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STILL, WE’RE SOFTENING OUR RHETORIC …

Recently, FITS posted a scathing article about second-year University of South Carolina head basketball coach Frank Martin.

Missed it? Click HERE.

Since that article ran, Martin’s team has posted a disappointing 6-9 record (including a 1-8 mark in Southeastern Conference play). So naturally we’re here to rip him again, right?

Not exactly …

Don’t get us wrong: We’re exceedingly disappointed by the performance of this year’s Gamecocks’ hoops squad. This program can – and must – do better. And judging by the sparse crowds at the Colonial Life Arena, it needs to start doing better sooner rather than later.

Still, there are a few things worth mentioning in Martin’s defense …

First, his team is playing without its best player – two-sport star Bruce Ellington (who has wisely chosen to focus his energy on preparing for the 2014 NFL draft). USC is also playing without its assists leader Tyrone Johnson – who was tied for the team lead in points per game when he broke his ankle three weeks ago.

Those are two serious personnel losses …

Still, Martin’s young squad hasn’t played as poorly as its record would indicate. In fact we crunched some numbers and found that for want of only 39 points (spread out over eight games), Martin’s team is 8-14 as opposed to 16-6. In other words it is thirteen three-pointers away from being a legitimate NCAA Tournament contender … as opposed to a team that must win every single one of its remaining games to break the .500 mark.

Martin has a long way to go … and a lot of work to do … but Gamecock fans shouldn’t be totally inconsolable about the future of the program. Having said that, we would encourage Martin to finish the 2013-14 season strong … as opposed to experiencing the sort of late-season swoon we saw in 2012-13.

Pic: Travis Bell Photography