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Oct. 6, 2014

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina men’s basketball team began the 2014-15 season on Monday with an afternoon practice session under the direction of third-year head coach Frank Martin. The group ran through two and a half hours of drills and various practice segments in the energy-filled session.

Carolina began the day with senior guard Tyrone Johnson and sophomore guards Duane Notice and Sindarius Thornwell speaking to the media, before Martin addressed the group. Quotes from Coach Martin’s media session are below.

South Carolina will host Benedict College on Oct. 26 in a free exhibition contest at Colonial Life Arena. Tip off for that matchup, the first-ever between the Gamecocks and Benedict on the hardwood, is set for 4 p.m. ET, and will be broadcast on the SEC Network+.

Continue to visit throughout the preseason for updates on the team.

South Carolina Head Coach Frank Martin
Opening Statement
This is the first time on the first day of practice that I have a clue as to what my personnel is all about. It’s fun to go into your first day and have a feel of what your guys do well and what they don’t do so well. You can try to put them in the right places from day one so you can have ideas on how your team is going to play the first time you take the court. It’s a fun feeling to have, especially when we have a group of guys that I can’t say enough good things about. I can tell you as a coach that it’s fun to see the culture that these guys are building in the locker room and their daily approach and commitment representing that uniform the right way.

On the improvements he has seen since last season
Normal maturation. They respect each other. They push each other to work. Watching Ty [Johnson] go up against Marcus Stroman and Sindarius [Thornwell] going up against TeMarcus Blanton, it’s fun to watch. You have two guys that understand speed and what we do, and they’re out there trying to make those freshmen look bad. That’s the way it should be. Then when the play is over, they’re trying to help those freshmen on what they did wrong. The thing that’s encouraging with those freshmen is that they’re going nose-to-nose with two guys who have been through it and not backing down one step.

On the camaraderie of the team
In conversations that I’ve had [with recruits], the one common denominator I’ve had is how impressed they are with the culture and the camaraderie, the guys in our locker room.

On the team as he goes into year three at South Carolina
The improvements, the commitments, there’s no shortcuts there in anything we’ve done. That’s what I keep my pulse on so we’re more prepared to handle the difficult moments of a season. I understand our players better. I think they understand us better, and we’re excited. We’re ready to take on the challenges that the season brings on.

On last season heading into the offseason
When we dealt with injuries or losses or bad games or bad performances, whatever last season threw at us, those young guys that we have, they never flinched, they never dropped their heads. They continued to rely on their commitment to work out there and work everyday to help us get to the next day. They relied on each other and by the end of the year things started turning around a little. We started winning some games and it gave us confidence, that winning is okay and I think that carried into the offseason.

On preseason practice
You have to have a foundation on how you play. Then as you get into the season you start tweaking for matchups. What matchup do you want to take advantage of within your structure, how are you going to gain that advantage you’re trying to find, that’s what you build as a season goes on. You’re always relying on your basics, who you are defensively, and that’s what we try to put here. For the next two weeks, we’re going to put in all of our offense and then we start putting in our defense. The goal is to have things in place and practiced before we play our first real game.