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South Carolina’s Martin: ‘I did a poor job’ with Gamecocks

South Carolina’s Frank Martin admits he did a lousy job as a men’s basketball coach this past season. He also believes his track record shows he can turn things around. The Gamecocks finished 6-15, the worst in Martin‘s 14 years of coaching at Kansas State and South Carolina. The coronavirus pandemic certainly played a role. Martin himself tested positive for COVID-19 twice since May, a more severe illness during South Carolina’s dormant period in January. There were two program shutdowns over 41 days in which the Gamecocks played just twice and did not have a complete team to practice because of medical protocols.

Martin remains confident he can steady things in the future. He has done it before, he noted, taking a South Carolina team last in the Southeastern Conference the year before his arrival in 2013 to the Final Four in 2017. At 18-13, the Gamecocks were on the NCAA Tournament bubble in 2020 before the pandemic canceled the event. Still, Martin took full blame for the awful season: “I did a poor job leading this year.”

This season was a different story, as South Carolina never found its footing, and Martin acknowledged he couldn’t help his players get in a rhythm. “We’ve got work to do, man,” he said. “What happened last year was unacceptable. (But) I think I’m going to bet on myself that I’ll figure this one out.” Martin got some breathing room last week to make that happen with a two-year contract extension that ties him to the program through the 2024-25 season. There was no raise. If he were let go right now, Martin‘s buyout of $6.5 million would be reduced to zero should the school fire him after two more years.

South Carolina

“Is it the contract I wanted? No,” Martin said. “But if they didn’t want me here, they could’ve fired me.”

Martin said he had lengthy, candid conversations with athletic director Ray Tanner reviewing why things went wrong this past season. Tanner was confident Martin had the plan to fix things and recommended the extension to school President Bob Caslen.

“This was a decision I think we collectively made, which was in the best interest of the university,” Caslen said earlier this week. Martin will have a different roster to help him get back to winning. Five members of this year’s team, including fourth-year forward Justin Minaya, have entered the transfer portal.

The Gamecocks have added four transfers, led by 6-foot-3 guard Erik Stevenson, who will join his third Division I school after playing at Wichita State for two seasons and at Washington last year.

Two starters and double-digit scorers, forward Keyshawn Johnson and point guard Jermaine Cuisnard, are going through the NBA draft process but have not signed with agents. Martin said both have been at offseason workouts and expects them to return. The wait for the team’s top scorer last season, 6-foot-6 A.J. Lawson, to decide his plans for next year will be longer. He averaged 16.6 points a game last season. Because Lawson went through the NBA draft evaluations the previous two seasons, Martin said he doesn’t have the option to return this time if he decides to go pro. “He’s being careful,” Martin said.

Martin put no stock in speculation he would be fired or that he was scanning the coaching openings for another job. He said he never went looking to leave instead of using the past month to figure out how to fix what happened this past year. “I don’t get caught up in innuendos. I don’t get caught up in false narratives,” he said. “This month has been frustrating for me because I didn’t do my job, not for anything else.”

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/College-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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