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Oct. 9, 2012

October 9, 2012

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin met with the media Tuesday afternoon to preview Friday’s first official day of practice.

Opening Statement
It’s obvious I’m not on vacation anymore. I’m just excited for Friday. The guys have made tremendous progress here the last six weeks or so. They’re excited about Friday. We as coaches are excited about Friday. We can’t wait. Friday can’t get here fast enough for us.

On everyone working together for the first time
R.J. Slawson pulled a hamstring so he wasn’t able to partake in any kind of individuals all summer. Michael Carrera and Mindaugus (Kacinas) were not here in the summer so they didn’t take part of any summer activities. Since we started our individuals at the end of August and started our team individuals Sept. 15 I believe was the date, those three guys have been getting repetitions for the first time. Everyone is kind of moving forward. It’s good to see some returning guys that were part of the spring and summer. Eric Smith didn’t do anything in the spring because of knee surgery, so it’s the first time we’ve had everyone on the floor at the same time for an extended period of time. The same thing with LaShay Page.

On the difference between individual work and team practice
The most difficult thing in teaching it’s easy to show someone on film. It’s easy to show one guy when it’s just you and him on the floor. It’s easier to get four guys to understand the concept of lets say a cross screen. Let’s use that simple part of the game. It’s easy for them to understand that. Now how you get them to understand the concept of five guys on one side, that’s where the teaching comes in. That’s where you have to make sure to connect drill work and game play. That’s our job as coaches to get those guys to translate from drill work to game play as much as we can.

On if he will focus on defense the first days of practice
We can be in our 10th year here and that will still be our first week of practice. We’ll spend the majority of our time on that side of the ball early in the season. Basketball is a pretty simple game. Whoever makes the fewest mistakes wins. Whoever gives up the fewest easy baskets wins. We have to learn offensively how to keep it simple. You don’t win basketball games by running plays. You win basketball games by getting players to understand how to pay with each other. To do that you have to keep things simple. That’s just my belief in basketball. As they understand that, then you can evolve offensively, become more creative. When we’re in January, whoever our SEC opponent is, they’re going to know everything we run. We’re going to know everything they run. The difference is how you execute.

On the strengths of his team
I can tell you this, their strength isn’t bench pressing. Those first year guys need to get a lot stronger like all first year guys. Rarely do you see first year guys show up and their strength is what you want. The biggest challenge all our guys are fighting right now – because in reality they’re all going through a freshman period meaning they’re learning a new way of playing, our culture, our style – the difference between real freshmen and LaShay Page who is in his fifth year in college is that LaShay has been through that experience before. LaShay is older.

On LaShay Page
He’s been great. He probably has been the most vocal as far as practice goes and workouts go to get guys to move away from a negative moment in practice, which is what leadership is about. It’s about not dwelling and going onto the next play, going onto the next teaching moment. He’s been the most vocal on our team doing that, which excites me. I don’t put those burdens on people. We place responsibility on everybody and they have to determine who wants to take those jobs and who wants to accept those jobs. I can’t place the responsibility of leadership on someone who doesn’t want that job. He’s kind of evolved into that himself.

On Damien Leonard
He’s probably had the best two workouts he’s had – our last two workouts – are probably the best two he’s had since we got here in the spring. It’s encouraging when you see guys make progress. I don’t want guys to be perfect. I don’t want guys to figure it out today. I want guys to grow today from where they were yesterday.

On Bruce Ellington and the point guard position
I’m Bruce’s biggest fan to catch footballs and return kickoffs. We’ll figure out what his role on our team will be whenever that football team wins that last game that they play in. I have no idea. Eric Smith is probably the guy that’s done the most here in the preseason to put himself in the place to earn that job. If I was a football coach you guys would hate me because I’d never give you a depth chart. My job is to figure out who are the guys that play well together and put them out there. You have to have a point guard. You want to see a miserable coach? Find me a team that doesn’t’ have a point guard.

On team chemistry
We’re a lot closer on being a team than what we were when we dismissed at the end of the summer, but we’re still a ways away. Here’s the thing. We’re undefeated. Everybody likes each other right now. I haven’t assigned playing time. Our practices, the longest we’ve had has been an hour long. At my age I can probably get through a one-hour practice. Adversity determines what we’re about. We’re getting ready to deal with adversity starting Friday. I’m excited about where we’re at. I’m excited about what’s in front of us. You have to ask the players about what they feel.

On Lakeem Jackson
Lakeem I tell him and LaShay (page) everyday that you don’t get another day. When this season is over, there’s not another day so don’t cheat yourself by not taking advantage of every day. I tell our other players about how important it is that they do their part and respect their senior teammates.