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Basketball Media Days: South Carolina Coach Frank Martin

South Carolina coach Frank Martin answers questions at the SEC Basketball Media Days in Hoover, Alabama.

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Carolina’s Martin Suggests College Basketball’s Transfer Problem Is A “Kids Today” Problem

frank-martin-looks-upEarlier this week, South Carolina hoops coach Frank Martin was asked about the growing epidemic of transfers in college basketball.  More than 400 Division I players have tried to swap schools this offseason.  While that may be a problem for his sport today, Martin believes the cause of the problem can be traced to what kids are being taught at much younger ages:

 

“It’s a grassroots problem.  When we recruit these kids they’ve transferred three or four times in high school.  It’s not like they’re going to get to college and all of a sudden have an epiphany and say, ‘Oh, I’ve got to deal with this difficult moment?  Let me work through it and have patience and allow things to take place the right way.’  It’s not what these kids have been asked to do in the past.  It’s not what they’ve been taught at the grassroots level…

Kids are not being taught to stay the course, be patient, to learn how to work and improve.  Everything’s a quick fix.  At the end of the day, that’s the problem.”

 

Martin, like many other coaches, is in favor of nixing the hardship waivers that allow players to transfer and play right away.  While that would work for the school and the coach, would coaches be willing to give a little something in order to get what they want in return?

Carolina’s coach — and we’re not trying to single him out Martin, he just had the great quote — says that today “everything’s a quick fix.”  True enough.  But that’s true for coaches, too.  How many times do players sign with a program only to be shown the door later because they did not progress as an athlete as was initially expected?

At MrSEC.com, we have no problem with coaches’ suggestion that waivers be tossed.  But in exchange, we believe a coach should be on the hook for the decisions he makes about recruits.  Multi-year scholarships would seem to be a fair trade off if transfer waivers were suddenly taken out of the equation.

But here’s guessing Martin and other coaches would be steadfastly against anything that would prevent them from making “a quick fix.”

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With The SEC Out, The Coaching Grades Are In

Report-Card-with-gradesFinally, with Florida’s suprisingly ugly loss to Michigan yesterday,  we can toss the last bit of dirt on the 2012-13 SEC basketball season.  It seems the league’s disappointing season had one last disappointment to deliver before we could lower it into the ground.

For those who care about such things, the Southeastern Conference has now fallen to 9th in conference RPI rank behind the Big Ten, Big East, Mountain West, ACC, Big XII, Pac-12, Atlantic 10, and Missouri Valley.  Ouch.

But despite a poor season on the whole, there were some solid coaching jobs turned in by a few of the league’s coaches.  In our view, offseason attrition — not poor coaching — should be counted as the main reason for the conference’s woes this past season.  That said, below are the final marks from MrSEC.com for all 14 of the conference’s head instructors.

 

Billy Donovan, Florida — A+

Record: 29-8 (14-4 in SEC)

RPI Rank: 9

Florida was picked to finish second in the SEC this year, but the Gators were in fact that cream of the conference.  Donovan’s squad — for much of the season — featured one of the nation’s most suffocating defenses.  At 6-5, the Gators were the only SEC team to finish with a plus-500 record against the RPI top 50.  The team wobbled a bit while sixth-man Will Yeguete was sidelined, but the Gators did reach their third consecutive Elite Eight.  UF fans are probably smarting today, but there’s no question Donovan still places among the top five or 10 coaches in all of college hoops.  Make the Elite Eight, get an A+ on the report card.

 

Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss — A

Record: 27-9 (12-6 in SEC)

RPI Rank: 45

This one was a toughie.  Kennedy took a chance on Marshall Henderson and, despite some bad pub, that worked out well.  His two forwards — Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner — made up one of the league’s best frontcourts.  The Rebels reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Kennedy and they guaranteed their slot in the field by getting hot in March and cutting down the nets at the SEC Tournament.  That’s all good.  But.  It must be stated that the Rebels had a horrible non-conference schedule and they suffered a pair of what could have been bubble-bursting losses to sub-200 RPI teams.  In the end, however, Kennedy managed the chemistry on his team well — no easy task with a lightning rod like Henderson present — and he led them past the opening round of the NCAA tourney.  That’s pretty good work from a guy who might have been fired had his team missed the tourney altogether.  Oh, and victory-wise it was Mississippi’s best record ever.  A solid A grade for Kennedy is the result.

 

Johnny Jones, LSU — B+

Record: 19-12 (9-9 in SEC)

RPI Rank: 93

The Tigers’ first-year coach left many on the Bayou wondering what he might have been able to do with the team Trent Johnson had a year earlier.  Jones’ team jumped out to a 9-2 start against so-so non-conference competition, but unlike so many other SEC squads, his team didn’t turn into a pumpkin when league play began.  After an 0-4 start, LSU finished 9-5 in its last 14 conference games (10-6 if you count the tourney) to finish mid-table in the SEC standings.  With a top recruiting class coming in, Tiger fans should be happy about what they’ve seen from their alumnus/coach in his first season.

 

Anthony Grant, Alabama — B

Record: 22-13 (12-6 in SEC)

RPI Rank: 64

Meh.  Solid, but not special.  Good, but not great.  It’s likely that had senior guard Andrew Steele been healthy all season, the Tide might have been an NCAA Tournament team.  But he was lost for the month of December and Alabama went 2-5 during that non-conference stretch.  He then missed eight of Alabama’s last 12 games and he was less than 100% in at least four more contests.  Despite Steele’s absence, Grant managed to work his team into the NIT where a one-point home loss to Maryland cost it a trip to Madison Square Garden.  Again, good, not great.

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USC’s Martin Says Letting Harris Transfer To UF Was The Right Thing To Do

New South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin won’t be happy to see former Gamecock Damontre Harris on the floor for Florida in the years ahead, but the coach said yesterday that letting the player go was the right thing to do:

 

“If that young man does not want to be at this school, then you shouldn’t hold him hostage.  Now we’ve got to compete against Damontre and I don’t like that.  But why should I block him from going to the school he wants to play at, as long as things were handled the right way?  I don’t believe in this whole thing that you should be able to recruit guys (at other schools) that’s crazy.  But as long as things are handled the proper way, as long as we all handle things like adults and educators and those kids and those families are up front and communicate with all the appropriate people, it’s no different than me getting out of my contract, if I handle things the right way.’’

 

Martin — who refused to let Harris transfer to North Carolina State (perhaps because he felt things hadn’t been handled in the proper way) — also said of his own program: ”Our challenge, our duty, is to elevate our program to the levels where Kentucky and Florida have been.  I know if we can compete with those two schools, we can compete with anybody in the country.”

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Martin Impacting Carolina Recruiting Already

South Carolina AD Eric Hyman said one of the main reasons he hired Frank Martin this spring was because of the coach’s proven ability to recruit nationally.  With holes to fill across next season’s roster, Martin is already making an impact on that very front.

Yesterday USC got commitments from Thaddeus Hall (from New York) and Minda Kacinas (from Lithuania by way of Kansas).  Martin had recruited the duo while still at Kansas State.

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USC’S Martin Makes 4 Ex-Big 12 Coaches In The SEC; Meet The Roster

The sporting world knows that the SEC has raided the Big 12 for schools in the past few months — well, okay, those schools actually approached the SEC — but what folks might not realize is that Mike Slive’s roster of basketball coaches is quickly filling up with ex-Big 12′ers.

Next season, Missouri’s Frank Haith and Texas A&M’s Billy Kennedy enter the Southeastern Conference.  This past year, Arkansas’ Mike Anderson made the jump from Mizzou to Arkansas, opening up that slot in Columbia for Haith.  And today Frank Martin has confirmed that he’ll be leaving Kansas State for the SEC’s other Columbia in South Carolina.

With Martin hired, Andy Kennedy staying on at Ole Miss, and only Mississippi State still left searching for a new coach — tip to Scott Stricklin: scour the Big 12 — we thought it might be interesting to see how the league’s coaches stack up against one another.

Now, before we get into this, let’s all just admit a few things right off the bat:



1.  A 20-win season isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still a benchmark used in most basketball discussions.

2.  Coaches with longer track records might have more wins while younger coaches have better winning percentages.  We get that.  But we’re still going to list the league’s coaches according to total wins.

3.  Some coaches have worked in easier leagues while others have duked it out in tougher conferences.

4.  Some coaches have inherited good rosters and continued to win while others have moved from stop to stop building programs as they went.  That can impact win/loss numbers, too.



In other words, there’s no perfect way to stack these guys so — as mentioned above — we’re doing so by total career wins.  We’re also going to look at the number of outright conference titles or division championships won by each man, the number of NCAA and/or NIT bids each has earned, national titles won, and total 20-win seasons.

Interestingly, you’ll note that each current coach came to the league with at least one season’s worth of experience as a head coach.  Assistants — up-and-comers or not — need not apply.  When you’ve got SEC television money rolling in, why not buy a proven product?

Another tidbit — the SEC now has two Martins (Cuonzo and Frank) and it will soon have two Kennedys (Andy and Billy).

Also, Kentucky fans will surely note that we’re going by each man’s official record.  Meaning John Calipari has been docked the appropriate number of games from his 1995-96 run with UMass and his 2007-08 season with Memphis.  Blame the NCAA, not us.

All that said, here’s your 2012-13 SEC coaching roster with only MSU’s yet-to-be-named coach left out of the mix:



Coach
SEC School
Last School
Career Record
Conf/Div Champs
NCAA Bids
NIT Bids
National Champs
20-Win Seasons
Total Seasons
J.Calipari
UK
Memphis
503-152
14
14
5
0
17
20
B.Donovan
UF
Marshall
421-178
6
12
3
2
14
18
K.Stallings
VU
Illinois St.
384-222
2
8
6
0
11
19
T.Johnson
LSU
Stanford
226-184
2
5
3
0
3
13
B.Kennedy
A&M
Murray St. 
224-197
4
2
1
0
4
14
M.Anderson
ARK
Missouri
218-113
1
6
1
0
7
10
M.Fox
UGA
Nevada
173-89
4
4
0
0
6
8
F.Haith
MU
Miami (FL)
159-105
0
2
4
0
4
8
A.Kennedy
UM
Cincinnati
146-90
2
0
6
0
6
7
A.Grant
ALA
VCU
139-64
4
3
2
0
5
6
F.Martin
USC
Kansas St.
117-54
0
4
1
0
5
5
T.Barbee
AUB
UTEP
108-88
1
1
0
0
2
6
C.Martin
UT
Missouri St.
80-54
1
0
2
0
2
4




Calipari may sit atop the list thanks due to his total number of wins, but make no mistake — the best basketball coach in the Southeastern Conference is currently Donovan.  With a pair of back-to-back national championships and 14 20-win seasons in a row, an argument can be made that he is the SEC’s second-best basketball coach… ever.

Adolph Rupp won a ridiculous 399 SEC games while at Kentucky.  Dale Brown won 238 at LSU.  Currently Donovan sits at 160 and he’s only 46-years-old.

Calipari has Kentucky rolling, but for now this is still the Age of Donovan in SEC hoops.  Frank Martin, Frank Haith and Billy Kennedy… welcome to it.

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Report: Martin To Carolina A Done Deal

According to the Twitter account of Kansas City Star reporter Kellis Robinett, Frank Martin to South Carolina is happening:


“Source close to Frank Martin just told me Martin has agreed in principle to become South Carolina’s coach.  Press conference tomorrow.”


And if it’s on Twitter, it’s gold, Jerry, gold.  In this case, it might actually be correct.  GamecockCentral.com also says the deal’s done (behind a paywall).  Ditto Columbia’s newspaper The State (also behind a blankin’ paywall).

Now granted it took Martin getting steamed at his Kansas State boss to make it happen.  And, no, Martin has never built a program, he’s just sustained one.  And, yes, he did just admit on national TV yesterday that he has sent money to players at other schools.

But this is a big splash hire for AD Eric Hyman.  South Carolina basketball now has credibility, something it’s lacked since the school grabbed Dave Odom from Wake Forest (and hopefully for Cock fans this one will turn out better than that hire did).

Make no mistake, Carolina just got serious about basketball.  Toss all those caveats and “yeah, buts” we mentioned earlier out the window.  The school’s AD just put a whole lot more fannies in his arena’s seats next season.

In the end, that’s what it’s all about for athletic directors.  And if Martin can bring Carolina the consistent success its so long lusted after, then the Colonial Life Arena should be packed for a good while to come.

Big hire.

(Sidenote — Last one outta the Big 12 please remember to turn off the lights.)

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Martin-To-Carolina Talk Keeps Getting Hotter; USC Board Calls Special Meeting

Over the weekend, it was reported that South Carolina AD Eric Hyman formally asked Kansas State for permission to talk to basketball coach Frank Martin about the vacancy in Columbia.  Given a chance to kill the talk on CBS during its NCAA Tournament coverage, Martin danced:


“In the age of social media that we live in right now, it’s crazy.  I was scheduled to be at a press conference today in South Carolina and I was sitting watching a show in New York City last night.  And obviously I’m sitting here with you guys today, so it’s… The stuff that gets out these days, I look at it as a compliment that we’re doing our job the right way at Kansas State that these sort of things get out.”


That statement from Saturday was not a denial of his interest in the USC job.  It was not a denial of anything, in fact.  The day before he did tweet the following: “I have not talked 2 anyone.”

Well, if a report from GamecockCentral.com is to be believed — that’s the Rivals site covering Carolina — then Martin’s agent sure must be doing some talking.  On the same day Martin was tap dancing around the subject on CBS, GamecockCentral wrote the following:


“A source close to Kansas State coach Frank Martin told GamecockCentral.com on Friday that a deal to bring the coach to Columbia to replace Darrin Horn was 90 percent done.  On Saturday morning, the same source said that the deal remains 90 percent complete, but is not finalized.”


The site also claims a contract was sent to Martin on Friday night.  And the student newspaper for USC — The Daily Gamecock — reported late last night that “Frank Martin interviewed in Columbia” according to “a source.”

Could all the Carolina talk simply be leverage for the coach?  It’s possible as he’s scheduled to open negotiations on a new deal with K-State on April 1st.

It’s also possible according to The Kansas City Star — and as we suggested last week — that Martin is ticked over his school’s decision to suspend a key player right before his team’s second-round NCAA tourney game with Syracuse. 

PowerCat.com — the Rivals site covering Kansas State — reported yesterday that “a source close to Martin” said “It’s not about money anymore.”  Meaning Martin’s relationship with KSU AD John Currie might be beyond repair after the suspension of Jamar Samuels.  That site also suggests that if Martin leaves, “dirty laundry will be tossed everywhere” by the talkative, hot-headed coach.  (Wonder what Hyman thinks about that?)

Meanwhile, Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall — a South Carolina native and the man most-often mentioned in connection to USC’s search as it got underway — has announced that he’s staying put in Kansas. 

So the previous favorite isn’t in the running (and apparently never really was).  Sources are reporting that Carolina has met with Martin, hammered out 90% of a deal, and sent him and his agent a contract.  All just one week before the coach is set to negotiate a new deal with Kansas State.

Unfortunately for Cock fans, the only news this morning on Martin does not concern a signed document.  Instead, ESPN is running a story with this headline as of 10:35 this morning: “Frank Martin paid his former players.”

Yikes.  But it’s not exactly what you think. 

In the story, Martin is quoted — from his CBS stint on Sunday — as saying that he sent money “to kids that played for me in high school when they were in college because I knew where they came from.  I knew they didn’t have a father figure.”

“I’m not going to tell you who they were,” Martin said during the broadcast.  “But I sent them a lot of money over the years to make sure they could take their girlfriend out to the movies, make sure they could wash their clothes and do all the things that scholarship money doesn’t cover.”

Martin was making the case for his own suspended player — who was given $200 by an AAU coach who had been a father figure to the young man growing up. 

While Martin’s statement shows that he has a heart, it might also cause the NCAA to start asking some questions.  No, Martin did not admit to paying his own players — a clear NCAA violation.  But he did admit to sending money to other schools’ players.  And that’s exactly the kind of action that led to one of his own players being suspended for fear of an NCAA violation.

That admission might throw a wrench into Hyman’s plans.  You can bet he would have preferred the coach had never mentioned anything about his payouts to other schools’ players.

So, is Martin angry enough to bolt a traditional basketball school for a football-first school in a football-first conference?  Is he simply using Carolina for leverage to get more money and more control in Manhattan?

And is Hyman ready to pull the trigger on a guy who can be a bit of hair-trigger himself and who’s just admitted on national television that he’s sent cash to college players?  From Carolina’s side of things it looks like things are still all-systems-go.  GamecockCentral.com is reporting today that USC’s board of trustees will hold a special meeting tomorrow morning to discuss “contractual matters.”

In other words, it looks like Martin may fly (to) the coop a few days before that scheduled negotiation with Currie and KSU is scheduled to begin.

Stay tuned.

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Goodman: No Contact Between Gamecocks, Martin

Kansas State coach Frank Martin’s name recently popped up in connection with South Carolina’s basketball opening.

Martin very well may end up being a candidate at South Carolina, but the two sides have yet to speak, according to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com. Goodman wrote the following on twitter:

“According to multiple sources, there has been no contact between South Carolina and Frank Martin. Martin has been out recruiting last 2 days”

Of course, there’s still plenty of time for South Carolina to make contact with Martin. But for now, the attention appears to be pointed elsewhere.

UPDATE: It appears another popular name in the South Carolina search, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, has also yet to receive a call from the Gamecocks.

Mr. Goodman posted that news item on Tuesday afternoon.

“Marshall appears the obvious choice,” Goodman wrote. “However, sources told CBSSports.com that Marshall — a South Carolina native who led the Shockers to the NCAA tournament this past season — has not been contacted by South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman.”

South Carolina fans will likely understand the Martin news. After all, how interested will he truly be in leaving Kansas State for South Carolina?

But the Marshall information is tough to explain. As Mr. Goodman wrote, Marshall appears to be the obvious choice in Columbia. At least to a lot of people outside Columbia.

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