Sports

Gamecock Basketball: On The Rebound?

TIME WELL TELL … BUT FAST START IS ENCOURAGING It’s taken him some time, but University of South Carolina head basketball coach Frank Martin appears to be turning a corner with the Gamecock men’s basketball program. Martin’s 2015-16 squad – his fourth – has raced out to a 9-0 start.  That’s…

TIME WELL TELL … BUT FAST START IS ENCOURAGING

It’s taken him some time, but University of South Carolina head basketball coach Frank Martin appears to be turning a corner with the Gamecock men’s basketball program.

Martin’s 2015-16 squad – his fourth – has raced out to a 9-0 start.  That’s the best run to open a season in more than four decades.  Meanwhile the Gamecocks are nationally ranked (No. 25 according to the latest USA Today/ Coaches’ poll) for the first time in more than a decade.

This fast start has also evened Martin’s record at USC … he is now 54-54 since being hired as the Gamecocks’ head coach by former athletics director Eric Hyman back in 2012.

Obviously that’s a far cry from his 117-54 mark during his five seasons at Kansas State, but the trend lines are promising.

Last year Martin’s team showed flashes of life, winning a pair of games in the SEC tournament to secure his first winning record at South Carolina.  Will this be the year the Gamecocks take it to the next level?

We hope so … especially seeing how successful the Gamecock women’s basketball program has been.

Anyway, five experienced Gamecocks (senior forwards Mindaugas KacinasLaimonas Chatkevicius, and Michael Carrera and junior guards Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice) are currently averaging in double figures for Martin – while freshman PJ Dozier is coming into his own with back-to-back double-digit scoring efforts.

Dozier – a 6-foot-7, 187-pound Columbia, S.C. native – is one of the most exciting players we’ve seen in a long time.

Martin’s team has three tough non-conference games over the next two weeks – against arch-rival Clemson, St. John’s and Memphis – prior to diving into Southeastern Conference play on January 5 against Auburn.  That’s historically been where his teams have fallen apart, posting an anemic 15-39 conference record over the last three seasons.

Those implosions have made Martin cranky … to say the least.

The stakes couldn’t be higher.  South Carolina hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2004 – and hasn’t won a game in the “Big Dance” since 1974.  The program also hasn’t won a conference tournament championship since 1971 – and has had just two winning seasons in the past nine years.

That’s the sort of atrociousness Martin was hired to correct …

So far this season, he’s doing that … although his squad will have to keep things rolling during conference play.  Another middling SEC season just won’t cut it.  And God knows Gamecock fans don’t want athletics director Ray Tanner running another high-profile national coaching search.

Pic: Travis Bell Photography

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14 comments

Squishy123 December 17, 2015 at 11:54 am

Hell even I wasn’t good enough to play basketball for the Gamecocks so I try to deflect and troll their articles any chance I get. It completes my otherwise useless existence.

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Squishy123 December 17, 2015 at 1:23 pm

When I played nobody where I was from even knew USCe had a basketball team.

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shifty henry December 17, 2015 at 2:24 pm

I was well known for my dribbling expertise — then I had my third birthday.

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The Colonel (R) December 17, 2015 at 2:44 pm

…then I got my skills back after my 53rd birthday…

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deportdemZwetZbachs December 17, 2015 at 12:06 pm

God is blessing the program for Frank demanding the confederate flag come down.
Or maybe they just haven’t played anybody and have Francis Marion coming up Dec 30th? :)

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9" December 17, 2015 at 12:31 pm

And white guys who can play! Damn.I got old quick.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88sI41IsN-E

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erneba December 17, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Gamecock fans need something to carry them over, baseball went into the crapper a few years back, there was a flash of basketball brilliance in the late nineties, and football will take a few years to get back on track.
I go back to USC’s great basketball run under McGuire with the likes of Cremins and I can’t remember anyone else.

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9" December 17, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Baseball has been Carolina’s strong suit for decades.It has never been a true,’footbal school’.

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FREE PETE December 17, 2015 at 1:28 pm

I loved watching Kevin Joyce play.Alex English had a nice NBA run.

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Squishy123 December 17, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Won’t know anything until you start paying conference teams. Playing cupcake teams at the beginning of the season doesn’t tell you much other than the fact that you’re better than lower division schools.

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Bible Thumper December 17, 2015 at 1:54 pm

I was a huge Gamecock basketball fan. I knew all the players and watched them “religiously” on WISTV. Roche, Riker, Ribock, Owens, Carver, Joyce. Every Baptists back lot basketball kid I knew would cross their chest in the Catholic way when we took free throws just like John Roche.

I began to lose interest when they left the ACC after the 1970-1971 season, the last time they won a conference championship. (Future Judge Casey Manning of Bobby Harrell fame was also on that team.)
http://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/schools/south-carolina/1971.html

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Crooner December 17, 2015 at 4:54 pm

It’s not like “the next level” is an SEC Championship.

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LouieBouy December 18, 2015 at 10:11 am

I looked at our schedule. oh well I guess it is fun to pretend…

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Elfego December 18, 2015 at 10:12 am

Coaches have to build a team and reputation around their own recruits. Do not expect them to do miracles with what they inherit. If they do it is from the work of the coach you just fired.

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