New South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin joined Bill Gunter and Phil Kornblut last Friday afternoon on Sports Talk First Edition to talk about his team and how the summer has gone. Martin also discussed the current situation with the athletic director and his opinion of Ray Tanner if he got the coveted job.
How has the summer been for Gamecock basketball? How would you sum it up?
I am loving it. This new rule that is put in place where we can work our guys out for a couple hours a week I think is phenomenal. It allows us to be more helpful to these kids for the main reason they sign up to come to school, which is to play basketball. It allows us to continue to bridge that teaching gap as far as to how we want them to play as to our system, our thoughts and our language as far as the lingo that we use for teaching points.
How much are you seeing of Bruce Ellington at these workouts?
Football has been awesome. They have allowed him to take part in one workout a week. There are time requirements, even though you play two sports it doesn’t matter, you still fall under the time requirement like you only play one. He has an hour a week that he is using for basketball. I have said it from the word go, it is hard enough to do one and it is harder to do both and this young man is over sacrificing to do both sports.
Break down what you are allowed to do with your players Monday through Friday.
The way the rules used to be, even though the players would be in summer school, you could not even conduct a team meeting. So you would have everyone on campus and your hands were tied to help structure their days to keep them busy and make it productive, not just be here. Now this allows us two hours a week to get involved and get in there and keep teaching. We break it up into three, 40-minute workouts and it has allowed us to continue to teach our offense, our defense and get them to understand when we use certain words in reference to cuts or passes what those words are. When we report during the regular school year we will be pass all those fundamentals of learning our system and our culture.
Have you had a chance to analyze your team through the workouts and any film from last year to get a feel from strengths and weaknesses right now minus the freshman that are enrolling?
I have a lot better read on our players obviously now than I did three months ago when I stepped on campus. I am extremely happy with the focus, the effort and the enthusiasm of the guys on campus. We have some speed, when Bruce is out there between, Bruce, Lakeem, Brian Richardson, Brenton Williams we have some guys that are revved up. I get excited when I see that, I think that is definitely going to be a strength going in.
What type of reception have you gotten on the recruiting circuit from places like Atlanta, Charlotte and the surrounding areas?
I am ecstatic. It is one of the reasons we came here was just from a recruiting base we felt there was an opportunity to recruit an area that we could call home for a recruiting base. The responses we have gotten have been tremendous. We are pretty aggressive in recruiting - we don’t take no for an answer. The folks have been great, the communication has been terrific.
How much of an affect did Eric Hyman leaving have on you and how much have you kept your ear to the ground on what is going on in terms of the new athletic director?
I will answer the second part first - I have no control over who becomes the director of athletics at South Carolina. I worry about things I can control. The leadership at this university will hire someone who will be a big time hire. There is no doubt in my mind about that, that will take care of itself.
For the first part, yes it bothered me. Eric was the person who convinced me that this was a great place. Now I will say to that, three months later, the community, the coaches and other decision-makers have been so embracing of me and my family that it has allowed me to cope with this decision a lot better and made me feel a lot better. We are all big boys in this business, we know what we are stepping into, we know what we are dealing with and what might happen when we decide to make decisions in our careers. You will hear me say this all the time, every man should be measured on how the place is that he leaves compared to when he got there. I have been here to short a time to probably give the right answer on this but it is my opinion after seeing things. The University of South Carolina is way better today than when Eric Hyman stepped foot on campus.
Certainly you have heard the talk that Ray Tanner is the favorite to be the new Athletic Director. Would you be in a position to endorse that? Steve Spurrier has come out and said he would be in favor of that. Do you know Ray well enough yet that you have a feel for him?
I think Ray is awesome. You are talking about a person that has won 740 games and has been in the championship game four times and won it twice. That tells me two things; he knows how to win and he obviously knows how to communicate. That is why he has had success over an extended period of time with so many people. Anytime you have somebody that does those things you have somebody that can lead people and at the end of the day as an athletic director you have to lead people and being a coach he understands.
Then you have the fundraising part of it. People will tell you baseball doesn’t make money, well when I see that stadium over there I get a different opinion as to whether baseball makes money or not. That has to be the best baseball stadium in the country for college baseball. Well, the guy who ran that program has a lot to do with that. He and I have had numerous conversations about everything but this job situation and the way he has been receptive of me tells me that it is easy to understand why he is such a fabulous leader. If he gets that job, I am sure he will bring those leadership skills to that job. I would be completely in support of it. I love the fact that him being a coach he has an understanding of what we as coaches go through every single day.
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