19 Gamecocks, was suspended indefinitely last Sunday. Martin has yet to provide a reason for the suspension.

“He’s been with us at practice, he’ll travel with us, he’s excited about our team, his role on the team,” he said, according to South Carolina’s 247 site. “Sindarius is one of my favorite guys I’ve ever come across. He messed up and it is what it is. He’s like a son to me. He messed up and he’s owned up to his mess up.”

“Outside of that, I’m not going to get into anything else. He has my full support. Our job is to prepare our team to play, we don’t prepare individual players to play. It’s no different to someone rolling an ankle. We’re down because of a bad decision. We’ll be fine.”

Thornwell is averaging 18.7 points, 6.0 boards and 4.1 assists. The Gamecocks play Seton Hall in New York City on Monday night.

Frank Martin discusses anthem protests

Frank Martin
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Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest has spread throughout the NFL to the WNBA and even to high schools. It’s also made its way to college basketball, where Virginia posted photos to social media of the team kneeling at center court.

South Carolina coach Frank Martin lent his expansive thoughts on the topic.

“When I found out what he did,” Martin said, “I was proud that an athlete didn’t want to be vanilla and consumed with his paycheck that he wouldn’t be willing to take a stance on what he thought was right and wrong.

“I applaud celebrities that are willing to bring attention to what’s wrong or to what’s right. I don’t like celebrities that like to go vanilla on the things that really matter because if they hide from taking chances it means they’re only concerned about their status their paycheck and their future, not  impacting the ones that don’t have the stage that they’re on.”

Martin, whose mother and her family left Cuba in 1961, took issue with exactly how Kaepernick’s protest has unfolded, however. In one instance, Kaepernick wore a shirt with an image of Fidel Castro on it to a press conference.

“If you’re going to talk the words oppression,” Martin said “if that’s the avenue, don’t talk about oppression and celebrate Fidel Castro because no one has oppressed more people and killed more people, more black people than Fidel Castro.

“So when he decided to take that moment, he didn’t express himself the right way. That’s why everyone started talking about the military and everything else because the message he tried to portray was not portrayed in the proper manner in that moment.

“If he would have been standing up there in a coat and tie or in a collared shirt and said police brutality or social injustice, then that would have been the conversation rather than the military and everything that it took.”

As for his thoughts on one or more of his player’s protesting during the anthem, Martin said, “A lot of people talk the talk but do you walk the walk? If there’s something you don’t like, you have a platform. People will listen to you.

“Just make sure you’re prepared to express what you don’t like the right way. So if they choose to not support the national anthem, that will be disappointing for me, but it’s their right. It doesn’t mean I have to agree with them. It’s their right. Anyone that questions that is out of their minds. That’s why this is the greatest country in the whole world.”

Martin said he addressed the issue with his players the day he returned from a trip outside the country and learned of Kaepernick’s actions.

“I asked our players, who in this room has this country held back, who, how?” he said. “Nobody raised their hands. So how can you tell me this country holds you back but it’s never held you back? But it’s popular on Twitter to say, ‘Oh this country holds you back.’

“Like I told our players, this country doesn’t hold you back. Some of us have more obstacles in front of us than others but nobody is grabbing us from behind. Some of us have to learn how to clear more hurdles to get where we want to go than others.

“Some people run a 100-meter dash, some people run a 100-meter hurdle race. That’s the difference here in this country. What we have to figure out a way to unite because that’s what makes us great, that we all get a platform to speak, to express ourselves, to move forward if we have the courage to get over the hurdles, this country opens its doors to you. That’s the deal.”

 

Maten leads Georgia past No. 25 South Carolina, 69-56

Georgia forward Yante Maten (1) celebrates Georgia's 69-56 victory over South Carolina after an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/Richard Hamm)
AP Photo/Richard Hamm
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ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Yante Maten scored 18 points, Kenny Gaines had 17, and Georgia beat No. 25 South Carolina 69-56 on Tuesday night, giving the Gamecocks their third loss.

Georgia led by 10 points at halftime and never trailed in the second half.

J.J. Frazier scored 13 points – all in the second half – and hit two 3-pointers in the closing minutes for Georgia (12-8, 5-4 Southeastern Conference). The Bulldogs snapped a two-game losing streak.

South Carolina (19-3, 6-3) was denied its attempt to reach 20 wins for the first time since 2008-09, when the Gamecocks finished 21-10.

Sindarius Thornwell led South Carolina with 18 points.

Michael Carrera had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Gamecocks, ending his streak of three straight games with 20 or more points.

No other South Carolina player scored in double figures.

The Gamecocks fell to 2-3 in SEC road games.

Georgia scored the last six points of the first half, including a jam and a layup by Maten, for a 33-23 lead over the cold-shooting Gamecocks.

Georgia took a big lead at 39-26 early in the second half before Duane Notice and Thornwell hit consecutive 3s for the Gamecocks. A basket by Carrera capped a quick 8-0 run to cut the lead to 39-34.

The Bulldogs led 50-48 before two straight baskets by Gaines stretched the lead back to six points. Frazier hit a 3-pointer from the corner for a 59-52 lead.

With only 1:49 remaining and the shot clock about to expire, Frazier hit an unlikely 3 while falling back into the Georgia bench for a 62-53 lead.

WAIT FOR ME

Frazier was trapped when he jumped over the South Carolina bench on the opening possession of the second half. He finally walked around the bench as Georgia passed the ball around on the other end of the court and then sprinted to join his teammates before catching a pass and calmly making a 3-pointer for his first points of the game.

TIP-INS

South Carolina: Carrera was called for his fourth foul with 31.3 seconds remaining and then was given a technical, ending his night. As the hot scorer entering the game, Carrera was the target of Georgia’s student section, who booed when he touched the ball. … The Gamecocks made only 6 of 28 shots (21.4 percent) from the field in the first half and was 18 for 57 (31.6 percent) for the game.

Georgia: Junior F Kenny Paul Geno had two points in his first start since the first seven games of the season. Georgia has recently tried Houston Kessler, Derek Ogbeide and Mike Edwards at the small forward spot. Ogbeide, a freshman, was the Bulldogs’ first substitute. … Charles Mann had 11 points.

UP NEXT

South Carolina hosts No. 8 Texas A&M on Saturday.

Georgia hosts Auburn on Saturday.

No. 19 South Carolina suffers first loss in blowout fashion

Alabama forward Riley Norris (1) is congratulated after a three-pointer over the South Carolina Gamecocks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Eric Schultz)
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On some nights seemingly nothing can go right for a team, making it nearly impossible to come away with the win. That was the case for No. 19 South Carolina Wednesday night, as they struggled mightily on the offensive end of the floor and suffered their first loss of the season, 73-50 at Alabama.

Frank Martin’s team, which has thrived due to its offensive balance, tough defense and team chemistry, could not hit a shot against the Crimson Tide. After making just 30.8 percent of their shots in the first half the Gamecocks were even worse to start the second, missing their first 14 shots of the half (overall streak of 17 straight missed shots) as Alabama went on a 13-0 run and led by 26 with just over 14 minutes remaining.

That hole was far too deep for South Carolina to climb out of, as the Crimson Tide did a good job of keeping the visitors out of the paint offensively. That forced a number of challenged jump shots, be it from mid-range or from three, and with those shots not falling things snowballed on South Carolina.

One player who had no problem hitting shots: Alabama’s Riley Norris. Entering the game averaging six points per contest, Norris finished with a career-high 27 points on 9-for-16 shooting (8-for-11 3PT) to go along with seven rebounds. Norris scored 15 of Alabama’s first 19 points, all on three-pointers, as the Crimson Tide jumped out to a 19-4 lead.

That opening run put South Carolina in a position where they played faster than they were comfortable doing on the offensive end, settling for shots instead of working for quality looks. Over the last two games the Gamecocks have shot 8-for-42 from three, which is a concern for a team that’s one of the best in the country at knocking down three-pointers (38.5 percent entering Wednesday). Add in 18 turnovers Alabama converted into 23 points, and those factors resulted in South Carolina taking its first loss by a surprisingly large margin.

Alabama, which earned its first SEC win under head coach Avery Johnson, now has three wins over ranked teams this season, and doing so in front of a raucous crowd also celebrating another football national title is a nice boost for a rebuilding program. As for South Carolina the lessons are simple: take better care of the ball, and find higher quality shots.

Coach: South Carolina finally has depth to make NCAA run

Frank Martin
Associated Press
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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.