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Nov. 7, 2012

November 7, 2012

South Carolina men’s basketball coach Frank Martin met with the media Wednesday afternoon to discuss this week’s match up with Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The regular season home opener is scheduled to being at 3 p.m. on Sunday and is slated to be broadcast on FSN.

Opening Statement
We’re just excited that this week is finally here. We’re not just excited because you go from a three and a half week period where you beat each other up every day, but for the challenges ahead. The challenges we put our arms around starting March 27 of 2112. The kids are excited, the coaches excited and we look forward to everything that comes with the season.

On the health of the team…
They are all practicing. Of the three, I would say the one that’s the safest is Mindaugas Kacinas because of the injury. It’s a sprained ankle. It was a really bad sprain, but it’s a sprained ankle. The other two are kind of different and more complicated injuries. They are all practicing.

On the starting lineup…
I probably won’t be able to answer that question this Sunday, in December. I’m not good for that. My job is to prepare the team to play every single game. We have an idea of the guys that should play. I’ve got an idea of who deserves to start. I said the other day’ I’d be a bad football coach, because I wouldn’t be able to provide depth charts. That can change by the day. Everyone is still trying to earn the right to play and to be a starter. It’s their jobs to earn roles, my job to manage their roles. I understand everyone likes to know who’s the starter. You either contribute to winning or you don’t. I’m into guys that contribute to winning.

On the team’s areas of improvement…
You would ask me that two days ago, I wouldn’t have given you a positive answer. Yesterday we were probably the best we’ve been in seven or eight days as far as practice goes. We’ve grown defensively. We do things that make us feel as coaches, that they’re understanding. We still have a million and one breakdowns. It’s being disciplined and growing to eliminate as many of those as you can. I think they’re listening better, which is a key. You’ve got to listen. You can’t learn if you don’t listen. I think they’re listening better. Offensively, we will be a work in progress for a while. We as coaches continue to understand that. I think that will take time. We’ve made progress. We got a little stagnant, when the injuries hit us. Two days ago, we were okay. Yesterday was the best we’ve been in awhile; hopefully we can build on that.

On Eric Smith and the rest of the point guards …
If he does what I ask him to do, he’ll be successful and he’ll play. If he doesn’t he won’t be successful and he won’t play. It’s as simple as that. Point guard is the equivalent to a quarterback. If he and the coach aren’t on the same page on both ends of the floor it’s hard for the team to succeed. I don’t like coaching to lose, I like coaching to win. Eric is really good for seven or eight practices. He kind of took a hiatus there, and now he’s been good for the last two days. When he does what he’s supposed to, he’s the most natural fit on our team to be our point guard. We’re also preparing other guys. I believe in competition. I don’t believe in all this you give jobs out and they’re set in stone. I think you have to compete everyday and stay sharp. As long as he does his job puts his head down and listens, he’s our most talented point guard. If he doesn’t, I’m comfortable playing other people. I’ve played Brenton Williams, LaShay Page can play some point, Shane Phillips, he’s a walk-on, and he’s done pretty well. He’s proven to me that I can put him in a game, and I can feel okay with it.

Scouting Wisconsin-Milwaukee…
Brad Underwood has been watching for 10 days. I started this weekend. It’s game on now. It’s countless hours of film. They signed a junior college point guard that’s pretty good. He’s athletic and good with the ball. Their two guard is their best returning guard, he might be hurt, I don’t know if he plays or doesn’t play. He’s a good player. Their front line, they lost their leading scorer and they lost their sixth man. Their head coach was Bo Ryan’s assistant at Wisconsin. If you watch Wisconsin play they have those big burley guys that are physical and screen you and step out and shot the ball. They are kind of a carbon copy. They run some swing offense, which is the Bo Ryan trademark. They put those bigs away from the rim and utilize their ability to shoot the basketball that play away from the rim. It’s going to be interesting and a heck of a challenge for us.

On RJ Slawson and Mindaugas Kacinas
If you were coaching the team you would be aggravated if they had one rebound. They are learning. My job is to push them and make them want to achieve more. My job is to hold expectations higher and see how much more they can achieve. Not allow them to accept zero and one rebounds. They need to go home that night and realize that I didn’t do as well as I’m capable of doing. My job is to make them better the next day and focus them. That’s what our staff gets paid for; to get those guys understanding that they can be really good players and that they can do it on a regular bias. They’ve been good. They’ve responded. Mindaugas has had the best three or four practices since he’s been here. You’ll be able to start speaking to him, you can ask his teammates – five consecutive practices. He didn’t grab a rebound five straight practices. Not grabbing in a game wasn’t something that was unexpected, but it’s something he has to change if he wants to help us. He can do it. RJ is just a little up and down. He was good yesterday. R.J. been a background player around here, I guess. I don’t know, that’s just an assumption I’m making, never a focal guy or frontline guy. He’s got to embrace that responsibility. He’s got to understand that he’s got to do his job everyday and feel good about himself. And he’s got to feel good about his ability to do his job everyday. That’s our responsibility.

On who takes the court…
You’ve got to figure out a way to play and put the guys who contribute the best to winning the floor. If that means playing a bunch of six-foot guys, let’s go do it. I’m not worked about what I don’t got. I’m worked about what I do got. Those are our guys. That s the guys we line up and go with. We’ll figure out a way to get things done.

On Michael Carrera
He’s got to keep learning. He overcomes mistakes with energy, enthusiasm and toughness. Eventually, those mistakes catch up to you when you play guys that are just as talented or more talent that do play with disciplined and better understanding of the game concepts. As a freshman the game is faster, stronger, players are taller. Everything happens faster. Everybody always wants the freshman to go out and perform better. If you look at players who are good players, their biggest jump as a player comes between freshman and sophomore year. If they’re good players they work hard they learn. If they’re good players, they learn to adapt to strength, size, speed and talent level of SEC game. They are better because they know how to prepare for what’s in front of them. Mike’s biggest struggle, is that he doesn’t have any teammates who have a good grasp of what we’re trying to do. He doesn’t have teammates to really, really help him. Those guys are trying to learn and understand what we want from them too. Hard to teach when you’re learning. You have to learn before you teach. They are only getting direction from one place right now, the coaches. You learn a lot more when your teammates understand what’s going on.