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Friday, February 15, 2013

Gamecock Fans Getting the Truth from Frank Martin

I hope that basketball fans of the South Carolina Gamecocks--all 12 of them--are not offended by the truth. Because they're going to get it as long as Frank Martin is the head coach. He had plenty of truth following a Valentine's Day loss to LSU. Seriously, you have to check out the audio to get the full impact.

The most noteworthy sentence started with, "If we didn't have Bruce Ellington..." This was followed with some muddled comparison between the rest of the team and The Walking Dead. It was harsh, bordering on cruel, and there is no telling how the team or the fans might respond.

This is a common facial expression around South Carolina basketball.

They may not like it, but they'd better learn to live with it. Because it's the truth.

I sat at the media table at Timmons Arena on December 22, 2010. I watched a good Furman basketball team (a distant dream right now) obliterate the Gamecocks by 16 points. If Ellington had not been on the floor that night, the margin would have been 36.


Some Carolina fans are already questioning the hiring of Martin. I've heard that he's too harsh, too demanding, too "in your face." I've heard that he can't get this team winning even though the team does have talent.

They have the same talent they did in 2010. Bruce Ellington.

Fans are naturally impatient, but it's baffling that some already want to dismiss Martin as a failure. Much like his counterpart up the road in Pickens County, Martin doesn't have the players right now. And he hasn't had nearly enough time to get them.

The players and the fans may not like Martin's style, and it's easy to see how he could quickly wear "thin" on postmodern athletes. But one thing that he has going for him is a willingness to speak the truth.

I believe that South Carolina can have a reasonably successful basketball program, particularly in a top-heavy SEC. Really, outside of Lexington (and perhaps Gainesville), does SEC hoops move the meter at all? If Carolina cares enough, they can make some noise.

But the only way that's going to happen is if the Gamecocks and their fans confront the brutal facts. And the brutal fact is that Ellington is still a one-man show. Until that changes, no coach is going to be able to take the program to a new level.

I don't know if Frank Martin is the guy to do it. Don't know if his old school style will work long term with new school athletes. The one clear thing is that Martin is speaking the truth to a University and fan base that need to hear it.

That alone should earn him the time to turn things around, even if the way he speaks it in an offensive manner. Even if he's not the guy to do it, Frank Martin's honesty will be a contributing factor if Gamecock basketball ever finds success.

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