Tag: Sindarius Thornwell

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.

South Carolina guards working back from surgery

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South Carolina has the pieces on their roster to be a team that makes some noise in the SEC this season, but that is dependent on some of their most important players getting healthy.

Namely, junior Sindarius Thornwell and redshirt freshman TeMarcus Blanton, both of whom underwent surgery over the summer. Thornwell had a procedure done on his knees while Blanton underwent surgery on a dislocated hip, an injury that was similar to what Bo Jackson did that ended his career.

Blanton is ahead of schedule on his recovery, but both he and Thornwell are being held out of competition for now.

“[Blanton] was supposed to be doing the stuff he’s doing now in August, so he’s about two months ahead of schedule,” head coach Frank Martin told the Charleston Post and Courier. “As far as sprinting, running, cutting, jumping — he does everything in the weight room and conditioning and agilities when we’re on the court with the exception of competing. We’re not allowing him to get in live competition yet, neither him nor Sindarius. But they do everything else. We don’t need to overload them, either one. We don’t have a game next week.”

That same story also said that incoming freshman P.J. Dozier, a McDonald’s All-American, is working his way into shape. Keyword: working.

“He and the garbage can became best friends that first week [of practice],” Martin said. “Every time I turned around, his head was inside of it.”

Saturday’s win over No. 9 Iowa State gives South Carolina additional momentum entering SEC play

Sindarius Thornwell, Bryce Dejan-Jones
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While there was little doubt that Frank Martin’s South Carolina Gamecocks have improved, with guards Ty Johnson, Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice leading the way, just how good they were was up for debate heading into Saturday’s game against No. 9 Iowa State in Brooklyn. The Gamecocks won six in a row prior to their matchup with the Cyclones, but outside of Oklahoma State none of those teams would be considered a serious threat to reach the NCAA tournament with one (Coker College) being a non-Division I program.

That’s what makes Saturday’s result, a 64-60 win over the Cyclones, so important for a program that was in search of a “signature win” that would serve as concrete evidence that they have improved.

Notice (six rebounds, four assists) led the way offensively for the Gamecocks with 15 points and Johnson (three assists) and Thornwell (eight rebounds) added 13 apiece, but the biggest story of the game was Iowa State’s inability to knock down perimeter shots. Entering Saturday’s game as one of the best shooting teams in the country (7th in field goal percentage), the Cyclones made just one of their 18 attempts with the lone make being provided by Naz Long with less than a minute remaining.

On the season Iowa State shot 36.5% from three and with credible threats such as Long, Bryce Dejean-Jones, and Georges Niang, when falling those shots open up everything else for the Cyclones. That didn’t happen against South Carolina, with the Gamecocks limiting the Cyclones to 46.2% shooting inside of the arc. By comparison, Iowa State entered the game shooting better than 60 percent from two.

Dustin Hogue and Jameel McKay scored 15 apiece for Iowa State, but Niang (ten points) made just three of his 13 attempts on the night. For that South Carolina deserves credit, and led by a perimeter trio that can cause problems for the opposition the Gamecocks will win games in the SEC.

Given who they’d beaten in the six games prior to Saturday’s win, it would have been tough for some to buy in and make that statement without a quality performance against Iowa State. The win gives Martin and his program added evidence that they are headed in the right direction, and Wednesday’s SEC opener against Florida represents another opportunity for the Gamecocks to make a positive statement.