February 20th, 2013 11:16 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: LSU, South Carolina
Tags: Bruce Ellington, NBA, USC, Year One
Frank Martin is a quote machine. In fact, we should probably create a new icon that simply says “Frank Said It.” Couple his loquaciousness with a miserable year on the hardwood — South Carolina is 12-13 overall, but 2-10 in SEC play — and you’re sure to get quotation gold. Like these dandies Martin tossed out after his Gamecocks’ home loss to LSU last Thursday:
1. “If you take (point guard) Bruce Ellington off our team, you’d probably have the 12 leading candidates for the starring roles in ‘The Return of the Living Dead,’ the zombie movie.”
2. “I’ve been doing this for 28 years, nine of which as a junior varsity high school coach. That means I’ve dealt with 14-year-olds. I’ve never been more embarrassed to call myself a basketball coach than I am today.”
3. “We lead the country in air-ball layups. If guys can’t make layups, it’s hard to win. You’ve got to invest yourself to be good. In life, you get what you deserve. If you don’t put in the time, that ball ain’t going to go in the basket. We’ve got guys that don’t comprehend that. They put in the time when I make them put in the time. They don’t put in the time for the love of the game. Until that doesn’t change, it ain’t going to get any better.”
4. “If this was the NBA, we’d fine them, we’d take their money, we’d release them and say, ‘Good luck with ever finding another job.’ I shouldn’t coach basketball ever again if this is how my team plays.”
Yowza. Those are the kinds of comments a coach can make in Year One because fans want to know that that the guy with the clipboard shares their pain. After the honeymoon ends, however, those kinds of comments typically leave fans asking, “Well, why don’t you fix it?”
As for the comments themselves, don’t try to tell Martin that he was placing blame on his team. Yesterday, he said that the above quotes dealt with the culture of his program, not his players:
“If you know anything about me, for 28 years I have never thrown my players under the bus. I threw the culture under the bus. I threw our approach under the bus. Don’t ever say I threw my players under the bus.
If you know anything about me that has never happened in 28 years. It didn’t happen yesterday; it ain’t happened today. The day they kick me out of here and out of this business I still won’t do it. Now, our culture, our approach is no good. That has to change. But I am not throwing players under the bus. I fight for my guys. I don’t kick them.”
Our take? He threw both USC’s culture and his players under the bus. Though there’s nothing wrong with an occasional bus-throwing-undering if an entire team — and not just an individual or two — gets tossed onto the pavement. Martin isn’t the first coach to rip his team in a moment of frustration. Heck, John Calipari said on Saturday that some of his players are “uncoachable.” It happens, even with some of the biggest “players’ coaches” out there.
But, “We’d release them and say, ‘Good luck with ever finding another job,’” is indeed a rip job of Martin’s players. There’s no way to spin that one.
In his first season, trying to light a fire under his teams, we don’t see anything wrong with Martin’s tongue-lashing. Again, it was aimed at the whole and not an individual. But he’d better be careful with these kinds of remarks moving forward. It doesn’t take long for fans to start blaming coaches for the underperforming athletes on their roster.
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