South Carolina hits the road on Wednesday night returning to the site of their last SEC road victory. The date was February 2, 2010 and the score was 64-56 as the Gamecocks defeated the Tigers in Baton Rouge, La. Since then, the Gamecocks have dropped 10 straight true road games including their lone road conference game this season.
Junior guard Eric Smith
Date: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013
Tipoff: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Baton Rouge, La.
Arena: Pete Maravich Center (13,215)
Series: LSU leads 14-12
Last Meeting: LSU win, 68-58, on Feb. 18, 2012 in Columbia, S.C.
On Saturday, the Gamecocks (10-5, 0-2) loss their eighth straight conference game but were in contention down to the final seconds. According to head coach Frank Martin, his team is playing hard but not making the key play when it counts as he looked back at Saturday’s loss.
“Eric Smith makes back to back threes and then has a wide open three and shoots an air ball,” Martin said during his Tuesday press conference. “Michael Carrera makes a heck of a post move, has a layup and misses. I don’t know what to tell you, those kids are trying their hearts out. We are there, we just have to have the confidence to make those plays in the moment.”
With the staggering numbers like 10 straight road losses and eight straight conference losses, it can be easy for the players to be down in confidence. It is Martin’s job to keep their spirits up and he talked about his approach to that.
“It starts with me believing in them,” he said. “If I am in the background telling him “why are you shooting the ball, don’t you ever shoot the ball. You aren’t good enough, why are you doing this? It is not your moment.” Then they is not going to have any confidence in himself. People see me ranting and raving and that is ok but never will you hear me tell players he is not good enough.”
For the Gamecocks to break into the win column in league play, they will have to do it against an LSU team also looking for their first league win. Martin’s biggest concern heading into the game is the play of the guards against his turnover-prone ball club.
“They have those three guards,” Martin said. “You guys wonder what coaches lose sleep over? I am going to tell you what I have lost sleep over for two days. With our turnover problems and those three guards if you take a lazy dribble or make a lazy pass they make it into a comedy show the way they steal the ball so believe I have lost sleep on that one.”
Even with the losing streak and the battle against the Tigers on the road Wednesday night Martin is pleased with club’s progress. Once again on Tuesday he warned that change in the program will not happen overnight and will require his entire program to stay on the same page together.
“Growth and change doesn’t happen just because I walked in the building,” Martin said. “That happens over time. That happens as we all go through these experiences together and the most important that takes place is we stay committed to one and other. My belief in them as players and their belief in each other and our staff as coaches that does not deviate from the direction it has been going in. It needs to continue to go in the direction it is in. As long as that is happening I’m happy and that is kind of why I am encouraged with what I see right now.”