South Carolina coach Frank Martin is best known for what?
Winning big at Kansas State, yes, there’s that. But I’d contend the first thing that comes to mind about Martin from college basketball fans is his intense glare when something goes wrong, like he’d like to come on the court and strangle somebody. It’s like Pat Summitt’s stare, only with the threat of implied violence. Martin said that’s misleading.
“So there might be 30 10-second snippets of me in a foul mood,” Martin said. “That’s about 300 seconds of the year. The rest of the time I love life. I love making people laugh. I understand we get judged by the camera, but I’m not the big grizzly bear everybody thinks I am.”
I went on record a year ago saying that when South Carolina hired Martin away from Kansas State that the Gamecocks will emerge as a threat to Tennessee’s position in the SEC. Even after a four-SEC win I believe that will come to pass. Martin has purged much of the Gamecocks’ roster and brought in a posse of recruits whom he thinks fit his style of play.
“We’re bigger, we’re longer, we’re thicker,” Martin said. “Every one of those (new) kids understood the state of the program and said they want in.”
Florida is shorthanded in October. Billy Donovan, beginning his 18th season in Gainesville, ticked off the missing persons due to injuries: Will Yeguete, Michael Frazier, Damontre Harris, Eli Carter. Frazier is being evaluated for mononucleosis. The Gators are left with seven scholarship players, including guard Scottie Wilbekin, who is suspended from games until further notice. All-SEC post Patric Young has dropped weight. “He got too big and too strong last year,” Donovan said. “He doesn’t look as tight and rigid as he did a year ago.”
Donovan went hard after Julius Randle, the Dallas forward who signed with Kentucky and is the SEC’s preseason player of the year. “I love him,” said Donovan. “He’s as quick of a 6-9, 240-pound guy as I’ve ever seen.”
Arkansas lost its only double-figures scorers in guard BJ Young and forward Marshawn Powell. But coach Mike Anderson reloaded and reshaped with two 6-10 freshmen, Bobby Portis and Moses Kingsley. Both of them can get up and down the floor, Anderson said.
“The fastest 40 minutes will get faster this year,” Anderson said.
Georgia lost its best player when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope left for the NBA. It wasn’t exactly a development coach Mark Fox needed in his bid to make Georgia relevant but it wasn’t unexpected. Replacing Caldwell-Pope’s 18.5 ppg is the biggest task facing the Bulldogs. The leading returning scorer is Nemanja Djurisic (7.9 ppg) but Fox mentioned wing guard Kenny Gaines as a featured option. Gaines averaged 3.7 ppg last year but scored 12 in a 68-62 win over the Vols in Knoxville last year.
“Kenny is obviously the number-one candidate to replace Kentavious in the lineup,” said Fox, “but we cannot say, ‘hey Kenny, go get 20 a night.’ That’s not fair.” Or realistic.